Practice makes perfect in the world of shooting. Dry fire is perfect practice.
All the cool kids are doing it. Everyone from the professional shooters to newcomers to the sport, everyone has at least tried it at one time or another. Some shooters even do it every day in their own homes. What are we talking about? Dry fire.
Any number of reasons can keep us from getting to the range. Time, money, family, or work obligations. Or you may just not want to go. Dry fire is a great way to get some practice in when you can’t get to the range. You can manipulate your handgun in the same manner as live fire and benefit from gaining that muscle memory for many other things. Plus you don’t have to worry about getting beat up by recoil.
Many of the top performing competitive shooters dry fire on a regular schedule to help improve and keep fundamentals sharp. They can practice increasing speed on the draw or a reload.
Everyone should begin a dry fire regimen of their own. It doesn’t take much to start, just the motivation to want to improve your shooting and a few pieces of equipment.
Dry Fire Gear
The nice part about a dry fire regimen is that you don’t need a lot of fancy gear. Some people will have a whole bag of gear that is identical to their live fire gear, just inert. Or some use an airsoft replica. For the beginner though, you already have the basic gear you need.
To get started you need:
- A place in the house that you can safely point a firearm and not have people running past you. It needs to be distraction free.
- Your firearm
- A couple of magazines
- Your holster and mag pouches
Some optional gear to get:
- Snap caps (these are pretty necessary since they will protect your firing pin from breaking)
- A timer (this can even just be an app on your phone to set for par times)
Now that you have your gear, you need to set down some safety rules for your dry fire practice session:
- NO LIVE AMMO in the practice area.
- No distractions while practicing.
- A commitment to do everything the right way, every time
- NO LIVE AMMO in the practice area
When beginning a dry fire regimen, you need to set a time limit of no more then 15-20 minutes and set a scheduled set of days aside to do it. Ideal would be every day, but that can’t always happen.
Now you need a set of drills to practice. Here are three example drills that a person can run in a dry fire session.
- Practice your draw: Practice the draw stroke. Slow down each of the steps and walk through them slowly then start to speed up as you go and pull the steps all together. Get a proper grip on the pistol then draw it straight up out of the holster while bringing your weak hand to your chest and bringing the pistol to high ready. Rotate your pistol and punch it out, while bringing your weak hand to meet it in a proper grip and lock it out. Reholster and start again.
- Trigger Press Practice: Here is an easy one to run and fun to compete against with a partner. Have your training partner put a penny on your front sight. The object it to pull the trigger without causing the penny to fall off. If it falls of, you lose. If not, place a second one on it and keep going till you get up to five. Then change to dimes, nickels and quarters.
- Malfunction Clearing: Dry fire is a great way to practice the Tap, Rack and Reassess Drill. Since you get a click each time, you can practice a tap, rack and reassess over and over again.
- The Wall Drill: The wall drill is fairly easy to run and helps you to practice trigger control and sight alignment. You get within one inch of a wall with the muzzle of your gun. You pull the trigger making sure you practice proper trigger control and sight alignment. If your sights jump around as you press the trigger, you are pressing too fast and need to slow down till you can control the sights. Then back away from the wall a little and start over. Slow and smooth is the game on this one.
Cleanup is as important as setup. You need to make sure that you have the right mindset at the end of your dry practice or bad things could happen.
When you are finished you need to make sure that you tell yourself, “Practice is over, this firearm is live.” Say it out loud. Especially if you reload it for your everyday carry gun. You don’t want to press the trigger with a live round in it.
Put all your gear away and don’t think about it any more. If you took video, wait until the next day to review it. Take a break and just relax.
There is a lot to starting a dry fire regimen, but the benefits and payoffs from it outweigh the work put into it. Like anything you desire to improve at, putting the work and effort in has big rewards.