Now more than ever training and practicing with live ammo is becoming harder to do affordably, making other means of improvement much more attractive. Dry firing is obviously the key to improving without expense but simply saying “Go dryfire,” doesn’t truly help anyone improve. There are also other methods of learning that don’t cost money and can be tremendous assets to enhancing your dryfire. In simplest terms recording your dry fire, watching pro shooters, asking questions, and submitting your dry and live fire videos for review are all very useful tools for improving your abilities without needing to spend money.
Dry Fire doesn’t have to be fancy and your videos don’t have to be blockbuster quality. This is Steve Anderson, aka the Father of dryfire, demoing a drill from his book. Notice the camera angle allows a full view of his shooting, how your feet are positioned has great importance, you don’t just need to show the gun!
While I truly believe consistent, quality dry fire is the most important key to improving your shooting abilities, there are things that can and should be done to aid in that growth. Filming yourself while you practice is incredibly helpful in a variety of ways. First, it’s very hard to determine if we did something the way we wanted without seeing it. Something can feel great and then you see the film and you see three different things you didn’t realize you were doing that were destroying your efficiency. Feelings lie, film doesn’t lie. I have lost count of the number of times I felt like I was setting new records for speed and grace and then I review the video and I’m clearly going far slower than I believed I was. It may make you feel self conscious or silly to record yourself, it made me feel that way for awhile too. Do it anyway, because that feeling will fade but the help that comes from recording is worth far more than your comfort level.
When searching for videos and demos online, make sure the source providing the information is worth listening to. All shooters with Green Ops are accomplished shooters who continue to further their abilities through learning and attending classes themselves.
These videos can be additionally helpful when you have other experienced shooters lend a critical eye to your work. If you don’t have a circle of friends that are shooting on your level or better, find some. They can be invaluable in motivating you to work harder and to help you improve in areas you are struggling. Having people that you can directly send your videos to and get honest and constructive feedback from will be monumental in taking your abilities to the next level. My buddy Brandon was the first one to get me to start doing this and I went from shooting 12 second FAST drills to around 7 seconds. Since then I’ve learned a lot, my circle of friends that shoot competitively has grown, and now having GM’s like Grand Maester Shaw to watch my videos and offer critiques my times are generally below five seconds. This isn’t to brag about my abilities or say how great I am at shooting, I’m simply trying to demonstrate how valuable it is to get extra eyes on your dry fire practice. There is nothing exceptional about me that got me to cut those times down, all it took was listening to better shooters and dedicating myself to a consistent schedule of dry fire.
While obviously not quite as effective as learning in person there are professional instructors, like Ben Stoeger, that have hours of free instruction online that anyone can access and learn from.
If you have ever played sports at the high school level or higher, you’ve probably watched film a few times. This can be done for shooting as well. Seeing what your competition, or just much better shooters, do in action can be crucial to finding new skills and drills to practice to push yourself and your abilities to a point beyond where they are now. There are three methods of learning, and visual learning is one of the biggest methods. How can you emulate good shooting if you yourself have not seen what good shooting is? There are thousands of match videos and live demos from professional shooters that can be freely accessed with just a few taps of fingertips. You might even be better off if you stop reading and go find some film to study. Just make sure you put the skills you discover into practice, because visual learning is enhanced and cemented when you start practicing what you’ve learned. It doesn’t matter if you’re tryin to improve in competitive, tactical, long range, shotgun, or anything else. I guarantee there is film from extremely skilled shooters out there just waiting for you to review and learn from.
Watch professional shooters in action, not just in their practice but many have solid videos from matches. This allows you to see how they perform under pressure, how they move, what shots they do and don’t take on the move, etc. Study it with a critical eye, learning what you can and keeping your own abilities in mind for when you try to implement similar actions.
If reviewing your own videos and watching other shooters has not answered a question you have, seek someone out and ask them. Social media is awesome for this, there are so many claims that it’s toxic and so many other things but that’s no more true than someone saying guns are bad. It’s a tool, you get to determine how it is used. If you don’t know a good shooter personally that doesn’t matter because in my experience most of them are very helpful or at the least can tell you what they do and why they do it. Not every good shooter is necessarily a good teacher, but you won’t know until you ask. Be tactful, be polite, and if they have a large following don’t be offended if your question gets lost in a sea of other questions. The silver lining is that a lot of the very best shooters aren’t necessarily flooded with followers on IG and other platforms, so if you have a question just ask it. The worst that happens is they ignore you or block you, but who cares? Find someone else that shoots the division/platform/gun that you do and ask them why they do what they do, how you can fix an issue you’re having.
Another great source online are videos from Scott Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project. His channel, and others, have hours of dedicated instruction that can help you figure out what to train and HOW to train it. All you have to do is watch and then apply what you learned to your CONSISTENT training.
The final step is putting this all together into your dryfire practice. Keys to effective dryfire, make it a part of your daily or at least weekly routine. 10-15 minutes a few times a week will do you far more good than hour long sessions conducted sporadically. Practicing with the same gun and equipment set up is also important to build your skills and track your progress. Remembering what you’ve learned, reviewing film and recording yourself so that others can offer advice that you then take back into your dryfire practice are all important for making your training the most effective it can be. There is so much you can do with that dryfire, but I think that would be best left as another article entirely. Dedicate yourself to the process and you’ll be amazed at where it can take you with no monetary expense.
Traditionally for an article I include some pictures that I spend entirely too much time trying to figure out how to upload and then size properly, and then I give up and have our founder help me out. Instead of going through that process for this article I thought it would be far more useful for the reader to have direct links to some of the resources I have used over the years, and continue to learn from. This is merely a small sampling, there are thousands of great videos out there just waiting for you to learn from. All you must do is put in the time and application and see your own shooting abilities improve.