Beyond Dry Fire: 10 Things to Beat the Quarantine Blues

Quarantine, isolation, restricted to quarters…however you define it, what we’re currently experiencing nationally is impacting everyone on many levels – not least the ability to keep our skills honed. Some skills are easily practiced at home, others less so, some not at all. For responsible gun-owners, properly executed reps of dry fire are a great way to help stay sharp, but they’re not the only way. And since there will come another time we’re all languishing indoors – whether that’s COVID-19 round 2, a regional outbreak of Methuselah Syndrome, or just badly inclement weather – these are all things you’ll be able to use after current restrictions subside.  Read on and see what Travis has to say.

Dry Fire and Beyond

Coronavirus, COVID-19, The Bat Death, Bane Was Right, whatever you want to call it: we all know about it and can’t ignore it. It’s likely got you spending a lot more time indoors than out, and that has likely stopped any firearms training you’re going to get. With this in mind, it’s no excuse not to stay sharp. In fact, with all this spare time it’s a good time to get sharp. Here are ten things you can do today to beat the quarantine blues and improve your ability to defend yourself during these quarantine times.

1. Dry fire – with technology

Dry fire is the most obvious thing to do if the ranges are closed, and you and the gate are feeling a little lonely during the quarantine. Of course, be safe, put the live ammo away, and don’t point the gun at anyone or anything you can’t live without.

Dry fire is an invaluable training tool that allows you to get some reps in when you can’t go to the range. Dry fire is great, but it’s boring as hell. There are a number of tools and programs available out there that make it a little more entertaining. I’m a big fan of the Mantis modules, which measure your dry fire performance and can even diagnose your shooting deficiencies. SIRT pistols are another excellent option.

Beat the quarantine blues by doing some dry fire with Mantis modules.
Technology has completely changed the various ways you can dry fire. Be safe and consistent, and don’t be lazy about it. Perfect practice is what makes perfect.

Another way to beat the quarantine blues and make it more entertaining is to mix it up. Practice your basic two-handed stance, but get reps in with strong-hand-only and weak-hand-only shooting. Do some dry fire around ‘cover,’ from a knee, and do ‘snap’ shot drills. Mix it up, train hard, and get at it. Use technology to your advantage.

SIRT Pistol in use
SIRT pistol in use by @air_chris in a very unique setup!

2. Reloads, Draws, and Malfs

On top of your dry fire training, mix in more advanced gun handling. Practice your draws, your reloads, and if you have snap caps, or even empty brass work fixing your malfunctions. You’d be surprised at how hard these drills can be when you haven’t busted rust in a while.

Note: “MALF” is different from “MILF” or “MYLF”. Now ya know.

Beat the quarantine blues by practicing reloads, draws, and malfs.

To make it a bit more challenging, you should run it against a timer with a par time. Start with the par time set somewhat high and work your way down, getting faster and faster. This makes your quarantine practice both more entertaining and more efficient.

3. Clean… Everything

Clean all the guns, all the magazines, and all the daily carry gear. Wipe down your weapon light, and clean out any dirt or debris from holsters, belts, and mag pouches. The inactivity seemingly forced on us by the quarantine is an excellent time to break out the cleaning gear and get at it. You’d be surprised at how much dirt and debris build up in weird places when it comes to guns.

Beat the quarantine blues by cleaning all the guns, magazines, and gear.

4. Gear Check

On top of cleaning your guns and gear, you should give your gear a peek and see how it’s holding up. Does your holster have some screws loose? Are the mag pouches on your plate carrier nice and tight? How are those feed lips looking on your Lancers? Check it all. Check chest rigs, plate carriers, lights, helmets, and slings. Swap batteries, tighten down screws and bolts, readjust chest rigs, and make sure everything clicks, pops, and glides.

Beat the Quarantine Blues by doing a complete gear check.

5. Sharpen Up Your Pointy Things

You got knives, right? When was the last time they got a good dose of the sharpening rod, whetstone, pull through sharpener? During a quarantine, all you have is time, so you might as well get the point things cleaned, oiled, and nice and sharp. Give ’em more than a field edge and get them to that factory-standard sharpness.

Beat the quarantine blues by sharpening your knives and pointy things.

6. Inspect and Organize Your Ammo

Any self-respecting gun owner has enough ammo stashed away to make an MSNBC host wet their pants. If that’s you, take some time to check your ammo. Make sure wherever you’re storing, it is satisfactory, and the ammo is nice and try. The last thing you want to find out in our post-zombie quarantine is that your ammo has gone bad. If you don’t automatically organize, now might be a good time to organize your ammo in a safe and efficient way. Or just load all your magazines, cause why not?

Organize your ammunition to beat the quarantine blues.

7. Watch These Videos

On Youtube, you have access to a near-infinite education. Some of its complete crap, but there is lots of good knowledge, and if you have time to spare, you can beat the quarantine blues by watching a few of these GunMag TV videos and learning a thing or two.

So maybe our list is biased, but its good info regardless. Other channels to check out include:

Sage Dynamics
Practically Tactical
Safety Solutions Academy
and even the National Shooting Sports Foundation channel has good info.

8. Get Readin’

Drop the phone, or maybe make it up if you use the Kindle app and start reading. This is another great way to learn soft and hard skills. There are lots of great books out there that address self-defense, gun handling, and proper mindset. This list is far from complete, but here are a few solid contenders

  • The Gift of Fear – Gavin de Becker
  • Violence of Mind – Varg Freeborn
  • Your Defensive Rifle Training Program – Mike Seeklander
  • Principles of Self-Defense – Jeff Cooper
  • Guns, Bullets, and Gunfights – Jim Cirillo
  • No Second Place Winner – Bill Jordan

9. Keep, or get, in Shape

The in-home quarantine doesn’t mean you get to slack on your PT. In fact, you should be increasing your output. Just turn your commute time into work out time. Even if you don’t have the gear, you have bodyweight and an internet connection. Websites like offer tons of bodyweight workouts, and so does Youtube. 

If you have a single kettlebell, you can kick your own ass pretty hard in half an hour.

If you have a single kettlebell, you can kick your own ass pretty hard in half an hour. There are lots of things you do in your living room, backyard, or garage. Hell, give Yoga spin and see what works for you. You have a tremendous opportunity to start getting in Shape and beat the quarantine blues even if you are stuck at home. 

10. Change Your Socks

Lastly, take care of yourself. Keep focused, avoid partying (i.e., drinking alone) every night, and eating nothing but junk food. Shooting a gun is all about connecting the body and mind, and if you’re not taking care of yourself, your shooting will reflect that. Your ability to fight, survive and stay efficient relies on more than just your range trips. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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