A correlation exists between one’s ability to perform a task and that same person’s time spent practicing or rehearsing the exact same task. Practice can be measured in units of time or number of repetitions and there’s no magic number of hours or repetitions required to become ‘an expert'. Some people pick up certain skills faster than others, but everyone has to spend some amount of time to learn in order to excel and maintain a skill. In aviation, pilots are required to fly a certain number of hours to maintain proficiency; the same is true with sky divers, but it’s measured by number of jumps in a period of time. CPA’s have to complete learning modules on an annual basis to maintain their license and law enforcement professionals are required to complete a certain number of continued education hours each year to maintain their credentials.
Why is it any different with owning and operating a firearm? It’s not! Practice and repetition is key to maintaining proficiency! Below are some drills you can do this winter in the comfort of your home to maintain the muscle memory that may be required to save your own life or that of a loved one!
1) Practice how you fight. First ask yourself – "when I carry, what am I wearing and how am I drawing from the concealed position?” For example if you carry ITW to work and you wear a suit, over coat, and gloves, this is how you need to practice drawing and dry firing. By going through this exercise, you may realize that you can’t button up your overcoat all the way for easy access or to your firearm or that you need thinner gloves for effective weapon manipulation. Or maybe you carry inside your gym bag on your way to working out, then you need to rehearse drawing and dry firing from your gym bag.
2) Diversify how you practice. I have a stack of notecards and each has a different dry fire drill on it. These drills include two hand magazine changes, one hand magazine changes, strong side draw / dry fire, transition from strong to support side dry firing, engaging multiple targets, and trigger control drills. A few times per week, I’ll go to my garage where my Pivotal Trainer is set up and rehearse drawing and dry firing from various positions on my body and from carry bags that I use. I like using the Pivotal Trainer because even in dry fire, I’m responding to an external cue and not just drawing on a whim – this makes my training more realistic. Typically, I’ll end by drawing a notecard at random and doing 10 or so repetitions of the exercise on it. This breaks up the monotony and makes training fun!
3) Consistent practice is key. If you carry, don’t let extended periods of time pass without doing some form of dry fire practice. Of course, more is better, but sometimes life gets busy. Given this and based on your skill level / ability to maintain, determine what your training frequency needs to be and stick to it. Lastly and as a bonus, from time to time, treat yourself to a trip to your local indoor range – I go to The Range West STL as often as I can!
Of course, safety outranks everything else so make sure you separate your firearm and ammo before trigger time. I always put my carry ammo in a ziplock bag and place that bag in my range bag.
As always, train hard and stay frosty (not the cold kind)!