Dry Practice Guide

DISCLAIMER

Before you implement any of my suggestions you must assume all responsibility and liability for all of your actions.

I can only give the best advice that I can, and I, like all humans, am flawed.

We all take risks every day, don't add to yours by taking anyone's advice (not even my own) without filtering it through your own critical thinking skills, life experiences, and your own common sense.

While the risks which are associated with practicing with firearms or even non-lethal training aids (such as airsoft, laser training devices, and weighted training magazines, etc.,) can be greatly minimized by the proper use of the four firearms safety habits, following our recommended guidelines, and the liberal application of common sense; you need to be aware that it is impossible to eliminate all the inherent risks associated with dry practice and its associated tools without jeopardizing the essential qualities and benefits of the firearms training, whether dry or live fire.

While we may not be able to eliminate all risk, having a plan and comprehensive procedures (such as those found in this guide), and attacking your safety rituals with gusto (instead of going through the motions) helps us get closer to the goal of 100% safety than any other procedure that I know of.

Therefore this guide is meant to help you get the most out of your dry practice time - but it is only a guide - and you need to know there is no substitute for knowledge and understanding of the subject at hand.

Therefore if you are unsure about the basic steps in safely handling a firearm (those skills such as loading, unloading, and checking the condition of the firearm, etc.,) don't use the advice in this guide until you can get the correct training that you need in order to keep yourself and all innocents safe.

Because we have seen this system work exceedingly well for every shooter that has ever picked it up, I can say with 100% certainty that if you follow our simple guidelines and procedures, you to can greatly benefit from safe and effective dry practice and reach your training goals faster than you ever thought possible.

If, for whatever reason you skip any step that this guide suggests, are not 100% cognizant of what you are doing, or violate the spirit of the following guidelines - I promise you that your risk of a Negligent Discharge or "ND" will skyrocket; as will the potential for injury and death to yourself and other innocent bystanders.

So either be 100% deliberate in your actions and be "all there" mentally or don't attempt to dry practice until you can.

You also need to know that this guide is descriptive in nature, not prescriptive.

What I mean by this is that while I will describe training techniques and recommend training drills to you it is up to you to use your intellect, previous experiences, and continued education to select the correct technique which best matches your unique situation and needs, and adjust your training accordingly.

Our goal is to build a self-correcting and intelligently vetting independently thinking shooter, and I believe this system does that quite well.

While there is no "one size fits all" solution I have generally found that a person who undertakes a serious self-improvement project such as the one contained in this manual will achieve their goals quickly.

Properly adapted to your needs, this material will set you on solid footing you can build on, will help you sustain your training, and give you a solid idea of how to tailor the advice to fit both your current and future needs.

I am writing this guide to help you save wasted sword motion and not have to reinvent the wheel. Make this guide yours and make "copy, transform, and combine" your new mantra.

Finally, while the material on this page is solid and I have found it to be extremely useful in my own life, in the lives of fellow instructors, competitors, professionals, and others I have had the pleasure to know and work with, I am certain they would all agree that you will only get out of it what you put into it. Immersing yourself in the training with full participation and adaptation is what gives it real power.


Introduction

"Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win." - Bobby Knight

What is "Dry Practice"?

Dry practice is a form of physical and mental rehearsal where you use an unloaded firearm and optional - but helpful - dry practice training aids (such as airsoft, laser training devices, and weighted training magazines, etc.,) in order to correctly practice gun handling techniques and weapons manipulation for the purpose of programming your neurological system to move correctly, rapidly, and efficiently along a pre-rehearsed path.

When proper dry practice occurs to a sufficient degree you are ingraining these patterns into your unconscious mind, often referred to as an "Unconscious Competence" or "Muscle Memory".

To simplify: Dry practice, when done correctly, is a form of mental and physical rehearsal that helps you get better much faster than just shooting live ammunition alone will. Dry practice is a tool you will want in your pocket for quick reprogramming of specific skill sets.

Dry practice isn't new, it's been around for a very long time and its benefits are well known by professional operators and competitors the world over.

Dry practicing to gain weapons and tactical skills can take on many forms.

At the individual level dry practice can encompass learning new gun handling skills quickly, perfecting and retaining known gun handling skills, breaking bad habits, learning individual movement techniques, etc.

At the team level, dry practice can take the form of vivid mental and physical rehearsals using training exercises such as "tape drills" which are the standard leading up to and utilized between RBT, scenario, and other team training events. These dry practice training drills help the team to stay sharp when they don't have the time, money, ammo, or space for full-blown and complex training scenarios.

Proper dry practice doesn't need not cost you a penny, and regardless of what dry practice training tools you may or may not have to augment your training, a solid dry practice routine will take you far.

A proper dry practice program will allow you to more quickly learn the skills you need to survive a gunfight, help you overcome training scars, and learn how to work with new equipment faster than you ever thought possible.

A solid dry practice routine is something all those who are serious about winning a fight can come back to for continued progress.

When used in conjunction with the training resources of the Defense Academy, this dry practice routine integrates into a full 1-year firearms and tactics training program that covers everything the first time gun owner needs to do in order to become practically proficient team fighter with a handgun, shotgun, and rifle in defense of yourself, loved ones, your home, business, church, school, and community.

If you are a veteran gun owner this guide will give you plenty of new information and maybe even open your eyes to additional resources for your own advanced training.

Why Dry Practice?

Dry practice spans the life of all professional firearms operators and is the secret that is hidden in plain sight.

Proper dry practice allows you to quickly adapt to any situation in the shortest amount of time with the highest amount of skill possible.

Operators throughout the ages have used dry practice and vivid visualization to not only train on new weapons and equipment but to better prepare for the fight.

In this sense, the value of dry practice is measured in lives saved. To many of us, that's invaluable - and that's enough.

From a practical, everyday training point of view, the ability to get serious training, almost anywhere, and on the cheap, is just the cherry on top.

There are other measurable benefits that come from a solid dry practice routine as well, not the least of which is the discipline to do the work required to pick up new skills.

While delivering the benefit of learning (or relearning) a new physical motor skill quickly, dry practice costs only the investment of time and focused attention to reap huge benefits in your preparation for the fight of your life.

When you dry practice you save on gas, range rental, ammo, and very importantly - the time it takes you to drive to the range and back.

Don't read into what I am saying here. Live fire is of paramount importance, but so too is your dry practice.

Dry practice is the place you can hone your live fire and tactical skills at no financial cost, and live-fire confirms the effectiveness of your dry practice program. The two enhance your training program when utilized, and your training program will suffer without both.

Even if you are burning through 100,000 rounds a year in focused live fire training, your live-fire can still be enhanced by a proper dry practice routine of some type.

Whether you're rolling in the dough and you have full discretionary time, or you're tight on time, dough, and ammo (like most military and LEOs), a good dry practice routine is your ticket to gaining new skills quickly and maintaining a sharp edge between range and qualification days.

While you can enhance your dry practice by purchasing relatively inexpensive equipment and accessories in order to add realism to your dry practice (which we recommend); you can, when needed, dry practice effectively with only the equipment you already own, and never have to spend a penny past what you need for your regular live-fire training.

For those who want to gain solid skills quickly, it's not a "one or the other" proposition -- it's "both" to varying degrees depending on your current needs and goals.

Dry practice is an invaluable tool to have on your side; don't let anyone undersell you on its benefits to your training routine. You're only handicapping yourself if you're not utilizing the tool of dry practice to speed your training along.


First Step - Select a Safe Dry Practice Location

If you understand the value of dry practice and are ready to begin training, the first thing you need to consider is a safe location to dry practice in.

A good dry practice area will help you maintain focus on the task at hand while keeping you and others safe.

Much like establishing a storefront you need to select your dry practice area with the most important factor in mind "location, location, location."

When selecting your dry practice area, ensure it meets the following criteria:

Access control - Proper dry practice requires that you are able to focus on the task at hand. The last thing you need or want during focused dry practice is interruptions.

Make sure your dry practice area is secluded enough that you can limit access so people can't simply walk in on you, especially not in the downrange direction where you will be pointing your unloaded firearm, high power lasers, airsoft, or other non-lethal training firearms (NLTF) such as Ultimate Training Munitions.

Consider getting a lock on the door that grants access, as well as posting signage on the outside of the door when you are training and don't want to be disturbed.

Bulletproof - Ensure that both your down range area (wherever you will hang your targets and point your gun towards) as well as any administrative staging area, is capable of stopping a projectile accidently shot from the firearm you are training with.

Be aware that most modern firearms ammunition will NOT be contained by standard building materials such as sheetrock, the steel or wood studs, and the exterior wood, vinyl, or aluminum siding and will easily defeat even several walls while retaining sufficient power to both maim and kill.

Your backstop should be made of concrete (think basement) or brick (such as a fireplace/chimney), that is (ideally) backed by earth on the opposite side of the wall.

If you have any doubt of your structure's ability to stop a projectile safely, consult a reputable structural engineer in your area.

Take note that for airsoft guns harder matrices (such as wood, concrete, brick, etc.,) pose a significant ricochet hazard with both airsoft plastic BBs as well as any standard metal BBs you may shoot.

Because of this, you should mitigate the risk of ricochet with something behind your target and in front of your wall that will absorb training projectiles as well as wear safety glasses any time your dry practice with training aids that expel rounds.

Segregation - Ensure that the area you select is an area that is free of accidental contamination by live rounds being introduced. If your reloading room is the only area in your home that is bulletproof, ensure that it is sanitized prior to each dry practice session.

Make it exclusive - Once you have designated your safe and sanitized dry practice area, only dry practice in that designated area and nowhere else.

Avoid unnecessary distractions by planning ahead and letting others know that your training time is important to you, the more you reinforce it, the fewer distractions you will get.

Once you have your dry practice area selected, the next thing you will need to do is occupy it via a series of safety rituals that will mitigate the chance of negligent discharges or "NDs" during your dry practice.


Second Step, - Conduct Safety Rituals (Train safely, or don't train at all)

If you understand the value of dry practice and have selected your safe dry practice area, then you are just about ready to begin your training. However, simply selecting a safe dry practice area isn't the end of your safety concerns.

Once you have your dry practice area selected, the next thing you will need to do is occupy your dry practice area via a series of safety rituals that will mitigate the chance of negligent discharges or "NDs" during your dry practice.

In this section I would like to touch on is the safety rituals you need to conduct prior to each dry practice session. At DSI we use a comprehensive checklist to ensure we are following the proper procedures needed to practice safely.

Checklists are invaluable, all manner of professional (from civilian to soldier) use checklists. This should tell you something, and it should come as no surprise that we highly encourage you to begin using checklists to ensure a safe and productive dry practice session.

This checklist should be included in the front of your DSI Training Notebook, just in front of your Shooting Journal pages so they are what you see (and use) prior to conducting your dry practice.

Note: If you are using the DSI Training Notebook, you will find the below checklist included in the Training Notebook - so no need to copy from this source. 

Dry Practice Checklist:

Prior to occupying your dry practice area:

  • Ensure your training area is safe by using the guidelines mentioned in the previous section Selecting a Safe Dry Practice Area.
  • Have a copy of your free Training Notebook with you and opened to the "Dry Practice Checklist" section and follow these instructions. 
    • Ensure you have a pencil and eraser, and spare Shooting Journal pages available for you to write in.
  • Wear all the gear you normally wear when you concealed carry, including wearing your normal glasses (if any).
    • Ensure you are wearing safety glasses if you are using any Non-Lethal Training Firearms (NLTF) like UTM, or other training aids that eject projectiles such as airsoft, BB guns, etc.
  • Use the designated dry practice warning placard (found in your free Training Notebook) and place it on the door(s) leading into your dry practice area.

Safety rituals:

  • Segregate your live-fire tools and equipment from your dry practice tools and equipment.
    • On a bench, table, or stool, set your live-fire range bag in front of you and your dry practice range bag/pack off to your right side.
      • Your dry practice range bag can be any cloth bag that is not your live-fire range bag. Your dry practice bag is only for your dry practice tools, equipment, and Training Log. At no time should live ammunition, filled or partially filled live-fire magazines, or live firearms enter your dry practice bag.
    • Face in a safe direction and unload your firearm correctly (If your a DSI Defense Academy Member, see HG 10 Unloading) otherwise, follow your firearms manufacturers’ instructions, or the instructions of a competent instructor.
    • Place your unloaded handgun into your dry practice bag to your right.
    • Place any loose rounds into a bag/box in front of your live-fire range bag.
    • Download any magazines you will be using for dry practice.
      • Place the live rounds and any remaining filled or partially filled magazines in a designated plastic storage bag/box in front of you.
    • Place empty magazines into your dry practice range bag to your right.
    • Check Yourself.
      • Check your ammunition carriers (pouches) and ensure there is no live ammunition in them.
        • If you find live ammunition place it in your designated plastic storage bag in front of you.
      • Check your pockets and any other place on your body that you might place spare ammunition or keep a backup gun.
        • If you find live ammunition, a backup (whatever) place them in their separate designated bags or live-fire range bag in front of you.
    • Check your dry practice area.
      • Thoroughly inspect your dry practice area for live rounds. Look for any loose ammunition that could be laying around or unintentionally stored and accessed during your dry practice session.
        • If you find any ammunition place it inside of your designated plastic storage bag/box in front of you.
    • Secure your live-fire range bag.
      • Once you have sanitized yourself and your dry practice area, seal your live-fire ammunition bag/box and place your designated live-fire range bag in a safe and secure area that neither you nor any unauthorized personnel can access until the time you want to retrieve it (after dry practice is over).
        • A closet, trunk, segregated shelf, plastic bin, etc., will work well.
    • Access your dry practice range bag.
      • Examine the contents of your dry practice training bag, paying particular attention to all dry/simulated ammunition and practice you will be using for dry practice.
        • Too often live and simulated munitions get mixed, don't let it happen to you. Be cognizant as you fill your dry practice magazines with snap caps, ensuring you only feed in snap caps, carefully looking for any live rounds that may have gotten mixed in.
    • If you haven't yet, now is the time to fill out all the basic information in the Shooting Journal page of your Training Log.
    • Following either our dry practice schedule or your own, be "All There" by keeping your mind on your current task. If your mind is wandering or you are otherwise interrupted, immediately stop your dry practice and,
      • deal with the issue and restart your safety rituals to restart your dry practice or
      • wrap up your dry practice session using the end of dry practice procedures outlined below.
    • Record your performance and drills in your Shooting Journal page.

Notes on being "all there"

Once you have followed the above guidelines and feel that you are physically ready to start your dry practice - you must be mentally ready as well. You must be "all there" or "switched on" and mentally engaged in your training.

What I mean by this is that you need to pay attention to what you are doing, not daydreaming about your job, hobbies, personal problems, etc., performing mindless repetitions of a specific drill.

You need your mind focused on the task at hand - your training.

A mental slip in being all there and switched on, not only means a dramatic loss of valuable training time, but it could also - in a worst-case scenario - lead to an ND (negligent discharge) as well.

This also means (when appropriate to the drill) you want to put yourself in the scenario you are building in your mind, which should be based on where/when and the circumstances under which you may need to use lethal force - these come from a realistic threat assessment (see 3.0 External Factors and 4.0 Site Survey and Vulnerability Analysis sections in the Team Manual).

For instance, if you are putting yourself through a shooting drill, vividly visualize the scenario. In your mind's eye, see the bad guy presenting a threat, and reacting to it appropriately, from beginning to end. Don't just draw and press the trigger once or twice and then holster. Instead, draw, engage your adversary until you see him dropping to the ground, follow him down with your muzzle, then safely move to cover and conduct your contact drills. When you do your contact drills, don't just accept that you are in your dry practice room and gloss over them, instead, visualize yourself in the scenario, see the location and other people, actively scan for other bad guys other levels (stairs, balconies, etc.). Once you finish your contact drills and you know your world is safe, then and only then will you reholster and set up for the next drill.

If you do experience any distraction, such as a phone call, a knock at the door, or other interruptions, IMMEDIATELY stop your dry practice and deal with the issue to the point that you can mentally get back into your dry practice, if you can't - wrap your dry practice session up and shut it down by following the "Finishing Safely" portion of the Dry Practice Checklist.

If you decide to continue your dry practice session after an interruption, you must return to the Dry Practice Checklist (see the above section or the checklist in your DSI Training Notebook) and proceed through all of the sequential steps required to safely begin your dry practice session.

Treat every dry practice session with all seriousness, with a goal and training plan in mind. Furthermore, treat every dry practice session with the same seriousness you would approach a live-fire drill, this means that you should adhere to and practice the Four Firearms Safety Habits all of the time.

The Four Safety Habits

  1. Keep my finger straight and off the trigger, unless I'm intentionally shooting
  2. Control and know where the muzzle is pointing
  3. Know the condition of the firearm
  4. Be sure of my target and my environment

Now follow your training plan and goals (found in your DSI Training Notebook), be "all there" and put deliberate effort into your dry practice session.

Deliberate Practice vs. Practice

"Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect." - Vince Lombardi

One of the more important ideas you can take from this guide is that your practice should be deliberate. 

Deliberate practice is a practice that is purposeful and systematic - it has specific goals and training objectives in mind. While most people's practice is mainly made up of mindless repetitions, deliberate dry practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

The greatest challenge of deliberate practice is to remain mentally focused on proper practice.

As a new shooter, it's important to actually schedule the time and get the repetitions in. However, performing poor repetitions isn't helpful, it's detrimental. Even if you have to slow down to 1/4th or 1/8th speed, you need proper perfect repetitions vs. just numerous repetitions.

In the beginning, dry practice and learning a new skill is exciting, however, you need to be aware that after a while, it can quickly become boring, and that's where the danger lies.

When you get bored and lose focus, you tend to overlook the small errors and you miss opportunities to improve and perfect techniques.

The reason for this is because our minds transform repeated behaviors into unconscious (automatic) habits. Think way back to when you first learned any skill (tying your shoes or driving a manual transmission) that you now take for granted. In the beginning, you had to think of each step and what comes next. However, today, after countless repitions you can perform the behavior at the unconscious competent (automatic) level.

The more we repeat the behavior, the more unconscious (mindless) it becomes, And while unconscious competence is what we are striving for, we need proper skills ingrained, not just programmed inaccurate and inefficient movements. 

Mindless and repetitious activity is the enemy of quality (deliberate) practice. The danger of practicing mindlessly is that most people believe that they are improving by simply going through the motions over a period of time and therefore gaining experience.

This is simply not the case, if you are not practicing deliberately you are running a very real risk of reinforcing bad habits which tend to accumulate over time you are simply practicing crap and becoming crap masters instead of achieving incremental gains and becoming better at the skills you are practicing.

One of the keys to deliberate practice is to practice slowly enough that you do not fumble or make any mistakes, i.e., "perfect practice."

You should move only as quickly as you can practice perfectly. With smooth and fluid motion speed will come as a natural byproduct.

The good news for you is that by using the training techniques mentioned herein (keeping your DSI Training Notebook, videoing your performance, conducting after action reviews or "AARs" via your Training Journal, etc.), you can exponentially increase your skills without an unreasonable investment of time, and dramatically decreasing the time typically needed for the average person who does not have the aid of these tools and resources in achieving their goals.

What does that mean for you?

It means that where others may take years to master the skill at arms with mindless practice, in as little as 21 days of deliberate practice of between 15 and 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week, you will notice a dramatic increase in your gun handling skills and your confidence in skill at arms. In 3-months you could be one of the best shooters on your block, in 6 months in your city, and in a year it would be competing against the best in your region.

Finally, for this subject, you are looking to balance quality training with quantity.

It is vital that you do not think that quantity/volume is the key to successit is not.

The key to success in reaching your goals is the balancing of the quality of focused short training events (deliberate practice), over an extended time, while using a solid mental management training program that will help you reach your goals in the shortest time.

Never let your quality of training degrade due to increased volume, and never increase volume by sacrificing deliberate practice.

If you are training like an endurance athlete, pushing to the extent that you find yourself mentally daydreaming, you either need to rein yourself in mentally (preferred in order to build endurance) or you need to stop for the day (which is better than practicing crap) as the training value is nil, you are increasing the odds of ingraining poor habits, and you are becoming a safety hazard waiting to happen.


What Additional Training Aids Should You Purchase?

In previous sections, I wanted to help you understand the value of dry practice, how to select a safe area to conduct your dry practice in, how to follow the necessary safety rituals needed to dry practice without hurting yourself or anyone else, and how to make your dry practice count by maximizing your training time.

In this section I want to focus on additional dry practice training aids and whether or not you need them.

The short answer is that "no" you don't need anything else. However, some basics supplemental training aids will make your dry practice much more productive.

As mentioned previously all that is needed to dry practice effectively is your engaged mind, your firearm, the equipment you already carry (holster, mag pouch, etc.), a dry practice guide (wat your reading now), and the DSI Training Notebook (which we provide free of charge to all of our students and Defense Academy members).

Your DSI Training Notebook should be with you whenever you dry or live-fire, and you should fill out a new Training Log page every time your practice (both dry and live). Therefore your Training Notebook should accompany whatever range bag (dry or live) you are using that day. If you are dry practicing most of the time (as you should be), then your training notebook will remain with your dry practice range bag most of the week, transferred to your live-fire range bag at the end of your last dry practice session before your range day, and then transferred back to your dry practice range bag when you return home.

While you can dry practice effectively without investing any further, I highly recommend that - at a bare minimum - you purchase a good shot timer like the CED 7000 and a copy of Lanny Bassham's book With Winning in Mind.

On the shot timer: At this point, I have recommended that you go slow, and practice no faster than you can practice perfectly, and I stick by this. However, at some point you need to know how fast you really are. To know how fast you really are, you will need a shot timer. You will find the shot timer is invaluable because it accurately helps you gauge just how fast you really are becoming and it helps you know where you need to focus more practice.

On the subject of Lanny's book: I recommend Lanny's excellent book because if you follow his advice you will be able to achieve your training goals in months rather than years. This is the very same system I used to win national titles, and it's the same system we recommend to our students. It's a short and inexpensive book, well worth the investment. Additionally, Lanny's Mental Management System® isn't just for shooting, it will help you achieve ANY goal you have in mind quickly.

Since your unloaded firearm is free it's the most economical way to go. The only downside is that you can't get a regular trigger reset unless you break your support hand grip and rack the slide (not a problem with a revolver using quality snap caps). That isn't always a problem because you can use the opportunity to practice a failure to fire (type 1) malfunction clearances.

However, there are a couple of downsides to racking your slide for every trigger reset. 1.) you are ingraining that every time you press the trigger you need to perform a malfunction clearance, which takes away from the realism of operating your firearm and can lead to a bad habit. And 2.) racking your slide every time takes time. Admittedly, it's not much time, but it is time being wasted when you could be getting in more practice.

To make your dry practice more productive and more realistic, I recommend The DryFireMag. While it doesn't provide a 100% realistic feel of your normal trigger press and reset, it's close enough to be worth the price as it eliminates the need to rack your slide for the next "shot".

Quality training time used to mean a lot of time and ammo at the range in order to verify your dry practice, however, the great news is that you no longer have to go to a live-fire range as often to get quality and realistic training that dry practice can't give you.

The reason for this is because today you have the option of non-lethal conversion kits (UTM) that shoot plastic target rounds, quality airsoft guns/rifles/shotguns, and laser emitting training devices that are manufactured out of polymers, steel, or a combination of both.

Ultimate Training Munitions or "UTM" will get you closer to the weight of your loaded firearm and provide full functionality (a real trigger press, recoil, a real trigger reset, etc.) I really can't recommend UTM highly enough. UTM has unparalleled functionality, excellent distance, and accuracy. Additionally, the munitions are lead-free so you can shoot their target and Man Marking munitions in your home without worry (provided you have a backstop), and you can even recycle the aluminum casings.

While you don't need to use UTM for every dry practice session, I would recommend that you use UTM at least once in the middle of your weekly training program, and again at the end of your weekly training program to ensure you are making progress on your current training goal.

If UTM isn't something you can afford, you may want to consider a quality airsoft NLTF (Non-Lethal Training Firearm) which will give you a decent trigger press, with a little recoil, allows for semi-automatic fire, as well as a trigger reset, etc.

Airsoft, like UTM, will also give you that valuable feedback for both your sighted combative fire and your intuitive combative fire.

Both the UTM conversions and the new models of airsoft look, feel, and function close enough to the real thing that they are a real training asset to those who are pressed to make the most out of their time and money, which holds true for most of us.

Different types of airsoft are currently manufactured in semi-automatic blow-back (reciprocating) via gas or battery power. They are manufactured as realistic looking and feeling handguns, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns. As a matter of fact, they mimic the real thing so closely, you can use them with all of your current equipment.

You read that correctly; you can use your tactical lights, holsters, slings, magazine pouches, and even your optics. You would be surprised just how well the new NLTF replicate the real thing.

Furthermore, NLTF is inexpensive to shoot (in comparison to going to the range for live-fire training sessions) and will allow you to train to your heart's content in any private residence where the walls are not paper thin.

UTM and even the most expensive airsoft will pay for itself in a matter of months in comparison to what you will save in ammunition, gas, and range fees for your live-fire training.

In my opinion, they are the perfect bridge to fully integrate your dry practice and live practice into one complete program. With this technology and a solid training program incorporating dry practice, NLTF, and live-fire you can experience progress, unlike anything our predecessors ever had the opportunity to achieve.

Could you forgo the NLTF training altogether?

Yes you can, but your progress will be slower without it, and if you substitute live fire for NLTF you will find that the expense in ammunition, driving time, range fees, targets, cleaning time and products, as well as the wear and tear on your gun would have been better invested in NLTF training.

Does this mean that you should now forgo your live fire in lieu of NLTF range practice?

No, of course not.

But you can start cutting back your live-fire dramatically because you will find that your dry practice will improve your gun handling skills. Your NLTF range practice will improve your speed and accuracy with both unsighted and sighted fire out to about 15-yards - which is more than sufficient for practical gunfighting. You will then use your live fire training only to verify what your dry and NLTF has done for you.

Regardless of your situation, I would still recommend these types of training aids to you even if you could afford to hit the range every day.

Why?

Because all forms of NLTF (UTM, airsoft, and laser training aids) tame the recoil (with the laser training aids you will have no recoil at all) sufficiently to allow you to achieve a working understanding of your body mechanics during shooting without the interference from recoil. This is important because you will be able to see with your own eyes what your body is doing the instant you press the trigger (which is where a vast majority of poor shooting habits occur).

Ground Rules
With the idea that proper practice is a means to achieve our goal of weapons handling mastery, let's set the ground rules:

  • When dry practicing you should set a reasonable time limit for each session. Practice no less than 15 minutes a day and no more than 30 minutes per weapons system. Practicing fifteen minutes five times a week is much better than two and a half hours practice secession once a week.
  • The ratio of dry practice to live fire should be about 4 to 1. Therefore, if you plan on a half hours worth of live fire per weapons systems on Friday, you should dry practice for about a half an hour per weapons system Monday through Thursday.
  • In order to benefit fully from your dry practice, practice no less than 4 days per week and no more than 6 days per week.
  • You need time off, and you don't want to burn yourself out on your dry practice, so I recommend that you start with 15 minutes a day per weapons system for the first quarter (three months), as this is an easy goal and after 90 days you will have established a habit that can last a lifetime.
  • Keep in mind that the above time recommendation are simply a starting point. Play with less time and more time, keep a practice journal (again, see Lanny Bassham's book) so you can confirm what works best for you.
  • I highly advise that you stick to a short and simple routine as described above for the initial 90 days of your training. If you can keep it simple and maintain the routine for 90 days, you will be able to establish a lifetime habit.
  • Remember that only proper practice makes perfect. Do not dry-practice if you cannot be "all there" mentally. If you practice halfheartedly you will defeat the purpose of dry practice and not get the benefits of training; thereby missing your training goals while wasting valuable training time.
  • Never practice faster than you can perfectly perform the task properly.
  • The only thing that should be missing from your dry-practice sessions is ammunition. Everything else must remain the same (wear all of your equipment that you will be wearing in real life). If you are a police officer, wear the gear you will wear on duty, if you are a CCW holder wear the same type of clothing and holster you will wear when carrying.
  • Just as when you are training on a live fire range, keep a positive attitude and focus on what you do correctly; no negative talk allowed.
  • If there is a technique that you do not understand or do not remember, do not practice the technique, as you will be teaching yourself how to do something wrong.
  • If you are unsure, seek proper training.
  • Never practice to mental or physical exhaustion, and never practice failure.
  • When Should You Dry Practice?

At a minimum, you should perform proper and deliberate dry-practice for at least fifteen minutes before you intend to carry a firearm.

For the policeman, this would be before you leave for the station to go on shift
For the citizen, this would be before you leave your home
For the soldier, this will be any time you can get it without ignoring your mission

I know that for those of you in the military, especially for those who are single and in bachelor's quarters this is highly unlikely to happen because of the fact that you are not trusted with firearms while in garrison. So unless you live off base, you are kind of screwed. If it is at all feasible get married (joking), or move out into town with some buddies (not joking) and reclaim some amount of personal liberty. If you are deployed to a combat zone, don't have a range nearby, and you are not S.F.... make friends in the S.F. and get some range time.

If any of the above suggestions are truly not options for you, then see if you can arrange for your unit to set up a secure dry practice are. This may be difficult, but it is worth a shot, because most units do have a designated "snapping in" area at the battalion level for regular qualifications courses, so it's not entirely unprecedented.

In the worst-case scenario use your dry practice guides and find a nice quiet place to accurately pantomime your weapons manipulations while you vividly visualize the actions. I know that this sounds silly, but it has been proven that vivid visualization with 100% focus on 100% correct techniques will gain greater results than no practice at all or sloppy practice, and I have used it with both myself and students overseas. As a matter of fact, Lanny Bassham attributes one of his world record performances to such training when he was deprived live fire training for a number of years during his time in the military.


So What Should You Practice?
Whether new to shooting or a veteran shooter, you should begin with our Smartsheets Training Plan which lays out a basic daily curriculum and dry practice routine for you, and which can be modified by you to best suit your needs.

As you grow in your skills, you should ensure that you practice both the skills you already know you need to work on, as well as those skills you have already mastered. I am not trying to be evasive nor cute when I tell you that you are your own best adviser in this matter. You should know your strengths and shortcomings better than anyone else.

When practicing, work for either 10 or 20 minutes on those areas that you know you need to work on, then finish the practice session with either 5 or 10 minutes of quality practice time reviewing and practicing those skills you are already proficient in. This will structure your training time in a manner that will give you about 2/3rd's of the training time shoring up any deficiencies while brushing up on the skills you already have mastered with the last 1/3rd of your dry practice session and finishing your practice session on a high note.

For instance, if you know you are having problems with a good smooth and fast presentation yet feel good about your malfunction clearances, you should dedicate about 2/3rd's of your time to simply work on your presentations, and forget malfunction clearances until the last 1/3rd of your training time.

Don't get stuck repeating the same routine over and over. If you are weak in one area, you should practice to shore up the deficiency for perhaps 5 - 10 minutes, then move forward with another area that needs shoring up. Similarly, if you are strong in one area, don't keep practicing that skill to the detriment of others. So spread your attention around, keep prodding and poking to find what needs help.

Skills to dry-practice:

  • Voice commands with hand and arm signals: "Stop!" "Stop! What do you want?!" "Let me see your hands!" "Stop or I'll shoot!" etc.
  • Your presentations and draws from the type of carry you will be using in real life (sling, holster, transitions, etc.)
  • Both your combative and reflexive fire
  • Practice shooting with both eyes open
  • Ambidextrous shooting (such as shooting with the support hand)
  • Three types of presentations for handguns
  • From the holster, ready, weapons retention, high ready, and close contact
  • Three types of presentations for rifle and shotgun
  • Your basic gun handling drills
  • Reloads
  • Tactical, speed, and empty gun reloads
  • Immediate and remedial action malfunction clearances
  • Practice the above gun handling skills with both the firing hand only and the support hand only or "SHO"
  • Your movement techniques
  • Both slow stalking and rapid approach
  • Forward, backward, laterally, and oblique.
  • Practice all the standard shooting and improvised positions
  • Getting to cover safely (maintaining muzzle control), and utilizing the cover correctly
  • Utilize your tactical light tactically
  • Utilize your contact drills every time you present to challenge or conduct dry practice

Practice only those things you know you can perform correctly, so get into the Defense Academy and watch the videos or read the manuals to make sure you are properly practicing the technique if you have any doubts or you just want a refresher.If you practice something you don't remember well you will run the risk of practicing something incorrectly, and you will later have to unlearn the bad technique and then re-learn it properly, therefore wasting your precious training time.

If you practice something you don't remember well you run the risk of practicing something incorrectly and making it a habit. If you make it a habit, you will later have to unlearn the bad technique and then re-learn it properly, therefore wasting your precious training time.

If you have any doubts you should watch the appropriate video and read the appropriate chapter in the appropriate drills manual in the Defense Academy, which you can access from any smart device.

Keep a detailed journal of what you are doing with both your dry practice as well as your live fire. After all, as Lord Kelvin once famously said, "To measure is to know." If you can't measure it, you can not improve it, because you have now way of quantifying. This is certainly the case with proper practice for any firearms training program.

In closing the above section, I would once again remind you of two things:

I would encourage you to read Lanny Bassham's book With Winning in Mind in order to get a good idea of what a good training attitude and habits consists of and help you outline a good solid schedule as well as provide you additional training tools. It is a short inexpensive book that will give you much in return. A solid understanding of Mental Management will gain you much and ensure speedy progress towards your training goals.

Next, I would want to put dry practice in perspective. What you are practicing in your dry practice and during your live fire sessions focuses on physical skills and mental attitudes. Yet in order to master life or death situations, you must apply these skills and attitudes in quality RBT scenarios where these be tempered by the friction of realistically simulated battle, because you want these skills available to you under the stress of a real-world fight for life.


Example Routines
Again, let me state upfront that what I am about to suggest is only a broad brush stroke, it is intended as a general guide in that it is simply descriptive and not prescriptive in nature, you are the best judge of exactly how to fill in the blanks.

What I am going to lay out below are various dry practice plans, from basic to more advanced routines you can build upon and modify as needed. Finally, for the dry practice routines, I will give you a couple of different ideas of how to vary your routine in the process.

This plan is designed to be flexible and can change as your situation changes, therefore if you are at a solid on a skill set feel free to bypass and move to something else, or you can continue to chip away at the area that requires your focused attention. Regardless, vary your routine to try to hit all of your basic skills in a month in order to keep the sessions varied and interesting.

As I mentioned previously, we are looking at between 15 and 30 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week on your weapons system of choice.

Key:

Wall drills* - a generic term for not using a specific point of aim for your dry practice (you are not aiming at anything, no target, no specific point on the wall), and your focus is solely on achieving combative sighted fire (a.k.a. sight alignment) as the gun comes up into your line of sight. This is accomplished by dry practicing against a blank wall where you will not be trying to juggle sight alignment with aligning your sights to a target. As you bring the firearm into your line of sight, you should be mentally focusing on bringing the firearm up to your line of sight quickly and seeing the sights in alignment as you press the trigger. Watching the sights so closely that you can see any bobble or movement as the hammer falls.

Pro tip: The "wall drills" have a live fire drill equivalent which reinforces combative sighted fire. Simply staple/hang your target backward (unprinted side facing you), and apply the same steps mentioned above.

If using airsoft to confirm your dry practice on wall drills, your standard should be about a fist size group for the thoracic cavity, and about credit card size group for the cranial ocular at whatever yard line you are shooting at regardless of the sighting technique you are using.

You should practice wall drills until you can guarantee the above group sizes at about 75% of the speed you desire to achieve, then turn your target around and practice at the facing target.

CDs - or "Contact Drills" (see chapter 7 in your drills manual)
SHO - stands for "Support Hand Only" shooting
FHO - stands for "Firing Hand Only" shooting
TD - or "Transition Drills" is switching from your primary firearm to your secondary firearm

Now let's take a look at how to set up a 5-day schedule for the handgun, this schedule leaves you days off and allows you to make up days on your weekends if you miss a day during the week.

The way I have broken down the schedule you have 6 different drills, this is for those who will be dry practicing for 30 minutes. Again, I advise for only 15 to begin with, but I realize that there are overachievers out there, as those who already have advanced skills and are going to practice more than 15 minutes regardless of what I recommend - which is okay, and my hat is off to you for the extra effort and it will pay off handsomely for you. 

Unless otherwise indicated those drills with a "3/4 speed" annotation, all of these un-annotated drills are meant to be performed slowly (explained previously). If at any time you begin fumbling, slow down to a speed where you can perform flawlessly. Only replace the standard "slow" drills with 3/4 speed when you no longer fumble, and only add the shot timer once you have had weeks of success without fumbles at 3/4th's speed.

Again, no speed annotation (such as 3/4) means that you should be going slow enough to guarantee accuracy without fumbling.

The Basics

Below you will find a slicked down version of the same curricula our Tier 4 students are exposed to during their second week of training (the first week being our free 5-Day Kick Start online training course).

I can't stress strongly enough how important it is to back up your training with a proper mental management system such as Lanny Bassham's With Winning in Mind. We strongly advise you to use our free Training Log and the associated Shooting Journal for each dry practice session and NOT just for live fire.

During your dry practice you will uncover many things about your techniques that you will want to modify for whatever reason, and the Training Log's Shooting Journal is where you will find the information you need to make wise decisions about your next steps in your training.

Again, this training log should accompany you in all of your training (keep it in the appropriate range bag), and be on hand and filled out during your practice session, and reviewed often.

In the interest of saving space, we have removed course specific prompts, comments, purchase reminders, detailed directions, and give a one day example from each of the four Tier 4 modules. All of the aforementioned are all available for free to Defense Academy members simply for the asking by contacting

All of the aforementioned assets are all available for free to Defense Academy members simply for the asking by contacting info@pulsefirearmstraining.com with the subject line: "Please enroll me in the STP."

Week - 2 (Handgun Basics Pre-Course Training - pre-heat Mod-1, the week after the free 5-Day Kick-Start online training program)

Day 2

Read: Tactical Principles in the Individual Tactics Manual
Review the Dry Practice Guide
Review handgun video 01: Definition of Sides
Review handgun video 02: Wearing of Your Equipment
Don and wear your equipment
Occupy your dry practice area
Review handgun video 03: Chamber and Magazine Check
Dry practice chamber check and magazine check
Review and follow the "Finishing Safely" section in the Dry Practice Guide

Day 3

Review the Dry Practice Guide
Review handgun video 06: Presentations and Reholstering
Dry practice proper presentation and reholstering (5-10 minutes)
Review handgun video 05: Positions out of the holster
Dry practice proper of each of the positions out of the holster (5-10 minutes)
Review handgun video 07: Contact Drills
Dry practice contact drills (5-10 minutes)
Practice "wall drills" from the ready position - without a press (5-10 minutes)
Review handgun video 08: Proper Magazine Index
Dry Practice proper magazine index (5-10 minutes)
Review and follow the "Finishing Safely" section in the Dry Practice Guide

Day 6

Review the Dry Practice Guide
Review handgun video 06: Presentations and Reholstering
Review the Proper use of Cover and Concealment
Review handgun video 07: Contact Drills
Review handgun video 08: Proper Magazine Index
Dry practice proper presentation through reholstering (5-10 minutes)
Practice "wall drills" from the ready position - with a press (5-10 minutes)
Review handgun video 15: Empty Gun Reload
Dry practice empty gun reload (5-10 minutes)
Review handgun video 13: Immediate Action
Dry Practice immediate action (5-10 minutes)
Review and follow the "Finishing Safely" section in the Dry Practice Guide
Review With Winning in Mind
Download and review the Pulse O2DA Training Log

Week 3 (Handgun Basics training Mod-1 review, pre-heat for Mod-2 Handgun Skill Builder)

Day 2

Read: Review the Proper use of Cover and Concealment
Read: Section 8 Other Implications of Violence
Dry practice (review where needed:
- Proper magazine indexing (handgun video 08)
- Presentations and Reholstering (handgun video 06)
- Contact Drills (handgun video 07)
Dry practice: From the holster, proper presentation through reholstering (5-10 minutes)
Review handgun video 15: Empty Gun Reload
Dry practice empty gun reload (5-10 minutes)
Review handgun video 13: Immediate Action
Dry Practice immediate action (5-10 minutes)
Review and follow the "Finishing Safely" section in the Dry Practice Guide

Day 3

Read: Pulse Engine Methodology
Review the Proper use of Cover and Concealment
Review the Dry Practice Guide
Review handgun video 08: Proper Magazine Index
Review handgun video 06: Presentations and Reholstering
Review handgun video 07: Contact Drills
Dry practice proper presentation through reholstering (5-10 Minutes)
Review handgun video 12: Speed Reload
Dry practice speed reload (5-10 Minutes)
Review handgun video 14: Remedial Action Drill
Dry practice remedial action drills (5-10 Minutes)
Review and follow the "Finishing Safely" section in the Dry Practice Guide

Day 6

Range Day (confirm dry practice)
- Visit your local range and confirm your home dry practice, or if you are motivated, visit your CFI for a "Tune-Up" training session

Variety is the spice of life

One way you can vary your routine is to set up a number of individual skill drills and basic group routines that you can print on a 3x5 card.

Individual skill drills are cards with only one technique on it written on each card (i.e., immediate action drill, or empty gun reload, or speed reloads, etc.,).

To use your individual skill drill cards you can divide the cards up into those skills you are familiar with and want to review, and those you know you need work on.

Start and end with an individual skill drill card that you know with those skills you know you need to work on.

For instance, You may pick intuitive fire at 5-yards, and loading/unloading as your confidence cards, which will be selected randomly to see which starts and ends the dry practice session.

Between the two you may select from those skills you know you need to work on, which in this case are - proper presentations from the holster, remedial action, and empty gun reloads.

Once shuffled you randomly draw from the confidence cards list and you get "loading/unloading."

Next, you select from your reinforcement pile and you draw "Proper presentation from the holster" and you dry practice for 5-10 minutes. Next, you draw "empty gun reloads" which you would also practice for 5-10 minutes, and finally pick up the remaining "remedial action card," which you would also practice for 5-10 minutes.

You complete your dry practice with by practicing "intuitive fire" at 5-yards with your airsoft or UTM conversion, a skill you are good and confident with (remember, end on a high note).

Basic group routines, on the other hand, are built around groups of common skills.

For instance, you could work on your presentations, then work on your presentations from the different positions. You could work on your malfunction clearances, you could then work on one handed malfunction clearances, and then one handed malfunction clearances support hand only (SHO).

For instance, you could begin one skill group card as follows:

5 minutes of wall drills (see above*) from the ready - finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm 
5 minutes of wall drills from the weapons retention position
5 minutes of wall drills from the holster

Another of your skill groups may be:

5 minutes of immediate action drills
5 minutes of remedial action drills
5 minutes of empty gun reloads

Another (more advanced) skill group may include something like:

5 minutes of immediate action drills, support hand only or (SHO) (finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm)
5 minutes of immediate action drills, firing hand only (FHO)
5 minutes of immediate action drills (no abbreviations means both hands)

You should have many 3x5 cars like this made up for those group skills that you know you would like to maintain my proficiency in, as well as those you know you need to improve.

Alternatively, you can mix the cards in any manner you like, and surprise yourself by the pick of the draw.

For instance, you could pick the skills you know you need to focus on, mix them and draw randomly to end up with something like the following:

5 minutes of empty gun reloads
5 minutes of immediate action drills SHO (support hand only or)
5 minutes of immediate action drills FHO (firing hand only)
5 minutes of immediate action drills
5 minutes of proper presentation through reholstering

Beyond the Basics

Week - 1 (Handgun)

Monday:
Randomly pick basic individual skill cards, or basic group routine cards, or mix and match the two (see above).

Tuesday: (Presentations)
5 minutes of wall drills from the ready, finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm
5 minutes of wall drills from the weapons retention position
5 minutes of wall drills from the holster
5 minutes of wall drills from the ready SHO
5 minutes of wall drills from the weapons retention FHO
5 minutes of wall drills at 3/4 speed from the holster

Wednesday: (Reloads)
5 minutes of speed reloads SHO
5 minutes of empty gun reloads SHO
5 minutes of empty gun reloads FHO
5 minutes of speed reloads FHO
5 minutes of tactical reloads
5 minutes of empty gun reloads at 3/4 speed

Thursday: Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two) OR select one random and choose one that you know you need work on

Friday: (Ambidextrous cover usage)
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of high barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of high barricade

Saturday or Sunday: Makeup for any day or skills missed, consider it extra dry practice day for over-achievers. Under no circumstance should you practice 7 days a week.

Week - 2

Monday:
Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two if you are working 30 minutes).

Tuesday: (Presentations)
5 minutes of dry practice (using a target) from the ready, finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm
5 minutes of dry practice from the weapons retention position
5 minutes of dry practice from the holster
5 minutes of dry practice from the ready SHO
5 minutes of dry practice from the weapons retention FHO
5 minutes of dry practice at 3/4 speed from the holster

Wednesday: (Malfunction clearances)
5 minutes of immediate action SHO
5 minutes of remedial action SHO
5 minutes of immediate action FHO
5 minutes of remedial action FHO
5 minutes of immediate action at 3/4 speed
5 minutes of remedial action at 3/4 speed

Thursday: Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two) OR select one random and choose one that you know you need work on

Friday: (Ambidextrous and positional cover usage)
5 minutes of moving to prone, shoot from support side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to kneeling shoot from support side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of high barricade
5 minutes of moving to prone, shoot from firing side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to kneeling, shoot from firing side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of high barricade

Saturday or Sunday: Makeup for any day or skills missed, consider it extra dry practice day for over-achievers. Under no circumstance should you practice 7 days a week.
Week - 3

Monday:
Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two if you are working 30 minutes).

Tuesday: (Presentations and use airsoft or SIRT/laser device with designated target to see hits)
5 minutes of dry practice from the ready SHO, finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm
5 minutes of dry practice from the weapons retention position SHO
5 minutes of dry practice from the holster SHO
5 minutes of dry practice from the ready FHO
5 minutes of wall drills from the weapons retention FHO
5 minutes of wall drills at 3/4 speed dry practice (your real firearm, and weighted dry practice magazine) from the holster

Wednesday: (Reloads)
5 minutes of speed reloads SHO
5 minutes of empty gun reloads SHO
5 minutes of empty gun reloads FHO
5 minutes of speed reloads FHO
5 minutes of tactical reloads, finish with CDs
5 minutes of empty gun reloads at 3/4 speed

Thursday: Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two) OR select one random and choose one that you know you need work on

Friday: (Ambidextrous cover usage, integrate proper tactical light usage)
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of high barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of high barricade

Saturday or Sunday: Makeup for any day or skills missed, consider it extra dry practice day for over-achievers. Under no circumstance should you practice 7 days a week.

Week - 4

Monday:
Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two if you are working 30 minutes).

Tuesday: (Presentations use tactical light and airsoft or SIRT/laser device with designated target to see hits)
5 minutes of dry practice (using a target) from the ready, finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm
5 minutes of dry practice from the weapons retention position
5 minutes of dry practice from the holster
5 minutes of dry practice from the ready SHO
5 minutes of dry practice from the weapons retention FHO
5 minutes of dry practice at 3/4 speed from the holster

Wednesday: (Malfunction clearances and then dry practice a shot after every third or fourth dry practice)
5 minutes of immediate action SHO
5 minutes of remedial action SHO
5 minutes of immediate action FHO
5 minutes of remedial action FHO
5 minutes of immediate action at 3/4 speed
5 minutes of remedial action at 3/4 speed

Thursday: Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two) OR select one random and choose one that you know you need work on.

Friday: (Ambidextrous and positional cover usage, add tactical flashlight manipulation to all parts of the drill where practical)
5 minutes of moving to prone, shoot from support side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to kneeling shoot from support side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of high barricade
5 minutes of moving to squatting, shoot from firing side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to improvised kneeling, shoot from firing side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of high barricade

Saturday or Sunday: Makeup for any day or skills missed, consider it extra dry practice day for over-achievers. Under no circumstance should you practice 7 days a week.

To modify these drills to suite your shotgun or rifle, simply go through the above drills and replace those drills you see that will produce favorable results for the other weapons systems. For instance, the shotgun's first week could look like this:

Week - 1 (Shotgun dry practice modification example)

Monday:
Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two if you are working 35 minutes).

Tuesday: (Presentations)
5 minutes of wall drills from the field ready position, finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm
5 minutes of wall drills from the high ready position"
5 minutes of wall drills from the ready position
5 minutes of TD wall drills from the field ready position"
5 minutes of TD wall drills from the high ready position
5 minutes of TD wall drills from the ready position
5 minutes of wall drills at 3/4 speed from the ready position you need to improve on the most

Wednesday: (Reloads)
5 minutes of tactical reloads from your side saddle
5 minutes of tactical reloads from your shotshell tactical stripper
5 minutes of over the top ejection port reloads
5 minutes of under the bottom ejection port reloads, finish with CDs
5 minutes of select slug loads, finish with CDs
5 minutes of the reloads you need the most work on at 3/4 speed

Thursday: Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two) OR select one random and choose one that you know you need work on

Friday: (Ambidextrous cover usage)
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of high barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of high barricade

Saturday or Sunday: Makeup for any day or skills missed, consider it extra dry practice day for over-achievers. Under no circumstance should you practice 7 days a week.

Week - 1 (Rifle dry practice modification example)
Monday:
Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two if you are working 30 minutes).

Tuesday: (Presentations)
5 minutes of wall drills from the field ready position, finishing each presentation with contact drills or "CDs" should be a standard every time you press the trigger or present the firearm
5 minutes of wall drills from the high ready position
5 minutes of wall drills from the ready position
5 minutes of TD wall drills from the field ready position
5 minutes of TD wall drills from the high ready position
5 minutes of wall drills at 3/4 speed from the ready position you need to improve on the most

Wednesday: (Reloads)
5 minutes of tactical reloads
5 minutes of speed reloads
5 minutes of empty gun reloads
5 minutes of speed reloads
5 minutes of tactical reloads, finish with CDs
5 minutes of empty gun reloads at 3/4 speed, finish with CDs

Thursday: Randomly pick a basic routine card (or two) OR select one random and choose one that you know you need work on

Friday: (Ambidextrous cover usage)
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from support side of high barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of low barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of mid barricade
5 minutes of moving to and shoot from firing side of high barricade

Saturday or Sunday: Makeup for any day or skills missed, consider it extra dry practice day for over-achievers. Under no circumstance should you practice 7 days a week.

Notice that in the above examples you could finish the dry practice in 15 minutes (as we recommend for beginners), but if you are in the grove and want more, by all means, go for it.

Again, notice that I am recommending that you progress from a more difficult skill that you may be shaky with (something that may require a greater deal of focused effort), to working with skills you know better and are more comfortable with. The idea here is to end your dry practice on a high note working those skills you know well.

Once you have your cards made up, you can mix and shuffle, depending on the amount of time you choose to devote to that day's practice.

Again, the above are provided only as general guidelines and to serve as an example. You can and should modify the above to suit your needs, this isn't rocket science and your life may very well depend on your ability sit down, objectively evaluate your progress, adjust accordingly, and train yourself to a higher standard.


Concluding Your Dry Practice
To conclude your dry practice session it is PARAMOUNT that you end your dry practice session with proper safety rituals as well:

Once you have completed your last dry practice drill, you must mentally leave the dry practice session just as surely as you entered it; deliberately and fully cognizant of what you are doing.

  • When you have completed your dry practice, you should face down range and verbally state "I am finished with dry practice" and give yourself the "unload" command. Once you have told yourself that dry practice is over, you should NOT allow yourself to even think "just one more drill/press." If you want to resume dry practice you will need to start all procedures over.
  • Face in a safe direction and unload.
    • Again, place your dry practice bag to your right, and place your unloaded handgun and all training equipment into the dry practice range bag.
  • Remove your shot timer, turn it off and place it into your dry practice bag.
  • Immediately head down range to remove, reverse, or otherwise cover any targets.
  • Download any magazines you used for dry practice and will need for carry or live fire.
    • Place any practice ammunition back in the appropriate container in your dry practice bag.
  • Carefully account for your snap caps and place them in your dry practice bag being careful to guard against cross-contamination of live rounds and snap caps at all times.
  • Retrieve your live fire range bag.
    • Place any equipment (like your gun and magazines) you will need for live fire/work with your live fire range bag.
  • Secure (stow) your dry practice bag once all of your dry practice tools and equipment have been returned to it.
  • If carrying, fill your magazines with your carry ammo, ensuring no snap caps are being introduced.
  • If you are carrying and are going to go hot, tell yourself "I am going hot. Firing drill."
    • Face in a safe direction to load properly, safely holster your firearm.
  • Exit the dry practice training area with all of your live fire equipment and range bag.
    • Remove or flip the designated dry practice warning placard (found in Attachment A of the Training Log) on your dry practice door to indicate all is clear.

Taking Care of Your Equipment

A Few Pointers to Make Your Plastic BB Catchers Last Longer (airsoft targets):

There are a lot of "sticky" targets on the market, none of them designed for combative shooting, so our advice is that you shouldn't worry about an aiming point, instead, if possible, modify your target by turning the printed target backing (usually foam) around and shoot at a clean unprinted surface and use the whole target to aid you in achieving a hand-span group.

Wash target faces as directed by the manufacturer; do not use abrasives or washcloths, dish soap and bare hands work well. Either allow the sticky matrix to air dry, or use a cloth that won't leave lint behind.

Don't upgrade your electronic rifles or shotguns to a higher pressure setting as the higher pressure settings can pit the sticky surface., and keep at a distance of no less than seven yards (for rifles) or you risk "pitting" and destroying your target's surface.

For the high powered airsoft rifles, you should keep at a distance of no less than seven yards or you risk pitting and destroying your target's surface. To be safe, take one shot at a time, when you see the pitting, you know you are too close.

In conclusion
You now have all the basic tools you need to plan your course of action to better train yourself to win the fight of your life.

This piece was not written to be a comprehensive guide to dry practice, it has simply been written to put a few good ideas and solid principles into a format that would quickly lay a solid foundation for further education and training. I HIGHLY encourage you to continue to seek a deeper understanding of what you are doing by reading and watching all the materials in the Defense Academy you can, you will be amazed what you will learn if you do.

Ask if You Don't Know or are Unsure
If our above guidelines are at all confusing, or not clear to you for any reason, please feel free to contact us for clarification BEFORE you begin your dry practice session at info@pulsefirearmstraining.com, or, better yet - contact the Combative Firearms Instructor or (CFI) in your area.

Don't have a CFI in your area? Not a problem. If you send us a qualified candidate for training that can pass the training and meets our benchmarks, we will comp you anything from a free year in the DA, to a free lifetime subscription, and even free training.  

I have given you these valuable training tips and other proven concepts so that you can quickly begin to develop the correct techniques during your limited training time and to help you maximize your personal training time in order to rapidly achieve any goal you set your mind to. The concept of quickly building solid skills is of the utmost importance because - as is often lamented - mastering any new skill can take years and years of training and practice, and that's true, for those things that hold value, do indeed come at a cost. However, as I mentioned above, to be expertly proficient doesn't take years, just dedication over a few months, and then the dedication to keep the skills by regular training.

If you are an aspiring instructor, please come to understand the ideas herein contained, as is everything we do at every level revolves around our perfecting the ideas contained in this guide.

The ideas and principles are not gospel and dogma, they can be changed, they can be modified, but you will have to present well-reasoned arguments instead of institutional dogma, we need the WHY. We will listen, because just like our clients, we want to increase our survivability as well and teach what works not just traditions.

Finally, as an instructor or a student, if you have found a better way to do something, or have an inventive technique, please don't keep it to yourself. Share it with us, and we will, in turn share it as well, and like steel on steel, it will make all of us better.

As usual, if you have questions, feel free to contact us.

Until next time, stay frosty.

Silent Bob


Dry Practice Checklist

Prior to occupying your dry practice area:

  • Have a copy of your free Training Log with you and opened Log to the "Dry Practice Rituals" section and follow the instructions. 
    • Ensure you have a pencil and eraser, and spare Shooting Journal pages available for you to write in.
  • Wear all the gear you normally wear when you concealed carry, including wearing your normal glasses (if any).
    • Ensure you are wearing safety glasses if you are using any training aids that eject projectiles such as airsoft, UTM etc.
  • Use the designated dry practice warning placard (found in Attachment A of the Training Log) and place it on the door(s) leading into your dry practice area.

Safety rituals:

  • Segregate your live fire tools and equipment from your dry practice tools and equipment.
    • On a bench, table, or stool, set your live fire range bag in front of you and your dry practice range bag/pack off to your right side.
      • Your dry practice range bag can be any cloth bag that is not your live fire range bag. Your dry practice bag is only for your dry practice tools, equipment, and Training Log. At no time should live ammunition, filled or partially filled live fire magazines, or live firearms enter your dry practice bag.
    • Face in a safe direction and unload your firearm correctly (see HG 10 Unloading).
    • Place your unloaded handgun into your dry practice bag to your right.
    • Place any loose rounds into a bag/box in front of your live fire range bag.
    • Download any magazines you will be using for dry practice.
      • Place the live rounds and any remaining filled or partially filled magazines in a designated plastic storage bag/box in front of you.
    • Place empty magazines into your dry practice range bag to your right.
    • Check Yourself.
      • Check your ammunition carriers (pouches) and ensure there is no live ammunition in them.
        • If you find live ammunition place it in your designated plastic storage bag in front of you.
      • Check your pockets and any other place on your body that you might place spare ammunition or keep a backup gun.
        • If you find live ammunition, a backup (whatever) place them in their separate designated bags or live fire range bag in front of you.
    • Check your dry practice area.
      • Thoroughly inspect your dry practice area for live rounds. Look for any loose ammunition that could be laying around or unintentionally stored and accessed during your dry practice session.
      • If you find any ammunition place it inside of your designated live fire range bag in front of you.
    • Access your dry practice range bag.
      • Examine the contents of your dry practice training bag, paying particular attention to all dry/simulated ammunition and practice you will be using for dry practice.
        • Too often live and simulated munitions get mixed, don't let it happen to you. Be cognizant as you fill your dry practice magazines with snap caps, ensuring you only feed in snap caps, carefully looking for any live rounds that may have gotten mixed in.
    • If you haven't yet, now is the time to fill out all the basic information in the Shooting Journal page of your Training Log.
      • Be "All There" by keeping your mind on your current task.
        • If your mind is wandering or you are otherwise interrupted, immediately stop your dry practice and,
          • Either deal with the issue and restart your safety rituals to restart your dry practice or
          • wrap up your dry practice session using the ending your dry practice procedures outlined below.
    • Record your performance and drills in your Shooting Journal page.

Ending your dry practice:

  • When you have completed your dry practice, you should face down range and verbally state "I am finished with dry practice" and give yourself the "unload" command. Once you have told yourself that dry practice is over, you should NOT allow yourself to even think "just one more drill/press." If you want to resume dry practice you will need to start all procideures over.
    • Face in a safe direction and unload.
      • Again, place your dry practice bag to your right, and place your unloaded handgun and all training equipment into the dry practice range bag.
        • Remove your shot timer, turn it off and place it into your dry practice bag
    • Immediately head down range to remove, reverse, or otherwise cover any targets.
    • Download any magazines you used for dry practice and will need for carry or live fire.
      • Place any practice ammunition back in the appropriate container in your dry practice bag.
    • Carefully account for your snap caps and place them in your dry practice bag being careful to guard against cross-contamination of live rounds and snap caps at all times.
    • Retrieve your live fire range bag.
      • Place any equipment (like your gun and magazines) you will need for live fire/work with your live fire range bag.
    • Secure (stow) your dry practice bag once all of your dry practice tools and equipment have been returned to it.
    • If carrying, fill your magazines with your carry ammo, ensuring no snap caps are being introduced.
  • If you are carrying and are going to go hot, tell yourself "I am going hot. Firing drill."
    • Face in a safe direction to load properly, safely holster your firearm.
  • Exit the dry practice training area with all of your live fire equipment and range bag.
    • Remove or flip the designated dry practice warning placard (found in Attachment A of the Training Log) on your dry practice door to indicate all is clear.

Dry Practice Tips:

  • When dry practicing you should set a reasonable time limit for each session.
  • Practice no less than 15 minutes a day and no more than 30 minutes per weapons system.
  • Practicing four or five times per week for only half an hour is much better than practicing for twice a week for an hour or more per session.
  • For fastest improvement, practice no less than 4 days per week and no more than 6 days per week, making your last practice day a live fire range day to confirm your dry practice.