There are certain rules to be followed in firearms training. These rules will lead to a gradual increase in the shooter’s skill.
It isn’t difficult for a person of average ability to become a decent shot. The top tier of shooting requires more work, time, effort and expense.
Among the routes that many shooters take, is training with a .22 caliber rimfire firearm.
If done properly, .22 caliber firearms training isn’t a short cut to proficiency, but it is less expensive than training with a centerfire, much less expensive.
The Importance of Repetition
I have been at this a long time and heard many mantras, some of which are worthwhile.
One is that proficiency requires 500 repetitions of a certain skill to master, such as the uppercut, Dempsey Drop Step or the Five Fists of martial arts.
I think 500 repetitions is on the light side. Close to 1,000 is more realistic for reasonable proficiency.
This means practicing the presentation from concealed carry constantly until the effort is seamless, smooth and mistake-free.
Proficiency comes with practice, and you will become better with time and effort. You will reach a plateau of good skills and then have to fight hard for even better performance.
Other experts feel that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is needed to reach expert status. Yes, that is more than a year.
The domain may be the electric guitar, karate or mastering the .45 automatic. Those are big numbers and the effort is measured in years, not weeks.
In handgun and rifle marksmanship, even tactical work, the .22 Long Rifle firearm is a great aid.
Mistakes Many Make
If you are firing the .22 for simple recreation or target practice, the rules are different. Informal target practice or even training for hunting with a .22 is different.
The goal is deliberate practice. This means a specific type of practice toward a goal. Once the goal is met, training is over, and what remains is the practice to build greater skill.
Unfortunately, some shooters engage in what may be called “broken record training.” It is simply repeating the skills you already have.
It may be rewarding to the ego to make a good run on steel plates every time you go to the range, but it is just repetition, not training.
It is like running on autopilot. Something I do every day is autopilot. I sing to myself. I know a lot of songs.
I do not have a good voice or good control over my voice. I am not a professional singer, so this time wasted is quite enjoyable. But I have not learned much.
Shooting skills are much the same. You can think you are pretty good if you don’t have a measure. Mix and match is another dead end.
Going to the range, mastering one drill, firing one we cannot quite get and dropping the challenge, then doing something we can do, doesn’t help.
Range work should be productive learning. It is possible to repeat something many times and not become much better. You may be reinforcing bad habits.
After all, most of us pick up bad habits sometimes called training scars. We have to get rid of them or they scar our later performance.
Practice often lends permanence to poor technique. Training moves past poor techniques.
Your confidence level is enhanced by being able to execute drills successfully and consistently. You must isolate the techniques that allow you to succeed.
The aforementioned broken record type training is most of all dull after a while and often abandoned. Success isn’t measured by time at the range, but by results.
Prepare, Then Prepare Again
Deliberate practice involves a system and a plan you are invested in.
The problem—presenting the handgun and getting a hit in less than 1. 5 seconds at 7 yards, running the El Presidente or running double taps on targets—must be clearly defined.
Dry fire practice is a big part of what we do. We are building a skill: the trigger press, sight alignment and sight picture.
But live fire must always be the litmus test and some things must be mastered through live fire. We have to monitor our progress.
How slow were we? How fast? How far off did you miss? Are you going too fast or too slow?
Are the groups too small in rapid-fire, indicating you are going too slowly, or is the dispersion too high?
Few take the time to train, analyze and execute in this manner, but it must be done.
You must maintain concentration and limit the training time to your ability to focus. It may be an hour, usually less. With practice, focus grows.
There are times when you feel better and times when you are dragging. Try to practice when you have the most energy as you will learn the most.
Unlike high school and other chores, you may be flexible in firearms training. To maintain clarity of intention, be certain to record your progress by video or notebook.
.22 Training Tips
Now we come to the point of the report: properly using a .22 for this very important training.
The advantages of the .22 are many. The cartridge itself is inexpensive compared to a centerfire cartridge. Recoil is modest to nonexistent.
This allows the shooter to concentrate on marksmanship, trigger control, sight picture and sight alignment.
All of the principles of marksmanship may be practiced and mastered using a .22 caliber firearm. But wait, what about follow-through?
This is OK for fun shooting, but you should always execute a hard grip in training. The .22 should be used with a hard grip just as the 9mm will be.
When practicing splits between shots, double taps and rapid-fire, it is ridiculously easy to fire a magazine full of .22s and keep the firearm on target… or is it?
The only acceptable means of firing is to fire as if each shot is the only one that matters. This means recovering sight picture and sight alignment before firing again.
When practicing with the .22 caliber it is important to not run away with speed. Don’t fire any faster than you do when practicing with the 9mm.
Fire, recover, align the sights and fire again. Do the same with the 9mm. The .22 is a great training aid.
Treat it seriously and apply the same effort to the .22 in marksmanship training as you do with centerfire. The result will be a real improvement in ability.
If you are a hunter, training with the .22 is relevant. Target shooting, learning to use optics or red dot sights is best accomplished with the humble .22.
It is the finest and most cost-effective tool we have.
Do you train with the .22? Let us know your thoughts on using this caliber in the comments below.