Dry Practice Report #20: October 16-31

My first post of this year briefly discussed my goal of doing 3,650 minutes of dry practice in 2019. These posts are mostly for my own accountability. Here are my results to this point in the year. Please read (or scroll) to the end, because I have a couple of questions for the audience here.

January 1 – 11: 200 minutes, January 12 – 31: 140 minutes
February 1 – 15: 140 minutes, February 16 – 28: 130 minutes
March 1 – 15: 160 minutes, March 16 – 31: 160 minutes
April 1 – 15: 140 minutes, April 16 – 30: 160 minutes
May 1 – 15: 140 minutes, May 16 – 31: 170 minutes
June 1 – 15: 180 minutes, June 16 – 30: 160 minutes
July 1-15: 150 minutes
, July 16 – 31: 130 minutes
August 1-15: 150 minutes, August 16-31: 170 minutes
September 1-15: 140 minutes, September 16-30: 140 minutes
October 1-15: 190 minutes

October 16: 10 minutes presentation
October 17: 0 minutes
October 18: 10 minutes presentation
October 19: 0 minutes
October 20: 10 minutes presentation
October 21: 10 minutes presentation
October 22: 10 minutes presentation
October 23: 10 minutes presentation with handheld light
October 24: 10 minutes reloads
October 25: 10 minutes malfunctions
October 26: 10 minutes SHO presentation
October 27: 10 minutes WHO presentation
October 28: 10 minutes presentation with handheld light
October 29: 10 minutes reloads
October 30: 10 minutes presentation, 10 minutes presentation (CKC)
October 31: 10 minutes presentation with handheld light

Monthly Target: 310 minutes
Monthly Actual To Date:
340 minutes
Cumulative Target:
3,040 minutes
Cumulative Actual to Date:
3,100 minutes (51 hours, 40 minutes)

Focus Areas

October was kind of a tough month for me. I’m not sure why, but there were several days this month that I didn’t make dry practice happen. On a couple of those days I was traveling/driving (or at Greg’s class) but I’ve managed to dry practice on travel days before. I think a huge part of it was that I didn’t plan the month in advance.

I have found that having a plan for the month is incredibly important. This was one of the first months that I didn’t go into with a plan. Being rudderless made it hard to decide what to do. So…I just did a whole lot of presentations. That’s an important skill, but doing it every day gets really boring. I got my act together late in the month and decided to do a “review” of skills to this point.

In this post I’m going to talk about some of the finer points and variations on the presentation I’ve been working on.

Presentation Isn’t “Just” Presentation

I do want to point out one thing about presentation drills. Over the past couple of months presentation drills haven’t “just” been presentation drills. I’ve failed to mention, but I’ve added quite a few minor learning points into these drills

First, I’ve worked almost 100% with multiple targets (at least when I’m home). This has stopped me from getting lazy and forced me to work on gripping the gun hard and maintaining that grip. It has also let me practice transitioning between targets. I’ve also been working with “low probability” targets, targets that are partially obscured by another no-shoot target, law furniture, trees, etc.

I’ve also worked on addressing targets from different angles. Instead of standing squared up to two equal-height targets space 1 meter apart, I’ve gotten a bit more creative. I’ve placed targets at varying heights. Because I have two safe directions in which to dry practice, sometimes I place them at a full 90-degree angle from each other. I also vary my positioning. Sometimes I’m squared up. Sometimes I’m facing 90-degrees (left or right) from the target, and sometimes I’m working at an angle between zero and 90-degrees.

Another fine point I’ve begun to work into presentation drills is starting with stuff in my hands. I will occupy one or both hands with a “cup of coffee” or a couple grocery bags stuff with clothing. When the timer goes off I will drop the cup/bags/whatever and proceed with the draw. I think this is an important skill to practice occasionally.

Refining the AIWB Draw

One thing that Greg showed during his snubby revolver class was a technique to clear cover garments. Instead of grabbing the hem of the shirt with the weak hand and jerking the whole arm up (as I’ve been doing since I started carrying), do a “bicep curl.” First, grasp the hem of the cover garment. Next, curl the forearm upward, just as you would if doing a bicep curl, only keeping your hand close to the body. It’s hard to explain this without pics, but I’m traveling as I write this and don’t have my photographer with me. It seems to work well. It’s just as fast but doesn’t require as much jerky movement.

I Need Your Input

I have two questions for you guys.

First, what have I missed this year? I have worked on presentation, trigger control, presentation without shooting, multiple target engagement, SHO presentation, WHO presentation, reloads, SHO reloads, WHO reloads, malfunctions, SHO malfunctions, WHO malfunctions, using a handheld light, shooting, reloading, and clearing malfunctions from unconventional positions (sitting, kneeling, prone, supine), presenting, shooting, reloading, and clearing malfunctions on-the-move (forward, rearward, and laterally across the target), and shooting around left and right barricades. I still have two months left. What have I missed? What are your suggestions?

Second, what should I do in 2020? You wouldn’t believe how good it feels to have a goal like this to march toward. At the beginning of the year I was like, “holy crap – I just signed up for a whole year. Am I going to be able to do this?” At this point, dry practicing for 10 minutes a day just feels like something I’ve always done. I’m already sort of dreading not having a goal like this next year…so let’s fix it!

What are your recommendations? I’m not sure I want to do exactly the same thing. Maybe repeat it but do make it 100% on the move? Maybe do a minor in rifle or shotgun (or both, though those will be difficult to practice when I’m traveling)? Maybe spend a year getting really good with left-handed shooting? What do you guys think? I’m completely open to input.

If you aren’t dry practicing. . . WHY NOT? It’s not hard to find 10 minutes a day to dry practice, and it’s COMPLETELY FREE. Take ten minutes you’d be spending vegging out on Instagram or in front of the TV and turn it into a tangible skill.

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Author: Justin

Justin Carroll is a former MARSOC Marine and veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Leaving service after eight years in the U.S. Marines, Justin continues his involvement with a variety of government agencies to this day. Justin began RevolverGuy.com in late 2016 with an simple idea: provide an source of high-quality information for revolver enthusiasts.

13 thoughts on “Dry Practice Report #20: October 16-31”

  1. Justin,

    You’re covering most all of the bases from what I can see. Only a few things I can suggest for rest of this year. If you have not already done it, try flashlight positions with gun in your support hand. Some might question the “training validity” of doing so, rationalizing that they would NEVER willingly engage with gun in support hand and flashlight in typical shooting hand. That may be so, but from an instructor’s perspective, you will likely need to have the skill to properly instruct southpaws without selling them short. We’ve all likely seen instructors tell left handed students “Do what I’m doing, but mirror image with your left hand.” Unacceptable. If you’re not already doing so; dry practice reloading, clearing malfunctions, and shooting on the move with your handheld light. This will make you evaluate where you stow your light, and may have you considering alternate positions while shooting on the move.

    For the new year, I like your idea about left handed shooting. I’m going to strive to be ambidextrous in my revolver manipulation. I would also like to see you work dry transitions from long gun to handgun and handgun to back up gun. For what it’s worth. Thanks! Kevin Mac

    1. Kevin,
      Thanks for the feedback. I totally agree with you about instructors that just say, “mirror what I’m doing.” I’m not a firearms instructor and don’t plan to become one, however, I wouldn’t mind getting really proficient with both hands. I am also very aware that I need to get tuned back up on the carbine, and transitions will be a part of that.
      Thanks again!

  2. I’m not sure if it’s relevant but would you try something different for a surreptitious draw? Offhand around the back to raise a cover garment? Slow movement so as not to draw attention?

    1. That’s not a bad idea. I’m going to do a little bit of that; there was a recent Active Self Protection vid where an off-duty cop used a surreptitious draw to great effect.

  3. I am not really sure about whether this idea would be a valid training goal, but I have thought about doing a “stop shooting” scenario. My thought would be to set up my shot timer app (I use a phone app rather than a dedicated shot timer) with a par time, a randomized start delay, and multiple repetitions. You would have to ignore the first beep and start “shooting” on the par time beep. That means you would be shooting during the randomized start delay. Once the “start” beep occurs, you stop shooting until the next par time beep. The idea, at least in my mind, would be to simulate reacting to a change in the status of a threat from legitimate threat to non-threat. If your shot timer lets you specify the range of the randomly delayed start, it might be worth incorporating an option for only a second (or less) delay, to simulate scenarios where the threat changes to a non-threat essentially as a result of drawing.

    Again, I am not a trainer, have never been in a defensive encounter, and don’t know how valid such a drill would be. That said, the ASP Extra John’s Briefs episode from last week (10/25) had me thinking about having practiced the control needed to stop shooting, and figured I’d share the idea.

    1. Dude – that’s an awesome idea! I’m definitely going to figure out something along those lines. Thanks!

  4. Maybe I’m missing something here, but what is the goal of doing all this dry practice? If it’s just self discipline or to work on presentation, transitions, etc., and ingrain these motions, then ok. But to me it would be to improve my live fire performance. I didn’t see a part of this regimen that measured live fire performance in any way. So, there is no way to say that it was worth the time and effort because you haven’t shown that you perform better at live fire. This is a topic that Claude Werner has been focusing on recently. Benchmark your performance using a standard set of drills. Preferably make the drills test important skills in defensive shooting. Perhaps average 3 tries on different days to even out an off day. Then dry practice. Repeat the benchmark drills periodically. If you are improving, then keep it up and refine what you are doing. Figure out what dry practice drills are most effective and do more of those. If not, figure out why. Figure out if you’re dry practicing the wrong things.

    1. Yes, you have mistaken the main purpose of this. My main goals are:
      1. Maintaining recency-of-experience and
      2. Achieving automaticity.
      If I had to boil it down to a single sentence it would be: the main goal isn’t getting better, it’s staying better. Modest, incremental improvement is just a part of the bargain. If you’re curious why recency-of-experience and automaticity are important, check out the first of two-part series on dry practice I wrote here:
      Also, it’s a bold (and incorrect) assumption to say I’m not tracking my own sessions.

      1. I agree with you Justin. 30yrs law enforcement gave me opportunity to draw my firearm almost nightly, or at least several times a week, keeping a certain proficiency even though I didn’t shoot anyone most of the time. Now that I’ve been retired almost 20yrs. , I can tell I’ve “lost” that edge I used to have simply by not having to do it night after night, year after year. You guys at your site, Ellifritz and Cunningham remind me of that so I don’t think more of myself ability than I ought.

    2. Also one other (which could probably fit under the “recency-of-experience” banner) is that I can dry practice things I can’t practice on the range. None of the last dozen or so ranges I’ve shot at on a regular basis allow low-/no-light shooting. Only a couple allow kneeling/sitting/prone, and I’m guessing none would allow shooting from supine. Only one of them (and one that I have an established relationship with) allows true WHO manipulation. That’s another really strong (maybe the strongest) reason for dry practice.

  5. Ok. Recency and automaticity are great goals. I didn’t mistake the main purpose of all this, I simply couldn’t tell what it was from your post. If you stated this goal somewhere, it got lost over time and numerous posts. Maybe people who have followed all your posts from the beginning got it. But people who just came in probably won’t go back and read a dozen or more reports.

    I did go back and read a few of your reports and you mention using a timer to measure performance. Again great. But the flip side of dry practice is live fire validation. That is, can you actually hit a target in a timely fashion? The only true test of that is where the bullet actually lands. You mentioned this in your first post, but I saw only one report that mentioned live fire validation, i.e. the dot torture test. From my own experience, it’s pretty easy to think you have the sights perfect when the hammer falls, especially if you are using reduced size targets. But only live fire will tell the hard truth.

    In your reply to my first post, you seemed offended that I would infer that you weren’t somehow measuring your progress. But, how would anyone know? Other than the dot drill, I saw no mentioned of how you measure or validate your practice other than a timer. It doesn’t seem much of an inference when a reader sees detail on what you dry practice, but almost nothing on how you measure or validate the result. To me, it’s an important and essential feedback loop.

    1. Yeah my live fire sessions aren’t listed here because these are entitled “Dry Practice” reports, not “training logs.”

  6. I like the “both hands full” drill. It’s a simple concept & the mental reluctance to just drop whatever your holding to conceal carry draw has practice possibilities.

    I have never liked the 3 yard strong hand draw, especially for the Service course of fire.(48 rounds) I recently attended a match where the 3 yard line start was replaced with 6 rounds in 9 seconds, strong hand only @ the 7 yard line. What an eye opener! Perhaps you could explore this drill.

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