Alli by Boch
GSL Defense Training (Image by John Boch)
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If you didn’t already realize it, if you don’t continue to shoot over time, you will slowly lose your shooting skills. With ammunition so expensive and hard to come by, making every shot count has a whole new meaning now.

How do you maintain your skill set without burning through a lot of ammunition? Simple: take your time and make every shot a count.

Dry fire practice at home is a great way to keep your skills sharp. If you add a Mantis X training system, that’s even better. Travis Pike gave the Mantis five stars and Jeremy gave it four. Yes, it runs over $200 or about the price of 250 rounds of 9mm ammo. I haven’t formally reviewed my own personally-owned unit, in part because I haven’t used it as much as I’d like yet. At the same time I’ve used it enough that I strongly recommend it for new and experienced shooters alike.

Even at that, though, no matter how much dry fire and Mantis X practice you complete, everyone needs real, live-fire handgun practice.

Here’s a suggested fifty-round course of fire to maintain keep the skill sets you’ve acquired through past training and practice sharp. You should use something small, like a 3×5 index card or a 3″ circle at three to five yards.

Remember, aim small miss small. If you keep all fifty rounds on the target, move back to ten or fifteen yards and repeat (if you have enough gun food).

5 Rounds: Slow fire marksmanship

Concentrate on your crush grip, sight picture and alignment and a smooth trigger squeeze/press. Your goal: a ragged, one-hole group.  Want to add another aspect to this one? Load a single round in your magazine (or revolver) and practice reloads between shots. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

5 Rounds: Presentations from position two and three

Do this while dry-firing with an empty gun five times each from position two and again from position three, initially at about half-speed speed, watching for wasted movement. Eliminate any wasted motion which eats up precious time.

Repeat with a loaded gun: one shot each time, alternating between starting at position two (held at your hip) and position three (high compressed ready). Shot speed is dictated by your ability to put all shots into your target – it’s a balance of speed and accuracy. Again, load a single round into the magazine (or cylinder) to force yourself to execute (flawless) reloads.

5 Rounds: The Draw

Do this dry-fire at home, practicing a smooth draw after clearing your cover garment. Remember: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. And don’t put any body parts in front of that muzzle.

At the range, draw and fire one round, hitting a 3″ to 5″ target at 3 to 5 yards as quickly as you are able to make good hits safely. If you’re on a public range that won’t allow draws, practice more presentations from positions two and three.

10 Rounds: Strong hand / Support hand only

Shoot five rounds, slow-fire, strong hand only using good form. Repeat with your support hand only.  Concentrate on fundamentals and keep all shots in your circle or on index card.

5 Rounds: Rhythm drill

A rhythm drill is where you learn to shoot faster while keeping your rounds on target. Same target.  Start with five rounds loaded in your gun. Shoot one round, then a second shot one-second later, then a third a half-second later, then a fourth shot a quarter-second later then the fifth shot as quickly as you can get it off and stay on the target. Can’t shoot “rapid fire” at your range? Shoot five controlled pairs or repeat the previous strong hand/support hand drill.

10 Rounds: Reloads

Chambered round with an empty magazine in the gun. Draw and fire one shot, reload and fire a second shot as quickly as you can keep your shot on target. For revolvers, load and fire one shot and practice reloading.

5 Rounds: Malfunctions / Ball and Dummy

Load a “funny” mag with five live rounds and one or two spent rounds (first round into the magazine should be live). Start with an unloaded chamber and loaded “funny” mag. Revolver shooters, use the Ball and Dummy Drill loading 2-3 live rounds at random and spent shells in the remaining chambers.  Then practice your trigger control to fire all live rounds through same hole.

Final 5 Rounds

Circle back (pun intended) to the beginning and finish with what you started with, concentrating on marksmanship and focus. Shoot a perfect, precise five-shot string.

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  1. not compelled to expend any of my stash for the time being. when i do each round will be punishing something inanimate, ‘cuz ‘fish n see.
    drew an 8hr shift this morn; these diesels take forever to hit op temp. fortunately sol has things creeping up towards zed. another day arguing with dispatch, “why would you want to operate that today?”

    • “not compelled to expend any of my stash for the time being.”

      Same here, with my centerfire pistol stash.

      Every day I look at it and realize it hasn’t gotten any smaller…

    • I’ve started practicing and shooting my revolvers again, although I’m still shooting .45 ACP, .40 S&W and 9mm since I reload and have ample components.

      Before I started carrying on a daily basis I was primarily a revolver shooter and it’s good to get them back out and onto the range. I’ve got a ton of .357, .41 and .44 mag ammo that I reloaded (or bought) in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Hadn’t shot my old M29 8 3/8″ that I took my first deer with for perhaps 25 years. My S&Ws are all either 5 screw or guns built before 1974 and the first thing you realize when touching off the Smiths from a cocked position is how good those triggers are as compared to a striker-fired auto. Only my better 1911s come close.

      I also took my Freedon Arms .454 along to an indoor range to let a pal have a go at it. Quite a bang, after the second shot no one else was shooting- coming over to see what was going on. Looked like a flashbulb going off, too. These guns were made to shoot, I’m sorry they’ve been sitting so long.

  2. IMO…The first thing you need to know is if your weapon and magazines will reliably spit projectiles like there is no tomorrow because there may not be a tommorow if your firearm malfunctions. Do not let expensive ammo keep you from knowing how well a firearm and mags perform. To know run it WOT like it’s a dragster. Correct any issues then proceed to save ammo.

    • I have the original and X10, but I haven’t tried the magazine mounts. They works great for dry fire, but not with a SIRT. The X10 can also do drawing exercises. Also check out laser target systems, either free, like ShootOFF or homeLESS, or a commercial version, like Smokeless Range. If you use a laser cartridge in a real gun, you can use Mantis at the same time. If you do laser, an IR system will keep you from cheating and walking the rounds on target.

  3. After what I just saw Amazon do…

    Then I goto the Mantisx website directly only to discover that this is used through a smart phone. Incase no one noticed, they don’t like us. With a passion that will make them use information obtained through this app to offer up as proof that we need to be ‘deprogrammed’ as we train ourselves to be more efficient killers. How long before Apple pulls the app?

    Is ANYONE paying ANY attention here?

  4. Went shooting last month. Got Covid 2 daze later…correlation? Causation? I dunno. Hadn’t been shooting in a year and I was BETTER. I got new glasses and I can see in my right eye. Whee😏

    • I went with 2 buddies to shoot sporting clays before Xmas. None of us had social contact other than wives (we’re all empty nesters) for 2 weeks before going. We were the only ones at the SC range other than the owner and she was busy hosing everything down with sanitizer. Two of us had covid 4 days later and one of us almost died. Be careful at the range and stay healthy (and try not to breathe).

      • Coincidentally enuf we were a foursome at the range. My wife and 2 good friend’s. From 61-69years old. I was acting as guru/teacher and running around like crazy sans mask. Only one who got covid too! My wife got slightly ill from the lead. Fairly clean nice ShootPointBlank range too. Who know’s!

        • “They” got little air fresheners that wisp out covid19 at the gunm ranges, you cant see them but they’re there. “They” hope everybody that shootz a gunm dies, ” you see, you see, shootzing gunms kills you.”

  5. Ball and dummy using empty cases will result in a misfeed in most semiautos. Spend some money and buy some snap caps, and the first round doesn’t need to be live if you’re not peeking . Either have a partner load a mag with live and dummy rounds, or make several magazines with different patterns and pick one at random.

  6. BBs & CO2 cartridges are still plentiful. My airguns have been getting most of the attention lately. Cardboard box packed with wadded newspaper and/or layers of cardboard, set up in the basement, don’t even need to go outside.


  8. “I haven’t formally reviewed my own personally-owned unit, in part because I haven’t used it as much as I’d like yet” – JB


    I like this drill btw. Typically if you are at a range that won’t allow draws, I doubt they will allow single handed shooting either (unless you are handicapable of course)

    • Unless it’s way out there and I sit down I always shootz one handed. So that would suck for me. restrictions so many restrictions.

  9. Very nice article that I’ll bookmark.

    But it’d be nice if I felt comfortable going to the range to practice. Why don’t I?

    Because at 68 and with underlying medical conditions (called co-morbidities in medicine) and with virtually no one practicing personal protection measures as simple as wearing a mask (which doesn’t in any way interfere with firing a firearm) I don’t wish to contract the virus and perhaps die as a result of just wanting to shoot.

    Pity that.

    Why is it that most other gun enthusiast, unlike me, are so adamant against protecting themselves and others around them? I’ll never figure it out.

    • Well for one, I have always had a hard time breathing while wearing a mask. I work in the construction field and am required to wear masks often. As a result, I have to take a “breather” very often. Anything from the throwaway masks all the way up to the replaceable cartridge/canister types. None work for me. Seems I can, or need to, draw in a lot more air than they are willing to allow.

      Second, please do not try to tell me that wearing a mask doesn’t fog my glasses. I have anti fog gels, liquids and solid/wax rub on products. I have tried them all for over 35 years. None of them work for me, as long as I need them to.

      Third, SCAMDEMIC!

      There…three great reasons that you will never be able to tell me to wear a mask. Stay home and dry fire in your basement!

      • And to clarify, when I say scamdemic, what I am saying is that it is the flu. Some people get it, some don’t. Some die from it every year (10s of thousands!), some don’t. I work around hundreds of different people every week. Thousands of different people over the past year? Through it all, this whole “pandemic”, there has been nobody that I have had to interact with, that not only hasn’t had it themselves, but they also have never known of anyone else that had it.
        Just like the flu! Every year, millions of people never know of someone else with the flu…that year.
        I’m not saying it isn’t an issue. It’s just not any different than any other year. Well, except that for political purposes, it was blown all to hell, out of proportion.

  10. The very ‘first’ thing people can do, is to stop calling every firearm a ‘WEAPON’! My firearms are just that, firearms. Until a firearm is used as a weapon, it’s not a weapon. As long as anti-gunners think every gun is for violent acts they’ll never see them as anything else. I’ve owned and shot firearms for 40 years and have never used one as a weapon.

  11. I went to the indoor range a few weeks ago to sight in a .22 pistol and rifle bought so that I would not have to practice with the other calibers. Everyone was wearing masks, which really surprised me, so I sighted in the guns wearing a mask and prescription shooting glasses. Not comfortable. I guess a small taste of what the military experience with their goggles and contaminated battlefield training. Not easy.


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