Regular practice plays the crucial role in creating and maintaining life-saving proficiency with a deadly weapon. Especially when you train without bullets. “Dry firing” your gun can help you achieve many of the life-saving goals of marksmanship and safe gun handling you need at no cost at all. In fact, I’m down with the oft-stated calculation that dry firing should account for more than 50 percent of one’s practice time. Here’s what I do…
I suspect more negligent discharges have occurred during “dry” practice than any other time. With guns that the owners knew were empty. So rules number one, two and three of dry fire practice are all the same: unload the gun and put the ammo somewhere else. Far away. Put it in another room if possible.
Safety check your weapon before every exercise. As nothing is idiot proof, always dry fire while pointed at something which could catch a bullet if you screw up and light one off. I use my basement wall.
I dry fire two or three times per week in the basement. First, I practice presentations and dry firing at a targe. I focus on smoothness, perfect trigger pull and reset. I start very, very slowly and increase speed incrementally. When I achieve subconscious fluidity and reasonable speed, I move on to the next exercise (i.e. I repeat the process until I get bored with it).
Then I practice presenting the pistol toward various points of the clock. To do this, I keep pointing at the same target, but turn my body slowly in a circle, practicing drawing toward the target on my right front (1-2 o’clock), Right side (3:00), right posterior (4-5 o’clock), then the same thing around to the left. Again, I do it until it gets boring.
Then I practice moving in circle/figure 8 while keeping the gun pointed directly at the target. This requires transitioning from one handed to two handed grip and back again. I practice this with each hand.
Point and Shoot, Sights
Then I practice presentation from contact distance all the way out to aimed fire two handed distance. This allows me to practice presenting the gun to a retention position all the way out to fully extended, sighted fire. The greater the distance to the target, the farther the gun extends from from my body. Beyond 5-7 yards, I am on the sights. Short of that it’s point and shoot.
Then (and only then) I practice at “hyper” (ludicrous?) speed. I pretend I’m scared, under immediate threat and have to draw as fast as possible while running away. Interesting things come up when I do this. Sometimes my grip isn’t perfect. Sometimes I even drop the gun. That’s not all bad because then I get to practice not catching it. Recently, I found that the nice little clip-on knife I got for Christmas hooked the bottom of my cover garment and I couldn’t clear it. It was nice to find something like that out before it really matters.
Get a Grip
I also practice holding the gun, transferring it back and forth between the hands, pointing on target one handed from either side, familiarizing myself with a left sided two handed grip. I don’t practice reloading or mag changes as much as I should. Honestly, I don’t see myself ever needing a mag change in a self defense situation and I don’t usually carry an extra mag. I’m not recommending you do this, but that is the choice I have made.
Travis Bickle Be Damned
Then I finish up with a few smooth, slow draws with perfect dry fires and resets. If you dry fire, once you are done, then be done. Reload, re-holster and resist the temptation to continue to mess around with your heater. If you’re interrupted in the middle of dry fire, be done at that point.
I can do my whole routine in about 10-20 minutes. At bedtime, before I stow the gun in the safe, I unload my gun and practice 10 or so presentations to sights plus or minus some “marksmanship” style dry firing. This takes all of two minutes; it’s a good daily “refresher.”
How You Get to Carnegie Hall
In the end, it doesn’t really matter too much how you practice. The point is: practice! Take the time to get familiar with your firearm. It’s just a tool. You can’t get good with any tool without practice. Period.