I have to admit, until I took my instructor course, I never put much stock in dry fire drills. I really believed that the only way to improve my shooting was to spend more time shooting. And I had no excuses for not shooting – I had a place set up to shoot right on my own property – no range membership, no range fees, no gas. Just put a couple of paper plates up and shoot the heck out of them until you’re a crack shot, right? But I was having a hard time consistently getting the accuracy I needed (80% of shots within a 6″ group from 45 feet). So I started working dry fire drills, and I was hooked! My shooting improved in a big way, so now I recommend them to all my students. What a great cheap way to improve your shooting!
Before you dry fire!
- Unload your firearm
- Check the chamber
- Put all ammunition in another room
- Then check it again
- Follow your safety rules. Use this opportunity to reinforce them and make them solid habits!
- Determine the safest directions to point when you dry fire.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you attain your sight picture.
- Be sure your firearm is unloaded. Yes, that means check it again!
- For extra safety while dry fire training, consider a training barrel.
Why does dry fire work?
Dry fire works because you can focus on your fundamentals without thinking about “the bang”. You can perfect your grip, your stance, your sight picture. You can work on perfecting your trigger control, your breath control, and minimizing your arc of movement. As you repeat the drills, you pick up muscle memory that sticks with you into your live fire shooting.
A few drills for you to try
Balance a penny.
Start with the penny balanced on your slide, then later as your skills improve, move it to your front sight. Focus on all your fundamentals, but especially breath control and trigger control. Try to aim and fire without dropping the penny.
Here’s some more:
- Draw from your holster. Attain your sight picture and fire as quickly as possible.
- Address multiple targets. Pick points or place targets in three or more places around you. Make sure they are widely separated. Attain your sight picture and fire as quickly as possible as you shift between the targets.
- Fire while moving.
- Fire from different positions.
- Fire in different conditions. (such as low light, with or without a flashlight)
- Fire when you’re out of breath. Do jumping jacks or run in place to the point of exhaustion, then pick up or draw your gun, attain sight picture and fire as quickly as possible. This is a great simulation for the stress you’ll be under in a real defensive situation, and you’ll burn a few calories. It’s a win-win!