This Marksman Challenge is all about tuning up your skills through the use of disciplined and recurring dry practice (the activity formerly known as dry fire). If there is one recurring theme in every expert I’ve interviewed so far, it’s the importance of dry practice.
JustinC published an article here on the topic, and is the inspiration for this challenge.
So let’s get to it.
The Dry Practice Challenge
The purpose of this challenge is to help you develop a regular practice routine that actively contributes to your shooting skills. Too many people, myself included, justify our lack of practice by complaining about the cost of ammunition, lack of time to go to the range, or other barriers. It’s time to leave that mindset behind.
You may use any weapon you choose for this one, whether it is pistol, semi-automatic rifle, bolt action, or shotgun. But you should aim to use the same weapon throughout the challenge.
The rules of the dry practice challenge are simple. For any contiguous segment of 30 days, you must average 10 minutes of dry practice per day.
That doesn’t mean it’s 10 minutes per day or bust. You could do 5 minutes today and 15 the next. The goal is that over any period of 30 days, you log 300 minutes of practice time.
And a log is actually required for this one, so plan to keep track of it.
Suggestions for Success
While any dry practice is useful, if you really want to get the most out of your 10-minute sessions, then you need to have a plan. Every practice session needs to have a purpose.
I asked Justin about any suggestions, and he offered a simple structure that makes a lot of of sense. With whatever weapon you choose, break each week into a set of skills you want to focus on.
Here are some possible segments.
Handgun Dry Practice
- Week 1: Presentation skills and trigger control (working each one separately about 50% of the time)
- Week 2: Secondary Skills such as reloading and malfunction clearance, continue practicing presentation and trigger at some of the time
- Week 3: Tertiary Skills such as strong hand only, weak hand only, shooting on the move, and manipulating a flashlight
- Week 4: Combine all skills and practice a sequence such as draw-trigger-reload-trigger-malfunction
Long Gun Dry Practice
- Week 1: Practice getting into classic shooting positions from a standing ready and achieve a natural point of aim
- Week 2: Practice breathing, trigger control, and basic weapon manipulation (loading/unloading)
- Week 3: Practice malfunctions, weak side shooting/manipulation
- Week 4: Combine into a practice sequence
You get the idea. Focus each practice session on a specific skill. Additionally, find and use an accountability buddy to help keep you on track. Use the community, a friend, or even join up with The Everyday Marksmen MantisX practice group (if you have a Mantis X device).
There are no additional levels for this challenge. Completing the challenge requires two things of you, aside from actually doing the practice.
First, you must keep a journal documenting each practice session. Entries should include the date, time of day, length of practice, the skill(s) practiced, and any notes you want to keep about the session. How did you feel? What went well? What didn’t go well? Document it all each and every time.
Secondly, you must post an after-action-review at the end of 30 days. Document what you learned, how it went, and what change for you along the way.