It’s always interesting to see how people with different focuses and backgrounds look at things in similar fashion. Here’s a recent Facebook post by USPSA Production Grandmaster Donovan Montross (reprinted here with permission) that sounds quite similar to the Fire for Effect PTC post a couple weeks back.
I do think that there are some differences (for example, from a defensive standpoint things like Bill Drills are good to practice because we’re not normally thinking about a short, set 2-round engagement per target like most USPSA stages). But the main message is the same and, in my mind, extremely well articulated. So, read on:
What is the time scale of your learning? Do you track your learning over the course of a season, the course of a match, the course of a practice session?
None of these are adequate when taken by themselves or in combination. They are still important, but we also need to learn on a moment by moment basis, and extract as much usable information as possible out of every repetition we perform, dry or live fire. Every step, every shot, every draw, every reload needs to be performed with our eyes open and our mind aware. I’m not saying it needs to be perfect. I’m saying we need the ability to immediately and objectively evaluate our performance inside of the greater context of our long and short term goals.
There is only a finite amount of practice available – ammo and range time for live fire, and physical endurance in dry fire. We need to treat this like money, and invest it wisely in areas that offer the best potential for return. The more we waste, the further behind we get. The smarter we are with our investments, the wealthier in skill we become. We can do this by constantly reevaluating our priorities in the context of what our personal strengths/weaknesses are vs. what is important for the game, and adjusting our training to match. Constantly – moment by moment, staying ahead of the curve instead of falling behind it.
Stop burning ammo doing Bill drills in live fire and shoot a 15 yard plate rack. When’s the last time you practiced strong and weak hand shooting, unloaded starts from the belt or a table? When’s the last time you shot while off balance, squatting, kneeling, or prone to see how the gun reacts differently? There’s a huge chunk of the game that can be learned in dry fire that we only need to verify and supplement with live fire, for instance don’t extensively live fire draws, reloads, unloaded starts and other gun handling stuff as 95% of the work can get done dry to save ammo for other areas. Similarly, a lot of the work for trigger control can get done dry as well, we just need to go to the range to do it with explosions going off in front of our face.
The most important thing to work on in live fire is how to grip the gun to get the best sight tracking. The predictability of your sights returning to target directly impacts not only your split time, but your transitions between targets, not only the speed but the refinement needed to shoot good points while doing so.
Track what is best learned dry or live, and adjust your training program to suit. You will progress faster than what you thought possible. Good luck!
Train hard & stay safe! ToddG