Did you know that you can improve pistol accuracy without ever firing a single shot? Dry fire practice not only makes this possible, but possible from the comfort of your own home! What is dry fire practice? Simply put, it is shooting without live ammunition.
The only way to get good at something is to practice, and shooting is no different. Studies have shown that it takes more than 10,000 repetitions to commit an action to muscle memory. That’s a lot of high cost ammo to perfect your trigger squeeze! $1500 worth of 9 mm ammo to be exact! But lucky for us, dry fire practice accomplishes the same goals and costs zero dollars.
Dry Fire Goals
Dry fire practice is perhaps the best way a new shooter can build confidence. Through dry fire, you can not only train yourself to stop flinching but also to stop jerking the trigger. These are common errors new shooters make without even realizing it! As a matter of fact, all of the six shooting fundamentals can be practiced and perfected this way! And as a bonus, dry fire also allows you to become comfortable drawing your pistol from concealment, something most women never even consider practicing. Let’s learn how to do this!
Is Dry Fire Safe?
Yes! There are actually two components to this question, the safety of others around you and the safety pertaining to potential damage to your pistol. As always, be sure to follow all of the gun safety rules! Check, double check, and triple check that your pistol is unloaded, and then take all of the live ammo to another room. Then check to be sure your pistol is unloaded again! You can never check this too many times. When you choose a wall to practice on, it is best if the wall is solid concrete or brick. That way, if your pistol is still loaded the round would most likely not penetrate outside or to another room. Fireplaces are good, as are basement walls. It is never a good idea to dry fire practice while aiming at an interior wall or window.
It is perfectly fine to dry fire most all modern center fire semi auto pistols, but not revolvers, older semi autos, or any rimfire guns such as rifles. For these guns, you will need to pick up some dummy ammo, also known as snap caps. Dummy ammo is actually very handy to keep on hand, even if you have a newer semi auto. Randomly placing dummy rounds in with live rounds in your magazine does wonders for improving flinching and trigger jerking. But that is a lesson for another day. If you own a revolver, place a dummy round in each chamber before you dry fire. If you choose to use dummy rounds in your semi auto, all it takes is one.
Dry Fire Drills
The key to mastering dry fire practice is to do all of the same things that you would in a live fire situation. If you carry in your purse, pull the pistol from your purse. If you carry in a belly band, pull it from there. Also practice jumping up from your bed, and pulling from a bio metric box, if that is where you keep your pistol. You must train your body and brain to instinctively know what to do in a desperate situation. I’m not going to lie, this is not an easy thing to do. The only way to find success is to practice every single day.
Once you have the pistol in your hand, immediately gain the proper grip and stance. Then find your target (a light switch, a smudge on the wall), sight your pistol, and focus on the front sight only. When you have done all of this, pull the trigger. With a semi auto you will only hear the click the first time. It really isn’t a good idea to manually re rack the slide just to hear the click again because you will not be doing this in live fire. Just continue pulling the trigger as smoothly as you can without moving the rest of the gun. A revolver will click with every pull.
Step Up Your Game
After becoming comfortable with all of these things, you will need to step up your game! Place a dummy round on the end of your barrel and pull the trigger over and over. Your goal is not to drop the round. If the round does drop, you are flinching, which means you are anticipating the shot before it happens. Keep practicing until you no longer drop the round . Don’t worry if this takes you weeks to accomplish. Practice 10 minutes a day and you will see results.
When you think you are ready, step up your game again! Place soda cans around your house and practice on those. Practice in the dark. Have someone hide behind the wall or couch and throw up a cardboard cut out of a person. Practice reloading on the run by dropping your magazine to the floor and loading in another one. Practice with your non dominant hand. Practice one handed. The possibilities are endless. You never know when or where a threat is going to come from, and you need to be prepared for any situation.
Does Dry Fire Practice Really Help?
Yes! Dry fire practice is just as effective at creating muscle memory as live fire. Most professional shooters advise a dry fire to live ratio of 100:1. Remember when I said it takes 10,000 reps to create muscle memory? If you dry fire 30 trigger pulls a day, that would be 900 a month, or 10,800 per year. So, providing you practice every single day (highly unlikely), it would still take a full year to gain that muscle memory!
I know this is a huge commitment to make. But your life, and the lives of those you love makes it worthwhile. People are afraid of their guns because they don’t really understand how to use them properly. The confidence will come when you know your gun as intimately as your phone, tv remote, car, or whatever else used to frustrate you until you mastered how to use it.
Dry fire eliminates any excuses you may have about finding the time and money to visit a range. And when you do visit the range, you will be pleasantly surprised at the results. Most likely, you will be so comfortable with shooting that you will hardly notice the changeover to live fire. Your brain and body will know what to do instinctively! And in a life threatening situation, this instinct will give you the upper hand needed to save your life.
I am currently working on a training packet designed specifically for women that provides 10 minute daily practice routines to help you master dry fire. These will help you will become proficient in all of the skills needed during live fire, just without the boom!