Training on a very limited budget.

First off, we need to lay down that Training is not just going out with your friends or alone and shooting things.  Training has a purpose, so before you do anything, set down a few goals for your training.  What you want to accomplish specifically.

Practice Makes Perfect they say. That's a Start, I say.

At this point, I’m talking about Pistol Training.  Reading through a number of Paperback and Hardbound sources of firearms wisdom, I’ve found one consistent trend.  Going back to a Shooter’s Bible that was printed back in 1958 PIE – Pre Internet Era – I found an article written by a champion competitive shooter.   (He must had had a holster lashed to his Loin Cloth) The article specified that the key to good shooting with a handgun is Trigger Control.  Such a simple thing as how you pull the trigger, effects everything.

Think about it.  You have target rifle shooters go on and on about the quality of the Triggers in their rifles.  They are running 8 pound or heavier rifles, with trigger pulls measuring from just ounces to 2 pounds… and triggers are critical to them.  In handgunning you have a pistol that weighs just ounces up to two pounds, but with trigger pulls that weight from 4 pounds up to 12 or more.  Now tell me how critical trigger control is for accurate handgunning.

If you have everything right.  Sight Picture.  Sight Alignment. Grip. Stance. Breathing.  Everything is right… then you hamfist the trigger pull…. Where is that bullet going to go?  In the bullseye?  You might not even be on the Paper.   But if you have good Trigger Control and your sight alignment was slightly off… Where is that bullet going to go?  Just slightly off the Bullseye.  Keeping an eye on the Front Sight is important, but meaningless if you have poor trigger control.  So if we are going to weight everything out – Trigger Control is the Pinnacle of Handgunning Accuracy.

This is why we need to concentrate on Trigger Control when we are training.   Luckily, we can do this on the cheap, at home, and you can even do it without a buddy.   But it helps if you do have a Laser.  You don’t have to get any fancy Crimson Trace Grips or the like.  But those do indeed help.  Just a cheap laser pointer that you can pick up anywhere that takes money.   7-11, the check out at the Grocers, Wal-Mart… a cheap skinny laser point can be one of the very best Trigger Coaches you can use.  Because the laser isn’t going to lie to you.  Take a skinny laser pointer, skinny and small.  Tape it so it fits your bore roughly.  Put some thread on it and trail that thread out of the Chamber to anchor it in the gun so it wont fling out the barrel.  Simple enough.   Now we Dry Fire Practice.  Watch that laser dot as the weapon comes out of the holster and up onto target.  Presentation of Weapon to the Threat is an important step and the laser on it’s path shows you what you could be doing wrong or what needs to be tightened up.  Are you sweeping your Leg?  Arm?  Are you getting the weapon pushed out to target cleanly?  When you push out to the Target, arms extended into the shooting position of your choice, now you can Dry Fire.  WATCH THAT LASER DOT.  When the Gun goes CLICK, that Dot should not twitch.  If it does, then you had less than ideal Trigger Control.   Doesn’t matter what gun you have… that Dot should stay anchored on the Bullseye from the moment you tell the gun to fire, until that bullet leaves the muzzle.

Train on this until it’s naturally smooth.  Holster to Click, smooth and consistent and accurate.  Don’t just sit on the couch watching a movie doing this.  We have a rule here at the house when my kids play Guitar Hero – you can’t ROCK sitting on your duff, you have to Stand.  Training is the same way.  Stand up, get off your butt, get on your feet and get into a Shooting Position.  Train like you mean it.  Unless you can’t stand.  Just Train like you mean it.

Once you have this down, now work on speeding it up.  Faster is better than slower.  He who hits first, wins first, usually in a gun fight.  There are cases where that’s not true, but generally speaking, the first bullet to strike the target wins. So let’s try to get that winning shot first.  Speed is fine, but accuracy is final… yeah.  It is.  But accuracy is not going to be there for you if you just came down with a bad case of Sucking Chest Wound because you were sluggish.

Smooth, Consistent, and Quick.  These are what we are looking for.  And all of these can be Trained with Dry Fire Practice.   This is what all the best Competive Shooters do all the time.  When they have some time, not doing anything else… They are doing Dry Fire Practice.

11 thoughts on “Training on a very limited budget.”

  1. Great writeup George! Advanced skills are the basics mastered. Love that Bruce Lee quote and it fits so well here! Don’t try to be a tacticool ninja until you understand the basics. Gonna share this one for sure!

  2. Great article sir. Motivating me to go dry fire some this weekend! Like the example of your kids having to stand for guitar hero. Thanks!

  3. When I took a class at MTG, the two instructors (Bob Houzenga and Andy Kemp) constantly returned to the subject of trigger control. With a change in each variable (stance, grip, distance, etc.), the training block would end with trigger control. They called it (trigger) the “heart of the beast.” The best instructors seem to know this. Good write up.

  4. The same can be said about competitive driving and just about any competition… SMOOTH and CONSISTENT. That is all folks.

  5. And this is why I only own 1 handgun with what I consider to be a sub par trigger.
    All of your training is pretty much wasted when your trigger pull put that round past the intended target and into your neighbors window.
    If it isnt smooth and light, then I pretty much dont want it.
    My sole exception is my P-11. However I finally have it down to heavy and smooth.
    Great right up George.


  6. Very good points. the trigger is THE big thing in Bullseye competition, with only one hand on the gun. The basics rule! Also… thank you, George, and your Brothers in arms, on this Memorial Day.

  7. let me re-phrase, the above got posted by accident-the most important skill is not to post before adequate coffee intake…

    The physical skills, trigger control, stance, all of that is important- – but the most important skills are the non physical ones. (These are strictly self defense items, have nothing to do with plinking or target shooting.)

    situational awareness.- It trumps all the physical skills.

    Just like riding a bike- a person can have Valantino Rossi level motorcycle control skills, but if they can’t assess the risks NOT under their control, they are going to get creamed. Superior judgement can get us out of things that superior skill cannot. (Grace trumps all).

    Make a decision and act -a common thing people say “I could not believe it was happening to me” “it was unreal, like a movie”, etc. Get off the spot, move, run, step aside, , DO something. Get inside the bastards OODA loop and make them have to alter the plan and rethink.

    don’t be nice. “I didn’t want to cross the street because I did not them to think I did not like (insert favorite race/gender/sexual stereotype here) people.” RIP. Distance is your friend. (it also tells you, if they cross to get closer, that yes, they ARE out to get you.)

    It’s OK to run, Nike-fu is an excellent way to buy time and distance.

    -make eye contact and let the bastards know that you are a tiger, not a lamb.

  8. It had been a while since I noticed you on full Gun Nut throttle, and the last articles where nice and this one maybe takes the cake.

    Now I remember why I liked to read your blog, and why I joined WTA.

    Keep it up!

  9. George, I love it.

    I think in a lot of training environments today, we miss out on the true fundamentals. Each gadget, gear, widget or whatever we add makes for different manipulations of our systems. So, though we might have a broad general set of fundamentals based on (say) platforms, specific gear setups, or concealment options, we don’t have the best skills with WHAT WE HAVE NOW. The AR platform, which is one of my favorites, is guilty of leading the charge, as its insane modularity means the end user can switch out anything at will.

    Especially when your carry gun isn’t your primary SHTF gun, this really brings back the fundamental practices of this weapon, the grip, the trigger press, the whole 9 yards. I’ll be working this one for sure.

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