by Tim Giblin
of Train Illinois
(GunsSaveLife.com) – Dry firing is truly a necessity. Very few people have a location where they can shoot near their home anymore. With a twenty-minute-or-greater commute to the range becoming more common, most people simply don’t have the time to shoot regularly. Coupled with a true scarcity in .22s created by so many first-time shooters and with soaring ammo prices, range trips are quickly becoming a rare luxury for most. Making the most of our range trips starts with practicing at home. So, in this article, I’m going to talk about about dry firing. It has some serious advantages, and some very dangerous risks.
Dry firing is a dangerous activity. It promotes dangerous behavior, so it must be treated with as much care as handling firearms demand. It must be done in a designated ammo-free room. You must observe all safety rules (including #4, “know your target, its background, and its foreground”), which means that what you are dry firing at could, in the worst-case scenario, stop a live round without endangering anything but your hearing. A phone book or book case is a great dry firing target when used in front of a wall that would also stop the bullet.
Here I present my favorite target, both for dry firing, and for when you’re alone on a range and unsure of how to better your skills: Dot Torture. I didn’t invent it (David Blinder at personaldefensetraining.com did). If firing live, run the drill at three yards until you can run it without missing. In your own house I suggest dry firing from three or four yards away.
To dry fire, you must first unload in a dedicated unload area. Unload your pistol and either empty your magazines or replace them all with empty ones. When you get to the dry fire room, check all of your magazines or speed loaders and your pistol again. If you are with a partner, have them check as well. When you are done dry firing, you must set the gun down for at least 15 minutes to allow your automated mental response of “rack-sight in-pull trigger” to dissipate. Then, you must leave the ammo-free room, go to where your ammo is, and between inserting the magazine and racking the slide (loading and closing the cylinder), say, “This gun is now loaded. This gun is now loaded. This gun is now loaded.” Failure to do so could result in you unintentionally racking the gun (the first step of most peoples dry firing sequence), sighting in, and pulling the trigger while the gun is loaded. Throwing a 9mm across the living room is not the proper way to be a good parent, neighbor, or citizen. Doing so is negligence, not an accident.
I would like to present a side note. A laser on your pistol will aid you tremendously (even more with a partner watching) in seeing how proper of a trigger pull you have. I know many people that have rail -mounted lasers just for dry firing (SIRT guns are another viable option). Crimson trace grips are the king of this concept.
Any good modern firearm should be able to handle countless dry firing sessions. Modern firearms can handle this with ease. If you are using a .22 or revolver, look up your particular firearm on Google and also check in the manual to see whether dry firing can damage it.
In addition to the guidelines I mentioned for a safe handling room, get a friend that has a working knowledge of gun safety to watch you (then in turn, watch them). Wear the same clothes that you wore on a day previous to your dry firing session—a day when you had no intention of firing—don’t cheat. You need to learn if that bungee cord on your coat will get in the trigger guard and end with a bullet in your leg.
From concealment (as you actually would be carrying), go through the Dot Torture target drill. To save your hands, you can complete the first half one time and the second half at a later time. Do the “rip” of your clothes off the gun both with two hands and with one hand so that you learn to do both (or plan to use just one hand all the time). Your buddy should watch the draw stroke and ensure you are not “flagging” (pointing the gun at your own body/hands) on each draw, and to ensure that you are not adjusting your grip unnecessarily post draw. Most importantly, they should be watching to ensure that your sights get on target before you bend your trigger finger, and that your trigger finger goes straight and off the trigger before you break your sights from the target. Work on your search and access (actually get in the habit of truly seeing whats around you) after each dry fire. Then as you bring your gun towards your holster look to ensure the holster is clear and re-holster.
Your partner should be watching for safety the entire time and should feel comfortable and free to tell you when you make a mistake. Holding dry fire sessions every other week for a month or two should help you flesh out which clothes work with your carry set-up and which clothes need to be altered or left at home. Clothing is your most dangerous enemy here, it can pull the trigger as readily as your finger. Figure out safety before putting a live round in the chamber.
I’ll begin discussing different draw strokes and carry positions in the next article.
About the author: Tim Giblin is a 7 year Veteran of the USMC, a Machine gun Squad leader and OEF veteran. He has 9 years teaching civilian pistol classes, 7 years as a NRA concealed carry instructor in Michigan, with over 3,000 hours of combined military and civilian instruction both concealed carry and carbine focused. USMC trained combat life saver training. He’s also the founder of Train Illinois, a firearm training company dedicated to teach and certify people to protect themselves safely, effectively and legally.