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Dry fire practice is vital for improving your shooting skills

dry fire shooting practice

What's so important about dry fire training? After all, you aren't actually shooting. Why do any practice outside of the gun range?

Mostly because dry firing is one of the surest steps to becoming a more proficient shooter.

You see, dry fire practice enhances your trigger skills in two primary areas. First, it enhances your trigger control, which is roughly equal in importance in how well you aim and arguably, more so. You also build muscle memory with every pistol you dry fire practice with, making you that much more proficient with it.

In truth, you can't afford not to be engaging in any dry fire training.

Hone Your Trigger Control With Dry Fire Practice

The aspect of arguably the greatest importance regarding dry fire practice is that of trigger control. If you ask the experts, they'd tell you that your trigger technique is just as important - if not more so - than your aiming technique.

In fact, if your trigger technique is off...your hits will be too, regardless of your aim.

Here's how.

A good trigger pull won't move the gun. That keeps the aim true and puts your shot on target.

However, a trigger pull that is not WILL move the gun. For instance, if you pull the trigger with the tip of the finger, that will tend to pull shots to the left. If you pull with the distal joint (that's the last knuckle) or behind the distal joint, you'll pull shots to the right. If you're tightening your grip in anticipation of recoil, that can pull shots up.

And so on and so forth.

In order to ensure that your trigger technique is correct, you need to be able to observe it, which dry fire practice gives you the ability to do.

Dry Firing is Essential to Develop Muscle Memory

The only way to get good at something is to practice. While the range is always a great excuse to let off some rounds and practice shooting with your preferred concealed carry holster – it's a very small fraction of the total time most concealed carriers have their weapon on them. Dry firing is a great way to develop the muscle memory when it comes to not only trigger technique, as previously discussed, but also muscle memory when it comes to YOUR pistol.

While it is something that concealed carry enthusiasts may take for granted, consider the small changes necessary to go from one pistol to another. A Beretta M9, for instance, has a completely different trigger pull than a Glock 19. The M9 has a very tough first trigger pull with each pull afterwards being much easier and smooth. The Glock 19, however, has a smooth and fast first pull.

A simple drill which is easy and fun is to clear your weapon and practice dry firing from either your favored inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband concealed carry holster. Not only do you develop the reflexes and reliable handling necessary to actually use that firearm – you develop confidence.

You may only have one carry gun, you may have a rotation that you go through. Some people carry a compact most of the year, but go up to a full-size during winter and possibly a subcompact during the summer for easy concealment.

You need to be competent and confident with all of them. One of the best ways to do that is with dry fire practice.

How To Dry Fire

To dry fire is fairly simple, but does require some care. First, you'll need to completely empty your gun, as any firing of a gun - even dry - requires observance of proper and adequate gun safety. Check, double-check and then triple-check.

In other words, you must make sure no ammunition is anywhere near your gun.

Now that your gun is unloaded, insert a snap cap if desired. Modern centerfire pistols don't actually need a dummy round, but any rimfire gun will. Older guns, however, may have a more brittle firing pin than modern ones, so you may want to get a snap cap as a matter of course.

Now, to dry fire:

The best dry fire drill for most people is something called the "wall drill." What you do is find a spot on the wall, any identifiable spot. Get close to the spot; you'll want the muzzle about an inch or two away from it. Get the sights over the spot, and pull the trigger.

Pay attention to the sights. Do they move? If so, you need to work on your trigger technique. Practice until they don't. Then keep practicing to keep up the skill.

If you want to dial it up a bit, balance a small object on the barrel or slide such as a coin or empty shell casing. If the coin or shell casing doesn't move when when you dry fire, then you're doing it right.

Once again, you need to make sure that no ammunition remains in your pistol, and keep it pointed in as safe a direction as possible. That said, a bit of dry fire practice can go a very long way so don't neglect it.

James England

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.