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Recommendations for how often to dry-fire, and for how long?

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Post by mikemyers 11/7/2020, 9:45 am

It seems like most everyone talks about dry-fire training as a way to improve their shooting.
My question is how frequently to do so, to get the most out of it, and how long to do it.

What I eventually learned to do, is to put a one pound ankle/wrist weight around my right wrist, and dry-fire perhaps three times a day, three or four days a week.  Each session is maybe half an hour long, dry-firing a few shots, putting the gun down, then repeating.  I do this for 25 "sets", holding and dry-firing for 30 seconds, then a 30 second rest period, for half an hour.  Half way through the session, the wrist weight comes off.

(I downloaded an app named "Interval Timer" on my iPhone, which uses a buzzer to control everything.)

I try to follow all the advice I've been given in this forum - if the advice works at the range, I do things that way in Dry Firing. I'm hoping to get to where my sub-conscious fires the gun, rather than me thinking about it, and what I usually do now is CrankyThunder's advice to continually increase pressure on the trigger.  Eventually the gun will fire, but I never want to do that deliberately.


So, what do you guys do, and why?
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Post by SteveT 11/7/2020, 10:33 am

As often as you can and as long as you can, as long as you are executing your shot process correctly.

I saw improvement when I stopped worrying too much about how and when I dry fired. If I had 10 minutes before leaving for work, or 10 minutes before bed, go dry fire, even if I'm barefoot or wearing work shoes. More sessions helped a lot.

Leading up to Camp Perry or the State Championship I will worry more about wearing the same shoes and re-creating match conditions as much as possible.
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Post by Schaumannk 11/7/2020, 11:10 am

My suggestion is,  you will benefit most from dry firing with a heavy roll trigger.   4.0 pounds or a little above.  Once you learn how to pull that straight through without disturbing the sights you are golden for any gun with a lighter trigger or less roll.   

Arm and shoulder strength, is also very important as well as core strength and cardio.  I lift weights.  I also shot one of my best matches right after two weeks in Italy, where I did nothing but walk several miles a day to see the sights.

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Post by mikemyers 11/10/2020, 12:53 pm

SteveT, that's sort of what I'm doing, but not for the complete shot process.  Gun is already in my hand, so I stand and raise the gun, then follow CrankyThunder's advice of gradually applying pressure to the trigger until the gun "fires", then hold it for another second, lower gun, and repeat.

'Schaumannk', I use whichever gun is handy at the time, currently my Salyer/Caspian/Nelson.  

Where I'm lost, is to follow CrankyThunder's instructions, I'm not pulling the trigger straight through at all, just adding pressure until the gun eventually fires, and checking that the sights were not disturbed.  

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't "take the shot" while at the same time trying to let my subconscious learn to take the shot.  It's one or the other, not both.

About all the strength you noted, I'm 76, and I don't have any of that.  Lift weights?  No way!  Walking is something I'm good at and I enjoy, but I'm at the lower end of the scale when it comes to strength.


Currently I dry fire two or three sessions a day, four or five days a week.  The gun is in front of my TV, so any time I'm sitting there, I pick it up and dry fire.  The more, the better.  And to improve what little strength I do have, for the first half of my session, I put a one pound wrist weight around my wrist.
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Post by BE Mike 11/11/2020, 6:47 am

The quantity of time dry firing is not as important as the quality. When your mind strays or you are tired and not putting in the effort, then cease dry firing. You definitely need to start a light weight/ high rep. program to tone the shooting muscles of the hand, arm and shoulder. You need muscle tone, but also at your age, you may want to bulk up some. Don't let age be an excuse. As long as you have no injuries, you should be able to start very slowly with very light weights. A water jug, some water, a length of twine and a 2 foot piece of broom handle will help you do all you need to do. Put just a little water in the jug. Tie one end of the twine to the jug. Staple the other end of the twine to the piece of the broom handle. Now you are ready to hold out the jug at arm's length, like a pistol and aim it at a spot on the wall for as long as you can. After that, you use your new found gym equipment to do controlled roll up and down exercises, while holding the broom handle with your arms parallel to the floor. I cannot emphasize enough how slow you need to go and work up.  A lot of very good women shooters simply have very good muscle tone.
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Post by Schaumannk 11/11/2020, 7:14 am

Everything BE Mike said is true.  You can trick yourself into thinking that your physical conditioning is fine because in practice you can shoot twenty good shots. 

But being out on the line in poor weather conditions and shooting 270 shots in one day will expose your lack of conditioning very quickly.

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Post by mikemyers 11/11/2020, 7:45 am

BE Mike wrote:The quantity of time dry firing is not as important as the quality. When your mind strays or you are tired and not putting in the effort, then cease dry firing. You definitely need to start a light weight/ high rep. program to tone the shooting muscles of the hand, arm and shoulder. You need muscle tone, but also at your age, you may want to bulk up some. Don't let age be an excuse. As long as you have no injuries, you should be able to start very slowly with very light weights. A water jug, some water, a length of twine and a 2 foot piece of broom handle will help you do all you need to do. Put just a little water in the jug. Tie one end of the twine to the jug. Staple the other end of the twine to the piece of the broom handle. Now you are ready to hold out the jug at arm's length, like a pistol and aim it at a spot on the wall for as long as you can. After that, you use your new found gym equipment to do controlled roll up and down exercises, while holding the broom handle with your arms parallel to the floor. I cannot emphasize enough how slow you need to go and work up.  A lot of very good women shooters simply have very good muscle tone.
Your first point I agree with completely - at the end of each "shot" I know where the hole should appear on the paper.  Yes, my mind sometimes does want to stray, just as what sometimes happens at the range.  I force it back to where it belongs, or if I realize I am tired, I just stop.

Your second point was achieved differently.  Since I can't melt lead, Dave Salyer filled an old 1911 magazine completely with lead, and I use that for dry-fire.  Essentially, this is allowing my to do the HOLDING DRILLS that Keith Sanderson suggested.  

(I thought I injured myself a few years back, but doing this along with a wrist weight.  I developed a pain in my neck/shoulder/whatever area, that finally vanished during one of my trips to India.  Unlike that time, if anything literally feels like it hurts, I stop, and continue later.  By then, the pain is gone, and does not return.)


For dry firing, I usually have a television on, something to occupy my mind when I'm not shooting.  I can make my training sessions any length I want - I picked half an hour or so.  As someone else told me, I can just leave the empty gun on a table near where I sit to watch TV.  It seems like a perfect way to train my subconscious to "take the shot", as my "thinking" mind is otherwise occupied.  With a red dot, I know instantly whether I shot well, or not.  If the answer is "not", I turn off the TV and fully concentrate on what the problem was or is, then leave a written note to myself about it so I might revise my Shot Plan to eliminate it.

(I'm also getting "Physical Therapy" twice a week, and they give me all softs of exercises to do.  The fellow I usually work with seems to know what I need to do to gain strength and balance, and I just do what they tell me to do.  I think that is also helping.)
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Post by inthebeech 11/11/2020, 10:13 am

You're killing me Smalls.
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Post by Slamfire 11/12/2020, 7:07 pm

While I agree dry firing is outstanding practice for sight alignment and trigger control, I find all that fine motor control goes out the window by the second magazine of 45 ACP.

My problem, is the flinch. I don't know how you fix a flinch by dry firing.

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Post by mikemyers 11/12/2020, 7:14 pm

There is something about this in "The Pistol Shooter's Treasury".  If I remember the exact words, a flinch can be cured with 100 rounds of hardball.

I had a nasty flinch, and nothing was helping, so I went to the range with boxes of hundred rounds of Winchester White Box 230 grain ammo, and I stopped fighting the flinch.  If my arm wanted to do that, I let it.  Long before 100 rounds I was no longer concerned with the recoil, and the flinch was gone.

You only flinch because you're concerned about the oncoming recoil.  By the time you're approaching 100 rounds, you no longer care about the recoil.


......and you're right, you can't cure a flinch by dry-firing.
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Post by Jon Eulette 11/12/2020, 7:44 pm

Dry firing is for perfecting technique. It’s not for conditioning. You should dry for with a purpose; have a plan. Work each fundamental individually and perfect the fundamental. Use the guns you’re going to shoot! That’s the only way to master that specific pistol. Example; I have 3 different 45’s and each one requires something slightly different to pull the trigger perfectly with each one. If I didn’t work/train with each one I wouldn’t know what it took to break a perfect shot with that pistol. I lied about having 3 45’s Wink Do not reinforce BAD! Sometimes your better off putting the pistol back in the safe and dry firing later. Don’t go through the motions. Read that 100X! Too many shooters are really wasting their time because they’re not really training, they’re just snapping in.
Have Fun!
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Post by thessler 11/13/2020, 3:44 am

That is actually the one good thing about the ammo shortage, my dry fire time has increased exponentially. 
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Post by Slamfire 11/13/2020, 12:13 pm

mikemyers wrote:There is something about this in "The Pistol Shooter's Treasury".  If I remember the exact words, a flinch can be cured with 100 rounds of hardball.

Was that not written by the guy who taught children to swim by tossing them into the deep end of the pool?

Wasn't he put on trail for murder?

There are those who believe that what does not kill them, makes them stronger. I am not one of them. My flinch does not go away due to increased, or increasing pain.

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Post by mikemyers 11/13/2020, 2:19 pm

I don't understand - if someone is going to shoot a 45, the recoil is not going to hurt them.  The anticipation is what hurts them.

I could use myself as an example - I flinched ever time when I started on my box of ammo, but after a while, the recoil was still the same, but I no longer cared.

If someone can't safely shoot 45 ACP for some reason, they shouldn't shoot it at all.  The recoil will remain the same no matter what they do.

Anyway, I trusted it because it was in The Pistol Shooter's Treasury, one of my favorite books.  I should find the exact page where it was written.

Someone more experienced than I should post here, and answer questions.
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Post by Slamfire 11/13/2020, 9:00 pm

mikemyers wrote:I don't understand - if someone is going to shoot a 45, the recoil is not going to hurt them.  The anticipation is what hurts them.

I could use myself as an example - I flinched ever time when I started on my box of ammo, but after a while, the recoil was still the same, but I no longer cared.

If someone can't safely shoot 45 ACP for some reason, they shouldn't shoot it at all.  The recoil will remain the same no matter what they do.

I have to work on my flinch even when shooting a 10 lb 22 lr match rifle prone. And when I don't, I see shots at 10 OC due to pushing the stock forward, anticipating the recoil. And there is almost no recoil from a 22lr.

If shooters can learn to stop flinching by shooting enough bullets, how come everyone does better with the 22 lr than the 45ACP?  I am going to claim, the 45ACP beats you up, and the average shooter can't help themselves, as the body subconsciously reacts to the abuse of shooting.

Its not a matter of safely shooting a 45 ACP, it is a matter of consistently shooting a 45 ACP. My flinch manifests in several ways, hitting the trigger too hard, pushing the barrel to the right on recoil. Sometimes pushing the pistol up.  I can see the dot on my Ultra Dot make a circle as I push the gun during the time  the bullet is going down the barrel.

I am going to claim that everyone flinches, just that not everyone is honest enough to admit to flinching.  I know ways to test this. Load up something like a 44 Magnum, shoot at least 30 rounds, and then, load five in a six round cylinder and spin it before closing. That way, you don't know which is the empty cylinder. And then, shoot. See how you react when the hammer falls on the empty. See how you jump.

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Post by mikemyers 11/13/2020, 10:48 pm

I'm not the one who should be giving advice.  I'm better off at taking advice.  But if I were to give advice, I'd say you can't "fix" it.   But it will go away.

People tell me to "accept my wobble", and certainly not fight it.  You can't shoot better than your "wobble zone", and the harder you try, the worse you'll do.  

I would guess you are aiming at the bullseye.  Bad idea.  Whatever your wobble zone is, and let's say it's the 8-ring, accept that.  You can't suddenly get better.  Just accept it, and be content with all your holes goin in the 8-ring, or whatever it is you can do.  You can't hit the Bullseye by aiming at it, as by the time you actually fire, the gun will no longer be in the same place.  What you see, is "history".  What you can do, is follow all the advice in this forum.  Take your paper targets and put them up on the backing board facing the wrong way.  Now you have nothing to "aim at".  Pretty good chance you'll shoot better groups that way.   :-) 

You can also follow all the advice people were giving me after I posted a photo of my target.  Maybe post a typical target that you've shot, explain how you did it, and I'm sure you will get the same help I did.  Maybe you'll learn faster than I did.

There's a lot of good feedback you will get if you post a target.  Oh, and there is a thread here each week in the General Forum to simulate a match.  Shoot three targets, slow fire, timed fire, and rapid fire - score them - and post them here.  It's not a real "match", but you can pretend it is.  That will also get you good feedback from people here.

As to the 45 beating you up, once you shoot that hundred or so rounds of Winchester White Box, and then start shooting Bullseye loads, there is a world of difference.  

Final thought - you don't "learn how to stop flinching by shooting enough bullets".  By the time you've shot 100, you no longer care.  If you're like me, you realize the recoil is not going to hurt you, and there's nothing to fear.  Sounds pretty stupid, and yes, my hand was plenty sore when I finished, but it worked. Or, like I think you said, put the 45 off for a while, and learn with your 22.  That's the sensible way to do things (meaning I'm not very sensible, as I want to do everything!).

Another thing you can do, is something I learned from user 'CrankyThunder' here.  Hold out the gun and aim, and start applying pressure to the trigger, but try to squeeze as much as you can WITHOUT the gun firing.  When the gun eventually does go bang, you won't have time to flinch.  I did that with Bullseye loads, not full loads.

Do you dry fire?  According to Keith Sanderson, for every "live" shot you fire at the range, you should dry-fire 100 times.  Go to YouTube and search for "Keith Sanderson Dry Fire" and watch him explain.


Who knows, maybe you can even find a coach.
If not, go to Amazon and buy a copy of "The Pistol Shooter's Treasury".  That will be 1,000 times more useful than what I might post here.


Last edited by mikemyers on 11/13/2020, 10:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Sa-tevp 11/13/2020, 10:57 pm

You do know that Keith Sanderson eventually had surgery to repair damage to his shooting arm. If you follow his holding drills advice you can achieve shooters elbow without the cost of using ammo.
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Post by Schaumannk 11/13/2020, 11:04 pm

This is no joke.    I had it for a while several years ago.   Some shooters I know have actually had to change hands, to let their injuries heal.  

All advice from Olympic shooters like Keith should be taken with a grain of salt. If there was a simple formula for becoming and remaining a master class or high master shooter, I think we would see a lot more of them on the line.   
Proper training can take you a long way, but when you look at the numbers for a lot of people that peak is the Expert class.

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Post by hammerli 1/10/2021, 11:11 pm

Let me chime in with my thoughts.
In the days when I shot competitive ISSF pistol in India we learnt of 3 philosophies of shooting.

Only shoot live This was apparent with some shooters at the USAMU who shot all day and reckoned that the shooting built up the required muscles. I will not name anyone here.

Shoot and run  Shooters like  Doc Young, I think, shot 200 pellets out of his airpistol and 100 rounds from his modified TOZ free pistol. He also ran and lifted weights.

Click and run Many Russian shooters actually dry fired 10 shots for each live shot they fired at the range and they ran and lifted weights.
I adopted the Click and run policy and it has worked well. So for every hour at the range live shooting spend at least 6 hours at home dry firing.

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