There is a major advantage to using dry fire as a practice tool, no matter your skill level. If done safely, there are few disadvantages, but there is also a wrong way to dry fire.

Dry Fire Safety

When it comes to dry fire, do not cut corners on safety. Most dry fire practice happens in homes or residences where a negligent discharge can prove disastrous, even fatal. It starts by identifying a safe practice area. The best is a room or area you can close off the outside world. In this area, there can be no live ammunition of any sort. If you only have one firearm to use, clear and safe outside the practice area. Then secure any ammunition before entering the practice area. Before dry fire begins, double check your firearm and any magazines. Don’t skip this step. The muzzle direction is equally important should you have a negligent discharge. External walls can be thicker and more robust, but they alone should not be considered a suitable bullet trap.

Focus on the Fundamentals

There is a lot as far as what to practice. If just starting off consider practicing aiming and trigger control. Learning how to properly see the sights is a skill easily practiced with dry fire. Trigger control is another great skill to practice. The one caution is practicing correctly. You can get really good at practicing the wrong thing so know the marksmanship fundamentals. I discourage any practice session longer than 15 minutes. Anything longer and the gains may be offset by the lack of focus or fatigue. When done with the session…stop. Avoid the temptation of “just one more” dry fire trigger squeeze. This is where accidents can easily occur. To properly secure the dry fire session put away all gear. If you need to make ready do so in a safe manner OUTSIDE the practice area. Lastly, acknowledge you are now holding a loaded weapon and act accordingly.

Learning How to Manipulate

You can also work gun manipulations such as clearing malfunctions and reloads. For the malfunctions there is not too much you need to do other than transition from the audible click to applying the immediate drill. You can add some additional benefit by preforming the immediate drill with your eyes closed, what we call “eyes off” drills. Practicing reload drills is a bit more complicated since it requires an object to be chambered to complete the drill. This is where inert or “dummy” rounds are great. It is a good idea to have a collection of dummy rounds and they are great for practicing reloads. You start with an empty magazine inserted and slide locked to the rear. Attempt to fire, then eject the empty magazine and reload with the magazine loaded with the inert rounds.

More Advanced Skills

When you learn the drawstroke you now have a ton of other options at your disposal. You can work the draw from open or concealed carry. The later is great for pressure testing new gear. You can also practice movement on contact or even moving to contact in dry fire mode. As long as you have space to safely move and not hurt yourself there are lot of great scenarios you can rehearse. I like working from positions other than standing such as seated or even supine. Seated is pretty self explanatory, but supine is a worse case scenario should you get knocked down. It is really hard to practice safely at a range or even if the range would allow you to practice these types of drills.

Secondary Loadout

Secondary loadout for dry fire practice
Secondary loadout for dry fire practice

You may discover dry fire becomes such an integral part of your training you have a secondary loadout dedicated to dry fire. This is not within reach of many, but some can benefit from having another loadout. With the exception of the firearm this loadout stays in the practice area. Reducing barriers to dry fire practice. Securely store any firearm to deny unauthorized access, but the holster, magazine pouch and spare magazines along with a belt can all be ready and waiting. The only other piece of gear might be a shot timer. If you haven’t invested in a shot timer, and dry fire is coming along well then it makes sense to consider purchasing. Many newer models can register your dry fire brining your practice to a whole new level.

Suggested Dry Fire Practice Plan

As far as practice sessions, here is a sample session I use from time to time. I perform low repetitions, but each repetition must be performed flawlessly or it doesn’t count. You may find it takes more repetitions to reach the prescribed amount.

  • Aimed in on target, 10x repetitions slow fire (unless otherwise noted, all drills performed from approximately 5 yards.)
  • Aimed in on target, 5x repetitions rapid fire (unless otherwise noted, all drills from this point are performed rapid fire.)
  • From high ready, 5x repetitions
  • From low ready, 5x head shots repetitions (unless otherwise noted, all drills are performed versus a torso/chest region.)
  • From compressed ready at extended distance of approximately 10 yards, 5x repetitions slow fire
  • From ready, 5x repetitions strong hand only
  • From ready, 5x repetitions weak hand only
  • From ready, 5 repetitions slow fire
  • From ready, 5 repetitions rapid fire

If done without mistakes, this program gives you 50 dry fire repetitions. It may take more to reach those requirements. You can also break this workout down into thirds, or halves. The sky is the limit, get out there and explore the benefits of dry fire. Good luck.

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