Live Fire vs. Dry Fire: Why Aren't My Scores Matching Up?

Mantis X System Mounted on Glock for Live Fire Practice

A frustration some of our Mantis X shooters experience is that though their live fire scores are improving, they aren’t matching the even higher scores they’re earning during dry fire sessions. The fact of the matter is that there could be a number of contributors, and sometimes it really can come down to having a professional coach work with you (we are big advocates of firearm instructors by the way). That said, we’ve been doing this a while and just may be able to help you help yourself as we highlight three of the most common causes of your dry fire to live fire inconsistencies.

To start, it’s important to keep in mind the goal is improvement, be aware of your ego. Just like when you call IT with a computer issue and they start with, “Is it plugged in,” that’s not a judgement on your character, it’s just a common oversight, a solution so obvious it’s either not considered or dismissed. Have an open mind, and be kind to yourself.

Anticipating Recoil

This is one many people guess on their own, and, of course, your Mantis system will help identify it for you, but the reintroduction of the recoil itself, as well as the flash and noise can cause some to regress to previous habits and mechanics. We’ve all experienced this, it’s primal, you are controlling an explosion after all, and when that begins to occupy some of your focus this can manifest itself in more than just pushing your shots. 

Grip Consistency

Speaking of recoil, dry fire training with a complete lack of recoil can leave you too relaxed in your grip. In the words of every sports coach, you need to, “practice like you play.” If you aren’t, then that difference in finger tension can affect not only your grip but also your trigger press. This can easily compound and make you feel like you’re nearly back to square one. Unchecked frustration is not your friend in these moments. Speaking of...

Under Pressure

After getting in some quality dry fire training and solid scores, it’s natural to anticipate the same results at the range. There are many reasons you may feel a little extra pressure to perform well once there, whether it’s as basic as high expectations, wanting to impress the guy or gal in the neighboring lane, all the way up to “friendly” competition with your shooting buddies; an unrelaxed mind makes for an unrelaxed body. 

The key to identifying which of the above may be at play during your live fire training is to slow down and detach. Observe yourself from the outside, and this doesn’t require you to be a Zen master to do so either, in fact, using the video mode on your phone to record dry and live fire sessions for comparison can be very valuable. Only you know what’s going on inside your head though, and being able to sense feelings and focus (or lack thereof) gives you the opportunity to address it in the moment. 

If you’re starting to feel like you’re chasing your tail, then we recommend the following to get back on track:

  • Slow down: You don’t have to be a sloth, but you have to walk before you run. This also allows you to identify kinks in your mechanics. Fluid technique equals speed.
  • Detach: Adrenaline is great for lifting a car off your kid, but not for fine motor control. Observe, think, and coach yourself without emotion.
  • Focus on Fundamentals: This is ultimately a moving meditation, and even when detached it’s easy to let other things steal your attention. Grip, sight alignment, and trigger management are the foundations to build upon.

This is a journey, friends, and once we can start getting out of our own way then the path will be much clearer. You may find that once you become more comfortable with missing the target it becomes just a bit easier to hit.  

Jason Manning
Jason Manning