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How To Up Your Skills as a Shooter

How often should you be training? How about every day?

While going to the range and doing some good old fashioned live fire training is always a good idea, there are other things that you can be doing in the comfort of your own home to really kick your skills up a notch.

Dry Fire Training —

What am I talking about here? I'm talking about dry fire training. You can practice the fundamentals of marksmanship right in the comfort of your own home with nothing more than an empty gun and your hands.

Of course, there are some training tools that we like to recommend to help you out even more, but you don't need any of them. I asked our resident Director of Training, Riley, what the number one thing to getting better at shooting is, and he said dry fire.

He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, all you need to do is 15 minutes of dry fire each day, really practicing the fundamentals of shooting, and you'll get better at the range.

What you're looking for is sight picture, grip, trigger press, etc. You can practice all of these things from the comfort of your own home, even sitting at your desk like I am right now.

This isn't an article designed to teach you how to dry fire, but to tell you how you can up your skills as a shooter. If you don't know how to dry fire, check out these resources.

3 Dry Fire Drills

Boresight Drill

Dry Fire Primer (this book was written by a good friend of mine and is an excellent resource, although not free)

Dry Fire Training with Lasers

Why Dry Fire

All of those are excellent resources explaining the ins and outs of dry fire. Trust me when I say that dry firing your gun is one of the most important things you can do to up your skills to the next level before you even make it to the live fire range the next time.

While dry firing without any tools is great and will suffice, there are some things out there to help you out even more, if you're willing to spend some money on your self-defense training. Here are some of the paid tools we recommend.

SIRT Training Pistols

Mantis X

LaserLyte Pistols and Targets

Laser Activated Shot Reporter (LASR)

Again, none of those tools are a necessity, but the pros swear by them and they do work well. I own a couple and can strongly recommend any of the tools on this list, especially the Mantis X.

Here's my take on the tools, in a very broad sense. They pay for themselves over time because you save on other expenses, like ammo, and still get better at shooting.

Live Fire —

This is a no-brainer, hopefully. And, it was not my intention to discount live fire in any way in what I said above.

Here's the thing though, just going to the range and shooting from a static position at paper targets isn't really self-defense training.

That's called target practice.

And, while there is nothing inherently wrong with that, it's unrealistic to think that it'll prepare you in some way for a self-defense scenario.

Some ranges are very restrictive on what you can/cannot do, so you obviously have to abide by the rules and not break them, or you could get banned.

Here is an excellent podcast episode dedicated to this, to help you think outside the box:

But, you should find out what the rules are, and train within the rules. Example? If you can draw from the holster and shoot in one part of the range, that is an all important skill. If you've never drawn your gun from your holster and acquired a target you're missing out on important skills.

But what if you can't draw from the holster and shoot? I'm not going to get into it here, but the above podcast goes into some good alternatives you can focus on to help you out in this scenario.

There are also drills you can do to help you get better that qualify as training, like the ones found in our Drill Cards Book.

Finally, you may only be able to get real training at your local range if you take a class from an instructor. I like to recommend that you take at least one advanced training class each year, anyway, because it'll only help up your skills.

What tips do you have to up your skills? Let us know in the comments below.

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2 Responses to How To Up Your Skills as a Shooter

  1. Don Wilson February 25, 2019 at 1:17 am #

    You are a true patriot. Keep up the good work. TY.

    • ELLEN SCOTT FODGE March 2, 2019 at 12:00 pm #

      Hi Don,
      Thanks for the great article about improving shooting skills. And I would like to add a a couple more:
      1. improve physical fitness. As an RO for multiple hours a week, I stand very close to shooters and have an opportunity for good observation. Many who do not have a good level of athletic cardio vascular health as demonstrated at the end of their individual stage shoots. We expect a great shoot to require physical exertion, but to be completely out of breath combined with a lengthly recovery time for heart rates to slow is something which I believe can impair performance over a full day shooting match.

      2. For women in particular – get in the weight room! Most of us are behind the men from the get-go in core, shoulder, arm and hand strength. This is simply the way we’re made. It helps to compete directly against men because its tougher and makes us better shooters. But to make real progress many women need more power from strong muscle.

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