Daily Dry Fire Challenge Your Secret Weapon


Reprint with permission, IDPA Tactical Journal

Okay, so you are going to hate me.  Or maybe you will end up loving me…but either way I am going to challenge you to do something that will dramatically improve your shooting skill this year.   So what’s the catch?  There isn’t one!  This concept is A. Free, B. Can be done almost anywhere C. Costs nothing and D. Is guaranteed to dramatically improve your overall shooting skill.   So what is this secret weapon uncovered from a hidden scroll found high in the mountains written on silk from some previous master?  It’s dry fire!   

Now, DO NOT even think about skipping to the next article….I know you are thinking it.  But don’t do it.   How do I know you had that thought for a micro-second, because I get it.  Dry fire doesn’t sound exciting and cool right?? And it’s certainly not as fun as live fire practice, but I promise you if you give this article a read and actually DO WHAT I TELL YOU, then you will see dramatic results.   

So now that you are still reading, let’s analyze what the sport of IDPA (or our evil sister sport USPSA) actually is in terms of shooting a stage.  Once the buzzer goes off, what percentage of the time we spend on a stage is doing something we can improve with dry fire.   If you do the math on a simple stage where you have to draw, shoot several targets twice, transition to several other targets, repeating and then maybe move to the other side of a wall or port and re-engage three more targets we can very quickly see that the large majority of the time on the stage is spent on: A. Drawing, B. Moving the gun, C. Reloading the gun, and D. Moving our bodies to the next shooting position and rebuilding our firing grip. 

So the question is, can we improve those skills without ever going to the range and firing a live round?  Obviously the answer is yes, so maybe the real question is how we set up a dry fire system that we will actually do, that is skill producing, fun and will fit within our daily lives (no on has extra time).  And that, my fellow shooters is exactly what I hope to give you.  So let me tell you about the Daily Dry-fire Challenge aka the DDC.  The DDC is something I decided to do online via free live video (On Facebook here:    ) with anyone who would commit to do it with me.   I decided to put my money where my mouth was and actually lead people through daily drills rather than just tell them to do them, but the principles of the DDC are what you need to pay attention to.   Let’s break them down:

Principle One: We have to commit to something. My DDC starting with me committing to get up an hour earlier each day to prepare and lead shooters through a dry fire drill.   This took commitment on my part.  The shooters who get on each morning also had to commit.  This is the first key.  You MUST commit to something, right now.  Don’t wait. Commit now. 

Principle Two: Steal the time.  The dry-fire practice sessions must occur during a timeframe where nothing else can interview with them.  This for me, meant early a.m. way before anything else could get in the way.   So, go ahead and find where you are going to steal the time that you committed to and get at it.   If you want to join me in the a.m. you can find me live at 6:30 central time.

Principle Three:  Focus on ONE thing (skill).  This was important and I realized very quickly that focusing on more than one skill to work on was a bad idea.  Think about it like this, if you had one thing on your to do list, you would jump all over it and get it done right?  But if you had twenty things on your list you would never get started….see how that works? 

Principle Four: Make it challenging and fun, and measure improvement along the way.   The key to making dry-fire fun is to make it challenging.  This requires the use of a electronic timer and PAR time (start and stop beep) goals to challenge yourself.   The simple way to do this is to do three separate sets of your individual drill, 1. First set is no PAR time, just very deliberate repetitions of the skill 2. The second set should be done at a challenging PAR time where you can still accomplish the drill technically correct, and 3. The third set is the money set, where you will start reducing the PAR time lower and lower and trying to beat the second beep.  This is the set where you will push your pace and find your limitations.  After you reach your maximum technical training speed time (MTTS), write that down so you can try to beat it in the next session. 

So now you know about the key principles we have to start with to make our dry fire program work, now I want to give you the details to set your own sessions up.   If you choose to jump on with me on the DDC, great!  But if you would rather do your own daily dry-fire challenges, that’s fins as well, just remember principle number One: Commit to something.  Here are your key steps:

  1. Commit (no excuses and I suggest something like daily for 30 days, or weekdays for 8 weeks)
  2. Find a timeframe to steal (early morning might be best)
  3. Find a suitable dry-fire area (safe backstop, etc.)
  4. Break down the skills you wish to work on and prioritize them.  Remember the 80/20 rule, which means 80% of the results are driven from 20% of the work. This means that you need to figure out what we do most and work on those skills first! 
  5. Pick a start date
  6. Begin!  

Each session should be simple, and set a time limit of ten minutes to start and be done.  ANYONE can commit to ten minutes!   Even if you can’t do ten, then to five minutes a day for 30 days.   You session will be simple and look like this:

  1. Two minutes to set up, gear up, and remove all live ammunition
  2. First Working Set: Two minute set, no PAR time done by starting out perfectly and increasing speed for each repetition.  Try to go a little bit faster each repetition but don’t go so fast you aren’t paying attention to the key details.
  3. Rest for 30 seconds and get your PAR time set in your timer
  4. Second Working Set: Two minute set repeating the skill you are practicing in a PAR time.  The time is based on your skill but should be as fast as you can go and still do perfect repetitions.  I call this the MTTS (Maximum Technical Training Speed)
  5. Rest for 30 seconds
  6. Third Working Set: Two minute set starting at your MTTS, and then reducing the time by .05 or .10 every third correct repetition. This means if you hit three repetitions and the skill is done correctly, reduce the time on the timer.  Keep reducing the time until you start to mess the technique up or you hit two minutes.
  7. Clean up, end session and go about your day (one minute)
  8. Total time used: Ten minutes
  9. Bonus:  If you are having fun, keep pushing the time down! 

And there you have it, your Daily Dry Fire challenge. Whether you decide to join me in the a.m. (I would love that) or do your own, either way you will dramatically increase your skill.   Just make sure you pay attention to the details and practice proper technique during your drills, because remember drills build programs, and they can be good programs or bad.  Make sure you do it right! 

Until Then – Train Hard! 

Mike S.