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Live fire frequency for the A/B shooter?


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Lately I've been wondering how frequently the average or slightly-above-average (hence, "A/B" class) shooter should be doing live fire sessions.  Some of the pros say that they can practice most of their skills in dry fire, but does that maxim apply to those of us who are still coming up in the shooting world?  Or is it a simple matter of shooters having individual weaknesses which may be addressed by either dry or live fire?

 

And as a corollary to this, are there certain divisions where live fire training is less important than skills that can be practiced in dry fire?  Revolver would come to mind as an example - because every trigger pull is the exact same, and recoil really isn't that great when shooting minor, I'd contend that you can get away with shooting very little live fire if you practice dry fire doubles and plenty of dry fire reloads.  Compare that to production, perhaps, where it seems like recoil management and seeing sights under recoil is a paramount skill.  From my vantage point, it seems like production (and limited, probably) would get greater training value from live fire.

 

For perspective, I shoot open and have been stuck in B for about two years.  I've been hitting dry fire a ton in the last four months, and while it has paid great dividends in overall match performance, my performance in classifiers and regular range drills haven't really improved as much.  Like, I'm winning locals and even taking stage wins against much better shooters, but still can't crack A class.

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I think it depends on what you're doing in your live fire. If you can't crack A class in Open you likely either or both 1. Not confident in your abilities or 2. Unable to meet the time requirements for A class hit factors. (Just guessing)

 

If you feel you need more live fire and have the ability then do so. But do it with a plan and accountability. You're at a good start by self assessing your goals against your performance against your training against your weaknesses.

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I think it's necessary to be able to teach yourself in order to get good. Part of that process is to be able to identify your own weaknesses in an objective manner. I assume you're trying to get out of B class. Looking at your recent matches and past classifier history, it's apparent than you're not shooting fast enough. Your highest classifier percentage ever is 81.8096%. The locals that you won were partly due to the open heat not showing up. When compared to the G open shooters at your club, they're shooting stages 2 seconds faster than you. Moreover, there seems to be a good portion of stages that are 8+ seconds slower. The constant 2 second delta is due to gun manipulation. The variable extra is due to stage execution. Both of these don't really require live fire to get better at.

 

Personally, I'm of the belief that if a person can shoot doubles at the A-zone from 10 yards with 0.2 second splits, then they're fast and accurate enough for at least Master classification. Note that nearly every shooter that's been in this sport for more than a few months can do this. Once you're able to meet this standard, then live fire isn't really necessary as long as you work on doing dry fire correctly.

 

However, this is way easier said than done. The typical average/slightly-above-average dry-fire routine:

  • X amount of good draws
  • X amount of good reloads
  • Par time on some pseudo-classifier stage
  • Par time on some practice stage
  • X amount of time aiming at innocent wall switches

If your dry-fire routine looks something like this, then I argue it's inefficient. This type of routine is okay for skill maintenance but not skill improvement. For improvement to take place, there has to be a catalyst to change the way it's currently being done. This catalyst is the observation of mistakes. You must induce mistakes for improvement to be possible. But you must observe that mistake to actually capture and transform it to improvement.

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2 minutes ago, CClassForLife said:

I think it's necessary to be able to teach yourself in order to get good. Part of that process is to be able to identify your own weaknesses in an objective manner. I assume you're trying to get out of B class. Looking at your recent matches and past classifier history, it's apparent than you're not shooting fast enough. Your highest classifier percentage ever is 81.8096%. The locals that you won were partly due to the open heat not showing up. When compared to the G open shooters at your club, they're shooting stages 2 seconds faster than you. Moreover, there seems to be a good portion of stages that are 8+ seconds slower. The constant 2 second delta is due to gun manipulation. The variable extra is due to stage execution. Both of these don't really require live fire to get better at.

 

Personally, I'm of the belief that if a person can shoot doubles at the A-zone from 10 yards with 0.2 second splits, then they're fast and accurate enough for at least Master classification. Note that nearly every shooter that's been in this sport for more than a few months can do this. Once you're able to meet this standard, then live fire isn't really necessary as long as you work on doing dry fire correctly.

 

However, this is way easier said than done. The typical average/slightly-above-average dry-fire routine:

  • X amount of good draws
  • X amount of good reloads
  • Par time on some pseudo-classifier stage
  • Par time on some practice stage
  • X amount of time aiming at innocent wall switches

If your dry-fire routine looks something like this, then I argue it's inefficient. This type of routine is okay for skill maintenance but not skill improvement. For improvement to take place, there has to be a catalyst to change the way it's currently being done. This catalyst is the observation of mistakes. You must induce mistakes for improvement to be possible. But you must observe that mistake to actually capture and transform it to improvement.

 

Cliff Notes:  Go faster until you crash, then analyze why you crashed, then work on fixing that problem and repeat until the next crash.  Repeat, etc...

 

POV and 3rd person camera's will help with the observation, both in live fire and dry fire.  If you can, get one of the local GM's to observe and give feedback.

 

Nolan

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17 hours ago, CClassForLife said:

Note that nearly every shooter that's been in this sport for more than a few months can do this. Onc

That's hilarious. You don't realize what an outlier you are. 

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20 hours ago, UpYoursPal said:

And as a corollary to this, are there certain divisions where live fire training is less important than skills that can be practiced in dry fire?  Revolver would come to mind as an example - because every trigger pull is the exact same, and recoil really isn't that great when shooting minor, I'd contend that you can get away with shooting very little live fire if you practice dry fire doubles and plenty of dry fire reloads. 

 

Ben Stoeger, and likely many others, sometimes makes the point that live fire practice is about confirming that dry fire practice is working. With either my revolver or my production gun it is easy to practice looking at the sight when it does not matter (before the sight would lift in live fire) and pulling the gun away prematurely. I don't see a difference in dry fire benefit between the two, modern production guns tend to be heavy enough that I also don't see much difference in recoil control . For what it is worth. 

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1 hour ago, rowdyb said:

That's hilarious. You don't realize what an outlier you are. 

 

It comes down to people not separating short-term proficiency with long-term improvement. People care too much about perfect reps. I care about improving my skills steadily in the long-term. The process is simple to the point where it offends some because they mistake it for being easy. Why is it hilarious to think that others can improve their shooting by drawing on my experience? Just because I'm an outlier, why does that discount my approach for others?

 

I started in C class. I was told by more seasoned shooters that what I was trying is a waste of time. Now that I'm not, some are saying what I'm doing only worked for me. However, the constant in all of this is that the naysayers have never tried. If a shooter is continuously improving, then that shooter should keep doing what he or she is doing. But if a shooter hits a plateau, then obviously something needs to change.

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I'm probably the wrong guy to listen to, because I am pretty slow at improving..... but I keep improving for a long long time (which is more fun than getting to a plateau and staying there). There are lots of things to work on in this sport, and lots of things that people ignore. When I started, I was kinda focused on classifier skills and results for a while, and so even at my slow-learning pace I made B pretty quickly, and then A a year later. Once I got to M I stopped caring about classifiers and focused more on movement and stage skills, so for the last couple years, my classifiers haven't changed much except to be more consistent, but my match performance has been steadily improving.

 

If I were in the OP's boat I would set up some classifiers, calculate the time needed to make M with half A's and half C's, and then I would get comfortable shooting significantly faster.

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5 hours ago, rowdyb said:

That's hilarious. You don't realize what an outlier you are. 

I'm not entirely sure. I think most people practice fast double-taps where they hope the second shot hits something, but few practice fast pairs where the second shot is also accurate (and you know where it went). Working on this skill has helped me alot in learning how to grip the gun well enough to shoot more quickly and accurately and confidently. I got the idea from Hwansik, who I think was originally inspired by one of Stoeger's drills.  Of course I had been shooting for a few years before I started working on this particular skill, but I got results pretty quick.

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10 minutes ago, motosapiens said:

If I were in the OP's boat I would set up some classifiers, calculate the time needed to make M with half A's and half C's, and then I would get comfortable shooting significantly faster.

if moving up in classification is your goal do this. 

 

If you want to get better at shooting in general figure out what you suck at and work on that, if you don't know, ask someone better than you, if your friends don't know  take a class with a good teacher that can tell you. I took a class from Ben several years before I started trying to move up, the only thing I wanted from class was a outside assessment of my skill gaps, basically I wanted to know what to work on when and if I decided to get better.

 

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It is awesome what Tony has done defying conventional wisdom. He has unique insights for sure. 

 

But he has done what less than 1% of all uspsa membership has done. So keep that in context. 

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5 hours ago, CClassForLife said:

The process is simple to the point where it offends some because they mistake it for being easy. Why is it hilarious to think that others can improve their shooting by drawing on my experience? Just because I'm an outlier, why does that discount my approach for others?

I'm sorry your took that personally. You have my number and can talk if we need to hash something out. 😃

 

I know for a fact, having watched you and trying things in my own journey that what you have done is not easy in the least bit and your approach does nothing in my mind to diminish you as a person or shooter. But you are different than 99% of the people shooting and that should be recognized.

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What does hitting dryfire a ton mean? 
How much are you training live fire now? 

How much could you, with your current ammo stash?

Is your problem with moving up to A class simply choking on the classifiers (nerves/mental game, etc) or that you don't have the skills yet to perform A class stuff on the classifiers?

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On 3/24/2021 at 4:19 PM, UpYoursPal said:

 

For perspective, I shoot open and have been stuck in B for about two years.  I've been hitting dry fire a ton in the last four months, and while it has paid great dividends in overall match performance, my performance in classifiers and regular range drills haven't really improved as much.  Like, I'm winning locals and even taking stage wins against much better shooters, but still can't crack A class.

Based on that, if I had to guess, you are a fast mover, and a fast but inaccurate shooter. I think you need to do more live fire but not speed drills. Do some bullseye work, calling shots work, just some accuracy drills.
Or shoot majors and get match bumps.

saying this because I was the exact opposite. Very accurate shooter but slow mover. Unless things have changed drastically. Classifiers tend to favor simple drills and stand and shoots, while matches tend to be track meets. net result was I ended up with an A classification, but tended to run mid  B at best  at matches. Kinda killed the game for me at that point. So be careful what you wish for.
Maybe I shoulda stuck with IDPA,,, LOL

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17 hours ago, MikeBurgess said:

if moving up in classification is your goal do this. 

 

i may have misread the OP, but it appeared very much that the OP's goal was to move up in classification, and that stand-and-shoot skills were a weakness in his self-assessment.  Also note that shooting faster and more accurately will help you on EVERY stage, not just classifiers.

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1 minute ago, motosapiens said:

i may have misread the OP, but it appeared very much that the OP's goal was to move up in classification, and that stand-and-shoot skills were a weakness in his self-assessment.  Also note that shooting faster and more accurately will help you on EVERY stage, not just classifiers.

No argument there, 

I was just trying to point out that knowing what you need to work on is very valuable and may be time better spent if looking for better match placement. Many shooters conflate classification and match placement.

My personal experience is while they are linked they are not 1 to 1 depending on the goal of the shooter it is easy to focus on the wrong one.  

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Or is it a simple matter of shooters having individual weaknesses which may be addressed by either dry or live fire?

 

This. But not just dry or live fire. And I don’t call it a weakness, I call it malfunction. 
 

if you know what needs to be done on the stage in order to win it / make next classification and it’s within the realm of possibility for you - failure to execute is a malfunction. 
 

To fix these malfunctions we can use conditioning. Which can be live fire, dry fire or a workout.

 

it can help to distinguish 3 platforms you as a shooter have:

 

1) shooting (fundamentals, trigger control, recoil control

2) non-shooting (movement, leans, transitions)

3) processing (planning, visual speed, unconscious stage execution)

 

Processing platform can be conditioned in live and dry fire, but also in non-gun exercises - looking at things, playing video game shooters, etc. 

 

you tune this - all you have left are manipulations. Draw, reload, turn-draw, WHO/SHO transitions, reload to WHO, reload to SHO, unloaded table start, all that crap. 
 

Usually big difference in classifiers and real matches is due to lack of skill in manipulations in static positions. 

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