If you didn’t already realize it, if you don’t continue to shoot over time, you will slowly lose your shooting skills. With ammunition so expensive and hard to come by, making every shot count now has a whole new meaning.
How do you maintain your skill sets without burning through a lot of ammunition? Simple: take your time and make every shot a count.
Dry fire practice at home is a great way to keep your skills sharp. If you add a Mantis X training system, that’s even better. It’s highly recommended. Yes, it runs over $200 or about the price of 250 rounds of 9mm ammo. I haven’t formally reviewed my personally-owned unit, in part because I haven’t used it as much as I’d like – yet. At the same time I’ve used it enough that I strongly recommend it for new and experienced shooters alike.
Even at that, though, no matter how much dry fire and Mantis X practice you complete, everyone needs real, live-fire handgun practice.
Here’s a suggested fifty-round course of fire to maintain the skill sets you’ve acquired through past training and practice. You should use something small, like a 3×5 index card or a 3” circle at three (for the novice) to five (for the more experienced) yards as your target.
Remember, aim small miss small. If you keep all fifty rounds on the target, move back to five, seven or ten yards and repeat (as gun food allows).
5 Rounds: Slow fire marksmanship
Concentrate on your crush grip, sight alignment and a smooth trigger squeeze/press. Your goal: a ragged, one-hole group. Want to add another aspect to this one? Load a single round in your magazine (or revolver) and practice reloads between shots. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
5 Rounds: Presentations from position two and three
Do this while dry-firing with an empty gun five times each from position two and again from position three, initially at about half-speed speed, watching for wasted movement. Eliminate any wasted motion which eats up precious time.
Repeat with a loaded gun: one shot each time, alternating between starting at position two (held at your hip) and position three (high compressed ready). Shot speed is dictated by your ability to put all shots into your target – it’s a balance of speed and accuracy. Again, load a single round into the magazine (or cylinder) to force yourself to execute (flawless) reloads.
5 Rounds: The Draw
Do this dry-fire at home, practicing a smooth draw after clearing your cover garment. Remember: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. And don’t put any body parts in front of that muzzle.
At the range, draw and fire one round, hitting a 3” to 5” target as quickly as you are able to make good hits safely. If you’re on a public range that won’t allow draws, practice more presentations from positions two and three.
10 Rounds: One handed
Shoot five rounds, slow-fire, strong hand only using good form. Repeat with your support hand only. Concentrate on fundamentals and keep all shots in your circle or on index card.
5 Rounds: Rhythm drill
A rhythm drill is where you learn to shoot faster while keeping your rounds on target. Make a perfect shot, take another after two seconds, then another a second later. Then a half-second later, fire again, then a quarter second later, fire the final shot.
10 Rounds: Reloads
Chambered round with an empty magazine in the gun. Draw and fire one shot, reload and fire a second shot as quickly as you can keep your shot on target. For revolvers, load and fire one shot and practice reloading.
5 Rounds: Malfunctions / Ball and Dummy
Load a “funny” mag with five live rounds and one or two spent rounds (first round into the magazine should be live). Start with an unloaded chamber and loaded “funny” mag. Revolver shooters, use the Ball and Dummy Drill loading 2-3 live rounds at random and spent shells in the remaining chambers. Then practice your trigger control to fire all live rounds through same hole.
Final 5 Rounds
Circle back (pun intended) to the beginning and finish with what you started with, concentrating on marksmanship and focus. Shoot a perfect, precise five-shot string.