Take charge of your practice. Make your time and ammo count.
Never leave the range again, wondering if you’ve improved!
OUR GOAL HERE
is to help Students;
Practice with a purpose, what they learn in training, from the skill level they’re at, with the time and ammo they have.
Photo Right > Bob and I shooting the 2019 FBI qualification (D-065). He beat me again darn it! I guess I need more practice.
THIS PORTAL PRESENTS
how the products and website may best be used by a Student that is practicing between training classes or one-on-one sessions with their Trainer. It includes the application of both dry fire practice at home and live fire practice at the range. The Student role applies to anyone, including Trainers, that are in practice mode.
Welcome to the Student Role Portal
Here are some tips for helping you develop the best practice process for you. These ideas and suggestions are for your consideration and vetting, to allow you to take the parts that help you the most and ignore the parts that don’t. This allows you to develop a process that fits you today and evolve it as needed. Change things up as you learn more, improve your skills, acquire new skills and deal with a busy schedule.
The HandgunDrills.com Student Practice Cycle
Applying the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Continuous Improvement Process to Handgun Practice.
Never leave the range again wondering if you’ve improved!
The application of this well-known continuous improvement model to the physical act of handgun shooting, which is a process, has many similarities to any other physical sport. But there are differences too.
Examples of how this can be applied to shooting to:
- reduce variation of outputs of the shooting process such as shot placement and minimize time. That is, improve accuracy and repeatability and increase speed.
- reduce variation of inputs to the shooting process that affect the output such as start delay, movements, recognition, focus and decisions. These are things that slow you down or make you miss.
- break the drill process down into smaller steps (stages/shots) and measure each step. Split times would be an example of an output for each shot.
- determine which shooting process steps (inputs), if improved, will yield the greatest benefit to the desired outputs (shot placement and time).
How you can involve your Trainer to advance your Practice for more results.
Some of us take training classes and leave. Then we practice for a while. Then we decide to take another training class. These could be classes or occasional one-on-one sessions with weeks or months in between.
Have you ever considered trying to involve your Trainer in your actual practice cycle, between regular training? A phone call, video conference, a shared video, email or other quick “check-in” where you are able to share your drill choices and results, observations, conclusions and questions about what to do next.
HandgunDrills.com is designed to make the practice process as simple as possible, easy to learn and simple to improve. With our standardized Drill Cards and PDCA practice process you can quickly communicate “results” without spending all of your time explaining “how you actually ran each drill”.
Consider trying this approach to engage a Trainer in your practice routines.
- Find a Trainer that is agreeable to periodically help you review practice results and provide feedback and recommendations for next steps (homework), for an acceptable level of compensation. If you train frequently enough, this can be done at the beginning of each training session.
- Complete your Practice. (DO – Shoot & Record) (Live Fire and Dry Fire)
- Meet with or send your results to your Trainer and review them together as a “Check-in”. Go through the Check, Act and Plan steps together.
- Complete the Check step. Evaluate results and draw conclusions.
- Complete the Act step. Decide what to change and do next.
- Discuss the PLAN for the next practice(s). Set-up what to do and what drills to shoot in the practice.
- Finalize your Practice Plan and head to the range for live fire or log some dry fire time, or both.
Note: A Practice Plan can be designed as a short series of live fire and dry fire practice sessions.
PLAN - Some tips for planning your practice.
Here are several tips and ideas to review when planning your next practice, so as you develop your own practice process, it will less time to prepare and still effectively accomplish your goals. If available, incorporate your homework from your Trainer and training feedback.
What is the goal for this practice session?
The goal may point to using Dry Fire or Live Fire as the best next way to practice if if an outdoor range is required. This is broad, but some typical types of goals may include.
- Complete a pure fundamentals practice.
- Start with fundamentals and move to specific skill building.
- Focus on a single skill or correct a specific problem.
- Focus on multiple skills that may build on each other.
What are the results I want to achieve and how will I measure it?
Results require measurement and they should be specific to your goals.
- Executing and recording the usual speed and accuracy results for drills you run clean.
- Looking at split times for specific types of shots at specific accuracy ranges.
- Consistency under stress or fatigue using physical exertion and consecutive runs.
- Decision-making in scenarios and tactical environments to achieve outcomes.
How do I choose the right drills for the skills I want to work on?
Drills (or stage of a drill) are used for both practicing skills and for testing skills. Select 2-3 drills (or stages of a drill) that use those skills, are within you ability but a reasonable challenge. Choosing multiple drills for each segment, to focus on one skill, gives you the ability to practice that skill in multiple circumstances and conditions.
- The best way is for your Trainer to provide you drills and make recommendations on the skills they require, as well as how to shoot them to improve a specific skill.
- And you can also learn to choose drills yourself by reviewing drill attributes that require specific skills that are within your accuracy range.
- From the library of HandgunDrills.com available drills. Use the online Drill Filter (in the Store-Library) to choose among the 10 drill attributes that fit the skill with the appropriate accuracy level for your current ability. For more information on using the HandgunDrills.com Drill Filter to identify Drill Attributes and the Accuracy rating system to choose drills see, How-to-Use.
- From Drill Cards contained in the book. Use the Drill Index cards which provides the same drill attribute and accuracy information for all of the drills.
DO - Live Fire Practice - Some tips on moving through your practice as planned but allowing for adjustments as needed.
Making every shot count! Live Fire or Dry Fire.
Live Fire Practice – Now you are at the range or and ready to live fire practice and focus on specific skill(s) (execution of techniques).
While the Plan-Do-Check-Act loop works for the overall practice it can also applied in real time while you are practicing to each drill and to each shot. That is, while you practice, you are observing your own techniques, mental focus and other performance factors and how they are affecting you results. Make adjustments and notes on the fly.
Example of a Practice “Focus Segment” – Complete the set-up of the drill including targets and positions and safety check of the area.
- Shooter Ready – in position, with Loadout, gun charged.
- Start and run drill. (Multiple stage course of fire, single stage, single shot.)
- Review and record results and observations.(Time, score, misses (unintentional hits) involving technique, mistakes, mental processes, decision-making, concentration, stressors, fatigue, surprises, environment, etc.)
- Evaluate the run and make immediate adjustments to improve results based on observations and conclusions.
- Repeat run with focus on adjustments to make or move on to next drill with the same skill focus.
Some examples of factors (Inputs) that can or do affect shooting performance (partial list and not in any order).
- Knowledge of correct technique.
- Technique level.
- Mental focus and concentration.
- Amount of practice time.
- Physical ability and fitness level.
- Loadout – Gun, holster, carry position, ammo type and caliber, concealment method.
- Cold vs. warmed up.
- Environment – location, light level, distractions.
Some examples of measured results (Outputs) that may be used to describe shooting performance (partial list).
- Target set-up – the target size and distance defines an accuracy level requirement.
- Number of hits and misses – timed or not timed.
- Numerical score or time score – timed or not timed.
- Correct or acceptable decisions.
Making every shot count. The one shot lesson.
Paying attention to overall drill results is fundamental, but paying attention to a specific stage or a specific type of shot as well is also beneficial, and leads to focusing on what every shot is telling you. Making every shot count means each shot can tell you something. You have an expectation for the shot and it Met or Did Not Meet your expectation. The result of that shot can teach you something.
Narrowing down the weakest link in your technique for a drill, then to a specific stage, and then to a specific type of shot, is a valuable practice skill to determine exactly what to work on next that is a productive use of time and ammo. This practice skill will also lead to the effective use of Dry Fire practice, especially to isolate and work on individual technique with high levels of replications in the convenience of your home with no ammo expense.
CHECK - Some tips on checking your results and observations when you're done.
3 points of view to consider when self-assessing your practice.
- If you miss 1 or 2 of say 10 shot it tells you something like which skill (technique) needs work. If you miss 8 out of 10 shots you are wasting lead. Reduce difficulty in some way.
- Run a Balanced Scorecard which is our way of saying the skills you use to run a drill should be somewhat balanced. Practice for a balanced skill set.
- Finding the “weakest link” skill helps you improve that skill which will give you the most improvement in results for your goals. (For instance if you have a draw of 3 seconds and a split time of .22 sec for repeat shots at a target then draw is your weakest link. More practice on repeat shots will yield almost no improvement in time, while if you get your draw time down to 2 sec. your time drops by 1 sec.
Questions to ask when checking your results. Create your own review list.
- Was your fundamentals check solid?
- Did you ace any drills?
- Can you replicate acing the drill 3-5 times for consistency?
- Is your result an improvement, about the same or worse than last time?
- Which shot did I struggle with and what skills are required?
- Can I identify the “weakest link” skill used in the drill? Are my skills balanced for the drill?
- Why did I miss a shot? Did I miss 1/10 or 8/10?
- Am I capable of making shots at this accuracy this distance and target size?
Questions to ask about what caused a problem? Create your own list.
- Poor technique? – Or a more refined next level technique is needed?
- Lapse in concentration or focus?
- Were you distracted?
- Did you try to focus on more than one skill at a time?
- Equipment issues or handling? Fix or practice?
- Physical limitations? Real or perceived?
- Lack of drill familiarity? New drill?
- No idea? Time to see a Trainer!
ACT - Some tips on how to decide what to work on next and why.
An approach to consider when deciding what to work on next.
A guiding principle for this as it applies to improving your practice is; Know what you know and know what you don’t know.
This way you have the best chance to get help when needed. Knowing the correct technique and not being capable of doing it yet is different than thinking you know and practicing the heck out of it. The latter will require your Trainer to unteach you first and then teach you the correct technique, which is more difficult and takes longer.
- Flag 1-3 skills that need work and the causes of the problem for each.
- Was there clearly one or more skills you consider “weakest links”?
- Identify the changes to improve each.
- Decide the dry fire practice focus and actions to include in the next dry fire Practice Plan.
- Decide the live fire practice focus and actions to include in the next live fire Practice Plan.
- Head to practice or to your Trainer?
Questions & Answers
How do I best use the Practice Plan template?
Download the template and print it.
The Practice Plan Template is available in all portals, this template is a starting point and guide to help make planning a practice session simple and fast.
The template uses the well-established 4 step Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) continuous improvement system and applies it to create a worksheet for handgun practice.
As you use the template the steps will become automatic and you may not need to use the form to plan and complete a practice. When this happens simply record the important information for the 4 steps as you go on a Log card.
Will this be a Dry Fire or Live Fire practice?
It is not unreasonable to spend more 3-4X time in Dry Fire practice than Live Fire.
What are some tips for Dry Fire practice?
Dry Fire Practice – A continuation of Live Fire practice. (Or is it Vice Versa?)
Now you are likely at home and ready to dry fire practice based on some observations during live fire at the range.
Dry fire practice is beneficial but also has some limitations so applying it well will make this practice time productive as well. There are many different dry fire systems and they do cost something to buy. However, due to its convenience and zero cost to use, they excel at helping to improve at any non-recoil involved technique and for those with recoil there are many other aspects of techniques that can be developed, then tested at the range.
The primary experience missing in dry fire is the lack of shot recoil compared to a pistol. The projectile is simulated by a laser shot on the target.
Note: There are products that approximate recoil and us a non-lethal projectile such as Simunition(R) and air-soft with CO2 recoil that allow for more realistic and interactive practice. These features makes learning from your practice more applicable to live fire but does cost something to purchase and use.
There are many types of dry fire systems and tools, too many to list. Talk to your Trainers and friends and go online to see what ones might help you the most. All dry fire systems have a cost and pro’s and con’s so evaluate the purchase carefully.
Assuming you have a SIRT pistol or are using your empty carry pistol with a laser cartridge, here are some advantages of using dry fire practice. (With no recoil.)
- Isolating a skill (technique) and practicing it dozens or hundreds of times quickly and at no cost.
- Quick and easy to set-up, no travel time to a range.
- Working on some skills where recoil won’t affect the next shot is highly effective. Some dry fire companies have a drill library as well and community.
- Examples of some are skills that benefit from dry fire:
- Draw to first shot – all of the skills involved in stance, clearing the garment, draw and marksmanship.
- Move and shoot – movement skills, gun position and control while moving, stopping, planting and stance, marksmanship from ready positions.
- Repeat shots – grip and trigger finger control – using small target or a feature that shows the drag mark and direction just prior to the shot is especially helpful.
- Transition shots from target to target – body movement in a stationary stance where you re-establish sight picture and alignment.
- Reload between shots – stationary or moving reloads and clearing actions.
Dry Fire Practice Tips
- Use the practice process outlined in the PDCA “DO” step for live fire, but it does not need to be as formal.
- Use the Log cards in the book to record and track any dry fire practices and highlights.
- Work on speed and accuracy to the extreme and safety without safety concerns. But practice safety while you test things out!
- This is the time to experiment with subtle changes in equipment, carry position and technique and observe the results.
- Use a phone to record your moves and play back to evaluate what you are doing. Slo-mo is very useful.
- Try different variations of footwork while moving different directions.
- Try things out before trying in a live fire environment.
- Set-up competitions with friends and family and have some fun.
In summary, dry fire practice should be an important regular part of your overall practice regimen.
How long should I practice and work on each skill?
One hour is pretty common but longer has its own pro’s and con’s. Set any timeframe consistent with your goals.
We call these focus segments. Each segment has a specific focus with a short duration, say 15-30 min each with a small break in between. Going longer can have benefits as it may test concentration and mental aspects you may want to practice.
How many skills should I work on?
For an hour practice, 2-3 skills are pretty reasonable.
How do I identify my weakest skill in the set of skills I practice?
The weakest link is the skill in a set of skills that you believe, if improved, will improve your results the most. As you improve it, another skill will become your weakest link.
- The weakest link is often difficult to identify yourself but there are proven approaches that work.
- The very best way is to have your Trainer identify it and explain show how to improve it.
- Have a competent training partner identify it.
- Identify it yourself. Perhaps video record yourself and review the video from different angles if needed.
How do I find the drills that I can use to work on my skills?
Having several sources of drills helps as it gives you more choices.
- The best way is for your Trainer to provide you with drills and make recommendations on the skills they require, as well as how to shoot them to improve a specific skill.
- And also learn how to choose drills yourself from these potential sources, or a combination of both.
- Use the Drill Filter on the HandgunDrills.com Store-Library. Or the Drill Index in the book to choose drill attributes that use the skill at an appropriate accuracy range.
- Search the internet for drills.
- Obtain drills from your club, events, competitions, books, and other published sources.
What do I need to take to the range?
The indoor range checklist is; handgun, holster, ammo, concealment garment(s), Book of Drills (or drill cards) and targets, pen, marker, hole patches.
For outdoor ranges you may also need target stands, cardboard, staple gun, measuring tape, adhesive spray, cones or spray paint.