There have been many times when I have a new shooter ask how do they become better shooters without spending too much money going to the range? The answer is simple…DRY FIRE!!!
For those that are unfamiliar, dry firing is a method of practice that you have NO ammo in the gun, magazines, or the same room. It is going through the basic motions to teach physical and mental traits needed to succeed in the shooting sports. Please make sure you are following all safety precautions and exercising safe gun handling.
Dry firing is such an underrated aspect of learning how to safely and effectively utilize any firearm, whether for home defense, conceal carry or competition use. Most importantly, dry fire is free and can be done at home at all hours of the day and night. You don’t have to take the time to travel to an indoor/outdoor range. No competing against everyone else there shooting. Zero money spent on ammo or range time. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it! Being at home allows you a comfortable and convenient spot to begin working on your skills as a shooter, from the basic fundamentals of safety and marksmanship all the way to advanced gun handling techniques and strategies.
Just think, you are able to perform 90% of what you do on a live fire range with dry fire, the only thing you are missing is the actual “bang” and “recoil” of the gun. This can be done as easily as taking the time between commercial breaks to pick your firearm up (handling properly and unloaded of course) and dry firing it during the break of your favorite show. Listed below are several key points to remember and review for your dry fire session:
Remember safety comes first and foremost, if doing any type of dry fire training make sure there is no ammunition in the gun, magazines or even in the room. Remember the 4 safety rules!
- The firearm is always to be treated as if it is loaded
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
- Never point the firearm at anything you are not willing to shoot
- Always know your target and what is behind it
- Trigger control/sight alignment: (lining up the sights against a blank wall and squeezing the trigger as soon as the sights line up, without having the sights move during the trigger squeeze)
- Draws w/o concealment: No timer involved, draw and dry fire against a blank wall, concentrating on getting a good grip, having no “hitches” in the draw and producing a good trigger control dry fire
- Strong side draws: Using strong hand only, perform the same actions as above.
- Strong side draw to weak hand transition: Perform a strong side draw and safely and efficiently transition over the firearm to your weak hand and perform a dry fire.
- Weak side, low ready: From the low ready position in your weak hand, raise the pistol and dry fire against a blank wall.
- Emergency reload: Start with the pistol locked back with an empty magazine (holstered), when ready draw the firearm and correctly line the sights up against a blank wall, then perform an emergency reload (magazine needs to have a snap cap in it) and dry firing against a wall.
- Administrative/tactical reload: Have two magazines with snap caps in them, load one into the gun. From the draw, dry fire against a wall, make the magazine change (correctly and safely stowing the magazine) and dry firing against the wall again.
- Target acquisitions/transitions: Pick two distinct objects in your home more than 3 feet apart (the farther the better), from the draw, pick up the first object in your vision, align the gun on the object, then transition over to the front sight and execute a dry fire. Next transition your vision over to the next object, move your gun to that object then transition your vision back to your front sight and execute another dry fire.
- Trigger Reset: Perform a dry fire against the wall, while holding the trigger to the rear, rack the slide to reset the trigger (on a semi-automatic pistol), then release the trigger until you feel and hear the “reset” then perform another dry fire.
- Do not go longer than 30 minutes during a session.
- Do not expect to get it right on the first try, this will take time and patience.
- Go slow at first, you are trying to learn all of the “mechanical” aspects of what your are doing, only later will you naturally speed up the process.
- Once you get the “mechanical” aspects down you are looking to develop the “feel” of how a perfect “drill” is performed.
- You always want to feel “smooth” and relaxed during your training, being fast and jerky will only make you tense and make you fight the process that much longer.
- When you can be completely relaxed and perform each drill without conscious thought you have beginning to master the drill.
- Above all, a smooth draw will beat a fast, shaky draw. It is better to be smooth and efficient.
- Remember the initial grip on the firearm is key; if you have a bad grip you will effect the draw and initial shot.
- If you are doing everything right the firearm will naturally line up with your target as soon as you finish the draw.
- The smoother and more efficient you are with the reload, the faster you will be!
- Remember the choke point on reload is putting the magazine into the firearm. Make sure to look at the mag well opening.
- Indexing your finger on the magazine helps line up the magazine to the firearm
Here are some helpful scaled targets you can print out and tape around your dry fire area. If printed on standard 8.5×11 paper then they will be approximately 1/3 scale, if printed on 11×17 then you should be close to 1/2 scale.