Alfonso Faustino: Benefits Of Dry-fire, Range, & Learning From Legitimate Firearm SME

(Sidebar: I am not an SME with firearms — I am a student. The reason I drafted this BLOG is to show you my shooting experiences and progress. Until otherwise proven, the information in this BLOG is my OWN reality and truth as a shooter — this STUFF works for me. If you find something in this BLOG that helps your shooting, then great.)

I’ve owned firearms for many years.  My father had firearms all his life; and, he introduced them to me as a kid; hence, I am not new to firearms.

Recently, due to the increase of civil violence with AND without firearms, I decided to heighten my engagement with firearms and make them a part of my lifestyle; hence, I participated in strategic tactical combat training courses to properly learn the safety and management skills of legally engaging with firearms. In addition, and I trained to qualify and took the exams to acquire CCW enabling me to conceal a firearm in many parts of the United States.

For the first time in my life, I am making firearms part of my lifestyle; hence, I consider myself an active lifelong firearms student. This means I will continuously seek training from people and institutions, in the real world or virtual world, then practice all that I learned to better protect myself, family, and those that are close to me.

My improvements in shooting are the results of the many hours of dry-fire time I put in at home, daily meditation, mental control, thousands of cartridges I discharged at the rifle and pistol range, and learning from legitimate firearms shooting instructors.

In the video clip, below, I’m in dry-fire mode working on double-action and single action trigger movements.  I’m also working on controlling my mind, which physically sets me up on moving my trigger to its wall, holding it at that position, keeping my front sight steady on target, exhaling, holding the exhale for about five seconds, and within that five seconds, moving the trigger back to the remaining fractional of the distance to break the wall, and getting the laser to the target.

The picture, below, shows the results of my work from dry-fire sessions in my home to the range with live cartridges and with recoil.

At ~13 yards, the first shot, circled in blue, was discharged from the double-action position of the trigger of my Sig Sauer P239 SAS chambered in .40-caliber.

Prior to dry-fire, my DA discharge would have gone way low, bottom right, and not hitting the circle of the target paper. Don’t get me wrong, I still need work with my first DA trigger movement, but the shot, circled in blue, pictured above, is a HUGE improvement from my past.

If the black part of the target-paper represents the location of the heart of a real person, then my first strike, circled in blue in the picture above, would hit the person’s upper right chest collar bone area — not a vital organ, but still a hit that could immobilize the person from discharging his weapon at me.

Of course, I don’t value target paper and shooting at the range anything more than what it is…just target shooting and showing me the stuff I need to work on to get better at getting my bullets to go where I want them to go.

Equally HUGE, is the grouping of my follow-up shots in SA, at ~13 yards, which are circled in red.

In the past, those five shots would have ended up lower bottom right in the first two outer circles of the target paper; hence, my dry-fire sessions are paying off, and I’m ecstatic with my new shooting groups, as a result of dry-fire.

These SA follow-up shots are lethal shots to the person’s major organs — the kill zone: heart and lungs.

My introduction of dry-fire and other shooting techniques came from the following YouTube firearms and tactical SME personalities:

Adam Painchaud: Sig Sauer

Chris Sarjnog: Retired US Navy SEAL

Rich Graham: Former US Navy Seal

Matt: Former US Marine Corp

When it comes to firearms training, I only follow and learn from reputable instructors that have common sense, history of using firearms in a safe and legal manner, LE background, and/or military backgrounds.

Why?  Read my BLOG regarding SME.

(Sidebar: Just because a person is a speed-shooter at the range against paper and metal targets, doesn’t mean that person is safe nor tactical in ways of working with a firearm or self-protection.  If I wanna learn to be a speed-shooter, then I would consider these individuals to follow; but, I’m not interested in becoming a speed-shooter — I’m interested in being an accurate shooter using tactical skills shooting for self-protection. I know the qualities to look for in a person when I need guidance, and the individuals mentioned, supra, are legitimate.)

The laser-light training system I use is the LaserLyte cartridge and the LaserLyte SteelTyme audio and visual feedback targets, shown in the video clip, below.

My biggest challenge was mentally and physically managing my .40-caliber Sig Sauer P239 SAS. I accepted the challenge of being a better shooter with this firearm, and I achieved my first phase of objectives toward my goal of being a better shooter with this challenging sidearm.

In my quest to manage the Sig Sauer P239 SAS chambered in .40-caliber, I spent many hours at home executing dry-fire sessions; I spent time to meditate (e.g., breathing, positive attitude, and visualization) because I found, through my own journey with sidearms, being an effective shooter has a lot to with my mental disposition, and I discharged ~ 1700 cartridges with my P239 at the rifle and pistol range; hence, as a result of these three activities, I became a better shooter with my Sig Sauer P226R and Sig Sauer P229 Enhanced Elite both chambered in 9 mm.

(I discharged ~5000 cartridges between all three of my sidearms: P226R, P229 Enhanced Elite, and P239 SAS.)

See the picture below; I successfully directed all nine bullets in my magazine into the black zone of the target paper, at ~15 yards down range with my P229 Enhanced Elite chambered in 9mm. First discharge was DA, and the follow-up shots were SRT SA. This is the first time I got the entire bullets in my magazine in the black zone. I’m very happy with this result at the range, and I contribute the results to all my dry-fire sessions at my home.

Adversaries of dry-fire practice mention it is not realistic because of the absence of recoil during the time of discharging the cartridge.

Take a look at the video clip, below. In this dry-fire session, I’m working on (1) controlling my mind (e.g, visualization and positive attitude, “I can do this!”) (2) breathing, (3) moving the trigger back to the wall, (4) holding the trigger at the wall, (5) exhaling, (6) holding my exhale for ~5 seconds, and (7) moving the trigger back to break the wall.

No recoil is present in my dry-fire session, as seen in the video clip, below.  The dry-fire session helps me really know the trigger’s characteristics, especially, the trigger’s breaking-point to the wall; because, before I break the trigger’s wall, I can make certain, by exhaling and holding my exhale, I keep my sidearm steady while I break the trigger’s wall.

So, how do I know I’m successfully keeping my sidearm steady while I break the trigger’s wall?

Take a look at the video above, again, and notice the laser dots.  If I keep the sidearm steady while I break the trigger’s wall, you will see the laser dot; if I move the sidearm while I break the trigger’s wall, you will see a blur instead of the laser dot — blur: not good; laser dot: good = steady sidearm at breaking point of the wall.

Notice the location of the laser dots in the same video clip above…now, look at the picture below — notice the bullet holes are in the same general area as the laser dots in the same video clip above?

I don’t need recoil to be present in my dry-fire practice.  The recoil is the after-effect of I moving the trigger back past the trigger’s wall.  As long as I keep the sidearm steady before and while I break the trigger’s wall, recoil doesn’t affect the placement of my bullets to target.

Dry-fire gives me the time to work on building muscle and brain memory in the following areas (stuff):

  • creating a solid and firm platform for my sidearm
  • controlling my mental attitude and disposition
  • meditation
  • visualization
  • Positive Mental Attitude (I will hit the center!)
  • creating my combat stance (fighter stance) in a stationary position and while moving
  • breathing: exhale and hold exhale before breaking trigger wall,
  • consistent and proper holster master-grip (combat grip) draw,
  • equal vice-like gripping pressure of BOTH hands — my grip is like a vice with equal closing pressure from both hands onto the magazine well (grip) of my sidearm (NOT a pushing of one hand and pulling of the other)
  • smooth trigger movements to the wall and holding it,
  • feeling the trigger wall,
  • sight picture via front sight focus, and
  • muzzle control
  • more finger on the trigger

Dry-fire gives me the time to work on stuff on the other side of recoil. As long as I’m good with the stuff on my side of the recoil, it can do its own stuff without having a negative affect on getting my bullet to target.

I bring all these dry-fire stuff to the range; and, I can better-work with recoil — not against it. As long as I control my mind, I provide a steady and firm platform for my firearm, recoil becomes an ally and not a foe. In fact, I enjoy the feeling of recoil when I’m at the range.

Many inexperienced shooters I come across are white-knuckling that sidearm grip to fight against recoil — well white-knuckling has no place in my Ferrari-racing days; and, it sure as hell has no place in discharging a sidearm — recoil is gonna happen — it’s is the personality of the physics behind discharging a firearm.  I welcome recoil; and, I dig the feel of it — all I know is as long as I keep stuff (e.g., mind, grip, stance, muzzle, breathing, etc.) groovy on my side prior and during recoil, then my bullet gets to the area of the target that my front sight is pointing.  I let recoil move my sidearm, while keeping the same gripping pressure prior to recoil, without having to anticipate nor compensate for the recoil movement.

Through dry-fire, I learned the movements of all my triggers. I could smoothly move any of my triggers to the wall, and hold it at that position while I breathe in, exhale, and hold the exhale.  After I exhale the air out of my lungs, I hold the exhale for ~5 seconds, then I move the trigger back for the remaining fractional distance, while keeping my front sight steady, to break the trigger wall. The explosion takes place, and I don’t do anything extra to fight the recoil — my equal gripping pressure from both hands remains the same before and after discharging the cartridge — I work with recoil by letting it do its thing and letting it move my sidearm without exerting any additional pressure to my grip…AND, woh-la…my bullet gets to my target.

Things go wrong when I psych myself out as a result of not controlling my mental attitude and disposition — the physical components of my foundation breaks down; because, I try to fight, anticipate, and compensate for recoil; hence, I will flinch the sidearm, and the bullet will go off target, as shown in the bullet holes, circled in red, in the picture, below.

Once I keep my mind straight, then the physical aspects, such as, but not limited to, keeping a consistent and firm grip before, during, and after I break the wall of that trigger, all effectuate. I don’t anticipate nor compensate the recoil — I let it do its thing without ANY changes on my end, and my bullets to the target, as shown in the picture, above, with the bullet holes circled in yellow.

When I bring my dry-fire lessons to the range, I’m rewarded with better bullet grouping to my target. After, I’m done at the range, I take that range-experience and bring it to my dry-fire sessions at home, so I can address the stuff I failed to do at the range.

My experience and knowledge of recoil gained from the range give me the tools I need to ensure that I’m consistent all through the shot — and, I work on not mentally and physically compensating for recoil and not anticipating the recoil.

When I’m mentally and physically anticipating and compensating the recoil, my shots go off target, as shown in the picture, below, circled in black. I was aiming my front sight at the black zone — the bullets all landed off the black; because, I held the grip too tight and flinched in my effort to control the recoil.

My instructor then reminded me the stuff I learned during my dry-fire session, and the bullets consistently hit the black zone or got much closer to it, as shown in the picture above, circled in yellow.

So, I went back home, after the range, and studied my bullet pattern and remembered my physical and mental state at the time of discharge; and, I correct those problems in my dry-fire sessions.

Now, as a result of dry-fire and range time, my bullet groupings are better.

When I dry-fire, I’m not worried about speed — I’m focused on consistency before, during and after discharge.  Speed will arrive once all the stuff I’m working on becomes second nature to me.

I do dry-fire seven days a week. My cumulative dry-fire session time for the day is ~30 minutes. I go to the range ~twice a week, and I discharge ~100+ cartridges on my P239 SAS chambered in .40-caliber, ~100+ cartridges on my P229 Enhanced Elite chambered in 9mm, and ~100+ cartridges on my P226R chambered in 9mm. Each of these weapons are used for self-protection at my home and CCW; hence, I am a confident shooter with any of these three sidearms if needed for self-protection.

Moreover, through my training, I can safely and effectively operate any sidearm outside of my own three sidearms, such as revolvers and other semi automatic sidearms. I can also effectively operate rifles.

One of the things I learned at the range is the mental aspect of shooting. For my level of experience, the mental aspect plays more of a factor than the physical factor — if I’m mentally weak, the stuff all breaks down. This only happens only when I switch from my 9mm to my .40-caliber — I feel myself psyching myself out…I’m thinking, “man, this is a .40-caliber — it’s gonna have more of a recoil than my 9 mm.” After thinking this, I can feel my left hand preparing for the recoil and get a little jumpy — this is not good.

How do I overcome that mental disposition and the shakes?

One of my majors in college was psychology. During my studies, I learned about Pavlov’s dog; hence, I created a word that associates to a positive experience I had at the range. I couple that experience to a word that reinforces the shooting behavior I created. That trigger word that snaps my mind and body back into shape is focus.

I say the word, focus, and I reset myself mentally and physically by making sure my stuff is all set. Focusing on my breathing, exhaling, and holding my exhale is so important for me — they steady me and prepare me to set and break the wall of the trigger; hence, the results meet my goal for that shot.

When I’m in focus mode, I don’t even think about recoil — it no longer factors in for me — I’m focused on my stuff.

So, in my experiences, dry-fire sessions, range-time, meditation, understanding and controlling my mental state, and input from experienced SME firearms instructors are necessary components of increasing accuracy and consistency in discharging firearms in a fashion that gets my bullets to targets.

Now, my next goal is being consistent with all the stuff.

The more time I work with my firearms, the more I learn about myself and effectively operating my firearms for my desired results; and, the more consistent I get, the more confident I get towards getting to my goal of protecting my family and those close to me.

Be safe and Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

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