2017: How are you going to get better this year?

At the start of 2016, I posted an article about one of the things I was going to try to do to get better at shooting throughout the year, which was attempt to dryfire every day.  While I didn’t manage to meet my goal of dryfiring every day, I did certainly dryfire much more often than I had in the past, and it made a difference to my shooting.   (I made excuses for myself on some days later in the year, rationalizing not putting in the work.  The excuses weren’t valid, and it isn’t like the extra 3 minutes I got instead of practicing ended up being useful to me.  One of my goals this year is to not make excuses for not doing the work.)

You should dryfire also.  Seriously.  You don’t have to grind at it for an hour daily (well, if you are able to you certainly can!) and you don’t always have to put on all your gear to get it done–you can actually perform a good, simple drill that takes less than 3 minutes, doesn’t require you putting on any gear, and WILL make you a better shooter if you do it daily.  Sure, if you ARE able to practice in dryfire for an average of an hour a day, you will get SIGNIFICANTLY better.  But, if you are like most adults and have other priorities in your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t still get in good practice.

Drill Zero:

And you can’t argue that you don’t have a free three minutes in any particular day.

To help you make sure you are drilling every single day, here’s a 2017 Dryfire Report Card so that you can track every day that you help make yourself a better shooter.  Download it, print it, then put it up somewhere next to where you’ll practice.  Every day, color in the box for that day, showing that you at least practiced Drill Zero.  My personal goal for 2017 is that every single day I will practice physical pistol skills in some fashion, and I’m going to mark in black days I do Drill Zero, blue the days I do longer dryfire sessions, purple the days I dryfire with guns other than my carry gun or primary competition handgun, red the days I live fire practice, and green the days I test myself either in competitions or in training classes.  (Yes, I own a lot of Sharpies.  Doesn’t everyone?)

You can mark it differently, of course, but I like tracking how much I do each different kind of work.  I didn’t manage to meet my goal in 2016, but I got in a LOT of practice that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.  I’m hoping that this year, I’ll meet my goal.

Awhile back I posted an article on some variations on Drill Zero to give you some other things to try–they still don’t take any more time than the original Drill Zero, but allow you to change things up while still getting in some practice on important things that will make you better at shooting.

For the first two variations, you will need this target: 5_2in_Dots

There are a number of other things you can do in any particular year to make yourself better–take classes, compete, test yourself against known objective measurements of skills–but the one thing that doesn’t take any money and doesn’t require you to go to the range is dryfire.

And you can make yourself a MUCH better shooter just by doing dryfire.

Every day, get a little better.  Try it!

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Drill Zero Variations

At the start of 2016, I posted an article about practicing every day including a Dryfire Report you could print out, plus a link to a video about Drill Zero.  Drill Zero is a short dryfire exercise that is easy to do every day that takes little equipment, little room, and gives you practice at several fundamentals that are central to shooting well.

The problem with any one particular drill, of course, is the fact that it simply can’t help you practice THAT many skills all at once.  While Drill Zero can help you with some of the skills that are incredibly important, it is still a good idea to get some additional practice in—but sometimes you still just don’t have much time.

So:  Here are three variations on Drill Zero that you can periodically add to your normal practice schedule.  They don’t take longer than a standard Drill Zero (at least, not by much), and you can rotate them into your practice periodically to expand the set of skills that you practice on a daily basis.

For the first two variations, you will need this target: 5_2in_Dots

(You can use it for the third variation also, if you like.)

Variation 1 adds some target selection and specificity, variation 2 adds a second transition and sight picture, and variation three adds some gun-handling practice to your marksmanship practice.

To summarize:

VARIATION 1: Put the 5-dot target up on the wall that you use for Drill Zero.  Instead of transitioning to the wall, transition to a specific dot for each rep, and keep the sights in alignment on the dot (which will be large considering how close you are) as you work the trigger.  You can use the same dot for any given day of repetitions, but I personally prefer to use a different dot for each rep, which means for any set of 10 (each of freestyle, SHO, and WHO) I go through all five dots twice.

This variation will do two things:

  1. Check to see if you are snapping your eyes to the target and then driving the gun–if you can’t see the dot clearly before the gun/sights appear in your vision, you aren’t snapping your eyes fast enough.
  2. It will also force you to move to specific aiming points on the wall.  This is important, because while Drill Zero does some good things, it also allows you to pick whatever spot on the wall is most comfortable to you, and you don’t have to actually control where the gun moves.  Using the 5-dots target forces you to move to specific positions, but still allows you to keep your focus and concentration on the front sight, which is a major part of Drill Zero.

VARIATION 2: With the 5-dot target on the wall, perform Drill Zero as normal by transitioning to a specific dot.  When you do that, take up the slack and prep the trigger strongly, then pause on the dot without pressing the trigger.  When the gun is solid and non-moving, snap your eyes and drive the gun to a second dot and complete the trigger pull on the second dot without misaligning the sights.

This variation:

  1. Allows you to check your trigger prep.  Is your finger placed properly?  Do you have an appropriate amount of prep?  Not enough?  How often do you prep too much?
  2. Gives you an extra transition, one that is very short.  As such, you should be able to complete that trigger pull extremely quickly.  This practice will help you practice keeping your front/rear sights in alignment during transitions, and get better at finishing the trigger pull immediately upon getting the sights on target.

VARIATION 3: This variation adds a completely new aspect to Drill Zero–specifically, some gun-handling skills.  (In general, this shows the difference between marksmanship skills like sight alignment/sight picture/trigger control, and gun handling skills like draws, loads, and reloads.) For variation three, you’ll be performing the last half of a reload.  Now:  One thing not mentioned in the video is that you can practice it from a speed reload perspective, or instead start with the slide locked back and perform a slidelock reload.  You could also start with a dead trigger and perform the reload and rack the slide prior to the trigger pull on target.

This variation:

  1. Forces you to use your brain for a non-marksmanship purpose prior to pulling the trigger so makes it obvious right away if a) you are performing the marksmanship part correctly, and b) if you are practiced enough to switch gears quickly.
  2. And then it gives you practice on switching gears.  Whether in competition or self-defense, you need to be sufficiently skilled so that you can switch between marksmanship actions and other actions without losing effectiveness or speed.  Forcing yourself to switch back and forth is good practice.  (And practicing reloads more never hurts, either.)

 

Again–these variations do NOT take the place of Drill Zero.  However, every once in awhile throwing in one of these variations (or adding a couple of extra reps of a variation in addition to your Drill Zero practice) will add another layer of skill-building without adding huge additional amounts of time or requiring more in the way of equipment.

Dryfire practice can make you better.  If you have the time to do 30 minutes to an hour of dryfire every day, then EXCELLENT.  Increase your skills in dryfire, test them out in live fire, and you are going to get much better very quickly.

If you don’t have an extra 30 minutes or hour every single day (like most of us)–you can still perform Drill Zero and its variations, and get better.

Every day, get a little better.

2016 Resolution I: Practicing Drill Zero

Caleb over at Gun Nuts Media has an excellent post up about 5 Gun Nuts New Year’s Resolutions.  It is good stuff, so you should go there and read it.

One of the resolutions he suggests for us gun nuts is “practice at least once a week.”  He makes the cogent point that while many competition shooters will laugh at this because they practice a lot more than merely once a week, most people don’t.  I’m actually surprised when I hear an average gun owner say that they practice more than once a month—actually practice, not merely go plinking for fun. Most people simply don’t practice at all, though they might call going to the range a couple times a year to plink at tin cans and clays on the berm “practicing.” (Fun, yes; practice, no.)

Here’s something that can help you actually practice:  Drill Zero

Drill Zero is a dryfire drill based on the Wall Drill, transition practice, an understanding of eye focus, and some thinking I have done regarding the most fundamental skills we need to succeed at any type of shooting.  I wanted to create a drill that would make a significant difference to shooting quickly and accurately, but was simple, straightforward, took little time, and required almost nothing in the way of equipment or space.

…because that way you can do it every dayThere is no excuse to not perform Drill Zero once a day.  Sure, on some days you can do a solid dryfire session, or get some good live fire practice in at the range.  But EVERY day, no matter how busy your life, no matter where you are—if you have a gun and a wall, you can run through Drill Zero and practice the most important fundamentals of shooting in a way that will make you better.

If you do Drill Zero every day, then each month you’ll have performed 900 perfect trigger pulls, with fast transitions, training your eyes to lock onto the front sight with perfect sight alignment at speed.  In a year, you’ll have practiced this TEN THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TIMES.  If you don’t think that’ll make a difference to your shooting, then there isn’t much I can say.

Here’s a 2016 Dryfire Report.  Download it, print it, then put it up somewhere next to where you’ll practice.  Every day, color in the box for that day, showing that you at least practiced Drill Zero.  My personal goal for 2016 is that every single day I will practice physical pistol skills in some fashion, and I’m going to mark in black days I do Drill Zero, blue the days I do longer dryfire sessions, red the days I live fire practice, and green the days I test myself either in competitions or in training classes.  At the end of the year, I’ll post a picture of my report, and we can discuss how it went.

How about you?  You in?  How much better do you want to get at the physical skills of shooting in 2016?  Drill Zero takes less than 5 minutes, and you don’t have to put on any gear at all.  Don’t tell me that you can’t find the time!

How much better do you want to get?  Get yourself a copy of the dryfire report, and start practicing!

 

(A followup post was later written giving some variations on Drill Zero.)