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Dry fire routine suggestions...

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Vociferous
Ed Hall
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CR10X
zanemoseley
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Post by zanemoseley 11/18/2019, 5:39 pm

I've always hated dry fire and done very little if any of it. I got really close to master this year so in an attempt to get it next year I'm going to really try and add some dry fire practice to my routine over the winter with my primary 1911/45.

I have a nice indoor 10m range in my basement where I practice with my Steyr Evo10. I made a 50 yard to 10m reduced bull which is right at 1.75".

What has worked for you the best? Dry fire on a blank background, with a bull, dry fire with eyes closed? How many reps of each. If I'm going to do it I might as well try to develop a routine that encourages success and maximizes my time.

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Post by CR10X 11/18/2019, 7:18 pm

I know this is not the answer you were looking for, but think about it for a minute or two before you dismiss the concept. 

Well, what do you need to work on?  Are you shooting mostly 10's with flyers or mostly 9's and limited X's? How do you feel before, during and after a match?  When was the last eye and physical exam?  

How good and consist is the grip, focus on front sight, strength and endurance, trigger process, trigger timing and continuous pressure, breath control and consistency, etc.?  What's the differential between the scores when you shoot a full match at the range by yourself and what you shoot in competition.  How many 10's do you shoot on average on a training string of 10 shots versus your average for a competition? Is your grip exactly the same at the end of a timed or rapid fire string as it was at the beginning? Does your focus seem to waver during the shot process? Chicken finger sometimes, all the time, slow fire or when the wind blows? 

The list goes on and on.  The shooting notes / journal or whatever you call it can point you in the right direction.  Just take some time to review and think through what you feel needs to be improved.  

For me it's not a routine, it's not practice, it is training by isolating the individual pieces of a complete shot process and getting better at the ones that need improvement.  

Generally I tend to start with simply training to complete the shot process with continual pressure on the trigger with exactly the same consistent timing for 10 correct reptitions in a row.  Then completely consistent grip pressure.  Then complete and perfect focus on a specific spot on the front sight (if the visual focus drifts to some other part, I have to start over).  Then a series of dry fire shots where the focus is seeing the wobble completely from the first settle until the hammer fall and shot call so well I can replay the movement wobble in my mind afterwards.  The list gets longer and longer....  And the reps are always how many can you complete without losing focus or getting distracted or just beginning to feel like you are going through the motions.  

Then at the range there can be other training and also "practice" where the is just firing matches just like a competition, scoring, etc., and keeping notes to review later for training. 

Here' something that I try to keep in mind when training. 

Choose to have Fun
Fun creates Enjoyment
Enjoyment invites Participation
Participation focuses Attention
Attention expands Awareness
Awareness promotes Insight
Insight generates Knowledge
Knowledge facilitates Action

Action yields Results


CR

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Post by zanemoseley 11/18/2019, 10:06 pm

Thanks CR. I need to read that a few times to fully digest it. Advancing in BE doesn't always seem to be a straight line, knowing the direction to funnel my free time into can be tricky, I try to look for opportunities to improve and minimize detours.

One thing I have learned up to this point is how critical good trigger control is and without it how screwed you are lol.

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Post by CR10X 11/19/2019, 7:53 am

OK, try thinking about dryfiring and other training this way.  We need to get good at a lot of individual things to produce a good shot.  Trigger operation, grip, stance, focus on dot or front sight, consistent wobble, visual awareness, keeping excitement but not being nervous, etc.  So, when we are not at a match or practicing, why not work on the individual parts to get them more consistent and somewhat automatic without the distraction of score, just keeping track of how well we did the individual part? 

Then when we actually shoot for practice or match, we can put our focus on the one thing we need, (front sight sight for open and dot or target for dot sights; depending on your prefence). 

Your football or baseball or golf or basketball coach did not put you on the field or course and say play.  You were (or should have been) lead through a series of drills (many repetitions) to instill the basics and find out weaknesses before ever learning specific plays or strategies.  Then there was (should have been) specific training training to cover those areas (blocking, tackle, fielding grounders, free throws, driving range work, consistent grip for the club, estimating yardage from the pin, ways to simulate the physical state or mental state of an actual game or round, running -- always lots of running...). 

Unfortunately for shooting, most people just pick up the gun, say align the sights, pull the trigger and stand here without much more than that.  And you can do pretty well if you don't blink or flinch.  Then people tend to think the way to get better is to do the same thing over and over again (practice), without reviewing how well they are doing the basics (or even if they can see the front sight as well as they should).  

But if you desire to get past Expert, or basically move past any plateau, there probably needs to be a return to the individual fundaments parts to identify issues and develop more consistency.  And then compare that consistncy with what happens when you shoot for score.

CR

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Post by Aprilian 11/19/2019, 9:22 am

Cecil has great suggestions.

My only suggestion is to view dry firing differently.  As we fire a shot it is a combination of things happening in our subconscious and in our conscious minds.   When we start bullseye, we have to remember to hold our breath and we look to the left and right to know when to lift our pistol in sustained fire.    Slowly those fade into our subconscious and we move on to learning the next thing.  That is a process by which conscious acts move into our subconscious minds.  

Dry fire, for me is taking each item out of my subconscious moving it to the conscious mind and seeing if there are any flaws or possible improvements.   Just one example is where in the commands do you lift the pistol off the bench? Do you straighten your arm first and tighten your grip second?  What happens to your execution if you do those differently?  Test your execution with the adjustment.  If better, practice a while, make a note and let it go into your subconscious.   I did this last night on where in the griping process I mate up the trigger with the finger and had an epiphany that I had to extend my trigger finger forward to get the alignment I wanted and that was causing me to rotate my grip ever so slightly.   I put back in a shorter trigger and tested the execution, which was noticeably better.

AH HAs like that are what keep me excited to dry fire!
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Post by Ed Hall 11/19/2019, 10:11 am

Some thoughts:

Trying to get to Master class is more difficult if you are focused on trying to get to Master class.  This is because you're also focused on the scores you need.  If you're dead set on focusing on scores, you should raise your goal to 2600.  But better yet, is to forget about numbers while you're shooting and only review them between competitions, away from the range.  Although you can make Master by working hard on the physical aspects, it will be easier if you also work on the mental aspects.  Decide that you are already a Maser and that you always shoot Master scores.  Take that positive attitude with you in your training and competition.

Now to the dry firing:

You're already a Master, but I like to review the following, even as a High Master, so maybe this can help your sessions.

I suggest you create a short training routine to begin all your sessions with and then move to areas you have identified through things CR (and possibly others) have suggested.

1. Start with a dry fire prepared gun (empty, of course) at your bench.  With your hand resting somewhere in a safe direction, do some dry firing without looking at the gun, opting for a determined trigger operation.  Note how long this operation takes and work with this type of dry firing until you get a good feeling of what an undisturbed trigger feels like.  Look for a consistent action.  Once you have that action identified, do a few more to verify it and move to step 2.

2. Next, perform the same drill as step 1, but watch the gun from above, or slightly from the side, if more comfortable.  In any case, look for the gun to be consistent in its steadiness.  There will probably be some movement, but look for that movement to be undisturbed when the hammer falls.  Try to duplicate the trigger operation from step 1, both in feeling and timing.  Once this is accomplished, verify and move to step 3.

3. Now, use a target back or blank wall area in a safe direction, maybe the backstop, and perform the same trigger operation.  Try to duplicate the trigger from steps 1 and 2 while actually watching the sighting system.  Look for a sight reaction in which you wouldn't be able to know the hammer fell, if you didn't perceive it another way.  In other words, there should be no disturbance of the natural hold.  When you can operate the trigger with the same feel and timing as steps 1 and 2, verify and progress to step 4.

4. For this step, add in the black bull of the target and proceed as before.  Again, work to achieve the same feel as all three earlier steps, including the timing of the action.  Focus on the trigger action being the same as before, allowing the sighting system to wander around on the bull.  Make the trigger operation the priority, rather than the picture.

All this sounds like a lot to do every time, but being a Master already, this review will only take you a couple dry fires for each step.

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Post by zanemoseley 11/19/2019, 12:20 pm

Ed Hall wrote:Trying to get to Master class is more difficult if you are focused on trying to get to Master class.  This is because you're also focused on the scores you need. 

This is a very true statement. Twice this last Summer in the heart of the 45 match when I was shooting well I threw some horrible flyers. I'm sure I way "trying" too hard to finish strong. I should try to ignore my score till the very end.

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Post by Vociferous 11/20/2019, 5:03 am

Make it part of your morning routine. Like going to the gym, once you're there, you're going to work out. Have a space for quick set up and take down. Keep an extra box, or your range box, stored in your dry fire space, so you can simulate as much as possible. Even if you're just working on dropping the hammer without disturbing the sights, you are gaining arm strength, lung strength, eye flexibility, ect. Most of all, you are gaining mental toughness, because dry firing for 20 minutes strait, can be demanding. And when you do it day after day after day....well you are paving a road to a destination you want to go.
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Post by SingleActionAndrew 11/20/2019, 7:29 am

In pursuit of being the best competitor that I can be, I'm curious of everyone's opinions on training every day, vs. perhaps every other day to let the muscles rest.

I'm newer to the sport, so perhaps in a few months this will be a non issue as my muscles continue to develop. Last Saturday I trained quite a bit. Sunday I spent a couple hours zeroing a new optic and practicing at the range. Come match time on Monday, and no excuses here I had a great time and scored well, by the time we got to 45 my shoulder was quite tired. I had thought on the line, luckily in slow fire, that I practiced too much the prior days and should have saved strength for the match. Frankly it's 36 hours later and I have a dull soreness in my shooting shoulder.

I recall hearing over the years with weight lifting that you should alternate muscle groups between workouts - I believe to let the muscles build. Is this at all relevant to training and practice in our sport? Or because we're training for endurance rather than weight, should we still train every day? By train here I'm referring for example to dry firing at a blank target, Ed Hall's Steps 3 & 4 above.
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Post by SteveT 11/20/2019, 9:58 am

SingleActionAndrew wrote:In pursuit of being the best competitor that I can be, I'm curious of everyone's opinions on training every day, vs. perhaps every other day to let the muscles rest....

It's mostly a personal thing. I recall one shooter that in his prime didn't like to shoot anything the day before a match, even a local league match. Others need to do something every day to stay sharp. I know one HM shooter that in his prime shot a 2700 every day after work and another who dry fired twice a day leading up to Camp Perry. The military shooting teams shoot all day every day leading up to the summer matches.

You should practice / train as much as possible without doing too much. How's that for advice  Surprised If you are just starting out, there may be some muscle building to hold the gun up, but the great challenge of our sport is mental not physical. If you practice / train so much that you burn out, that is too much. If you continue after you you lose focus, get bored or and can't hold the gun steady, that is too much.
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Post by Aprilian 11/24/2019, 1:20 pm

I found this in the linked article below.
It turns out that trying again and again only works if you learn from your previous failures. The idea is to work smart, not hard. “You have to figure out what worked and what didn’t, and then focus on what needs to be improved instead of thrashing around and changing everything,” says Wang.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/failure-found-to-be-an-essential-prerequisite-for-success/
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Post by adv_rider 1/2/2020, 2:07 pm

Personally for me I find it useful to dry fire at a simulated target.  This helps me with several things:
-gauging how steady I am keeping the gun (may indicate I need strength training, or a different grip)
-watching how steadiness changes while applying trigger pressure (may indicate I need to work on consistent grip pressure or trigger finger placement)
-making it easier to see if the dot moves upon firing (is my trigger finger placement, trigger pull, and follow through good)

Watching these things helped me tune my grip and develop a more consistent and undisturbed follow through.  I found when dry firing at a blank wall the trigger break would feel clean, but I may be doing goofy things with my grip and follow through.  For me it is very important to 'see' the shot.  Others may not need the visual feedback at all.

As for a dry fire regiment, I do my slow fire cadence for about 20-30 shots in a row.  Doing this helps build some strength since you aren't taking breaks to change targets. 

Once I get through a few back to back slow fire strings I do 'first shot' sustained fire training. 
-aim on your target
-close eyes for one inhale/exhale
-open eyes and get off a good shot before 2 mississippi

Closing the eyes for a moment and opening is to simulate the target facing.  Not exactly match like, but the best I can manage in my laundry room.

If I want to mix it up I play the game 10 perfect shots.
-shot must be 'in the black'
-shot must have no discernible movement when the trigger breaks

If the two conditions are met the shot counts.  If the shot is off target, or the dot jumps, the shot does not count.

If I can reach 10 perfect shots before 15 total shots are fired I win.  You can start with a higher number of max allowed shots and reduce them as you get better.  My low score is 11.

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Post by CrankyThunder 1/2/2020, 4:50 pm

Hey Zane:

Dry fire lots and lots and lots and lots.  

Dry fire pointing the gun at a target. 

Dry fire pointing the gun at a blank wall

Dry fire when you are sitting on the couch watching television with the gun resting on your knee.  

Dry fire when you are eating your breakfast cereal...…….ok, I do not do that but you get the idea.  

Do not dry fire to say that you dry fired 100 times this morning.  Dry fire with the objective each and every time to get to know that trigger.  Get to know it such that if you picked up a hundred guns and dry fired every one, you would be able to identify your gun blindfolded.  


The objective of all that dry firing is to get so intimate with that trigger, that when you are pointing the gun at a target that when the dot lines itself up with the bull, the gun goes off by itself.  It is a psycological thing that is somehow connected between your subconscious, your eyeball, your mind, and your trigger finger and the gun fires automatically.  When it happenes the first time you will be surprised.  The trick is to get yourself to do it every shot in the match.  The way to get this is to dry fire thousands of times.  

Regards, 
Crankster
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