I practice regularly off the range with our firearms. Dry-fire, target acquisition, reloads, malfunctions, assembly, dis-assembly, drawing from concealment, movement, seeking and taking cover, working with my gals (the team), running through scenarios, visualizing all of the previous in my mind... it's something I do continually. I'd recommend you do it too, but when it's all said and done... ultimately, in my opinion, you can't beat actual range time with your firearms... with actual ammunition that is what you carry or use every day... or at least very close to it.
My good friend Matt, over at Jerking the Trigger, joined me this past Saturday for some time on the range and conversation among men. I've known Matt for some years now and while he's my junior in years, he's definitely my senior in many gun-related matters, particularly with the ARs and AKs. Among the many moderm muskets he brought along, he had his trusty Smith & Wesson M&P15-22. With ammo costs continually going up even without the mass shortages and hoarding going on all over... practicing with a .22 that completely matches the SOPs of your regular defensive rifle... makes good sense... except when you can't find any .22s.
Even so, dry-fire and .22s aside... I'm becoming more and more of the belief that ultimately, you can't replace practice with regular ammo in your regular firearm. Yeah, my groups and target transitions are amazing with the .22 during practice, but it can lead to a false sense of confidence and security in your abilities... just like dry-fire practice can.
That doesn't mean that practice and conditioning off the range or with lesser, cheaper ammunition in a similar gun isn't valuable, but if you haven't been on the range regularly... you may just be fooling yourself. The gals and I are fortunate to have a shooting range out back we can use as often as we like, but we've also budgeted and planned for many years to maintain our shooting practice and skills.
Also, when I'm on the range, I'm concerned with the reality of my skills. It doesn't mean that I don't want to have fun and beat the clock, but the most important time on the Pact Club Shot Timer 3 is the first shots I fire on the range. See, often when I go out back to the range, I'll set up my targets and other items... but then I walk over to a spot somewhere between five and fifty feet from the target... hit the timer button for a random delay... then draw and fire my gun from complete concealment... just as I carried it all day long. THAT is the time most important to me... the first shots I fire... the shots fired cold... the shots that hit the target before I've warmed up and started to "game" my practice by re-trying and over-thinking my scenarios and set-ups.
Give it a try. Tracking your time for making good shots is an excellent indicator of how you're doing... but try tracking your times of your first shots fire each time you hit the range... not the best time you achieved on the range that day. It might surprise you.
My pastor often says you can tell where most folks' priorities are by their check-books and day-planners. I hope your check-books and day-planners show that those of you who use and carry firearms for self-defense... are concerned with... Range time... and the first shots fired.