How To Dry Fire Practice

By author of Guns and Camo

What if I told you that there is a way to practice with your firearm that'll greatly improve your accuracy? What if that practice could be done in the comfort of your own home? Would you give it a try?

In one of Keith's recent blogs, he talked about having the right trigger pull. If there is one key feature in an accurate gun, it's the trigger. But a nice trigger can’t make a shooter a better shot if he or she doesn't have proper trigger control. Dry-fire practice teaches you proper trigger control with any type of firearm. But practice must be done correctly, or you'll engrain bad habits.

No matter your firearm of choice, the shot should come as a surprise. The shot comes as a surprise from adding a slow, constant pressure on the trigger. That said, shooters anticipate recoil. So, before the trigger breaks the shot, they often jerk the trigger back. When the trigger is jerked, bad things happen. Muscles flex, eyes close, arms push, and performance goes down the drain.

This is where dry-fire practice comes in. The one thing I tell people when dry firing is to eliminate distractions. This practice is best when no one else is home, and you can concentrate on the task at hand. Use common sense, and choose a safe direction to practice these drills. Treat this gun like a loaded firearm. Designate an area in your home as the dry fire practice spot, and ban all live ammunition from that area. Before conducting these drills, make sure the gun is unloaded. If it isn't (if it’s a home defense gun), unload it in a different room. When you enter the dry-fire area, visually and physically inspect the gun again to make sure it is safe to dry fire.

Aim at a small object in a safe direction, take aim, and squeeze the trigger. Did the gun move? If it did, you probably jerked the trigger or had bad finger placement on the trigger. The dry fire practice shows what type of movement the gun has without the recoil of live ammunition. Whatever direction the gun moved in is where the shot will go. Most people who shoot handguns usually hit low. The reason for this is pushing against the recoil. When you push your arms out to combat the recoil, the barrel tips down and sends the shot downward.

I teach people to squeeze the trigger by adding a slow, constant pressure to the trigger without stopping. For learning purposes, the trigger pull is a slow process. Nothing should be fast or abrupt.

How often or much should you dry fire? That's up to you. Do it correctly, and there is no such thing as too much practice. I usually dry-fire practice three times a week. I’ll do a couple hundred dry fires a session. Maintaining my sights lined up on the target throughout the shot process greatly increased my accuracy and my familiarity with the trigger.

I recommend snap caps if you dry fire very often. Snap caps are caliber specific and cushion the firing pin. Don't take any chances of damaging the gun.

Remember, all this talk doesn’t just apply to handguns. I do the same with rifles. Long-range shooters sometimes take a few dry fires before firing at live game. It also helps practice different shooting positions and how to get the gun steady with what's available. I practice all aspects of shooting form through dry firing. Stance, grip, balance, draw stroke, and more are all practiced with an unloaded firearm.

Use common sense. Practice safe gun handling. Put the time in. This practice technique will get results in a short amount of time.