What’s more fun than an afternoon of blasting at the range? Well, not much that we can discuss on this blog, however just dumping ammo down range to hear the noise isn’t helping us become better prepared if we need to defend or feed ourselves with that firearm. As I am going through this journey, I become more aware, almost daily, that sometimes we are bound heavily by time and finances when it comes to our abilities to prepare. Shooting practice involves both. I hope this article gives everyone a good option to help stay sharp with less expense. If you want some information to help you avoid some first time gun buyer pitfalls, read my post here.
How Much Does Shooting Cost?
As I am writing this post in the fall of an election year with an air of apprehensiveness about the future we as gun owners face, shooting is certainly not a bargain. Not only have people been scouring the country for ammunition and firearms to stock up on in case of any executive or legislative actions after the election, Covid-19 has had many manufacturers closed or at least reduced in staff and production. The combination of the two has left shelves bare and allowed supply and demand to increase prices as the market trends into scarcity. With the cost of guns and ammo moving up we have to also consider the time we have to invest into shooting well. Very few of us have the luxury of an at-home range to shoot at. We usually have to travel to a designated range and that often comes with a fee or membership that we have to pay. Both of those are costs to us. With all of these costs being drastically variable for each of us, I believe we can still agree that a way to reduce them is worth considering.
What is Dry Fire Practice?
Dry fire practice is the action of using your firearm to simulate a shot at a target but without having a live round in the gun. This requires some care and mindfulness to perform safely, but can be very efficient as well. First we need no ammunition. That saves us on the financial end. Also, we don’t require a designated shooting range. For most pistol and close quarters long gun practice, we can dry fire indoors. That saves us driving time and the money we spend on fuel as well. In addition to the savings, dry firing also helps us perfect muscle memory and smooth out fundamental aspects of shooting and gives us some feedback that we often can’t get with the noise, flash, and recoil of a live round firing.
A Word Of Caution About Dry Firing Practice!!!
As part of the cardinal safety rules of handling a firearm, we are taught to treat every gun as if it is loaded. To begin dry fire practice, we must assume that the gun is loaded and clear it as if we were planing to clean or repair it. We should point the weapon in a safe direction, remove the magazine and open the chamber. We must then follow up by both a visual inspection and a tactile inspection to see and feel if there is any ammunition in the magazine or chamber of the weapon. Because we are not at a designated range and likely do not have sufficient backstops in our homes, an accidental discharge could have catastrophic consequences. Once the weapon has been cleared and inspected by both visual and tactile means at least twice, then we should remove all ammunition from the room, or clear the weapon and move into a room with no ammunition present to start practice. While it seems like this should be a given, an honest survey of seasoned shooters reveals that more than a few have had a negligent discharge during a dry fire training session when they have had a mental lapse or interruption. If you follow the steps set forth, you should be very safe in your practice sessions, but complacency can creep in, so stay alert to your own mindset. Please read my post about the four cardinal rules of firearms safety Here.
Watch This Video To Get Some Important Information on Prepping Your Gun for Dry Fire Practice:
How Should I Dry Fire Practice My Shooting?
As I have mentioned before, I am not a firearms trainer, so the drills and details you need to do to improve your shooting skills should be based on your training experiences. I simply wish to outline a way to safely perform dry fire practice that can be adapted to your skill level and proficiency goals. A good way to start is to click the picture below and get some dry fire training cards.
Step 1, Clearing the firearm: As I mentioned in the paragraph on safety, the weapon must be cleared and inspected by sight and feel at least twice each before each dry fire session, regardless of how you “know” you left the firearm. This practice will remove the bulk of the risk of negligent discharges during practice.
Step 2, Enter the Dry Firing Area: With your weapon cleared and inspected multiple times, enter the area that you wish to practice. there should be no live ammunition in this room or area. Now you have a cleared weapon and no ammunition. This should effectively eliminate the hazard of a negligent or accidental discharge.
Step 3, Hang the Target(s): This is part of the mental safety preparation of dry firing. if we don’t hang the target until we have a cleared weapon in an ammo-free area, then we are less likely to have a slip of the memory and aim a loaded weapon at our target. You can also get reactive targets if you want to add the visual confirmation of your hits. It isn’t an absolute necessity to build the fundamentals you need to shoot well but it does give you the positive feedback of knowing you hit the target. If you want to give them a try, click the picture below.
Step 4, Declare Aloud “I am now beginning dry fire practice”: This sounds corny, but it affirms to our mind that we are dry firing. At any point during our routine, we are interrupted, we should begin by rechecking our weapons and surroundings for ammo and repeat this declaration out loud.
Step 5, Begin practice: Remember from the video above that almost all weapons besides revolvers and some true double action pistols require the action to be cycled to fire a second time. This means cycling the slide on pistols and pulling the charging handle or opening the bolt on rifles as well as pumping a shotguns action. This often limits us to one shot, but we are still able to gain a great deal of benefit by practicing our draw and first shot on target repeatedly without the expense of live rounds. Some manufacturers offer inert training pistols and rifles that simulate our real guns and allow us to practice without having to reset the action. Click the picture below to see one made by laser lyte company. The one shown is supposed to be similar in feel to the Glock 19 pistol, so you can search for your particular gun model once you connect through the link and look in the laserlyte amazon store.
Step 6, Remove the Target: Upon completion of our drills, we should remove the target. This removes the mental cue to shoot if we become distracted and forget that we reloaded our gun.
Step 7, Declare aloud “I have ended my dry fire practice session”: Again, this sounds silly but it helps flip that mental switch that complacency can muffle over time.
Step 8, Conclude The Session: Leave the dry fire area and return your firearm to the condition you keep it in (i.e. loaded and ready).
Final Thoughts on Dry Fire Training
Anytime you handle a firearm, you are undertaking a great responsibility. This post may seem wordy and redundant in some paragraphs, however the benefit of dry fire training to our abilities as shooters is huge, as are the financial and time savings involved. I have heard instructors say that a 1:5 to a 1:10 ratio of live fire to dry fire shots is probably the most beneficial to a shooters ability. Keep that in mind when you can’t make it to the range!
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