Given our current circumstances it is easy to let your skills atrophy. What can you do to help keep your skills up to task.
The Case for Automaticity
It is very difficult to replace live fire with anything else and expect the same results live fire offers. There were plenty of times while deployed practice and training would take a back seat to mission planning and actions on the objective. There was a high level of skill develop designed for this exact type of environment. Where you move from the theoretical to the practical. What I learned is the hard work I and many of my teammates put into during training would carry the day. It also helped to understand the importance of automaticity. Developing one’s skills to the point they are automated or reflexive.
Consistency is Still King
While you can achieve a high level of skill through live fire, if you do not have deep war coffers to draw on it might be unrealistic to see this skill level developed quickly. It is hard to expect these skills to be developed as quickly as they can when they are the only reason you are breathing air. Putting all that aside, what can you do in the interim to help improve your skill overall while at the same time minimize any atrophy of live fire skill. The biggest gains will come when any of these tips are consistently applied. The two biggest areas are going to dry fire and visualizations.
Focus On the Good
Dry fire to me is not a cure all. It does not solve every problem. In fact, it can make them worse. You want to be careful not to practice the wrong thing, to avoid the challenges of undoing all your wrong down the road. Dry fire is an area you can work on non-shooting skills. Skills, such as your draw stroke, reloads, malfunctions and positions. Each of these subjects is considered an essential skill for hand gunning so taking the time to practice and practice in all sorts of conditions is a perfect way to spend your down time away from the range. At some point, you can even combine these together to improve the benefit. Activity such as drawing then assuming a traditional position such as kneeling. Or, practicing your reloads from a seated position. There are several activities you can perform in this condition. The only pitfall to avoid is moving outside of your true skill level. Meaning, don’t be blasting through these drills knowing when you go live you will slow things down. The biggest mistake I see with dry fire is when your dry fire does not support your live fire. You can see it when the two speeds are so different.
Thinking Through the Problem
Visualization is another great tool you can take advantage of without any props what so ever. The best way to take advantage of this tool is not through building scenarios, but in isolating your technique and solving problems. For instances, how will you draw your handgun when belted in your vehicle. Or, you are talking on the phone the moment you are attacked. Visualizing how you would solve these problems would be incredibly valuable. Most of the time, folks will use this technique in a broader sense. Break it down, use it more in an isolated manner. One where you isolate a skill and put it through various settings to see how it would work. When you get really dialed in you can now start to throw yourself curve balls such as subtle changes you need to react to or think how you would react. It is even better when you can bring people into the activity. Whether family members or friends it can benefit them regardless of their skill level.
Don’t let the excuse of being on lock down keep you from training. Adapt to your new surroundings, they are only temporary.
"To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities" Bruce Lee