Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dry Fire Practice

I've tried to be dedicated to getting in some dry fire practice on the days I don't hit the range. It took me a long time to 1) understand that this is a valuable training tool and 2) get committed to making it a routine. Dry fire practice involves going through the various actions involved in accurately firing a pistol, without actually firing a pistol. It helps to build muscle memory, so that when you actually shoot, your body instinctively knows what to do.

My basic routine focuses mainly on some basic skills used in competition. It only takes about 15 minutes do. In a typical session, I do 20 reps of drawing the pistol, finding the sight alignment and making one "shot" from each of the listed start positions.
  • Facing the target with hands at side
  • Facing the target with hands above shoulders
  • Facing away from the target with hands at side, turn and draw
  • Facing away from the target with hands above shoulders, turn and draw
  • While stepping left
  • While stepping right
  • While stepping forward
  • While stepping backward

In each of these drills, the goal is to get the gun smoothly and quickly on target, in this case a 4" square, and dry fire the pistol without losing the sight alignment.

The next exercise practices reloading skills. I work through all the positions of the mags on my belt. The goal is to pull the trigger, drop the mag, and smoothly load a new magazine, and regain the site picture.

I finish with the Wall Drill. This involves repeated trigger pulls while focusing only on the sight alignment. This is done using a two-hand grip, as well as strong hand and weak hand only. When I first started this drill I was shocked to realize just how much I moved the pistol while pulling the trigger.

Most of the time, I do the drills using my USPSA gear, complete with eye and hearing protection. The idea is to get as close as possible to actually shooting in competition. A couple of times a week I add in some practice with the leather holster I currently use for IDPA. And yes, on occasion I also practice with my conceal carry gear.

There's a lot written on dry fire and a quick internet search can bring up much information on various drills and the benefits. I adapted my basic practice session from the Sig Sauer Academy Dry Fire Routine and the previously mentioned Wall Drill from pistol-training.com.

There are also some good books that go into in-depth training using dry fire. A few I've enjoyed are "Your Competition Handgun Training Program: A complete training program designed for the practical shooter" by Michael Seeklander, and "Refinement and Repetition, Dry-fire Drills for Dramatic Improvement" and "Principles of Performance, Refinement and Repetition 2", both by Steve Anderson. I am not following the specific programs from these books, but have gleaned many tips and useful insight from the authors. I think they are worth reading even if you don't have the time or resources to follow their timetables and exercises exactly.

No matter what dry fire routine you practice, safety is the most important rule. Be sure your weapon is completely unloaded and double-checked before doing any of these drills. Keep all live ammo in a separate room.

I've seen noticeable improvement in my ability to obtain and keep a good sight picture after practicing with these drills. My reloads are getting better as well. I intend to keep it up and even expand my practice routines. Next, I want to set up a couple of targets outside in order to practice moving from one shooting position to another. It's a good thing my back yard is fairly secluded from the neighbors' prying eyes, at least until the trees lose their foliage.


  1. Amen to dry fire! Too many folks assume the gun must go bang to be truly practicing. There are a whole lot of important factors that take place before the bang. Great topic.

  2. I can't say enough about dry fire practice. It will work wonders on your draw stroke, especially for those people that don't have a range where live draw fire is allowed. One thing I will add is it is nice to have a bullet-stopping device to point the gun at. They make special things made of kevlar or you can duct tape a few phone books together. Just adding a touch more safety.

    1. That's a good suggestion. I have a very specific routine to check and recheck the gun, which includes all live ammo being in a separate room.

  3. David was kind enough to let me add his Dry Fire Practice Drill to our list of Drills at www.handgunlaw.us Thank you David. Dry Fire is very important to anyone who wants to improve and or maintain their shooting skills. All the fine points of shooting + reloading can be practiced in the comfort of your home at no expense to the shooter.

    Stay Safe,
    Gary Slider
    Co-Owner www.handgunlaw.us

  4. Actually, a 5 gallon bucket of sand will work for both dry fire target and weapon clearing target.


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