Being well-armed does not amount to a hill of beans if your
skills are not regularly practiced and honed. The concept of training is a
necessary part of your life as a gun owner should be engrained into your mind.
Some states require training to obtain a license to carry. Depending on the
regulations, training might be a classroom-only class covering simple things
like safety rules and how to load and unload a firearm. Other states may
require a live-fire element to any training regime. Regardless of what situation
you’re in, basic training is just the beginning.
Live fire practice and range time are pivotal to your
success as an armed citizen. Practice with a purpose is more important than
just plugging holes into a sheet of paper. Take what you have learned in your classes and implement those drills. Therefore, it is essential to take your
training to the next level, give you a guide on what you should be practicing
One of the most important things that you can do is practice
the drawing of your firearm. Armed with the training you have received, take
some time out of your week and put in the work. Dry fire practice is something
that can and should be incorporated into your sessions.
Set up a safe area in your home where you can dry fire your
firearm. Make sure there is no ammunition in the area and establish your “safe
direction.” Ensure your gun is unloaded. Set up your target of choice. Once you
have the area staged, you can start going over your drills.
When drawing from a holster, go back to your training and break
down the steps for the process. Go through each movement slowly and
deliberately. The key to doing these practice sessions is to establish good
muscle memory. The goal here is not to be the quickest you possibly can from
the get-go but to build up your draw being natural and smooth. Once you’ve
gained proficiency in presenting your firearm, then you can work on your speed.
If you have not heard it before, you can read it here: Slow is smooth, and
smooth is fast.
If you’re a new carrier, it’s of particular importance to
pay attention to what’s being discussed here. You want to make sure that you
don’t establish any “training scars” that can impede your ability to draw your
firearm with purpose. If you’re an experienced carrier, it’s still important to
continue to practice these skills, as they are perishable.
Then you should incorporate into the drawing of your firearm
practice sessions is dry fire. Dry fire is a great tool to use independent of
drawing from a holster and also while drawing. Dry fire will get you focused on
the fundamentals of shooting and build that needed muscle memory mentioned
earlier. Much like practicing your draw, this is not a race but rather an
exercise to work on and build on.
Practice your draw and dry fire at the same time. See how
everything comes together and feels when doing the exercise. Evaluate yourself
for any areas that you do not think were crisp and clean. If you believe you’re
sloppy, slow down and focus on each step of the draw/dry fire exercise. Over
time you should feel comfortable putting everything together, and the motion
will become second nature. After that, your goal would be to maintain
There are a couple of other things to consider when working
on your draw and dry fire practice.
On the market, there are several products to aid shooters.
Laser training systems and units that track the motion of your firearm during a
shot can all be purchased. I don’t recommend getting out there and buying
everything you see for sale, but rather evaluate your areas that need
improvement and try to fit a product to your need. These products will help
identify what you may be doing right and maybe doing wrong when practicing.
There are also several different drills that you can work
into your routine. Find exercises and systems that will help you meet your
goals. Incorporating new scenarios into your sessions will help challenge you
and keep you sharp. Find methods that have good ratings by reading the reviews
and any drill found online, make sure they are from a reputable source.
Whatever your needs are concerning firearm ownership,
training and practice are paramount. Knowing the difference between the two is essential
as well. Training is where learning occurs; practice is what you do with what
you have learned. The most important thing to remember whenever setting up a
“cold” training session is to make sure your firearm is unloaded, and there is
no ammunition in the area.
Stay safe out there and think before you do!
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer,
author of “Decoding
Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and USCCA
certified instructor, NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor
living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional
gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com
on Twitter at @johnpetrolino,
and on Instagram @jpetrolinoiii