March 21, 2020
The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) hopeful way to prevent viral spread is for us to avoid gathering in groups. This doesn’t just apply to restaurants and bars, but also to shooting indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. Canceled training and competitions are limiting trigger time for firearm enthusiasts who enjoy more than simply owning guns. Having access to a private outdoor range isn’t enough as ammunition availability and costs begin to hamper those who failed to prepare in advance for an emergency like this.
Guidance from local and federal governments has everyone limiting physical interaction. The CDC is limiting gatherings to a maximum of 10 persons and recommends that it is best for individuals to keep to themselves in an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. The term being widely used is “social distancing.” I prefer “physical distancing.” Humans are social animals and we have developed many means to communicate and stay connected.
I queried a sampling of shooters to find out how they were dealing with downtime. No surprise to many, “dryfire” was the common response. A huge proponent of dryfiring for training, I feel live fire confirms what we learned during dry practice. Unfortunately, even the most die-hard shooters find dryfiring boring. What else can we do to improve shooting skills and ability?
GET A GRIP
The best grip is more than proper muscular and skeletal alignment. Hand strength plays a big part in the most successful shooters’ grip. After attending a class with World Champion Shooter Robert Vogel (www.vogeldynamics.com), I realized just how much hand strength matters — and how little I actually had.
With the handshake of a man wearing an iron glove, Vogel’s secret is using hand-strength trainers. And not just any hand strength trainer, but the Captains of Crush (CoC) Grippers ($22.95, www.ironmind.com). With 11 different weights ranging from 60 to 365 pounds, you can become a better shooter in short order with the added grip strength you get from these. Personally, I own the CoC Trainer 100-pound grip (No. 1250) and the No. 1 140-pound gripper (No. 1251) and keep them next to my easy chair. I use them while watching TV. Today, my hands are stronger, and my shooting reflects it.
Dryfire is fine but dry practice involves more than pressing triggers. As a striker-fired pistol fan, my pistols require the sear to reset after every press. This has the potential of producing undesirable training scars during live fire. There are a few trigger resetting devices on the market, but my favorite is Next Level Training’s (NLT) SIRT Pistol (www.nextleveltraining.com). SIRT stands for “Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger,” and they have revolutionized dryfire training with their training pistols that range $239 to $439. The resetting trigger is not habit forming, but the shot indicating laser makes dryfire more productive. Having SIRT pistols in locations within my home where I spend the most time, they are ready for short practice sessions. (My wife and I challenge each other to engage multiple targets to test our performance on demand. One shoots while the other monitors the laser for hits.) Using a holster and a timer will help develop speed for live fire, but SIRT pistols offer a safe way to practice for first-round hits on target.
Laser-activated targets are available and fun year-round. Laserlyte and Laser Ammo’s Laser Pet (www.laser-ammo.com) training targets are some of the best. These training targets are fun and informative depending on which you choose. LaserLyte’s Rumble Tyme targets are shaped like tin cans and vibrate or rumble when hit. Steel Tyme targets respond with a ding as if you were shooting steel.
Laserlyte’s Trainer Pistols aren’t the only guns you can use with their targets. Anything that emits a laser when pressing the trigger can be used, too, including Laser Ammo’s laser-emitting barrels and pistols ($365). If you have the NLT SIRT pistol already, you’re in luck because they are compatible. Having laser-emitting pistols available in my basement keeps the fundamentals of sight alignment and sight picture fresh.
Most shooting sports are active sports meaning cardiovascular health and flexibility are always in style. As someone who has used seven of his nine lives, I can assure you that there is nothing as comforting as good health and fitness during a stressful time.
Whether you’re training for 3-Gun or Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) shooting events, take this time at home to work on fitness. No one said we can’t go out and hike or bike or work around the yard. I’ve battled cancer before, which could have ended differently had I neglected fitness going into it. Action shooting sports has always been a good reason for us to stay in shape.
Nothing beats live fire, but when times get tough, we’ve got to be resourceful. Shooting airsoft, air guns, BB and pellet guns, laser trainers and dryfire all equate to time pressing triggers. Think outside the box and have fun. If you’re one of the lucky shooters who enjoy access to a private shooting range, be sure to spend time using it for on behalf of all of us. With nothing else to do and nowhere to go, being ordered to stay local could turn out to be some of the best time spent of our lives.
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