So you want to improve your shooting?
As with anything, firing your handgun requires regular practice develop and maintain an acceptable level of proficiency. For most, it’s not something that comes naturally with little practice. An important part of building your skills is dry fire practice. Dry fire practice is the process of manipulating, aiming and triggering your handgun without ammunition. If done on a regular basis, dry fire practice will improve your shooting.
Why dry fire and not live fire?
Dry fire can be done in different environments and does not require you to spend hours upon hours at a range. We know that developing proficiency with motor skills requires a large number of repetitions to build muscle memory. Let’s face it, shooting live rounds can quickly become expensive and cost prohibitive for many people. Additionally with live fire, it is often difficult to detect bad habits in yourself such as anticipation, eye blinking and the lack of follow-through. With dry fire practice you are able to detect and correct these bad habits without the help of a firearms instructor standing over your shoulder. Now, that’s not to say that attending a class with an instructor is a bad idea. Dry fire practice is just another method to build skill when you are not on the range.
How often should I practice dry firing?
That depends on how serious you are about being a proficient marksman and how seriously you take your firearm as a defensive weapon. If you are the type of person that rarely goes to the range to practice live fire, then dry fire won’t help you much. Dry fire and live fire go hand in hand. As an instructor, I encourage my students to practice dry firing their firearm on a weekly basis for about 5-10 minutes each practice session. The goal of dry practice is to get as many quality repetitions as possible. Don’t get sloppy! Many of us at Blue Line Defense practice this regularly and follow it up with live fire exercises on the range.
Isn’t it bad to dry fire my firearm?
Most modern center fire firearms will not see any negative affect. Dry fire is only bad on rim fire style firearms, such as a 22LR.
Dry Fire Safety
Before we discuss some dry fire drills, we need to address safety. It is imperative that you ensure that your firearm is UNLOADED and that there is absolutely NO live ammunition near you when you are practicing dry fire drills. You need to pick a location that will allow us to safely practice. Preferably some sort of backstop that is capable of containing a round. Yes, I know we are using an unloaded firearm for dry practice, but it doesn’t matter… have a backstop! When you are running through your dry fire drills, be sure that your firearm is not pointed at anything that you would not want to destroy even if the gun were to discharge. I would also suggest having some type of dummy rounds. You can purchase dummy rounds at an affordable price from Law Enforcement Targets.
1. UNLOAD and clear your firearm. As mentioned above, place all live rounds far away from the location you have chosen for dry fire practice.
2. Place a target in a safe place, preferably in front of your chosen backstop.
3. Visually and manually inspect your firearm, magazines or speed loaders, and dummy rounds to ensure there are no live rounds present.
4. Conduct your inspection again.
5. Conduct your inspection again for live rounds. CHECK, DOUBLE CHECK, TRIPLE CHECK!
Dry Fire Drills
Draw and Present
From the ready position, with your firearm in the holster, draw and present the firearm to the target. Do not press the trigger. Re-holster your firearm. Repeat this five times.
Draw, Present and Dry Fire
From the ready position, with your firearm in the holster, draw and present the firearm to the target. Press the trigger to the rear. Scan and assess for additional threats. Re-holster your firearm. Repeat this five times.
Dry Fire, Dry Fire, Dry Fire
Step 1: From the ready position, with your firearm in the holster, draw and present the firearm to the target.
Step 2: Press the trigger to the rear. Keeping your finger on the trigger, take your reaction hand and cycle the slide.
Step 3: Re-gain your grip with both hands. Slowly let your trigger finger forward until you feel the trigger reset, and press the trigger again.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 five times.
After repeating steps 2 and 3, be sure to scan and assess for additional threats. Re-holster your firearm.
If you practice these simple drills you are sure to sharpen your skills the next time you hit the range!