If done correctly, dry fire training can be the cheapest, most easily practiced form of training you can perform. If you conceal carry, training and practice is key. Training comes in many forms. However, practice typically comes in two forms...live fire and dry fire.
Ammo is expensive. Training is expensive. You have to have hands on a pistol to get better. How do we achieve this?
The go-to for years has been dry fire practice, not only for civilians, but even many military sniper programs begin with dry fire.
What is Dry Fire?
If you want the most basic definition, it's snapping your gun on an empty chamber, but we want to go a little farther than that.
Dry fire is practicing the proper technique, position, alignment, stance, and trigger squeeze of your firearm under controlled conditions without ammunition.
So, we aren’t just going to snap our gun, we are going to go through the whole process from the draw stroke to the shot execution. During this, we want to be sure to achieve:
- a solid stance
- firm shooting grip
- proper sight alignment
- perfect trigger squeeze
If you don’t cover all these bases, you are just playing.
Why Dry Fire Practice?
Whenever you go with live ammo, you are essentially throwing dimes down range that you can’t get back. While you do need to throw a lot of dimes to get better, there are some skills you can hone for free.
These will mostly go along with the points above, but here are a few things we want to take away from dry fire practice:
- Stance that is balanced and solid
- Proper, stable grip throughout the draw stroke and shot
- Getting a perfect alignment of the sights and target
- Finding the breaking point of your trigger
- Executing a smooth, constant trigger squeeze
- Reduction of any flinch reactions
- Proper shot follow-up
- Danger Assessment
If you practice all of these, you will be a better shot and it won’t cost you a dime. We do these things in dry fire because its convenient, not only in cost, but in availability. You can practice at any time at home.
Just be sure to keep your fundamentals of gun safety in mind and always check to make sure you have an unloaded and safe firearm EVERY TIME.
When Should You Dry Fire?
One of the beauties of dry fire is you can do it frequently, but there are times that are especially beneficial. Don’t limit yourself to these times, dry fire whenever you can and feel the need for a little extra practice.
Before Range Time
Before heading out for any live fire exercise, do about 15 to 20 minutes of dry fire practice. This gets everything set in your head and should make your range time more productive. Pay special attention to the sights at this point to fix that image in your brain.
After Range Time
After your weapon is cleaned, run a little dry fire practice. Not only is this setting what you learned in live fire to memory, but it is a great way to function check your pistol before storing it away. Just a few minutes is all it takes.
Any time you take professional training and refine any portion of your shot cycle, it's vital to practice so your new technique is set in memory. You should do this over several days for 10 to 15 minutes a day to prevent reverting to your previous methods.
With a New Firearm
If you change from your normal carry gun to a new one, you will need to practice with that firearm. It may have a different sight picture, grip angle, trigger squeeze, or trigger break. You need these to be firmly fixed in your head.
Any Time You Feel Like It
If you have a little downtime in front of the TV, commercial breaks are a great time to get in a few minutes of practice. This is a great time to practice your shot cycle from different body positions. It's unfortunate, but it is entirely possible that this will be where you are when you need your firearm. Might as well get used to it.
Not Too Much
While you want to dry fire frequently, don’t do it exclusively. Keep your practice sessions short, not more than 15 minutes at a time. You want to be used to your pistol, but you don’t want to instill bad habits.
Where Should You Dry Fire?
Some people have a dedicated space they use for dry fire practice. They may have a target set up to give them something to align their sights to. While there is nothing wrong with this, don’t limit yourself.
Dry fire in as many ACCEPTABLE locations as possible. Practice from various positions. One of the beauties of dry fire is the ability to safely practice while sitting, laying down, walking, standing, kneeling, or just about any other crazy position you feel the need for.
Do keep it to your own personal space and out of the public eye. This will save you a lot of grief. Never do it in public. I also recommend keeping your practice away from the eyes of young kids. They may pick up habits without the background in gun safety that could lead to accidents.
Training Products For Dry Fire
Realistically, all you need is a pistol and some private space to dry fire. That said, there are many things you can add to your practice to help improve it.
Many dry fire training products can be found on Amazon. Below are a few types of products to look for while shopping.
Most people like to have something in their chamber to protect their firing pin. While this isn’t necessary with modern firearms, if you want to use one go for it. If so, getting one that does not look like a real cartridge is a better bet.
Dry Fire Training Cards
Dry Fire Training Cards are very popular training materials. They provide more than 50 Dry Fire Drills that come straight from US Special Operations and champion competitive shooters.
These come with a very low price as well. I recommend grabbing a set of these and practicing in your spare time on the weekend. It is training time well spent!
For proper sight alignment, getting a small target is helpful. You can use any target you like. A good bulls-eye target is hard to beat, but small silhouettes or even small objects can be used. The important thing is to have something in front of your sights.
There are some snap caps that have a projected laser. These can be somewhat useful. They aren’t expensive and do give you a little feedback. Just make sure you aren’t using the laser to aim.
There are many training systems available that can improve your shooting. However, the BEST is the MantisX Shooting Performance System.
This is a system that will help you with every aspect of your shot in dry fire training. It can also be used for live fire training as well. It will, without a doubt, make you a better shooter. For the price, there is no better tool. It is extremely popular for a reason.
According to their site:
"MantisX detects each shot you make, analyzes the movement of the firearm during the trigger pull, and assigns a score to each shot that signifies deviation from the aiming position.
It keeps track of all your shooting sessions and generates useful reports that will help you identify your shooting trends, gauge your progress, and set adequate improvement goals."
According to us...this is a 5 STAR product. Get it and you WILL improve your shooting performance.
In the end, it doesn’t matter where or when you dry fire, but how you do it can have a huge impact. Work to make your practice as realistic as possible. Be critical of every shot and make yourself aware of your deficiencies. No one gets any better by thinking they are the best to begin with.
Using some of the tools listed above makes dry fire practice more effective and fun, however they are not needed. You can start today in your own home...just remember to use firearm safety at all times.
Dry fire is only one way to get better. Make sure that it is only one tool in your toolbox. Professional classes and live fire should be a large part of your training.
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