Owning weapons is not the same as being proficient. And being proficient isn’t just a matter of being trained once.
Proficiency at any skill requires maintenance.
The dilemma for a lot of rifleman is that range time isn’t always “training” time because most ranges don’t allow you to do the “everything else” that comes up when using a weapon with your life on the line. That doesn’t mean that this is a valid excuse to avoid training, not when you can make training relatively fun.
First up is the movement and manipulation aspect.
Airsoft. Yes it comes from Japan where guns are essentially banned, but the combined suicide/homicide rate is still the same as the US. We have way more homicides, they have WAY more suicides. Clearly guns are good for your mental health. But airsoft, being short range and requiring only eye protection, is a great way to practice your transitions, manipulation drills, and all sorts of “shoot and move” excercises.
Seriously, you can turn your regular house into an airsoft shoothouse and run the scenario forward, backward, from the middle out. However you want. Make it fun for the whole family.
Second up is accuracy work inside point blank range.
Air rifle and air pistol. These are great for accuracy work. I know that single shot airguns are slow to reload, not very useful for manipulation drills, but they are the absolute best bang for the buck when it comes to accuracy training. Believe me that after a season of serious training with an air rifle or air pistol, your hits will get much more consistent with firearms.
A friend of mine spent his college years on a smallbore team and was amazed at how quickly he could get a hunting rifle on target and a shot off after training smallbore daily for a school year. It’s great for training accuracy.
Third up is accuracy work beyond point blank range.
For the vast majority of “combat” you’ll not need this, but if you want to play designated marksman or sniper then you’ll need to have a way to adjust for drop. One training technique snipers use is to work with their spotter to site in on a distant object, calculate distance, drop, and wind correction and then dry fire the shot. It’s not “fun” but it is good training. High Power competitors do this with reduced size targets indoors, but with things like a thumbtack painted black on a white piece of cardboard to simulate the target black, and they will practice standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone with the correct site adjustments for range on their rifle.
Beyond dryfire, turn a 200 yard range into a 600 yard range.
If you have a bolt action rifle and you hand load, it is easy to load up some low velocity rounds that will have the same drop at 200 as a regular round would drop at 600, and you simply scale the targets so that your ranging reticle (mildot) lets you range the targets lower at the further distance to make the calculations match up so you can crank the knobs and fire the shot. The slower velocity increases the barrel time, so this is a great option for practicing follow through as well.
Col Ed Harris came up with “The Load” which is 13grains of Red Dot in a 30 caliber military case or larger. This is a great reduced velocity load for training marksmanship, and even if the ballistics don’t match up exactly with your full power load (say you are using a 300 Win Mag) the principle will be the same even if the drop corrections are slightly off.
I hope this has been good food for thought, comments are open.