For anyone who follows this blog, you may have noticed it’s been a month since I posted about getting Ben Stoeger’s Dryfire book and I thought I’d circle back and post my results. Spoiler Alert! I got better! But there is a little more to the story than just getting a little better, so here goes.
Perhaps a couple of months ago I stumbled upon a post in the Enos forums about a dryfire program that looked very interesting. As your typical shooter I didn’t really enjoy dryfiring much and never did it, but knew I should probably use it to “tune up” once in a while since I have found that my pistol skills are highly perishable. But after perusing the dryfire program that was outlined in the post I really found myself interested in starting it since it was quick, only 15 minutes a day, it was different than the other programs I have seen and had a lot of dynamic movement involved instead of just standing around and drawing, and it had videos of Ben Stoeger doing the drills so you could compare times and see how a pro moves which instantly helped me understand some inefficiencies I had.
Having the videos to watch also underscored that being efficient (and of course accurate) wins stages. I’d go through the drills and not even make the novice times then watch the video of Ben doing the drills and see all of the shortcuts he uses like shooting on the move, having the gun in position and breaking the shot the instants he’s in position, or the best way move across a shooting box, and on and on. In no time at all I started beating the par times and getting a feel for how to do certain things more efficiently.
Another side effect of dryfire is that you seem to have little discoveries every time you practice. Little subtle things about my grip position and draw that greatly improve my index and times which you would think would be diametrically opposed, but when you have a fundamental issue that you fix, you do get a boost to both your speed and accuracy. You have to love it when your eyes pick up the perfectly aligned sights before you’re even extended. I used to draw and sit there hunting for my front sight while the timer ate your lunch.
I know you’re wondering how much improvement have I gleaned from 30 to 90 minutes of dryfire a day, and I too want to know. I could post my beginning and current par times on the drills, but I don’t really believe that’s a good benchmark since someone with less than perfect “shots” could have vastly better time, yet crash and burn during a match. Live fire and particularly competition is the ultimate proving ground for trying to quantify improvement, which unfortunately, I haven’t gotten much opportunity to do yet. I did manage make an “Outlaw” pistol match last weekend which has been the only pistol match I’ve shot in a while due to my schedule. Overall, I didn’t finish much stronger than before, but that’s with some issues I had with my front sight so I was unable to hit much past 15 yards. On the stuff inside 15 yards I shot like I’ve never shot before. On one particular field stage I wasn’t very far off from the Open guys, and that’s with a couple of reloads they didn’t have to do. I found myself more “gliding” than moving and shooting on the move as I made my way through the course of fire. The gun’s sights just always seemed aligned and on target. I took a bank of poppers faster than I would have ever done in the past, but this time while moving backwards out of a position! Needless to say, even with the technical issues I had, I was ecstatic with how I shot. For me, I had shot very well. I don’t think Dave Sevigny has anything to worry about quite yet, but I should hopefully have a new group of people I’m competing against.
A couple of things worth mentioning that dryfire won’t help you with. Things like stage planning some moving targets are things that you’ll probably just have to learn from experience. You also have to be honest with yourself when it comes to “hitting” the targets. It’s very easy to train yourself to shoot poorly which I started to do in the beginning. I happened to make it out to a livefire session and noticed that my hits weren’t good and had to really focus on making sure my hits are exactly where they need to be.
And if you’re like me and setup a “course” in your garage, you might get some strange looks for the neighbors when they see all of the IPSC targets and your paper plate rack. One more thing worth mentioning is that I’ve had some pretty bad tendonitis in my right hand from all of the repetitive stress, so be sure to dial it back a bit if you feel your wrist(s) starting to flare up. But all in all, the dryfire regiment has been incredibly helpful in developing my shooting skills and is something that I will continue to do since I’ve found a way to make it fun and it’s very satisfying to see a drastic improvement when shooting in competition.