Why is dry firing important? To stand a chance at hitting your intended target, you need to do one thing on a consistent basis: train. One of the most important things you can ever do to further your ability with your firearm is to actually practice firing your weapon without any ammo in it (or with snap caps). This is what is known as dry firing.
But, before we get to the “why” or “how” of dry firing pistol practice, let’s get this disclosure out of the way. Not all firearms can be dry fired. If you’re unsure, contact the manufacturer to find out. Chances are good that it will be fine to train this way with just about any modern-day gun. But, it is better to check if you’re unsure.
Dry Firing | Why Gun Owners Need to Do It
Why Dry Firing is a Good Idea
There are essentially three different types of firearm owners in this world. Those who buy a gun for self-defense and never bring it to the range to see how it performs, and those who bring it to the range before they have familiarized themselves with it. Both of these are wrong, especially if you’re new to the shooting sports. The third type of person buys a firearm, learns its ins and outs and then goes to the range with it. I try to learn each firearm before actually taking it to the range. I want to know how the trigger feels, its take-down, how each function operates, etc. That way, when I’m on the range, nothing will surprise me.
It is absolutely essential to practice getting on target with your rifle or pistol. Do this even before you plan to bring it to the range. This helps you understand what proper sight alignment is before you ever actually start sending rounds down range.
That way, you know what to actually look for when the time comes to do target practice. It also helps you get intimate with the firearm, and get used to holding it. The best news is that you can do this in the comfort of your own home.
How to Dry Fire
Before you handle your firearm, it is imperative to make sure that the weapon is empty. Trust me when I say that the last thing you’re ever going to want to have happened is a negligent discharge.
Next, get into your shooting position, and fix your sights on something—even if you just tape a piece of paper with a black dot on it to your wall. Practice obtaining proper sight alignment, sight picture and breathing techniques (proper breathing is all important when shooting a rifle).
This is how I trained when in the Marines (only we had 55-gallon drums with mock targets painted on the side). The difference is, we’d do it for a full week before moving on to the next step.
What is the next step? Actually squeezing the trigger. This is a crucial part of any firearms training because it can reveal any bad habits to you, or whoever is watching.
If you’re training with a pistol, take a coin from your pocket change, and stick it just behind your front sight. If it falls off at all during the course of your dry firing (unloaded weapon or snap caps), you’re jerking your trigger or doing something else wrong. The goal of this exercise is to get so proficient with your trigger squeezes that the coin never moves. Once you get it so the coin doesn’t move, balance it on top of the sight for an added challenge.
Also, take notice of your front sight. Does it move to either side when you squeeze the trigger? If so, you’re doing something wrong. It could be as simple as your finger not being in the right spot on the trigger.
Both exercises intend to get you better affiliated with your firearm. Hopefully, by the end of this training exercise, you’ll be so familiar with your weapon that it has become an extension of your body. And now, you’re ready for the range.
Watch this video by Tactical Rifleman about why you should practice dry fire shooting:
You should dry fire your weapon on a regular basis. Some guys I know religiously dry fire their pistol 25 times per day, seven days per week. The main thing that you’re trying to do is develop muscle memory so that it kicks in when you need it most.
Do you dry fire your weapon when you train? If so, how often do you do it? Let us know in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.