For most people, when we think of dry fire, we think of aiming our firearm, getting perfect sight picture, perfect breath control, and the perfect trigger squeeze. There is so much more to it than just snapping in.
Times are tough right now, so I needed to practice shooting without spending so much money. Dry fire is a great way to do this. All you need is your gun. Dry fire for those that don’t know is practicing your firearm handling with ZERO ammo. None in the gun whatsoever. This method is a great way to build skills at home without spending the money. Those fast guys who automatically clear a malfunction, slap in a new mag, and make it look so effortless? They dry fire. Those highly skilled High-Power shooters who put fear into the heart of the X ring? They dry fire.
Recently I learned from a video I watched, that you can do a more holistic form of “Dry Practice” while you’re sitting at home watching TV which I now do more often. I will sit and mindlessly insert an empty mag, aim, and pull the trigger. My handgun manipulation goes like this:
1. Empty gun, rack slide
2. Insert empty mag
3. Aim, disengage the safety
4. Pull trigger perfectly
5. Remove mag and engage safety (I have an M&P 2.0 compact with the safety) it doesn’t slow me down at all anymore. In those 5 steps you are practicing, loading and unloading, manipulation of your slide, your aiming and bringing the gun up to your line of sight, manipulation of your safety if you have one, and trigger pull. If you draw from a holster you practice that as well. Do this enough times and you start to develop muscle memory that translates to buttery smooth, fast weapon manipulations.
When I practice with my rifle, it’s the same thing, charge the empty firearm, insert mag, aim, and disengage the safety… Pull the trigger, engage the safety, drop the mag.
I will practice just the manipulation of my safety, or loading and unloading, or aiming if I want to focus on just one thing.
What gave me the motivation to write this quick article though, as I was aiming at my target while moving up and down my hallway. So I picked the doorknob going one way and a small plant going the other way. I kept my sights as steady as possible while walking. All I was doing was just leveling the carbine on target and manipulating my safety over and over because I want to work on my safety manipulation on my AR being second nature. (editor: I used to compete frequently, and each stage the safety was almost involuntary engaged and disengaged due to my familiarity with the AR. Repetition works.) Since I shoot on private property, with no one else around, my safety manipulation habits are not the best. So in this case I want to be better.
Lothaen Jumping In:
Damien wrote a good article, and it made me think of my own routines which I would like to share. One thing I want to share in my practice routine is my dry fire sessions revolve around a hot or dead trigger and manipulating the firearm to get my trigger live again. One thing I don’t want to do in my dry fire sessions is to manipulate the gun in such a way that my trigger remains dead after my actions. I don’t want to build muscle memory and bad routines around a dead end. If I am training mag changes, I will snap-in, pull the trigger again (which is now dead) and drop the mag and reload while slapping the (dead) bolt release. Here my gun is not live because the charging handle has not been manipulated… so my trigger is still dead. I then move to clear the rifle because at this point I would assume my rifle did not chamber a round correctly and begin malfunction clearing ending with a charged rifle. I can then snap in again and repeat the process. Or I can break it down to just reloads or malfunctions.
So for my session, a live trigger is a good trigger, whereas a dead trigger signals my brain to rectify the situation during my dry fire sessions with a mag change or malfunction clearing drill. Muscle memory is a hell of a thing and to each their own how they want to structure their dry firing, but do not structure your session so you wind up at a dead-end or a bad habit such as where you begin to drop magazines involuntarily as an example.
Dry Fire is more than laying on the ground snapping in. Dry firing with full weapon manipulations will help develop muscle memory which in turn leads to true skill at arms. If you practice something 1000x then your body will remember. This can be both good, or bad. Work on your deficits, and build muscle memory around habits which will increase your skill at arms.