Maybe you’ve heard of snap caps or maybe you haven’t. If you’re not familiar, they’re training rounds that are the same dimensions as a live cartridge, but they’re made of inert plastic, aluminum, or steel. They’re typically colorful, and obviously not real ammo to prevent any confusion with live ammunition. If you find ones that aren’t, I recommend that you buy ones that are. Snap Caps can be purchased at your local gun store or online, are caliber specific and cost around $15 for a pack of five. These training cartridges can be beneficial for the new and seasoned shooter alike.
If you’re one of the many new first time gun owners, chances are when you look at your firearm, you might feel slightly intimidated. It’s not only a foreign object, but one that also comes with responsibility. When learning how to properly use your firearm, you want to take all precautions. This is why you practice with snap caps instead of using live ammunition to learn the fundamentals of how to load and unload a firearm as well as its mechanical operations. With snap caps, you can safely do this at home rather than a range. Take your time to familiarize yourself with your firearm; learn what each mechanism does, and rest assured that your firearm cannot fire when there’s no ammunition present.
Once you’re ready to practice the mechanics of shooting your firearm, the first thing to practice is your trigger pull. This is best started with dry fire so snap caps are perfect. One of the biggest mistake’s shooters make when firing a gun is applying too much pressure to the trigger, jerking the gun. Additionally, many shooters begin to anticipate the shot so they start pulling the gun down as they pull the trigger to counteract the recoil of the gun going off. Fine tuning that trigger pull from the start without any recoil to worry about will give you a huge advantage.
When learning to eliminate firearm movement when pulling the trigger, first make sure the gun is unloaded. Remove the magazine, pull the slide back and inspect the chamber. Keeping the magazine out of the gun, make sure the slide is locked forward and then place a snap cap on top of the slide. If you have a firearm that will not fire without the magazine, ensure the magazine is empty before inserting it. While in your normal shooting stance with your arms extended, slowly pull the trigger. The goal here is to balance the snap cap on top of the slide. If it falls, pick up the snap cap, rack the slide back, and repeat the procedure. Practice this over and over. Eventually, you’ll be able to pull the trigger without moving the snap cap.
When you’re ready to shoot live fire at a range, you’ll want to apply the same pressure to the trigger as you did when exercising your trigger pull with the snap cap on the slide of your gun. Some new shooters might get nervous knowing their gun is loaded and forget to apply the fundamentals they learned during the exercise. If you find yourself doing this, have someone else load your magazine with a combination of snap caps and ammunition. This prevents the shooter from knowing if the gun is going to fire or not, which allows them to concentrate more on the trigger pull. Eventually, the anticipation and heavy trigger pull will be a thing of the past. When you encounter difficulties, always return to the fundamentals, practice those, and then re-apply them to your current exercise.
As you build your shooting skills, you should branch out a bit and practice how to clear malfunctions. If you have a reliable firearm, chances are you don’t have a lot of experience with malfunctions. This is great, but also something that should not be overlooked as it can occur in both self-defense or competition scenarios easily. When practicing at the range, mix in a few snap caps when loading the magazine to induce issues. Don’t pay attention to the order or have a friend load for you so you are surprised. Concentrate on assessing the malfunction quickly and clearing it to get back in action. This helps build your skills and for the advanced shooters, add these to drills where you are physically stressed. They are great practice even for the most advanced shooters to benefit in self-defense or competition scenarios.
While most modern guns are not harmed by dry fire, there are some that can be. Snap caps are a great option to ensure no damage can occur to the firing pin and barrel breach with repeated dry firing. Dry firing is something that all shooters should be doing to keep up with their skills. This can take place in the comfort of your home and is great to do even when there isn’t an ammo shortage.
So, go out and buy those snap caps. It might be the most beneficial $15 you’ve spent in a while!
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