When it comes to accurate shooting, dry fire training is an extremely effective method of developing proper positioning, weld, breathing, and trigger control. By practicing without the expense and noisy distraction of live ammunition and recoil, all of a shooter’s attention can be focused on the fundamentals of the shot process. Many Olympians claim to have worked their way to a medal almost exclusively with dry fire training. Additionally, dry fire practice allows for convenient training at any time, in almost any place. Hotel rooms, basements, and back porches suddenly become perfectly adequate training areas once dry firing is the method of choice.
Before stepping up your game by training with dry fire it’s important to take into account a few considerations to recognize maximum benefit. By taking the time to adequately protect your firearm, arrange your training area, and select a skill on which to focus, you’ll maximize your results and enjoyment of dry fire training.
Protect Your Firearm
Whether you’re using a rife, handgun, or shotgun, it’s important to ensure you won’t be damaging your tool of choice by dry firing it. While modern centerfire firearms don’t offer much reason to be concerned, rimfires requite some prep. When the sear is released on a centerfire piece, the firing pin shoots forward through the center of the bolt to impact in the center of a cartridge, were there one in the chamber. If there’s no cartridge loaded the firing pin simply protrudes into empty space for the briefest of moments before being quickly retraced into the bolt. No harm no foul.
On the other hand, rimfires are a completely different story. Since a rimfire cartridge is struck on the rim where it’s braced against the breech, dry firing introduces the possibility of the firing pin extending all the way forward and tapping against the hardened steel breech. Done enough times, this harsh impact has the potential to lead to excessive and premature wear or breakage of the firing pin and is going to require a trip to your local gunsmith, or you can find some gunsmith training here and learn to repair your firearms yourself. To protect against this, rimfires should always be dry fired with a spring-loaded dry fire dummy cartridge, or snapcap. While a spent casing can provide similar protection, it’s also less easily recognized as a non-live round and the possibility of accidentally using a live round rises exponentially. Just use a snap cap.
Snap caps can also benefit centerfire firearm users by reducing the loud metallic “click” with each shot. Much like a drippy faucet, dry fire training can pretty quickly drive sleeping wives and roommates absolutely batty.
Gunsmiths IraqVeteran8888 covers this quite nicely in this video here:
Arrange Your Training Area
While a traditional backstop or target can be foregone for dry firing, it’s still important to set up a realistic target or aiming point and to keep from scaring neighbors and passersby. When setting up your dry fire area, make sure you’re not prominently displayed to the public in a window or in the back yard. Seeing someone aiming a rifle inside a house can understandably perturb even the calmest soul.
For targets, use a very scaled-down version of your typical target. The key is to maximize training effectiveness by maintaining a similar sight picture during dry fire as during the real deal. Computer programs providing customizable scaled targets are available free on the web. Alternatively, it’s easy to make a decent dry fire target at home by simply drawing out a target on an index card with a Sharpie.
Focus on a Skill
Dry firing doesn’t give that unique satisfaction that comes with blowing away targets on the range. The reward instead comes from implementing an excellent shot process. The beauty of dry firing is the complete lack of importance placed on downrange shot performance. As such, it’s not so crucial to get every piece of the shot process perfect for each shot. Instead just make sure to focus on a particular part of the shot process and work toward perfection in that area. Choose breathing control for one session, and squeezing the trigger exactly rearward for another. Once dry firing becomes part of a routine, consistent improvements in specific areas become as rewarding as a bulls eye on the range.
Wrapping It Up
Next time you’re itching for some range time but can’t quite squeeze it in, ward off the grouchiness with a bit of dry fire training. With a minimum of setup and equipment, you can be getting in top-quality training that will pay off in spades next time you get to sling some real lead. While everyone else is sound asleep, you will be getting in some serious training one click at a time. Before you know it, you may even find dry fire training a part of your daily routine.