It’s been a while since I’ve been at a shooting match. In fact, I hate to admit this, but I haven’t been involved in competition shooting in probably more than a year. Some of my absence has to do with a perpetually busy calendar. But with ammo costs and the possibility of components not being available for reloading, competitions, unfortunately, haven’t been very high on the list of things to do.

For many people, it’s not just competition shooting that’s suffered over the last few years but training in general. People aren’t getting to the shooting range nearly as much as they did in the past because every round downrange is a round that may or not be as easily — or as cost-effectively — replaceable as it once was. With that in mind, many gun owners are looking to other opportunities for keeping both their marksmanship skills and their defensive-shooting skills in check.

Cost Savings with Digital Training

One effective method to use for practice is dry-fire, which requires no use of ammunition at all. With tools such as a BarrelBlok, a SIRT pistol, the SureStrike Laser Training Cartridge or the MantisX Shooting Performance System, users can work through training drills just about wherever and whenever they want. And dry-fire training is definitely an effective way to work through some shooting basics and fundamentals, including trigger press, accuracy, presentation from the holster, reloads and more!

But for those seeking a bit more of a mental challenge and some cognitive load, classes that focus on scenario-based training with simulators are another beneficial option. In fact, as a colleague of mine recently pointed out, how else can you get 5,000 trigger presses for the cost of one box of ammunition?

Launched officially on June 1, the USCCA’s instructor-guided simulation program offers a deeper dive into the Concealed Carry & Home Defense curriculum with various scenes like an encounter in an alleyway, an experience with an angry restaurant patron, an uncomfortable employment termination and a traffic collision. And while a simulator is not a substitute for time on the shooting range, it can be a very effective supplement that provides valuable, hands-on, experiential learning.

Scenario-Based Training = Skill Savings

While students can put their firearms fundamentals to use without firing one round of ammunition, the primary focus of scenario-based training is to serve as an assessment tool. And the scenarios created by the USCCA are designed specifically to identify any gaps in a student’s decision-making and performance. As we all know, mindset is of utmost importance for the concealed carry lifestyle. The responsibly armed must know not only how to shoot but when it’s legally appropriate to do so.

These scenarios give students a perfect opportunity (and a supportive learning environment) to work out those tough decisions in real-world situations they may encounter. Plus, the training provides an opportunity to consider where additional work and training is most needed.

In fact, USCCA’s training product manager Richard Schmidt, who worked very closely with the creation and launch of the program, commented, “My favorite thing about simulator training is the mirror effect. Students don’t learn anything new in the middle of a scenario, but they get an opportunity to take a look in the mirror and see exactly where their decision-making and physical skills are. Instructors can use it as a diagnostic tool for determining where a new student should start [his or her] training journey and as an accountability tool to help experienced students stay current with their training.”

While a simulator may not solve every issue a shooter has with anticipating the shot or performing emergency reloads, and while a scenario will never replace a shooting match or a live-fire class, scenario-based training definitely offers gun owners a great opportunity to save some money … and potentially save their shooting skills!

Find the USCCA’s latest training curriculum!