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    Default Dry Fire Practice for Long Distance Shooting

    Dry Fire Practice for Long Distance Shooting

    By Eric Tull, Suarez International Staff Instructor

    Living in an age of terrorism and social unrest, the need to make a precision long distance shot has never been more important. When someone is lighting a Molotov cocktail aimed at your house or vehicle, itís critical to be able to make a head shot on demand. However, it can be difficult to regularly practice long distance shooting, even if youíre lucky enough to have an appropriate range nearby. Thatís where dry fire practice usually comes in. Most people already know how to dry practice the draw stroke, movement patterns, reloads, malfunction clearances, etc. But dry fire for long distance shots isnít as intuitive.

    Through trial and error and countless hours of practice, I developed techniques to dry fire for long distance shooting. Iím not claiming to be the first person to have discovered these techniques. However, I havenít seen them mentioned anywhere else. This article breaks it down for you.

    FIRST, SOME FUNDAMENTALS
    There are a few foundational things to keep in mind as you go into this drill. When shooting (and dry practicing) for distance, you need a firm enough grip. Not a death grip to the point of trembling, but firm enough that the gun doesnít move as you apply pressure to the trigger. We generally refer to it as the strength of a firm handshake, but youíll have to experiment to get it perfect. Personally, I must always make sure to squeeze my pinky and ring finger tight enough. Youíll obviously need to follow the other fundamentals of firing a good shot, but Iíve found that the trigger press and (to a lesser extent) the grip are most important for long distance shots.

    The key to the long distance shot is a perfect trigger press. Most instructors tell you to press the trigger straight to the rear. This may be Ďgood enoughí for the beginner shooter, but you have to look at things in more detail if you want to hit targets at 100 yards or more. When you examine how most triggers move, youíll see that theyíre hinged at the top. As you press the trigger, it swings back and up. For the smoothest trigger pull, you need to increase pressure on the trigger in the direction it moves, which is slightly upward. In other words, move your finger up and back in exactly the direction the trigger travels, rather than pressing it straight back. This may sound nit-picky, but small errors are greatly multiplied in long-distance shooting and something as 'minor' as this can be the difference between a hit and a miss.

    When pressing the trigger, you want your finger as far away from the hinge (the top) as you can get it. The farther away your finger is placed, the less force youíll need to produce the required torque to press the trigger and release the striker. Keep in mind, you donít want your index finger to touch any part of the trigger guard during the trigger press. This will cause an inconsistent trigger press and will keep your finger from moving exactly as you want it to. If you have very large hands and fingers (like me), youíll have to be constantly on guard against this, as itís far too easy to drag your finger against the bottom inside of the trigger guard.

    EQUIPMENT CONSIDERATIONS
    Last up before you perform these dry fire techniques, letís talk hardware. Most importantly, youíll need a good red dot pistol. These techniques will not work with iron sights, since sight movement during the trigger press is how you analyze performance during the drill. A good red dot provides scalpel precision to be able to view sight movement; iron sights are more like an axe blade. Beyond the red dot, youíll find a trigger with minimal take-up and a crisp wall to be very helpful. Donít fight against mediocre equipment when you can make things easier. I also recommend going to a big box store and purchasing 1Ē circular stickers to use as targets. Just stick some randomly on a wall.

    Now that we have a red dot pistol with a nice trigger, small targets to aim at, and an understanding of how you should actually press the trigger, Iíll explain the dry fire technique Iíve used to vastly improve my long distance shooting.

    THE DRILL
    This technique is centered around the trigger press. Get your red dot on the 1Ē circular target and carefully press the trigger. Youíll see that when you press the trigger, the dot will move slightly. The movement of the dot when you press the trigger is your feedback.


    • If the dot moves up, youíre pressing too far upward on the trigger
    • If the dot moves down, youíre putting too much downward pressure on the trigger and need to press more upward
    • If the dot moves leftward, then youíre pressing the trigger too much to the left and need to put more rightward pressure on it
    • If the dot moves to the right, you need to put more pressure on the trigger to the left


    Frequently, youíll see the dot move on both the vertical and horizontal planes. If the dot moves up and to the right, adjust your trigger pressure down and left. Keep practicing until you can consistently no longer see any movement of the dot as you press the trigger.

    Once that dot is perfectly still, take a large step back, and repeat the drill. Youíll start to see dot movement again now that the distance has increased. Practice again until you can no longer see any movement in the dot as you press the trigger, then take another step back. Keep practicing this until youíre all the way across the room. If, during your practice session, the dot is moving, but you canít tell in which direction, try moving closer to the target.

    VARIATIONS
    When youíre as far away from the 1Ē circular target as you can be, or if you simply want to add some variety to your dry fire practice, return closer to the target and practice this whole series again, but with only one hand on the gun. Just donít cheat and use an Olympic stance where your body is perpendicular to the target. Instead, square yourself up to the target and shoot one-handed. Shooting one-handed magnifies errors in your trigger press that are hidden with a two-handed grip. Follow the steps outlined above, slowly working your way backward as your trigger press improves. Of course, you should also be practicing all of this with your left hand, working your way backward with a two-handed grip, then moving on to one hand.

    THE UPSHOT
    Everyone who carries a pistol should be able to hit a man-sized target at 100 yards on demand. Although that may sound unachievable if you havenít trained or practiced long distance shooting, itís easily within anyoneís reach. If you practice what Iíve outlined in this article, youíll be able to accomplish this and more, become a better shooter at all distances, and have the necessary skills if youíre tasked with that long-distance shot on an active shooter, terrorist or rioter.

    Eric Tull is a Staff Instructor for Suarez International, Inc.

  2. #2
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    Great stuff, Eric! This is something I rarely work on, so thanks for the tips and the motivation.
    Waitin' for a squeeze...

    TWOTU Since March 2012

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  3. #3
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    Eric, this is fantastic. Thank-you for putting your thoughts out there for us. I now have an informed regimen to add to my practice.

  4. #4
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    Good practice ideas!
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

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    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  5. #5
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    Worked on this tonight, with good results. This thread should be a sticky.
    Waitin' for a squeeze...

    TWOTU Since March 2012

    DPS
    CRG
    AR15/M4 RGF
    HRO-6 CQB
    HRO-7 Team Tactics
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by IANative View Post
    Worked on this tonight, with good results. This thread should be a sticky.
    Agreed. I need to work this into my dryfire, pronto.

    Also a good reminder to get back on my dryfire regimen as part of my daily schedule.

  7. #7
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    FWIW, this basic technique works perfectly well with iron sights, too. It's all a matter of focus - many of us who train the precision disciplines will dry-fire against a blank wall, just to work on releasing the shot without disturbing the sights. And follow the shot through...hold the sight picture for a second after releasing the shot.

    Much of this is mental. People have gotten this notion that it's impossible to shoot a pistol more than 25 yards, and aren't comfortable further than 15. Which I consider pathetic. Work on the longer ranges. Get comfortable shooting at 50 yards, or even meters if you can find a meter-distance range. It's a useful skill.

  8. #8
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    The marksmanship required to hit the bullseye at 10 feet is no different than the ability to hit a torso at 100 yards.

    Yes, in the real world, under pressure is different than just hitting a target at the range. But if you can't do it at the range...

    I've had this discussion with lots of guys. The argument I hear is that the need to make a long range shot is very unlikely and that we should spend our limited time practicing against the most likely threats. Which I don't disagree with in principle. But that means practicing movement, reactive skills, force on force, hand to hand, and spending more time at the gym than at the range...

    I tell people that if all they do is go to the range, they are ONLY practicing marksmanship. In which case they have no excuse NOT being able to hit at 100 yards.

    It's not that hard. Honestly, I think it's one of the easiest things we do.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  9. #9
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    I applied this with good effect to 50 yard shots on plates tonight. After a couple of initial misses, got consistent hits on 10" plates and clipped the edge of my 8" circle plate on my only shot at that target. Once I know I can make that shot every time I'll hang a B27 and move back to 100.
    Waitin' for a squeeze...

    TWOTU Since March 2012

    DPS
    CRG
    AR15/M4 RGF
    HRO-6 CQB
    HRO-7 Team Tactics
    HITS-8 Knife


  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike OTDP View Post
    FWIW, this basic technique works perfectly well with iron sights, too. It's all a matter of focus - many of us who train the precision disciplines will dry-fire against a blank wall, just to work on releasing the shot without disturbing the sights.
    I've found that once you practice it for awhile and reach a certain skill level you'll reach a point where, no matter how hard you focus, you won't be able to see the movement without a red dot.

    Quote Originally Posted by IANative View Post
    I applied this with good effect to 50 yard shots on plates tonight. After a couple of initial misses, got consistent hits on 10" plates and clipped the edge of my 8" circle plate on my only shot at that target. Once I know I can make that shot every time I'll hang a B27 and move back to 100.
    That's awesome! Glad you're seeing results right away.

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