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At Home Training Drills and Practice

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Going to do a few posts on at home training including what you need, how to do it safely and cover some drills.  From basic to some more advanced stuff.  Really the importance is to focus on perfecting the basics and make it become second nature.  It's important to start slowly, fix any mistakes, and build proper muscle memory.  Avoid getting sloppy or lazy and developing training scars. 

Practice does not make perfect.  Practice makes permanent.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.  

I like to spend about 20 minutes a few days a week.  5 minutes for setup and clean up, and 15 minutes for practice.  That's all that's really needed.  Make sure you have a goal in mind on what you want to focus on.  This will prevent you from getting sloppy and getting training scars, and will help you stay interested by allowing you to constantly improve.  

 

SAFETY:

Setup a safe area where you will not be interrupted.  Place your targets in the safest position in case of an accidental misfire.  

Immediately check and make your gun clear.  Do the same with the magazines you will be practicing with (recommend 2 empty magazines).  

Retrieve all of the items you might need for this training.  You don't want to have to go back into the safe or storage where your live guns and ammo are once you start practicing.  

Store and lock up all live ammunition away from where you will be doing the training for the entire duration of the training.  If you can't lock it up, it should be in a separate room where you will not go until your training session is totally finished and you are putting everything away.  

Every time you pick up the gun, check that it is clear.  Even though you know its clear, this creates the mindset to always check the status of a gun when you pick it up.  

When you are done training, you are done.  Don't go back and do one more thing after you start putting things away.  This is when accidents happen.  

 

 

 

 

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

The 2 things I think everyone who owns a gun should have are snap caps and a laser trainer.  

Snap Caps - Allow you to safely practice loading and unloading your magazine and gun as well as dryfire.  Snap caps have a rubber insert that allows you to safely dryfire your gun without damaging your firing pin.  Dummy rounds are solid aluminum and are not safe for your firing pin.  Make sure you get snap caps.  They come in most calibers.  I have snap caps for every gun I own.  Try to get ones that are a noticeably different color than the live rounds you may shoot.  Recommend getting at least enough to be able to load 1 full magazine.  

Snap Caps come in most calibers

 

Laser Trainer - There are many options here starting around $20 laser cartridges.  Most of the cartridges are the very similar and do the same thing, fire a laser out the barrel when you pull the trigger.  Accuracy (how straight its aligned) and durability will probably be the only difference between cheap and expensive ones.  You can get an auto-resetting trigger laser system for your AR with the MantisX Blackbeard ($200).  Auto-resetting trigger laser pistols (no recoil) from LaserLyte ($113) and SIRT (from $240).  You can also get recoil enabled auto-resetting laser pistols from Laser-Ammo ($400) and Coolfire ($500) which use CO2 or Green Gas to cycle the gun and have removable magazines.  While expensive, these recoil enabled laser pistols are probably the best option for most realistic training and training options.  

All of these laser trainers will work with any laser training app (you don't need to buy the laser cartridge made by the laser trainer app).  

You will also need a tripod with cellphone (or tablet) holder and a Laser Trainer app.  Each laser trainer app will have its own targets that you will download and print out and put on your wall. 

You can buy kits from Mantis ($99-$149), G-Sight ($135), LaserHIT ($115),  Strikeman ($99) that include a quality laser cartridge, tripod and phone holder, and access to the full version of their app.    

$30 Laser Trainer Cartridge Shotgun Laser Trainer Mantis Blackbeard AR Laser LaserLyte Resetting Trigger (no recoil) Laser-Ammo Recoil Enabled Laser Training Gun

 

 

 

Plastic pen or cleaning rod to remove the laser cartridge. 

Going to need something long enough to push the laser cartridge back out when you are done and won't damage the barrel.  

 

Laser Trainer App - Mantis Laser Academy (Free-$50) on Android and iPhone.  LaserHIT (Free-$20) on Android and iPhoneG-Sight (Free to $15) on Android and iPhoneStrikeman (Free-$10/mo subscription) on Android and iPhone.   DryFireOnline (Free-$5/mo subscription and requires a projector) on Android and iPhone. Straight Shooter (Free - requires projector) on Android and iPhone.   

Each laser trainer app will have its own targets that you will download and print out and put on your wall. 

I'll probably do a separate Thread on laser training apps later, but TLDR version: I ended up purchasing the full Mantis Laser Academy for $50.  

 

OPTIONAL:

TRT Tap Rack Dry Fire magazine inserts ($8) - These magazine inserts stops the slide stop from engaging when doing magazine change drills.  Available in most calibers including rifles.  

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Trigger Resetting Magazines ($100) - The special magazines from DryFireMag and TTrigger reset your trigger.  Unfortunately they don't actually cycle the slide (no recoil) so they will not work with laser training cartridges.  

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TLDR CHECKLIST:

  1. Empty gun
  2. Empty magazines (2)
  3. Snap Caps
  4. Laser Trainer
  5. Laser trainer cartridge removal tool
  6. Tripod phone holder
  7. Phone with laser training app
  8. Targets

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I'm going to make a post for each drill to make it easier to find or link to later.  

Some of these drills may be only applicable to handgun or long gun only, but most of these drills you can adapt to either.  The drills start out very basic and get more advanced, working on the skills from the previous ones.  Mastering the fundamentals is key.  Practice does not make perfect.  Practice makes permanent.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.  Start out slow and work your way up, building perfect muscle memory.  Crawl, Walk, Run.  Try not to create training scars.  

Drill 1

LOADING/UNLOADING/CLEARING PRACTICE:
Use snap caps/dummy rounds to practice loading/unloading magazines and guns, checking gun, making gun safe, cycling rounds through the gun as well as practice clearing malfunctions. 

 

CHECKING GUN
-Keep gun pointed in safe direction at all times
-Finger off trigger the entire time
-Drop step, so you can keep pointing gun in safe direction
-Eject magazine with mag release button, let gravity do the work for you.  
-Push up on slide release button and lock slide back
-Visually inspect barrel and magwell
-Physically inspect barrel and magwell with pinky
-ALWAYS do this when picking up a gun, and when handing a gun off and again when receiving it (even if you saw it being checked)

 

INSERTING MAGAZINES (fully load magazine with snap caps)
-Keep gun pointed in safe direction at all times
-Finger off trigger the entire time
-Bring gun up into your "workspace"
-Your "workspace" is up in front of your face while you are looking forward, so you can clearly see what is going on with your gun, but you can also see what is going on around you in your peripheral vision.  If the gun is down low, it is further away and you can't see what is goin on around you.  Maintain situational awareness.  
-Rotate the gun so you can see the magwell.
-Grab the magazine with thumb and middle finger with the bottom of the mag in your palm and your index finger on the side that the projectiles are on.  
-Insert the magazine quickly and forcefully into the gun so that it locks into place.  
-Check that the magazine is firmly seated and locked.
-Hit the slide release button or pull the slide back to release it.  Watch the round enter the chamber.  
-Don't be gentle, as that can actually cause a malfunction if the magazine or round is not loaded properly.  
-This is called an "Admin Load" as you are not under pressure and are taking the time to do it and check it right.  

 

 

CYCLING GUN BY RACKING
-With the slide locked back, insert a full mag (snap caps) into the gun
-Press down on slide lock button with your thumb to release the slide, chambering a round
-Rack the slide back, ejecting rounds until you get last round slide lock

UNLOADING GUN (snap caps in mag, one snap cap in chamber)
-Drop the magazine with mag release button.  Let gravity do the work for you.  
-One round will still be in the chamber
-Rack the slide back with the ejection port facing downward
-Look for round to fly out
-Lock slide back by pushing slide lock button up while slide is racked back
-Visually and physically inspect gun and place chamber flag in chamber
-Place on table, pointing in a safe direction, ejection port side up, chamber flag visible
-Gun has now been made safe

 

AIMING AND FIRING (snap caps or laser trainer)
-Proper hand position.  High up on gun.
-Finger off trigger
-Proper fighting stance.  Feet shoulder width apart, right foot slightly back (if righty).  Hips squared.  Lean a little forward.    
-Ready position is gun up tight to chest facing target, finger off trigger.
-Push gun straight out towards target.  Don't lock your elbows.  Eyes should pickup sights as you push out.  Lean a little forward.  Head straight.  
-Take your time to aim.  If you have iron sights close one eye and focus on front sight and have it cover your target.  If Red Dot Sight (RDS) , once you see the red dot, keep both eyes open and focus on target.  Red dot should be centered in window to minimize parallax.  
-Put finger on trigger and slowly bring it to the wall.  
-Breathe, as you exhale as the sight covers the target, squeeze the trigger and hold.  Do not anticipate the shot.  You first knuckle of you trigger finger should not move.  
-Bring gun back on target, maintain aim and evaluate keeping your sight picture. 
-Release trigger when ready, finding  the reset.  
-Bring gun back to ready position, finger off trigger, safety on.  

 

 

 

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DRILL2

GUN INTO ACTION DRILL:
Use snap caps and remove all live ammunition from area.  Practice getting gun from your secure location and getting it ready for action.

A lot of this will depend on what you have, how you have it stored (which condition), and where you have it stored.  Ideally you want to choreograph your movements to make the entire process as quick, easy, and efficient as possible.  As you work through this you may find you need to change up the order of what you do or how it is stored to make the process more efficient or easier.  Usually if you work on efficiency of motion, it also makes it easier to remember what comes next in the process.  If you forget what's next, wherever your hand is, it is probably near the next action.  

I have a handgun in a lock box stored with a full mag in gun, but no rounds in the chamber (called condition 3 or cruiser ready).  The trigger is already pulled so it will feel different, which lets me know it needs to be racked.  It has a Red Dot Sight (RDS) with a cover on it (it automatically turns on when it senses light.  When I grab that gun, all I have to do rack the gun and take off the RDS cover.  I can do this in one movement.  I actually grab the gun with right hand, grab the 2nd magazine with left hand and put it between my pointer and middle finger (see 2 magazine drills below) and then rack and remove the RDS cover.  

 

For my rifles and shotguns, they are in a cruiser ready state with bolt forward, safety on, sling wrapped behind stock (pistol brace) and secured with a ranger band. RDS is off, but offset back up iron sights are flipped up. 

To put it into action, I have found the most efficient order for me to it is to get a proper grip on the rear grip with my right hand (I'm right handed), finger off the trigger, grab the sling at the rear of the stock (or pistol brace) with my left hand, yank it out, throw my left arm through it and don the rifle.  As I put my left arm through the sling, my hand naturally comes close to my RDS so I turn that on next by rotating the knob.  I then rack the charging handle and adjust the pistol brace length then put my thumb on the safety and I'm ready to go.  

TLDR:

  1. Grip (Finger Off Trigger)
  2. Sling
  3. RDS/BUIS
  4. Rack charging handle
  5. Extend Pistol Brace
  6. Thumb on Safety

 

Start slow, then build speed.  Adjust method for efficiency and ease.  Crawl, Walk, Run.  Build proper muscle memory and avoid training scars.  Practice this every time you take gun out (after making it safe).    

 

 

 

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Drill 4

BASICS PRACTICE:
Use laser trainer to work on grip, stance, getting sights on target from ready position, proper sight alignment and sight picture, breathing, timing, finding the trigger wall, smooth trigger pull, proper trigger reset, getting back on target and maintaining sight picture after shot before re-racking and going back to ready position.  Make sure target is at correct height so you build proper muscle memory when extending gun into position.  Focus on basics, don't get sloppy, avoid training scars.  

This is the most important drill.  If you haven't mastered this and built proper muscle memory, it will be easy to develop training scars in later drills.  Almost all of the other drills build upon this drill.  Take your time, do it right, start slowly and build speed, and do tons of reps.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Drill 5


SPEED RELOAD DRILL:
With snap caps in 2 magazines, practice firing a shot from ready, dropping the magazine, bring the gun into your workspace, grab the 2nd magazine between your thumb and middle finger and your index finger along the side of the magazine with the projectiles.  While looking at the magwell, use your index finger to guide the magazine into the magwell, then push up hard and seat the magazine firmly with your palm.  Don't be gentle.  Pull the slide back to chamber a round and take another shot. 

You should also practice doing this by skipping the first shot and instead lock the slide back, aim, pull the trigger to feel a dead trigger and start your speed reload from there.  You can also practice using your thumb to release the slide lock during a reload doing it this way.  

 

 

 

 

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Drill 6

WEAPONS LIGHT PRACTICE:   
Add turning light on and off to BASICS PRACTICE.  Similar timing as safety manipulation. Safety off, then light on as you Aim.  THEN finger on trigger and take shot.  Regain sight picture and analyze.  Light off, then safety off as you go back to ready position, finger off trigger.  


Purpose/Focus: In addition to using light to identify and analyze your target, you can use light to blind, distract, and confuse your target.  Don't keep the light on all the time, which will ruin your night vision and advertise your location.  You need to positively identify and analyze your target, but can also be used at the same time to buy yourself some time and a give you a tactical advantage.   When you first aim, aim higher up on their body, this will allow you to identify the target and blinds them immediately before they can react, then move the light to see their hands to identify if they are a threat.  This also places the gun center mass.  If you can tolerate it, strobe works better to confuse and blind your threat than steady light if your light has that feature.   If you have a light with laser that has a separate button for the laser, practice switching both light and laser on/off at the same time.  

 

How and why to use your light.

 

 

 

 

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Drill 7 & 8

If you hear a bump in the night, chances are you aren't going to have time to get fully dressed and put on your battle belt with multiple mag carriers.  You're probably going to grab your handgun and maybe an extra mag but have no where to put that extra mag.  Here's what you do. 

 

2 MAGAZINES PRACTICE:
Place an empty magazine between the web of your  pointer and middle finger of your weak hand, base in the palm of that hand with the projectiles facing your knuckles.  This is similar to a "cigar hold' on a tactical flashlight.  Practice shooting at target with laser trainer. Build proper muscle memory and avoid training scars.  
Purpose/Focus: To get used to putting 2nd magazine between fingers and still being able to get a good grip and proper shot placement.  

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2 MAGAZINES RELOAD DRILL:  
Using 2 magazines with either snap caps (no laser trainer in barrel), one magazine in gun and other magazine between web of pointer finger and middle finger, base in the palm of your hand. Practice racking, taking a shot, drop mag, insert new mag, slingshot rack, and take another shot.  Maintain sight picture and analyze.  Pick up mag, put between pointer and middle finger and rinse and repeat.  Start slow and build speed.  Crawl, Walk, Run.  Build proper muscle memory and avoid training scars.  

To insert the 2nd magazine, drop the empty mag and bring the gun into your workspace.  As you take your weak hand off the gun, start to squeeze your fingers (almost like you are trying to make a fist with the 2nd magazine still between your fingers), bringing the baseplate of the magazine closer to the palm of your hand.  Grab the side of the magazine with your thumb and start extending your index finger.  The magazine will now be between your thumb and middle finger, and your pointer finger indexing the side where the projectiles, are.  The perfect hold for inserting the magazine into the gun.  
Purpose/Focus: Building on above drill, and quickly relaoding with a mag inbetween your fingers.  

 

image.thumb.png.d7c7d19ae9fa1f41030ffe8c12b4a025.png

 

 

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Drills 9 & 10

MOVEMENT DRILLS
You can do any of the above drills, but add movement.  Start 2 yards away, either behind, left, right or even in front (mix it up).  Walk smoothly, trying to keep your head level and not bobbing up and down, keeping eyes and gun on target.  Don't hunt through your sights though.   When moving, your head moves first and your gun follows. Start slow and build speed.  Crawl, walk, run.  Then start further away and run into position.  When running, safety is on, finger off trigger, and gun pointed in a safe direction.  Work on slowing down early and getting into ready to fire position as quickly as possible.  As you start to stop, your gun starts to extend aiming at target, safety comes off and you are aquiring your sights on target, so that when you come to a complete stop, you are already in a good stance, arms extended properly, good grip on gun, and gun is covering target.  


MOVEMENT DRILL:
Using laser trainer with shot timer, stand away from shooting position but at ready (finger off trigger, safety on).  Similar to BASICS PRACTICE 2, but when shot timer goes off, move into position, aim, safety off, take shot, regain sight picture, analyze shot, then back to ready position, finger off trigger, safety on, move back over.  Crawl, Walk, Run.  Start slow and work on perfect muscle memory, avoiding training scars.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOVEMENT W/ LIGHT MANIPULATION DRILL: 
Same as MOVEMENT DRILL 1, but when shot timer goes off, from ready position use flashlight to identify target, turn flashlight off, finger off trigger, safety on, move into position, aim, safety off, flashlight on, take shot, regain sight picture, analyze shot, light off and back to ready position, finger off trigger, safety on, and move back over.  Moving after you turn the light off is important as your target will think you are located where they last saw the light.   Crawl, Walk, Run.  Start slow and work on perfect muscle memory, avoiding training scars.  

 

 

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DRILL 11

DOT TORTURE PRACTICE:
Requires a laser trainer that does not need to be racked in between shots (unless its a pump shotgun).  Live-Ammo or Coolfire practice pistols, MantisX for AR, etc.  

 

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Drill 12

1-5 (aka CHAOS) DRILL:
Requires a laser trainer that does not need to be racked in between shots (unless its a pump shotgun).  Live-Ammo or Coolfire practice pistols, MantisX for AR, etc.  
With 5 IDPA type targets, from ready,

hit #1 then #2,

then #1 then #3,

then #1 then #4,

then #1 then #5,

then #1 then #4,

then #1 then #3,

then #1 then #2.  

then #1.

Maintain sight picture, then back to ready position.  Do this timed.  Reload as needed.  
 

 

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Drill 14

TACTICAL SHOTGUN RELOADS:

There are many ways to reload a shotgun.  The video below does a good job at showing them.  Practice a few and see what you like and get good at it. 

Having a side saddle with different types of shells gives you the ability to chose the right shell (buck, slug, less than lethal, etc) for the task at hand at that moment.  Learn how to load a shell from the sidesaddle while still having shells in the magazine.    The exact procedure for this will vary by gun.  

Because shotguns have a limited ammo supply, when you aren't shooting, you're reloading! 

 

 

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Drill 15

Operator Readiness Drill

Requires a laser trainer that does not need to be racked in between shots (unless its a pump shotgun) for both long gun and handgun.  LaserLyte, Live-Ammo or Coolfire practice pistols, MantisX for AR, etc.  

 

 

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Wow! that's a lot to go through.

My first comment:

22 hours ago, ESB said:

I have a handgun in a lock box stored with a full mag in gun, but no rounds in the chamber (called condition 3 or cruiser ready).  The trigger is already pulled so it will feel different, which lets me know it needs to be racked.  It has a Red Dot Sight (RDS) with a cover on it (it automatically turns on when it senses light.  When I grab that gun, all I have to do rack the gun and take off the RDS cover.  I can do this in one movement.  I actually grab the gun with right hand, grab the 2nd magazine with left hand and put it between my pointer and middle finger (see 2 magazine drills below) and then rack and remove the RDS cover.  

Isn't it dark inside your lock box when the lid is closed? Why have the step of removing the RDS cover, when the closed lid of the lock box keeps the RDS in the standby state anyway?

Additionally, have you tried firing the gun with a magazine between the index and middle finger of your support hand? Your shooting ability will be diminished. Maybe plan to stow the mag somewhere instead. Options would include a pocket, waistband, teeth, etc.

I have a belt rig near where I sleep and the gun in a quick access safe. The belt just clips around my waist - no need to be wearing pants with belt loops, or any pants at all :o

The belt has a holster for the gun and a couple of spare mags in pouches ready to go. It also has a TQ, trauma shears and IFAK as well as a handheld flash light and dump pouch.

  • Agree 1

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19 hours ago, Mr.Stu said:

 have you tried firing the gun with a magazine between the index and middle finger of your support hand? Your shooting ability will be diminished. Maybe plan to stow the mag somewhere instead. Options would include a pocket, waistband, teeth, etc.

I have a belt rig near where I sleep and the gun in a quick access safe. The belt just clips around my waist - no need to be wearing pants with belt loops, or any pants at all :o

The belt has a holster for the gun and a couple of spare mags in pouches ready to go. It also has a TQ, trauma shears and IFAK as well as a handheld flash light and dump pouch.

Its great to have better options for sure.  Everyone's situation will be different though and even though you think you may not need it, its good to practice different techniques so you have more tools in your toolbox so you can select the right one for the job depending on the situation.   You don't want to try something out for the first time when your life depends on it.  

I  have little kids so can't leave a loaded battle belt under the bed.  I also sleep in my boxers so no pockets and a mag won't stay in the waist band if I need to run down the hall.  All I need to do is grab my gun and beat the bad guys to the top of my stairs, and I'm fairly confident given the layout of my house I could safely hold them off there if I had to, but I want a 2nd mag just in case there's more than I thought.  It would be a totally different story if they got to the top of the stairs before I did, so I'm not going to take the time to put anything on.  

Yes your shooting ability will be diminished some with a mag in your weak hand, but not as much as you think especially if you practice.  Even with practice, it still will probably be diminished a little, but you should still be very effective at close range typical of inside a home.  

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