While dry fire doesn’t replace live fire training, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful tool to help improve your shooting and especially your gun handling skills! Here are 5 things you can work on in a dry fire session to help you become a better and more confident shooter.
First, let’s address what dry fire is. Dry fire, or dry practice as some like to call it, is going through the motions of shooting without live ammunition. It’s easy to set up a dry fire space. Be sure to unload the firearm that you will be using, including ensuring that the chamber and any magazines – for a semi-automatic pistol, or the cylinder – for a revolver, are empty. Your dry fire location should be completely free from any live ammunition and a place where you can put up targets. You can use anything from sticky notes with dots, printed targets from online, or buy scaled targets used in popular shooting sports. Purchase snap caps in the appropriate caliber that corresponds with your firearm and you’re ready.
1. Basic Gun Handling – If you’re a new gun owner or just want to become more proficient when it comes to handing your firearm it’s easy to work on basic gun handling skills in a dry fire session. Load snap caps into your magazine or chambers and practice loading and unloading your firearm making sure you keep your finger off the trigger and the muzzle pointed in a designated safe direction. Work to keep the firearm in your strong hand as you learn to manipulate its controls.
2. Efficient pick-ups – Whenever I store my firearms or set them down, I like to stage them so that I can easily pick them up. As a right-handed shooter, I set the firearm down on its left side, allowing me to grasp the grip with my strong hand. I keep my trigger finger straight and pull the grip into my palm so that as soon as I grasp it, I have complete control. Being able to pick up a firearm safely and quickly is a useful gun owner skill.
3. Drawing from a holster – Whether you’re a new CCW holder or a seasoned competitive shooter, drawing quickly and efficiently is a valuable skill to practice, especially in dry fire. Break down the steps of your draw from start to finish beginning with accessing your handgun, getting a good grip with your strong hand keeping your trigger finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard as you pull it from the holster. As you begin to present to the target, bring your support hand into play and acquire a good two-handed grip. Look for your sights to come into view as you present to the target and then press the trigger.
4. Changing magazines – Another great skill to work on in dry fire is learning how to change magazines or reload efficiently. Begin with your sights on a target and then initiate the reload by taking your finger off the trigger then pressing your magazine release button as you pull your pistol towards you at chest height. At the same time, reach for a new magazine with your support hand. Grasp this mag so that the base pad sits in the palm of your hand and your index finger lies along the belly of the mag. Your finger will serve as a pointer to help you insert the magazine. As you insert the magazine into the well, slide your finger out of the way. Make sure you seat the mag fully before acquiring your two-handed shooting grip.
5. Precision practice – Dry fire is an excellent way to work on the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment, and trigger control. Start with setting yourself up for success by getting into a good stance and acquiring a proper grip. Extend to the target and line up your sights. Begin your trigger press and accept that you’ll see some movement in your sight picture. The goal is to keep your hold tight on the target as you can and press the trigger in a way so that you do not disturb the sights as the dry fire shot breaks. This sort of precision practice can be done with both hands or one-handed too!
Dry fire isn’t just for new or inexperienced gun owners. I rely on dry fire to help me improve individual skills so that when I hit the range for live fire, I can make the most of my training and make every shot count.
Looking for more on dry fire? Check out this Gunsmarts™ video on Dry Fire Fundamentals.
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