Lots of people have written about how you can train with your handgun given the current ammunition situation. As a result of limited availability and higher prices, we’ve all had to cut back to some degree. I will primarily focus on the first time gun owners (over 13 million in the last two years) and novice shooters, who perhaps have had a gun for a while, but rarely train.
Dry-fire training can accomplish a great deal and requires no live ammunition. It cannot, however, entirely replace time at the range. Every time we go to the range to actually shoot, we should have a plan for that training session. A goal in mind. It’s kinda like going to the gym. Without a plan, you likely won’t improve. You’re not going to get better if you don’t have some structure to your workout. As a new shooter, you can accomplish a lot with 100 rounds. Here’s a simple plan for 100 rounds that can be done both indoors and outdoors. Slight variations may be required depending on the rules of your particular range especially as it pertains to drawing from a holster.
10 rounds slow fire: Focus on the fundamentals. Think of this as your warm up. Sight alignment and trigger control are the most important. Properly align your sights on the target and make the gun go “bang” without disturbing that alignment. It IS that simple. One shot at a time and return to the low ready. Assess each shot. Refine your grip and stance as you go, but accuracy is the goal. At 7 yards, you should be able to stay within a 4 inch circle.
10 rounds from the holster (or picked up off table). The vast majority of new gun owners either do not carry on a daily basis or have chosen not to carry at all. If your intent for owning a handgun is to have it at home for protection, drawing from a holster is a skill you may not need to work on at this point. If you choose to keep the gun “in the nightstand drawer”, I recommend practice retrieving the gun from a table or shooting bench and engage a target. Taken one step further, if you don’t keep the gun with a round in the chamber, practice retrieving the gun, chambering a round and then engage the target. This drill primarily focuses on acquiring a good, consistent grip on the gun. Again, maximize the training benefit from the limited amount of ammunition we have.
20 rounds, controlled pairs. This drill allows you to learn to manage recoil while still maintaining accuracy with each shot. Two, well aimed shots at one target. Don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed. Increased speed typically follows improved accuracy.
20 rounds controlled pairs and target transition. Continuing to build on recoil management while also incorporating transitioning to an additional target. Two separate targets is preferred, but you can also use a single target by attaching two smaller targets (for example, at an indoor range where you are limited to a single lane). As above, don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed. Two well aimed shots on the first target, transition to the second target and two more well aimed shots.
10 rounds strong/weak hand. Five rounds each strong hand and weak hand only. Nobody likes shooting one-handed, but it is absolutely a skill to work on. Dry-fire helps a lot here.
18 rounds of the 2 x 2 x 2 drill. Two rounds freestyle (both hands), two rounds strong-hand only, two rounds weak-hand only. Three iterations for 18 total rounds. Incorporate the draw or retrieving the gun off the table with this drill as well. A timer works well to gauge progress with this drill.
12 rounds slow fire. Finish up with the last 12 rounds just as you started. Think of this as the cool down. Slow fire is all about accuracy. Force yourself to slow down and focus on the task at hand. As your accuracy improves, so will your confidence.
Start at a distance that challenges your accuracy. Increase the distance over time. Use a timer if you have one. A timer helps us measure progress. I shot the targets above at ten yards with my Sig P365XL, from the holster. Next time I need to push harder and increase speed.