The New Year means an opportunity to start over, so making a New Year’s Resolution is a time-honored tradition at this time of year. This year, along with your other resolutions, why not resolve to a better pistol owner and better pistol marksman as well? A goal without a plan is just a wish, so here are six real-life ways you can improve your shooting and get more out of each range session as well in this new year.
1. Focus on accuracy
There is just no substitute for a well-placed shot, and getting the hang of looking at the front post and making sure it’s lined up with your target as you take your shot is a great skill to master in 2019. Many new shooters (and more than a few experienced shooters) can’t routinely place all their shots on an 8-inch circle at 10 yards, so this year, make consistent, repeatable performance a priority when you go to the range.
2. Commit to dry-fire practice
Dry-fire practice at home with a safe, unloaded pistol and no live ammunition anywhere in the room is the one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your shooting. There are plenty of articles out there which mention the benefits of dry-fire practice, but precious few which show you how to do it. My friend and fellow competitive shooter Annette Evans has written an excellent “How to” manual for dry-fire practice, and it’s a great starting point for everyone who wants to be a better pistol shooter this year. Dry-fire practice costs you nothing but time, and it puts you in the fast lane in the journey towards mastering your pistol.
3. Gear check
Late last year, I reached into the back of my gun safe to pull out a revolver I hadn’t shot in a while, and much to my shame, there were more than a few spots of rust on it.
This year, take a few moments and look over your gun collection. Are there any long-term projects you’ve been putting off? Is it time to swap out that scope that you really didn’t like for something more suitable to your needs? How long has it been since you put fresh ammo in your concealed-carry gun? Are the batteries in your optics due for a refresh? Start the new year off right by turning your “to do” list into a “done” list.
4. Take someone to the range
Don’t wait for someone else to grow the shooting sports—do it yourself. If you know there’s someone in your workplace who’s always wanted to go to the range, invite them out to your next shooting session. Have a relative who’s gun-curious? Show them how to have fun with guns in a safe and relaxed environment. Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms is hanging by a thread, and the more people we have on our side who see guns as a fun recreational tool (or better still, an essential human right), the better our chances of keeping those rights in the tumultuous political environment we’re currently in.
5. Try something new
For the last 10 years, I’ve been focused primarily on the practical shooting sports, mostly with pistols, but a little 3-Gun as well. Last year, however, I started shooting Precision Rifle, and you know what? I like it. I like it a lot. The calm exactitude of Precision Rifle requires a completely different mindset than the run-and-gun frenzy of a pistol match, and I’m really enjoying it. If there’s a sport you’ve always wanted to try, but it’s way outside your comfort zone, give it a shot. Who knows? You might find a new way to have fun with your guns, and introduce yourself to a new group of friends as well.
6. Shoot for fun, but shoot with a purpose as well
When I go the range, it’s usually with a purpose in mind, whether to sight-in a new gun, work on my draw or improve my accuracy. I’m the exception, however, and I never realized how much of an exception I really was until a recent range session with my 13-year-old son, who had a grand old time plinking away at some steel targets with my Savage .22 bolt gun. Take some time each range session to not only have fun turning money into noise, but also put that ammo to some good use and work on specific skills to help make you a better shooter.
The goal in all of this is to end 2019 as a better marksman than you were at the beginning of the year, and continue to grow and expand awareness and participation in the shooting sports, so we can continue to enjoy the Right to Keep and Bear Arms for many, many years to come.