Category Archives: dryfire

1000 Days of Practice (Part I)

As many of you know, I’m currently working on my second set of doing 1,000 consecutive days of dryfire practice. The first set was done during 2000-2002. This second set started on March 3, 2014 and the 1,000 days will be finished on November 27, 2016, during the week after Thanksgiving.

The original inspiration came from a friend who was working on his Yoga instructor certification. His final requirement to complete his certification was to do 1,000 days straight of meditation. This represented true dedication to excellence in my mind. Being a strong believer in the value of dryfire, I decided to make the same commitment to dryfire and immediately started my own 1,000 Days program. Just as with his meditations, it doesn’t have to be any particular drill or set of drills. Rather, it’s the commitment to do dryfire each and every day, without fail, for 1000 straight days. If I missed a day, I had to start again at the beginning.

Reflecting back on both times I’ve done the 1,000 Days, I have to say they were different experiences and I achieved different things from them. This isn’t surprising, given that they started 14 years apart and a lot went on between them.

The first time was largely a mechanical regimen devoted to further development of my skill level at seeing the sights quickly and pressing the trigger smoothly. Those two skills are fundamental to being more than a mediocre shooter. Unfortunately, shooters who insist on doing only livefire practice rarely learn them well. Recoil masks too many flaws in technique, especially when performance measurement, the third key fundamental, is omitted. Dryfire provides a superior method for learning those key fundamentals.

There is no doubt in my mind that doing the 1,000 Days was instrumental in the successes I had in my competitive shooting career at that time. It was also one of the things that led to my becoming the Chief Instructor of the elite Rogers Shooting School because dryfire is an integral part of the School’s program.

trophy wall

The second run of 1,000 Days had a broader conceptual focus than the first. In between the two runs, I had individually read and created two databases of Armed Citizen and Officer Involved Incidents. Combined, they total over 7,000 incidents. This gave the second run a different perspective on the skills, tactics, and techniques that contributed to success or failure in the context of personal protection.

In addition, I did extensive research about:

  • the decision-making process
  • instructional design
  • performance measurement
  • incident analysis
  • wargaming and decision exercises
  • proxemics, and
  • human communication and interaction

These all contributed to my perception of what and how to practice, both dryfire and livefire. Some of the skills I practiced the first time remained important while others became either less significant or even irrelevant.

As I approach the end of the second 1,000 Days, several questions that hadn’t occurred to me the first time arose.

What is the focus of the next 1,000 Days?

Is 1,000 Days necessary?

Am I limited to only one focal point?

Does my focus have even have to relate to personal protection?

In answer to the last two questions, I resolved to get back on a daily blood pressure monitoring scheme, which I’ve neglected for a while. Since I don’t care much for apps and found the array of paper based products unsatisfactory, I developed my own blood pressure diary. It’s a printable design that’s more compact and organized than the other products available and gives me a better basis for discussions with my cardiologist. For those who are interested, it’s available here.

Standard version pic

diary on nightstand

More in Part II.

Dryfire drills and objectives

Over the years, I have designed dozens of different dryfire drills for my practice sessions. The first was for a dryfire VHS tape that I produced almost 20 years ago. Frankly, the session and the tape weren’t that good but it was a start. I just kept creating and refining more of them. Now I have a menu of options to choose from each day. Most of them are recordings that I have on my computer and/or my cell phone.

Having a library of pre-made sessions accomplishes a number of things for me.

  • Keeps me from getting bored. Since I’m close to finishing my second run of 1000 Days of Dryfire, that’s really important. Let’s face it, having to do the same thing for 1000 days would make it hard to complete the 1000 days. It’s human nature to get bored and we need to accept and anticipate that.
  • Having some short sessions makes the 1000 days manageable. A number of my regimens are less than 5 minutes, including setup. Otherwise, I’d probably end up missing a day due to scheduling, fatigue, or other factors. If you want to design some longer sessions like Ben Stoeger or Steve Anderson, that’s great. It’s good practice and I encourage it. However, you should have at least two ready sessions of five minutes or less duration that you can fall back on when you’re busy or tired.
  • If you’re a little fatigued, doing a short session helps prevent practicing bad form. Better to get 30 quality reps and end it there rather than doing a longer session and overlaying 70 bad reps on top of 30 good ones.
  • Designing short sessions helps me re-focus my long term goals periodically. I shot IDPA heavily for over a decade and a half.  During that time, my dryfire sessions were designed around that activity. Doing a lot of dryfire was one of things that helped me win six State Championships. When I became the Chief Instructor at the elite Rogers Shooting School, I created sessions that were more in tune with the skills I demonstrated and taught there. Now that I have become focused on Decision-Making and avoiding Serious Mistakes, my sessions revolve around those objectives.
  • Two or three short sessions can be combined into a longer one. For instance, I could combine a timed accuracy oriented session, such as the one I created based on the LAPD Bonus Course, with a Serious Mistakes session, such as flashlight practice.

Think about your goals and what the skills that relate to them are. There are numerous references about dryfire on the Internet and YouTube. My colleague Greg Ellifritz made some very pertinent comments to me recently.

It’s so easy to be good at shooting in today’s world.  It takes so little effort to obtain knowledge that was completely cutting edge (and not disseminated outside a very tight knit group of professionals) 25 years ago. A simple google search will provide all the information that took me 10-15 years of constant study to learn.

Just be sure to vet your sources to be sure that it’s not some goober who thinks pointing a pistol at a student’s face, or worse, shooting them, is okay or excusable.

Creating dryfire recordings

A friend of mine emailed me the following question.

Claude, what device do you use to make a digital audio recording? How do you transfer the digital recording to your computer?

I had mentioned to him the recording I recently made for an Enhanced Standard version, i.e., not so easy I could pass it blindfolded, of the State of Ill-Annoy Police Qualification Course. I made the recording for dryfire practice but I could use it for livefire, too.

One of the few apps I have on my phone is an audio recorder called Mini Recorder Free.  I have a Windows phone but the app is also available for Android. It’s very easy to use and records the input as MP3 files.

First, I look at a course of fire and write a script for the recording. When I’m happy with the script, I record the narration of the course of fire, usually as one file. Where the beeps are supposed to go, I say ‘beep beep’ as a place marker.

Then I record the beeps from my CED 6000 timer by putting the microphone next to the timer. Each of the different times is recorded as a single set of beeps. I can insert each beep file multiple times into the narrative, where that’s appropriate.

I connect my phone to my computer and copy the narrative and beep files to the computer. Finally, I edit them together with Wavepad Sound Editor,  which I downloaded from the Internet. Undesirable noises get edited out and I standardize the spacing between the stages so there’s enough time to re-holster, change hands, or do other preparatory work for each string.

Since I don’t have a 15 yard range in my apartment, I create reduced scale targets to use for dryfire. I create the targets by scaling them with Excel.

7 foot range

A reduced scale target also allows me to conceal my target when I’m not dryfiring, which is something I believe in very strongly. The 12 shot drill is on the back of my wall hanging.

ISP 1600x900

On some of my recordings, I substitute a gunshot sound for the start beep. It just depends on how involved I want to make the recording. For my dryfire recording of the LAPD Bonus Course, I downloaded an audio file of the actual course being shot on the LAPD range. I had to clean that one up a lot but it’s fun to dryfire to because there’s all the range noise, LAPD Rangemaster commands (which sound like a subway conductor), sounds of empty magazines hitting the ground, and gunfire in the background. That’s as close as I can get to an actual range experience in my living room dryfire practice area.

A few of the recordings stay on my phone to use when I’m traveling. I also keep a PDF of the target on my phone so I can print it if I forget to take one along. It fits on one page so it’s easy to print in a motel business center. ISP 7 foot target

At this year’s Rangemaster Tactical Conference, someone mentioned wrapping a zip tie with a piece of colored duct tape on it as a safety insert. It’s a great idea and I’m using that now along with the Rogers Tap-Rack-Trainer. A round can’t be chambered with the tie in place. No disassembly of the gun necessary to put it in and it’s easy to take out, too. A bag of 8 inch ties costs about $2. The zip tie isn’t a snap cap, though, so keep that in mind.

Ziptie insert

The audio recording of the ISP Course I created is available as a download for 99 cents on my CDBaby store if you don’t feel like doing all that. There are a number of other recordings of interest, too.

 

Thoughts about the Rangemaster 2016 Tactical Conference – Part II

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.

cheek technique

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.

Sabre Instructor Class

More about the Conference next time.

Initial thoughts about the Rangemaster 2016 Tactical Conference

The Rangemaster 2016 Tactical Conference  is now in the record books. It was held March 11-13, 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee. The gathering included 200+ attendees, almost 30 instructors, and the fine facilities and staff of the Firearms Training Unit, Memphis Police Department Academy.

There was a great deal of material presented, more than could be attended. The Conference focuses on an inter-disciplinary approach to personal protection, so there is a lot more than just firearms and shooting involved. There was a challenging pistol match that could be shot, though; 158 people chose to shoot it.

TacConf2016_Schedule_Matrix

The class I gave was Developing a Dryfire Practice Regimen. I was very gratified by the turnout of 50+ students. As the saying goes, ‘The best way to learn something is to teach it.’ Over the course of creating my presentation, my dryfire techniques became even more refined. One attendee also gave me a new training aid I wasn’t aware of. As in every class I teach, I also learn from the students.

Cover photo

The other classes I attended were:

  • Managing the Don’t Shoot – Larry Lindenman
  • Gaming the Streetz – Eve Kulczar
  • Low Light Equipment – Tom Givens
  • Optimizing Classroom Instruction – Tiffany Johnson, Esq.
  • Metro-Tactical – Julie Thomas
  • Urban Insurgency – Dr. Martin Topper
  • Lasers, Red Dots, Iron Sights – Karl Rehn
  • FBI Research: The Deadly Mix – John Hearne
  • International Terror Operations – Gary Greco/John Holschen
  • Dry Practice: An Evidence Based Approach – John Hearne

One of the pleasures of going to Conferences is getting to talk and catch up with my peers. Some of the conversations I had were:

  • Cecil Burch – the Venn Diagram of Realization, instructor goals in attending conferences
  • Paul Sharp – human gun interaction
  • Skip Gochenour – Homicide trials
  • Caleb Causey – Non-verbal communication
  • Tom Givens – Standards that replicate incident skills
  • Richard Jenkins – Dry Fire Flash Cards and skill development
  • John Farnam – Attitudes of older fighters
  • Gary Greco – American soccer team development, American Mindset (competition and confront/dominate)
  • John Murphy – immediacy of action
  • Mark Luell – I won’t let you take this from me
  • Chuck Haggard – performance of .38 Special and .22 LR in gel and adversaries, S&W metal autoloader maintenance
  • Karl Rehn – iron sights, lasers, and red dots
  • Julie Thomas – tuning a class presentation

I’ll have more to report about the Conference in future posts.

The Woman’s Gun Pamphlet

Through an oblique reference, I recently found a link to The Woman’s Gun Pamphlet. Edit: The link and the server appear to be gone. A PDF of the Pamphlet is available at the edit of this post.

WGP picture

It’s a very interesting publication that was written and published by a colloquium of radical feminists in 1975. The intent was to provide information about both guns themselves and about personal protection attitudes to women of that era who knew nothing about guns or personal protection. As such, I consider it an historically significant document. There’s quite a bit of political rhetoric in it but also a goodly amount of information. Even dry practice is touched on. Some morsels of dry wit are quite entertaining.

toc edit

Especially interesting to me is that it was written from the perspective of self-taught women of the time with some input from men and by doing primary and secondary research. What they considered important, how the information was structured, and how it was presented is insightful. There are a number of items in it that made me realize there are areas of my subject matter knowledge I take for granted.

Given this week’s confrontation between the Federal government and a quasi Posse Comitatus group in Oregon, I also found the political views and fears presented in a 1975 publication to be notable. When I graduated high school in 1972, I doubted I would be able to own a handgun, much less carry one in the majority of States, even slightly into the future at that time. The recent shenanigans regarding Weapons Carry reciprocity in Virginia by its anti-gun Governor and his lackey Attorney General echo items in the Pamphlet. The attitudes and tactics of hoplophobes and political control freaks have changed little in the past 50 years. A common one is ‘take something away, then give it back in exchange for something else.’ The saying ‘One step forward, two steps back’ comes to mind. Gun controllists play the long game, just like Mao Zedong, and never view their playbook as a zero sum game.

The Pamphlet took me a little over an hour to read cover to cover, so it’s not heavy reading. Anyone who teaches, either formally or informally, women or Gun Culture 2.0 will find it worthwhile reading.

Womens Gun pamphlet original

The Tactical Professor’s Pistol Practice Program

Why a Practice Program and not a training program?
I created the Pistol Practice Program (PPP) to fill a need for many gunowners. Most gunowners are self-taught and generally are not familiar with a structured approach to skill development. There is a great deal of information available now on how to shoot a pistol. However, there is much less information available on how to practice firearms skills over a period of time to achieve greater confidence and proficiency. As Aristotle said:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

My goal was to create a program that would get gunowners into the habit of shooting well. I created a step by step approach tailored to the needs of the casual shooter but challenging enough to satisfy the enthusiast. Designed as a series of range sessions, you can practice at your own pace as your schedule permits.

In the case of those who have attended training, your instructor probably said that a firearms class only provides a foundation of skills. To maintain those skills and improve, people who own pistols need to practice after training. Having a program also makes shooting more fun because the shooter develops a sense of accomplishment from the practice. This program is not concerned with what particular technique the shooter uses. Over time and by working the PPP, shooters will determine what works best for them.

The vast majority of gunowners only have access to indoor or public ranges where the type of practice they can do is rather restricted. The PPP takes that constraint into account and presents drills that are indoor range friendly and yet relevant to skill development. The livefire range sessions are then supplemented by dryfire sessions that can be done safely at home. Doing so allows you to develop skills that usually cannot be practiced at an indoor range. How to practice at home safely is thoroughly explained.

The PPP is available on CD. Its contents are mobile device friendly so you can copy the drills to your smartphone or tablet. If your device can access a PDF reader, you can easily take the exact drills to the range with you without having to lug along a book or write down the contents of a DVD. You can also put the dryfire audio sessions on your device for maximum convenience.

Those who are teaching a friend or loved one how to shoot a pistol will find the PPP provides a solid structure for their time at the range. For those who have attended a training class, the PPP provides a way to maintain and build the skills they learned in class. Law enforcement officers can use the PPP to keep your shooting skills tuned up in between qualifications and make qualifications less stressful. Put whatever practice ammo you receive from the department to good use instead of frustrating yourself by shooting the qual course over and over.

Contents of the PPP

  • A Program Guide to get you started
  • A Log Sheet to keep track of your progress
  • 12 Primary Livefire Sessions (50 rounds and Indoor range friendly)
  • 12 Secondary Livefire Sessions (50 rounds) for those who want more practice activity each time at the range
  • 12 Structured scenarios designed to emphasize and train the interactive aspects of personal protection
  • 6 audio guided Dryfire sessions (less than five minutes each)
  • Tip sheets on firearms safety, interacting with law enforcement, common mistakes, etc.

I have drawn on a wide range of training experience, from teaching NRA Basic Pistol classes to my time as the Chief Instructor of the elite Rogers Shooting School, to create this Program. There is no doubt in my mind that shooters at all levels of skill and experience can benefit from it.

The PPP CD is available on my webstore.  At $19.95, it’s about the cost of one box of centerfire ammo. Bonus: the first 100 orders will receive a Rogers Tap-Rack-Training aid, a $5.00 value, at no charge.

PPP cover no grid w QRC

Lowlight dryfire practice

  • At night, have a flashlight next to your gun.
  • Pick them both up at the same time and identify the person before making the shoot decision
  • Flashlight usage implies the need for one handed shooting
  • Competing probabilities are in favor of it being a family member
  • Thinking the light is a ‘lead magnet’ is a problem

I emphasized very strongly about the need for keeping a flashlight next to your ‘nightstand gun’ during my Negative Outcomes presentation at the Rangemaster  2015 Tactical Conference. Although I practice dryfire with a flashlight regularly, it occurred to me that I don’t have a structured regimen for doing so. Tonight, I thought I would work on that a bit.

At first, I started doing my 12 shot drill on my dryfire range with the flashlight. I used the left column to practice with the Harries technique as my ‘outside’ technique. For a general search and ‘inside’ technique, I used the right side column. I just did it this way due to habit because that’s similar to the way I shoot the drill livefire.

1 LL Dryfire range covered2 LL Dryfire 12 shot By ‘outside,’ I mean the flashlight is outside both my body and the pistol. ‘Inside’ means the flashlight is inside of the gun and toward my body. It’s necessary to have both an inside and outside technique so that you can use the light on either side of a piece of cover or concealment. For a right hander, the outside technique is used when using the light around the right side of cover and the inside technique is used around the left side. Left handers reverse that.

It occurred to me that I could use the same setup I use for the Air Marshal Tactical Pistol Course. I’ve modified that target setup slightly so I get more traverse on the multiple target strings. My setup also allows me to use both inside and outside techniques because of the arrangement of my apartment.

3 LL Dryfire Range

I started the Harries practice with the light pointing toward the target but the pistol down at low ready. Even when we’re identifying a target, we don’t want to muzzle them until the shoot decision is made. Then I practiced bringing the pistol up on target while keeping the light pointed at the target. At first, I did this in the hallway, just to get my mechanical movement correct.

4 LL Dryfire harries ready

5 LL Dryfire harries shoot

For the cheek practice, once again, I started with the light pointing toward the target but the pistol down at low ready. Since I use the cheek technique as a general search technique, this means I’m going to be shooting one handed, if the shoot decision is made. I like the cheek technique as a general search technique because it allows me to use the light as an impact tool, if necessary. Because there is a possibility during a general search, I would be in a hallway when shooting started, I incorporated turning off the light after the shot and taking a sidestep. But, there’s not much maneuver room in a hallway, so don’t think this is some magic potion that prevents getting shot.

6 LL Dryfire cheek ready

7 LL Dryfire cheek shoot flash

Once I was satisfied I had the mechanicals down pat, I moved to positions of cover, both left side and right side. I practiced on both sides, making sure I didn’t splash the light off the wall and into my face.

8 LL Dryfire cover ready

9 LL Dryfire cover shoot

Note that in the photographs I took, I was using a flash or the regular lighting for clarity. When practicing, the place was completely dark. Also note that the camera wasn’t positioned exactly where the target was, so I look more exposed than I actually was.

10 LL Dryfire light cover

I’m glad I developed this as a more formal program. I’ll be doing it at least once a week from now on as part of my 1000 days of dryfire.

Keeping dryfire interesting

How much you last practiced isn’t as important as when you last practiced.

Tom Givens

One of the Facebook groups I’m a member of is called 1000 Days of Dryfire Challenge. It’s a group whose members have committed to doing my ‘1000 consecutive days of dryfire’ concept. What I found the first time I did the 1000 days was that regularly devising new regimens and switching them around was important to keep the program interesting and avoiding boredom with doing a single regimen all the time.

A regimen I’ve been doing the past few days is a dryfire version of the Federal Air Marshal Tactical Pistol Course. The target I made is a reduced scale triple QIT printed on 11×17 paper at FedEx Office. It’s scaled for 2.5 yards. What I do is print the image from a flash drive on 11×17 paper at FedEx office and set the copier to ‘resize to fit page.’ Resizing is one of the menu options when printing from a flash drive. Feel free to download the image and try it yourself.

Triple QIT for legal landscape grey background v2The spacing isn’t quite wide enough on a single piece of paper but nothing is perfect. I punched a hole in the paper at the measured middle point so I can hang it on a picture hanger in the wall. Regular paper tends to sag when hung on the wall, so I stapled it to a piece of cardstock.Triple QIT on wallI’m using my SCCY pistol because it’s DAO with second strike capability so I can pull the trigger on almost all the shots. The only one I have to fudge is the final stage because it involves two strings starting with a slide lock reload. I start those strings with the slide locked back, so the first shot is a dead trigger.

Since the TPC is based on Par times, like most police courses, I set the par times on one of my CED 6000 timers. It’s a great training timer, which isn’t made any more, unfortunately. The CED has an option for multiple strings of par time, which makes it easy to set up the multiple string stages. Like most timers, it only sets par times to one tenth of a second, so I round the times down, e.g., 1.65 becomes 1.6 seconds.

Federal Air Marshal Tactical Pistol Course (TPC)

Drill Starting Position Seconds Allowed Total Rounds
One Round (twice). Concealed Holster 1.65 (3.30 total) 2
Double Tap (twice) Low Ready 1.35 (2.70 total) 4
Rhythm; fire 6 rounds at one target; no more than 0.6 between each shot. Low Ready 3.00 6
One Shot, speed reload, one shot (twice). Low Ready 3.25 (6.50 total) 4
One Round each at two targets 3 yards apart (twice). (Use the outer targets. I go left to right for one string and right to left for the other.) Low Ready 1.65 (3.30 total) 4
180 degree pivot. One round each at 3 targets (twice). Turn left, then right. Concealed Holster 3.50 (7.00 total) 6
One Round, slide locks back; drop to one knee; reload; fire one round (twice). Low Ready 4.00 (8.00 total) 4

QUALIFICATION:

  1. TIME: Cannot exceed total time for each Drill. Example: Drill #1 – 1st time 1.70 seconds, 2nd time 1.55 seconds; Total = 3.25 seconds = Go. Must achieve a “GO” on each Drill.
  2. ACCURACY: Target is FBI “QIT” (bottle). Total rounds fired is 30. Point value that hit the inside bottle = 5. Point value touching line or outside bottle = 2. Maximum possible score = 150. Minimum qualifying score = 135.

All stages must equal “GO” to qualify.

This is a fun course that only takes a few minutes to do but tests a number of skills and is fun, at least for me.

Structured practice (Part I)

What exactly is Claude Werner’s ‘1,000 Day Dry Fire’ program? Is it published anywhere? Anybody tried it? What were the results? Would you do it again?

This question was asked on a forum I visit occasionally. In a narrow sense, the question refers to an idea I had a while ago. About 12 years ago, a friend was working on his Yoga instructor certification and had to do 1000 days straight of meditation. That inspired me, so I decided to do it with dryfire. He said that dryfire is my form of meditation; I will defer to his judgment on that. Another friend of mine wanted to try it last year, so I’m doing it with him now, my second time, his first. We’ll be finished at the end of 2015 but we both agree it’s become such a habit that we probably won’t stop then.

First of all, the ‘program’ is not any particular drill or set of drills. Rather, it’s the commitment to do dryfire each and every day, without fail, for 1000 straight days. If you miss a day, you have to start again at the beginning. The important thing is do some dry practice every single day, even if it’s just a little. My last trigger press is never more than 24 hours in the past. Days that I practice livefire are not exempt from the dryfire requirement. I like to finish each range session with a few dryfire trigger presses.

The first time I did the program, when I was at the GF’s house, I’d do it in the bathroom by using the tile intersections as targets. She finally figured out what I was doing and had me set up a little dryfire range in the spare bedroom. The range consisted of a reduced size target behind a picture and a cassette tape I had made with a specific regimen on it. Eight minutes and I was done.

The reason there’s not one drill or set of drills is to avoid boredom. I regularly change up my regimen. Run different qualification courses dryfire, practice bullseye shooting, run the NRA Defensive Pistol I & II, etc. It doesn’t matter. I make different targets and reduced size target arrays from time to time to change things up, as well.

front face

The most important aspect of the program is that it represents a philosophy of practicing our skills on a regular basis. Those skills might be shooting, threat management, surveillance detection, pepper spray, unarmed combat, etc. Any physical skill is perishable, meaning after a length of time, it’s not as easily performed on demand. The ‘riding a bicycle’ analogy does not completely apply. When we get back on a bike after a long time, we have some time to refresh ourselves with those motor skills. If someone is attacking you, a refresher session for your personal protection skills is not an option for you. You need to be on your game at that point. Shooting skills are especially perishable for those who have never become Unconsciously Competent at them in the first place. That’s most people, frankly.

I dryfire even when I shoot an IDPA match. When I go through the “Unload and Show Clear” process, I don’t just do a trigger mash at the hip like most people. I pick out a spot on the berm, aim at it, and do a good dryfire trigger press. What I don’t want to do is to ever program myself to do a motor skill in a sloppy or detrimental way.

As a friend of mine once remarked, “Claude doesn’t do anything that doesn’t have a purpose.” My cardiologist told me “You are a very programmatic person.” Both of those are completely true, to the extent I can make it that way.