One thing that I am asked on a regular basis is, “how can I train at home or on the road since I can’t get to the range that much?” Surprisingly enough there are many ways this can be obtained. Here are two major benefits of training at home regardless of the tools being used. First, when we go to the range we pretty much always focus on the shooting and shoot a couple hundred rounds without even realizing we haven’t worked on any specific drills that are going to increase our overall knowledge and skill set. This means at best we have simply maintained our skill set. Secondly, we want to go too hard too fast because social media has taught us that for us to be good we have to be running and gunning. When we do this we bypass the basics and without mastering the basics there will not be anything consistent or effective in our platform. When this occurs we will almost always build negative muscle memory which puts us in a backward motion in our training. The end result is little to no improvement and a lot of frustration.
The hardest part of training is to be a teacher of self. Go slow, talk to yourself, and refine your skills in a classroom/practical setting. If you don’t do this then all the tools in the world will not help out. You may become a little better but that is simply due to performing reps which anyone will improve with. Without effective reps through refining your mechanics, you are bound to extreme deficiencies in your platform.
I am going to discuss some of the most helpful tools that I use and recommend. From simple everyday items you can use at home to the most advanced tools on the market that I as a professional use as well as for my students. I do not in any way get paid from these companies. There are so many tools out there it is unreal so I would recommend you do your own research. With that being said, respectfully, you can spend a lot of money on tools or take the advice from someone who is classified as an expert in his field. If you find that you would like to purchase one of these products I have placed the links at the bottom of the blog.
Pen Trigger Work
This is one of a few tool that I have used for many years not only to train but to demonstrate a proper trigger press to others. Take a pen/pencil in your support hand with a fairly strong grip to simulate some resistance. Make a fist with your strong hand and lightly lay it on top of your support hand bonding the two hands together. Place the tip of your strong hand index finger on the pen centering the pen between the tip and first knuckle. Go slow, and try to pull the pen straight back and release forward straight as possible. If you find yourself pushing or pulling the pen inward or outward, it is a good indicator you do this with a trigger. Because a trigger is pinned to the frame of the firearm the end result will be a 3 or 9 o’clock bullet impact on your target or a complete miss.
Pic 1: Proper placement from the front view.
Pic 2: Proper press from the front view.
Pic 3: Proper placement and press from side view.
Pic 4: Improper press from front view that pulls to the 9 o'clock position.
Pic 5: Improper press from front view that pulls to the 3 o'clock position.
Tip: This drill is not to build speed. It is only to refine your trigger press and release, ensuring that you are not creating a disruption in the barrel movement left or right. Ensure you are bending the middle knuckle as a primary pivot point.
These drills can vary in so many ways its unreal. Your draw stroke, refining your NPoA, explosive speed between targets, and more. I will tell you this. Many of you have seen what my sons can do through videos at their young ages. I started my boys with stopper guns and graduated them to air soft, and then onto a real firearm as they showed the ability to safely and responsibly handle it. What does this mean? Almost 100% of their training for the past 6+ years for my youngest two to 10+ years for my oldest, has been in our home with air soft guns and with very few live rounds. Now keep in mind that you can’t replace dry fire with live fire or vice versa. Both are vital in your training, however if I had the mentality that I can’t train my kids until they could shoot a real firearm then I have lost all of those years of knowledge and mechanical training.
The mechanical movement of a technique or tactic doesn’t change, only the weapon platform. Even if you are not in a position to physically perform the drills you can do the most important part which is run through the drills in your head. It may not seem like this would help but one of the most dangerous situations I see on a live fire range is shooters understanding verbally what is being said but not being able to project it through motion of the body. We all can recall a time when we have seen this in our life. The first part is the knowledge in your head, and once that is present the next part is application. Many people possess the knowledge yet have no ability in translating it into a physical action. “Knowledge without Application” is useless and extremely dangerous. It is a false sense of security and capabilities.
This drill is another great drill that I personally use as well as to teach others. You will need a clear and safe firearm and a penny. With a one handed grip and indexing your trigger finger, level out the slide so it is parallel to the ground. Take the penny and balance it on the front sight with your support hand. Slowly lift the firearm up to your eyes while establishing a two handed grip, aligning your sights up on a target. When you are ready, take out the trigger slack, and roll into a slow trigger press. Once you accomplish this a few times, pick up the speed of your trigger press and continue repeating until the penny falls off. If the penny falls off the most common factor is the shooter is performing a improper grip or trigger press meaning you are changing your grip as you pull the trigger or you are pressing the trigger too hard or fast. If the shooter performs the fundamentals properly and the penny falls, you have more than likely found your “Maximum Effective Pull Rate” which is the point of speed that your trigger can be pressed without any disruption in the barrel. Exceeding your MEPR doesn’t mean you won’t hit your target, it simply means there is a greater chance of missing which depends on how big the target is and how far away it is. Point blank you can be sloppy and hit a full size target but what you do up close will expose your fundamental discrepancies at distance. What you do up close carries over to all other distances and circumstances.
Tip: This drill will help identify any fundamental discrepancies as well as help you build a good muscle memory for a solid trigger press. It can also be used to identify recoil/shot anticipation but will not help overcome this particular issue. If you are using a striker fire or single action, you will need to remove the penny every time and cycle the firearm. A single/double or double action you can continue to practice the trigger pull until the penny falls. If you run a striker fire or single action consider purchasing the Dry Fire Magazine below.
Training Dummy Rounds
These little life savers are great for simulating a Failure to Fire or malfunctions. You can work on Remedial Action Drills such as tap racks, stove pipes, double feeds at home or even incorporate into a live fire evolution.
Dry Fire Magazine
This is a great tool to help you get a lot of trigger press reps in without cycling your slide every time you pull the trigger or if you are using a laser training system. Another pro to the Dry Fire Magazine is that you can select a spring weight that is closer to what you run in your range gun or CCW. It won’t be exact but it is an option that helps out.
MantisX is one of the top training tools when it comes to immediate feedback that can be logged for future reference. Simply connect the MantisX to an accessory rail of any firearm, just like you would any other firearm attachment. It works with live fire, dry fire, air-soft, and CO2. It evaluates shooting performance, identify areas of improvement, and track progress over time.
SIRT TRAINING PISTOLS
I was first introduced to the SIRT training pistol about a year ago by a customer. They were kind enough to let me use this tools for a week or so. As an expert in my field I know that every person has room for improvement but until you put your hand on one of these, you truly have no clue of how inconsistent the human body can really be when relying on our own capabilities. After using this tool to refine my trigger press and reset I was able to decrease my time on a simulated steel shooting stage by over 50%. On a live fire range it helped me tremendously as well. With that being said I would have to label the SIRT Training tool my number one choice when it comes to improving my fundamental skill set when I can’t get to the range to practice.
I want to give you one last thing to think about. You can spend 8 full hours on the range on Saturday per week shooting round after round, or you can spend 15-20 minutes per day with dry fire or mechanical practice at home and it is scientifically proven the short concentrated time you spent daily even though less time overall, is far more beneficial than the 8 hours once per week. In those 8 hours you will not have spent as much time working on the specific techniques you do at home therefore it translates into more highly efficient and consistent muscle memory. The more often we do something the faster we will become better at it. Where more people fail is the lack of discipline to dedicate the time to dry fire or work on mechanics. This separates the serious from the ones who just want to have fun. If you truly take it on as a lifestyle then you will seek the training and allow the performance increase over time be your reward. If you are a fun seeker then you will continue to ignore this aspect of training and only go to the range to let off a little steam. Both are fine but don’t be surprised when you see little to no improvement without putting in any real training time. There is no such thing as "he's just a natural." Only those who work harder than others to achieve their desired goals.