There is no magic to becoming a great shooter—like most skills, it is mostly just a matter of deliberate and continuous practice, with good coaching. The problem is that there are barriers to practicing shooting: bullets cost money, it takes time to get out to a range, there are usually safety restrictions at the range. If only there were some way we could practice shooting without actually having to GO shooting…  

One option is to step up your dry fire practice. This has been controversial over the years, as some instructors have warned that dry fire can damage your weapon. At Tactical Tangents, our position is that we have never observed damage from dry fire, and we assess that even if the practice did damage parts—the benefit still outweighs the cost. You might also be concerned about safety, and I am sure someone has put a hole in a wall or TV while doing dry fire. The basic firearm safety rules always apply, and I advise a “triple check” of the empty chamber prior to starting dry fire. Make sure the weapon and any magazines are empty before doing it. Then check two more times. 

So what makes good dry fire practice? Do it frequently, and do it deliberately. Shooting is a perishable skill: it is better to do 2 minutes every day than 30 minutes once a week. You are trying to train your eyes, brain, and the nerves running to your fingertips how to interact with the sights and trigger. That requires repetition. It also requires dedicated sessions—it isn’t enough to mindlessly pull the trigger over and over, or to “shoot” characters on the TV. Go in with a course of fire—some kind of drill you are trying to do. Start with coin drills where you put a coin on top of the slide or front sight and try to depress the trigger without knocking off the coin. Practice the draw from the holster and mastering the double action first shot on most Sigs and Berettas. You can even practice talking while you dry fire—what will you say to a home intruder and how will you say it? 

There are some mechanical limitations in dry fire that can impede training or create negative training. You may have to constantly rack the slide to reset the trigger or manipulate the gun from single action to double action. There are work arounds—accessories you can buy, and whole training guns you can buy to help that. Mike and I both use the SIRT laser trainer pistol. Before you go to those hardware solutions, try to do what you can without them. Bad breath is better than no breath. For more info on good dry fire training, check out the book Dry Fire Primer by Annette Evans. There are also groups that can help you, like the Facebook group “10,000 days of dry fire.” Do a dry fire session today.  

By: Jim

By: Jim

Jim has a background in military aviation, specializing in combat rescue and close air support.  His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the policy or position of the Air Force or Department of Defense, and no references here should be interpreted as an endorsement of any product or service by any government agency.



Be sure to listen to the story of the Final Mission of Extortion 17. Jim was deployed at the time of this incident and had some first-hand knowledge of what became the worst single loss of US SOF personnel in the Afghanistan war effort. Available October 1st!

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