Letter Re: Frequency of Firearms Practice?

Mr. Rawles;

I took your advice and signed up for the Front Sight Gun (XD), Gear & Training special. I’ll be taking my classes in January. I’ve shot my boyfriend’s Glock .45–a “Mini” Glock Model 30– several times out in the desert. Oh, and BTW, I don’t know why the .45 [ACP] got such a bad rep[utation] for “heavy” recoil. It is not bad at all. My conclusion: The 9 Milly is not a “lady’s gun” [caliber]–its actually a round for training children. So I’m getting the .45 version of the [Springfield Armory] XD.

My question is, after my boyfriend and I get this training (he is now just about convinced to go with me), how often should I/we take target practice to keep up to good proficiency? Is the “dry practice” that Dr. Piazza mentions worth doing? (I live in an an apartment in the suburbs, and I’m not sure how I often I can get to a range, or out in the cactus (on BLM [-managed public land].) And, BTW, just for comparison purposes, how often do you go to the [shooting] range?. – Maria in Mesa, Arizona

JWR Replies: First, congrats on taking the plunge and attending Front Sight. You won’t regret it!

I recommend shooting as frequently as your time and budget allows. Once a week would be ideal to stay in top form. But with the current high prices of centerfire pistol ammo, you might consider conducting two out of every three shooting session with semi-auto .22 rimfire pistols. Dry practice is indeed quite useful, particularly in developing muscle strength and motor control. Note, however, that some stringent safety rules must be enforced and a safe backstop constructed, to eliminate the risk of a negligent discharge. Needless to say, failure to do so could have tragic consequences in an apartment building.

The Memsahib reminded me to mention that bird watching with heavy binoculars or a camera with a long lens is also great exercise for building arm muscles, acquiring targets, and practice holding a considerable weight perfectly still. The first time that the Memsahib ever shot a pistol (some 20+ years ago), she did amazingly well–in part because she already had several years of experience toting around a 35mm camera with a 200mm lens (and a 2X extender).

We rarely “go to the range”, since we live way out in the hinterboonies and we can step out our back door and shoot whenever we’d like. I generally shoot about once a month in bad weather, and once every 10 to 15 days in good weather.