Practice Made Perfect

Measure and Track Your Progress
The effectiveness of training cannot be accurately evaluated without some form of objective measurement over time. Ideally shooters should track what drills are practiced and overall performance statistics.


We currently measure and track certain elements of our training such as cold bore shot placement, zero retention, dot drills and average par times for our regular drills. Our individual scores and placement in matches is the ultimate measure of progress as competitive shooters. So we also conduct after action reviews from each match we attend. Admittedly we still have room for improvement when it comes to tracking our progress, but we have seen significant improvement in our skills thanks to regular practice.

We recommend setting specific and measurable performance goals and developing a training strategy to achieve your goals. Measure and record your progress during training. Finally, attend matches to get an objective assessment of how you perform in relation to other precision rifle shooters. Competition is a great way to benchmark your performance relative to other precision rifle shooters and will help you identify performance gaps so you can optimize your training plans.

Supplement your practice with dry firing
Sometimes it’s just not possible to get out to the range when we want to get some additional trigger time. We have learned that performing dry firing exercises is a great supplemental skill builder beyond live fire training at the range.


When Olympic legend Gary Anderson was a child he couldn’t afford ammunition so he dry fired constantly. We do the same thing. We also set up our barricades at home and shoot at reduced sized targets using the Indoor Optical Training Aid which you can see here:

For every live round that you fire, expect to dry fire 20 or more times. Watch your reticle when you dry fire and adjust your technique to minimize any movement at the moment the firing pin drops. Experiment with your positions and understand what makes a steady versus an unsteady position. Determine if you are really relaxed. Often you believe you are relaxed but upon closer examination you learn that you are muscling yourself into position.

While dry firing doesn’t harm your rifle, we’ve discovered that the firing pin tips will break off every 8-9 months which represents 10,000 or so dry fires. As a result, we have a firing pin for dry firing and another for matches.


Putting it all together
We usually coordinate the day before on our training plan. Our discussion covers things such as what we’ll practice, round count and particular targets or props to be used. If there are other things we want to accomplish such as work on load development, test a new piece of kit, etc. we prepare accordingly. Although the specifics of our practice sessions will vary from week to week, they follow a similar format:

  • Shooting positions on the firing line are secured by moving the shooting benches back beyond the firing line. Some ranges have permanent benches and in those situations we’ve had to improvise. Next, we set up any props we brought with us such barricades, rooftops, barrels, parapets, etc.
  • Steel targets are placed at the end of our 200 yard rifle range and our paper targets are setup on the 100 yard line. Our steel targets at 200 yards are sized from 1-3 MOA to emulate what one might encounter in a match. Our goal is to shoot at the smallest target that we can reliably hit 80 percent of the time or more. Any larger and you are not challenging yourself, any smaller and you will be frustrating yourself. Given a particular scenario, we’ve noticed that we can reliably hit smaller and smaller targets over time.
  • Every practice session starts with a paper target at 100 yards. In fact, we’ve designed and created our own paper target specifically for our practice sessions. It all begins with a cold bore shot taken from the prone position. For us, the cold bore shot is the most important shot of the day. It gets us laser-focused on sending out a good first shot. The impact is noted and tracked over time in our log books. After the cold bore shot, we confirm our zero and if necessary make adjustments. Normally, you should not see significant zero shifts between practice sessions. If you do, and your equipment checks out, examine the consistency of your position.
  • Continuing with our paper targets, we perform a series of dot drill exercises consisting of five rounds each. These are timed drills with each series executed under shorter time constraints (30 seconds, then 25 and then 20). At least one of these series starts from the standing position so we learn to build a shooting position quickly. We also want to fire the first shot quickly but not so quick that we miss the target – it’s a balancing act. Once we get done with our “paperwork” we’ll rarely shoot prone again for the duration of our practice session.
  • We conduct exercises focused on positional shooting both with a sling and without a sling. If there is something new that we want to try out, this is when we’ll do it…when we’re fresh. An example would include learning how to shoot “gangster style” with a rifle on its side. Yes, we’ve actually seen that in a match. Depending on the exercise, we may shoot at paper or steel targets.
  • The remainder of our session consists of timed practice shooting at steel targets from various positions using a variety of props. We take turns where one person shoots and the other person runs the timer. It is our objective to shoot under time constraints that are similar to or slightly more aggressive than what we would encounter in a match. We make a point of getting in some weak side practice as well. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself how well you can shoot weak side with a bit of practice.
  • We both maintain shooter logs and take notes throughout our practice sessions. The logs don’t have to be anything fancy – a notebook will suffice.
  • After our practice ammo is exhausted (usually 75-100 rounds per session), we clean up our shooting stations, pack up our gear and head to a local restaurant to grab a bite to eat.
  • Between training sessions we’ll review our logs and make adjustments to our equipment. We’ll usually conduct some dry firing to confirm any changes.

We’ve found an important part of this formula is having a shooting partner or group of friends you can regularly train and practice with. A good shooting partner can provide feedback, coaching, encouragement and some friendly competition during training and at matches. While this is a broad glimpse into our current practice regimen, it will continue to evolve based on what we encounter in competition and where we fail to perform at a consistent level.


Through our journey as riflemen, we have come to learn that precision rifle shooting is a perishable skill. Like any other sport, a consistently high level of performance requires regular, focused practice. Just about anyone, at any skill level can improve through well planned and executed training. The reward is more first round impacts and higher placement on the leaderboards.

Remember – Life is an adventure…stay on target!

[/FLOATRIGHT]6.5 Guys chronicles the journey of two middle aged men (Ed Mobley, Steve Lawrence) in the Pacific Northwest as we strive for excellence in our chosen sport of precision long range shooting. While working our day jobs and providing for our families, we want to see how far we can take our pursuit with a bit of concerted effort. So far the results have been very promising. While shooting well is icing on the cake, it’s the journey and the people we meet along the way that are the best part of the adventure. We believe that we are providing something unique as we take our audience along for the ride. You will observe first hand as we figure out what works and doesn’t work for us. Hopefully you can apply our experiences to something that you are trying to achieve in life, be it shooting or something else. That’s why we came up with the tag line “Life is an adventure…stay on target.” In other words, set a goal, remain focused, and enjoy yourself along the way. 6.5 Guys
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