The Rangemaster 2016 Tactical Conference was held March 11-13, 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee. I’m continuing to coalesce my thoughts and observations about the Conference.
A friend emailed me today with this question.
For 30 years I have heard the term Dry-fire. The term has been used in articles, in classes, on training videos. Now it is called Dry-Practice. Have we gone politically correct?
Since dryfire is something I work on quite a bit, that’s a question worth addressing in the context of the Conference. Dry Practice, to me, expands the boundaries of what we can work on beyond trigger manipulation. For instance, if you practiced clearing your house with an inert gun, there wouldn’t be any firing, so it would be dry practice.
I considered including a decision-making component, using decisional flash cards I’ve been developing, in my presentation. Due to time constraints, I had to leave it out. That would also be a form of dry practice even though there wouldn’t be any weapons, live or inert, involved; purely a thought exercise.
So, dry fire is actually a subset of dry practice. When it’s used that way, I can accept both definitions.
My class for the Conference was Developing a Dryfire Practice Regimen. I focused the class on fundamental manipulation skills of a pistol that were parallel to what could be seen on a square range. For instance, practicing trigger manipulation, presenting from ready or a holster, malfunction clearance, etc. Fundamental skills should be practiced until we are Unconsciously Competent at them. The more repetitions we have at a task, the more likely we are to develop the UC necessary to free our minds for situational input and decision-making.
Other classes at the Conference refined, extrapolated, or demonstrated the need for dry practice. For instance, John Hearne’s presentation Dry Practice: An Evidence Based Approach included several items of physiological theory about why dry practice is an effective form of practice. John’s Master’s degree concentration was in Research Methods so he was very thorough about his research and how he applied it to our Art. Larry Lindenman’s Managing the Don’t Shoot was taught using inert weapons. The students undertook a significant number of progressively complex exercises with multiple repetitions about how to take a threat at gunpoint without firing. Tom Givens’ Low Light Equipment class included considerable material about flashlight technique. All the techniques Tom presented could be practiced dry without going to the range. Low light livefire should simply be a verification of the manipulation skills developed in dry practice. That is the approach used at the elite Rogers Shooting School.
One attendee was so kind as to bring a set of Dry Fire flash cards he had purchased. It was interesting to look at them. While they might have some long term viability for a few shooters, there were some serious barriers to using them for skill development. Most notably, the cards assumed the user was familiar with the drills indicated on the cards. I.e., the creator took his subject matter knowledge for granted. Second, there really was no information provided about how to use the cards as part of a practice regimen. It’s important that we either have a logical sequence for building our skills or that we deliberately work, at random, skills we have already developed to maintain instant recall of our UC. Without a program for doing one sequence eventually followed by the other, the cards’ usefulness is limited, in my opinion.
Caleb Causey and I had an interesting conversation about non-verbal communication. It made me realize how powerful non-verbals can be between an instructor and a student. Chuck Haggard and I have discussed the non-verbal communication that goes on between predators and potential prey. One of the most important components of interacting with predators is to ‘fail the interview.’ Predators frequently observe whom they wish to prey upon in order to make a decision about whether to proceed with the predation. This observation is the initial component of the ‘interview.’ Appearing to be uncooperative from a distance may avert the need for a verbal or physical interaction at all. Being uncooperative is something that can be practiced dry, as well, and doesn’t necessarily require equipment.
More about the Conference next time.