Tips For Shooting Practice On A Budget

shooting practice

Shooting is a perishable skill, but it can get a bit spendy with the equipment and consumables that are involved in shooting practice. Granted, you should never feel bad about spending money in the pursuit of the skills that can save your life, but does that mean that those not well-heeled should be priced out? Or, for that matter, that you should willingly line various pockets other than your own?

Of course not! A penny saved and all that.

Here are a few hacks that can get your shooting practice done on the cheap side.

Get A .22 Conversion For Cheaper Shooting

Granted, 9mm ball isn’t exactly expensive, and neither, for that matter, are .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .38 Special or .357 Magnum compared to some other handgun rounds such as .44 Special, .45 Colt (or worse, .45 Auto Rim) and so on. Know what’s really cheap, though? .22 LR.

Thus, one of the best ways to do a whole lot of shooting and have it be beneficial is to get a .22 conversion kit for your pistol. Yes, you’ll have to spend to get it, but the running costs are rock-bottom. The best part is that since you’re shooting your carry gun, the trigger and all other aspects remain the same.

Granted, there is something to be said for a .22 conversion not having the same recoil. You’ll still want to do some shooting with your actual carry caliber, just like how you should do a little bit with carry ammo to keep your eye in. That said, you can do a whole lot of practicing and for much less regarding ammunition costs, which will pay for the conversion kit over time.

Improvised Targets From Dollar Stores

Forget the targets from the local gun store or sporting goods shop. You can get more than combat accurate with some improvised targets from the local “dollar store” type of establishment. Two to look for are 6-inch paper plates and 3″x5″ index cards. If you can get tight groups on either of these, you aren’t going to have anything to worry about.

Think about it this way: what you want to shoot at in a defensive encounter is the chest cavity or the head, for obvious reasons. The heart and surrounding arteries and vessels don’t occupy a space much bigger than 6 inches, and the human head is about that size. If you can get relatively tight groups in quick succession on a 6-inch paper plate, that’s definitely combat accurate.

On a 3″x5″ index card even better.

More Dry Firing

One of the best forms of shooting practice doesn’t involve any actual shooting and is easily ignored, namely dry firing. Start looking up experts on the use of firearms, whether combat use or hunters from this or any era. What a whole lot of them will recommend wholeheartedly is ample dry firing.

Jeff Cooper would dry fire while watching television. Bill Jordan advocated liberal dry fire practice. Rob Leatham is a staunch advocate of dry firing for trigger control, as are many others. Karamojo Bell would pick targets in the distance and dry fire his rifle while marching on safari. Bell, for those unfamiliar, shot more than 1000 elephants, almost all via an oblique rear-quarter shot to the brain with a 7x57mm Mauser. He was known to also wingshoot cormorants with a .318 Westley Richards.

Dry firing works sight acquisition and trigger control, which are hugely important for accurate shooting no matter what you’re shooting at. Range targets, hostile humans or game, dry firing is going to as much good as actual range work will. You can even incorporate into defensive shooting drills for added benefit.

How much does a snap cap go for these days? Given the enormous benefits of regular dry firing, a snap cap has to be one of the best investments as far as training tools go.

How about you, though? Do you have any hacks to save cash on shooting practice?

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for Alien Gear Holsters, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. He also contributes a bi-weekly column for Daily Caller. In his free time, Sam enjoys camping, hunting and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.
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Robert Lender

Two “hacks” that I use:

First, I use a laser training bullet/cartridge. This allows me to use my EDC firearm in a safe manner (ALWAYS check and then double-check [nothing wrong with triple-checking] to ensure your firearm is unloaded and all live ammunition is put away before you begin any dry fire or laser training exercises!). Many laser training apps are available and several offer portions of the app for free use (you can always pay for advanced features if you desire) and several of these apps have websites on which you can download free targets for use. There is an initial outlay of funds for the laser cartridge but these can run anywhere from $25-$150 depending on what brand/model/caliber you purchase. After that you are home (cost?) free.

Another trick I use is for live fire practice. I spent about $7.00 and purchased a ream of 500 sheets of 11” x 17” inch copy paper. I then used the hard backers from used legal pads to cut out squares of 4”, 5” and 6”. When I go to the range, I simply trace the size square I want with a Sharpie onto a piece of paper and Presto! I now have an instant target for (much) less than a penny per sheet!


Blade-tech makes a yellow replacement barrel for use in practising drawing, holstering and dry firing. Drawing and holstering are skills that need to be safely mastered as well.