Skill development in dry fire can involve working on a standard drill with an established par time or setting up your own that captures a skill you want to improve. The former would include drills like Four Aces and El Presidente. The latter, if you wanted to work shooting on the move, might involve marking start and end positions, arranging three targets to shoot while moving, and setting a fourth to shoot from the end position.

One approach for working a drill starts with shooting it at a comfortable pace to establish a base par time. Start by estimating how long it will take you and plug that into your timer. Then shoot the drill a couple of times and adjust the par time so that the second buzz comes as you fire your last shot.

Next, continue shooting the drill at this pace and pay attention to one aspect of your execution, such as maintaining firm, even grip tension, during each rep. This will consume the entirety of your attention, and other aspects of your shooting will run in the background. It you notice changes in your grip, you can work on eliminating them or make a note to come back to them. Then pick another aspect, such as looking at exact spots on the targets. Awareness of your grip will necessarily fade into the background while your attention is consumed by visual focus. Numerous other aspects of your shooting are deserving of similar attention, such as transitioning the gun precisely between aiming points, staying aimed at those spots while firing the shots, trigger-finger isolation when pressing the trigger, pressing the trigger straight back, and angle of the gun doing reloads. Drills with movement add a whole set of additional areas such as staying low while shooting on the move, foot placement when entering a position, eliminating foot shuffling when exiting positions, rolling out of position smoothly on burner targets, exploding out of position aggressively on tight targets, and so on.

When everything looks and feels good, cut the par time by a couple of tenths and decide where the time savings will come from: transitioning the gun more aggressively, shooting with less sight confirmation, moving your hands faster during gun-handling operations, or something else. Then run the drill and see if you make the new par time. In not, keep working at it. If so, repeat the assessment process and make sure nothing has slipped. The goal is to continue executing the fundamentals correctly, likely bending some of them, to make the new par time.

If things don't look and feel good at this initial pace, consider lengthening the par time and forcing yourself to use the entirety of it. If your natural pace on El Presidente gives eight seconds, but inspection reveals a sloppy grip and transitions, bump the time to twelve seconds and use it to be very deliberate and focused with your grip and transitions. The goal is to pace your execution to fire the last shot at twelve seconds. Only start ramping down the par time when your grip and transitions feel and look good.

If you're pushing for an A-class or GM par time on a drill like El Presidente, then the time becomes non-negotiable. It doesn't matter how many alphas you shoot if it takes you too long to get them. You need to fit nailing your grip, getting acceptable sight pictures, pulling the trigger straight back, and sticking the reload in the par time.

Then, taking this new shooting to the range and and using it in live fire will validate your dry-fire improvements.

Last edit: 30 March 2020