Topic: Pistol Dry Fire Regimen
Purpose: To maintain weapon manipulation proficiency and accuracy with the duty carry or concealed carry handgun.
Required: Combat gear, duty gear, or concealed carry attire. Spare magazine pouch, Dummy rounds, inert ammunition. *Shot timer (optional).
Recommended Training Aids: Shot Timer, Dummy Rounds, HVT targets.
Training Philosophy: The biggest thing to remember about dry fire training is that you want to practice realistically. For example, if you are practicing magazine changes mimic the condition of your gun, your stance, grip and sight picture. For example, start with the slide locked back on the gun because it will be when you fire your last round, on most guns. Through repetition we create the process by which we change magazine. If there is a flaw in the way you practice its likely to reflect that during live fire shooting. We are truly products of our training. Training realistically is crucial, because for the most part we fight the way we have trained.
Perfect practice is essential. Our personal performance during combat and other life threatening situations is in most cases a direct reflection of our training. Good training will prepare a person to reliably perform in all anticipated conditions. Good training will highlight deficiencies and problems. Bad training, or a lack of training, will be evident when performance is substandard during a real world situation. Substandard performance will never occur when the right training is conducted.
First, create a sterile dry fire training area. Begin by identifying your dry fire training area, then remove all live ammunition from your designated training area. Allow no live ammunition into the designated area at any time during your dry fire training. A room, a section of a room, garage, gymnasium, or outdoor space allowing for 6 feet between all shooters is ideal. Remove obstacles, trip hazards or other debris. Ensure all weapons are clear & safe before any person or firearm enters the designated dry fire training area.
Getting Started: All things matter, don gear, equipment and clothing to be worn. This might include eye pro, the holster, magazine pouches, body armor, plate carrier, rifle sling and helmet.
*Qual Shoot Tip - consider implementing dry fire training preceding live fire training to optimize shooter performance when it counts. A dress rehearsal for qualification shoots or similar events. The instructor and can set up a mock range environment where actual range commands are given and a whistle is used to signal the start and stop of a simulated shooting sequence. Going through the motions, range commands and everything involved reduces stress and increases confidence. In this way we save ammunition and cover more ground than otherwise would be.
During group dry fire training it's a good idea to assign a primary instructor who ensures the practice is being conducted correctly. The coach, or trainers should be fully versed on the fundamentals of shooting, coaching, and how to correct shooter fundamental errors. Live fire range time can be dramatically reduced with good dry fire training.
Dummy (inert) ammunition can be used to load, unload, and clear stoppages. Inert training rounds must be identifiable as inert and look distinctly different from live ammunition (no primer, hole drilled through casing, propellant removed, orange color, etc). In addition to reinforcing essential fundamentals such as grip, sight picture and stance, advanced training such as, clearing malfunctions can be learned.
Dry fire should be conducted while geared up and equipped as you would be in duty gear, military gear, or civilian concealed carry attire. It is important to practice with the same gear and equipment you would be fighting in, to include the targets that are representative of the threat you are training to eliminate. Mental conditioning can begin on the dry fire range.
Dry fire training can be performed practically anywhere, your bedroom, in a classroom, garage or gymnasium. You may choose to create firing lines at various distances like 3 yards, 5 yards, 10 yards; 4-inch red duct tape is recommended. Targets can also be placed on walls, room dividers, cardboard, etc. Establish the training site properly where a safe/sterile training environment is ensured. Trainers should set-up training where the environment will be conducive to training (adequate ventilation, out of extreme elements, such as extreme heat, cold, wind and rain.
Dry fire student-to-instructor ratios can be reduced and do not need to be the same as live fire.
While conducting advanced training and shooting drills, increased risk to safety can be mitigated by running the drill "dry" until the instructor is confident everyone can perform it safely and adequately.
Peer coaching is another option where students are broken into relays and one student becomes the shooter, while the other becomes a coach. In this situation both students will learn from each other. Trainers should ensure they monitor peer coaching closely to ensure corrections are being made and that both students receive adequate time to dry fire.
Trainers shall make an effort to understand the abilities and proficiency level of all students. Experience levels will vary and the trainer should always tailor the training towards the lowest common denominator in the group.
Designate the training environment. An indoor or outdoor space suitable for the number of personnel to receive training. Individual training, a room, a section of a room, garage, or outdoor space, approximately 8 feet x 8 feet, or 2 ½ meters x 2 ½ meters (minimum).
Create a safe training environment. Remove live ammunition from the training environment. Place live ammunition in another room, case, or closet so it cannot not be accidentally accessed during Dry Fire training. Remove obstacles, trip hazards or other debris from the designated training area.
Dummy (inert) ammunition can be used to load, unload, and clear Inert training rounds must be identifiable as inert and look distinctly different from live ammunition (no primer, hole drilled through casing, propellant removed, orange, etc.). At the beginning and end of training, all inert ordnance should be accounted for just like live ammunition and properly stored.
Dry fire should be conducted wearing the clothing, gear and equipment the training is intended for. If the training is for concealed carry, conceal the handgun as it would be in public. Every pistol draw is to be performed from full concealment. If the training is for a specific job, such as military or police and body armor and helmet are part of the required gear it should be worn. Duty belt and other appropriate equipment should be worn. Details such as rifle slings and lights should be implemented. Dry fire holster draws are one of the most important aspects of Dry Fire training. It is important to practice with the same equipment to simulate a realistic environment and to get the shooter used to employing and presenting the weapon system using the duty gear the personnel will fight Dry Fire training incorporating the use of night vision and lasers is extremely valuable and is likely to highlight safety issues and problems with gear and equipment before live fire training is conducted.
Targets - New shooters have an advantage when they learn to shoot using advanced training aides like the targets shown above.
Dry fire student-to-instructor ratios should not be required to be the same as live Safety mishaps are eliminated by removing ammunition from the training environment. However, safety issues, such as flagging/ sweeping are still problematic. Weapon manipulation techniques require coaching. Smaller ratios will ensure a better training environment. It is imperative that trainers are fully versed on the fundamentals of shooting, coaching, and how to correct shooter fundamental errors.
Peer coaching is another option where students are broken into relays and one student becomes the shooter, while the other becomes the coach. In this situation both students will learn from each other. Trainers should ensure they monitor peer coaching closely to ensure corrections are being made and that both students receive adequate time to dry fire.
When setting up a dry fire training evaluation, it is important for trainers to have a specific training objective. Trainers shall understand the abilities and proficiency level of Experience levels will vary and a trainer should always conduct training from the lowest level. The trainer will need to break down some of the techniques into steps and slowly work the students up to the point to where they can perform the entire technique as one step.
Dry Fire with night vision devices is time well spent. Simply getting a sight picture with a red dot optic takes practice. Manipulating lights and lasers requires practice. Routing cables and finding a location for pressure switches takes time and thought. Fitting the helmet and getting comfortable night vision/ eye alignment is crucial. You’ll likely need a counter weight on the helmet to offset the weight of the night vision. All of this should be done prior to arriving at the range in a classroom environment, or at home. Co-witness visible and IR lasers with a previously sighted in red dot sight, or iron sights. Caution, no laser is eye safe.
Follow Laser Range Safety protocols and include a laser range safety briefing when conducting formal training. Prepare the range by covering unwanted light sources, adding needed light sources, such as IR or red filter lighting and remove laser reflective objects near targets.
Training with a shot timer. Timers are crucial for understanding how fast you’re performing movements. It’s also useful for inducing an amount of stress. Go back and forth experimenting with speed. Start out slow then, speed it up. When you’re attention span is slipping, slow it back down. Take your dry fire training seriously. What you do during your training, even dry fire training will become your default under stress.
Pistol Dry Fire
Dry fire training provides the opportunity to identify and correct potential safety violations before going to the range.
Pay attention to safety violations and correct them so they are not ingrained through repetition.
Pistol Coaching Points
- Placing the trigger finger on trigger too soon. When presenting out from the ready position the trigger finger may move to the trigger as the arms extend out. When drawing from the holster the trigger finger will remain long and straight through the holster draw process until the arms are extending out.
- Stance – foot positioning, toes pointed towards what we intend to shoot at.
- Balance, knees slightly bent, weighted slightly on the balls of our feet.
- Stance – Arms in isosceles. No Weaver. Both arms straight out. Gun centered with the center line of the body. Toes pointed towards the target. Balanced, slightly weighted to the balls of the feet. Light ready to fight. Knees not locked out. Feet offset, one foot in front of the other, not side by side, not the NRA way.
- Grip - both hands
- Grip – strong and off hand, separately. Gun centered with the center line of the body.
- Pistol Draw - from the holster.
- Sight picture - maintain sight picture while pressing trigger. reset slide.
- Trigger press and follow through
- Turning – practice making all turns, left, right, and 180° turns while drawing from the holster and completing the turns. The body turns but the gun stays in the holster until facing down range.
Dry Fire Mag Change – The first mistake people make when practicing magazine changes is that they don't have the gun in the condition it will be in when the magazine is expended. Begin with the slide locked back as it would be when the gun goes dry. Have a solid sight picture. Check stance. Check feet and balance. Check Grip.
Throughout the entire mag change you will do two things at once. You will use the Slide Stop as Slide Release UNLESS your fingers aren't long enough or strong enough.
Starting Position – slide locked back, both hands on the gun, firm grip. Clear sight picture, empty magazine in.
Don't tilt the gun or your shoulders, try not to move anything except your arms. The gun does not come back to the "work space", it stays out. Better economy of motion.
- Depress the magazine release at the same time your support moves to retrieve a spare magazine.
- Support hand touches the spare magazine. Index finger just below the tip of the first round, which is an inert dummy round. The index finger is positioned to point to the base of the magazine well as its moving to place the magazine in the magazine well of the gun.
- Two things; at the same time the support hand grasps the spare magazine, tilt the gun at a 45º angle so the you can see the base of the magazine well.
- Shift the eyes to the base of the magazine well at the same time the thumb moves to the Slide Stop.
- Support hand inserts the spare magazine into the base of the magazine well of the gun. Rotate the gun from the 45º angle back to vertical. The motion of the gun while keeping the thumb firmly planted on the Slide Stop will release the slide sending it forward to chamber an inert dummy round.
- A dummy round is chambered as the gun is rotating from a 45 back to vertical. these two things happen nearly simultaneously.
The gun rotates back to vertical. The motion of the gun moving from horizontal back to vertical actuates the slide release. The thumb doesn’t need to exert much pressure on the slide release because its the motion of the gun that depresses the Slide Stop, releasing it, sending it forward to chamber a dummy round.
*When practiced, this magazine change process can be done reliably in 2 seconds. Use a shot timer to measure speed. This mag change process offers better economy of motion by eliminating the step of bringing the gun back into the "work space" which is an unnecessary movement.Reasons for bringing the gun back into the "work space":
- See the base of the mag well
- Facilitate clearing malfunctions
- Facilitate reloading.
All three things can be accomplished by keeping the gun at about half arm extension and without breaking the elbows in much.
At the beginning and end of training, all inert ordnance should be accounted for just like live ammunition and properly stored.