With the current outrageous prices of ammunition and limited range time available to LE and Military entities, it is now more important than ever to find new, innovative ideas to increase your marksmanship without burning thousands of dollars at the range. Here are a few ideas our staff has developed through various shooting courses and their own desire to get better at shooting without breaking their bank accounts.
Dry fire, dry fire and then dry fire some more. Studies have shown that thinking about or conducting an act in a mimicking fashion will have the same neuro-synaptic response as actually conducting the act yourself. In fact, in 2004 the Cleveland Clinic released a study showing that people who think about a function such as working out will actually gain strength just by thinking about that task in depth. This doesn’t mean you can become the next Rob Leatham just because you think about shooting all the time, but it does mean that dry firing will have a profound effect on improving your marksmanship.
When dry firing ensure you are practicing not only trigger squeeze but every other aspect of shooting as well. This is a cheap, fast way to improve magazine changes, draws, malfunctions and any other element of shooting that you want to improve on. Side note: make sure you unload your firearm before performing any dry fire drills, otherwise it’s no longer a dry fire drill.
Have a Plan at the Range
When you go to the range have a preset plan on what you want to practice while you are there. Just loading up magazines and then trying to keyhole for an hour will not turn you into a better combat shooter. Plan to work on something and conduct numerous iterations of those tasks to help strengthen your skills and build strong muscle memory. If you are low on ammo or just want to conserve it plan to practice firing iterations such as magazine reloads or draws that tend to burn less ammo than 5 round rhythm drills. Innovative Shooting Concepts and pistol-shooting.com have great shooting iterations as well as targets you can print out for free that will maximize your range time and ammo expenditure.
Use a Shot Timer
A shot timer is a great way to keep you on your toes and to continually push yourself to the next level. Whenever you know there is a time standard to meet and or beat you will constantly push yourself. This will help every shot count and have more training value than if you took your time and paid no attention to speed. You can pick up a shot timer at brownells.com or midwayusa.com.
Record your Progress
By recording your progress you will be able to see whether you are improving or getting worse. By setting a standard for yourself you will naturally try to improve from your last time at the range which in turn make your training value go up.
Make Every Shot Count
Most people tend to write-off a miss as no big deal but if you carry a gun for a living a miss means you are failing at your job. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to push yourself to the point where you miss, but it should bother you a little if you do. Each round that leaves your barrel should be accounted for and documented. A good plan of action is to push yourself to the point where you miss then ratchet it back down to maintain accuracy and marksmanship. The moment you start to lose your basic fundamentals, stop, regain composure and get back on it.
This can either be in an IPSC/IDPA type arena or just with your buddies at the range. The bottom line competition will push you beyond your comfort zone and force you to perform under pressure, something you would be doing in the event of a gunfight. Every range day should end with some sort of competition whether on steel or on paper. These competitions should be fun but should also focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship.