One of the people who comments here made the comment that no shooter should ever dry fire a firearm. I would say that if you are not making dry fire a part of your training regimen, you are missing out on an important training tool that will make your trigger control much better.

It isn’t just me who says that. The shooting instructors at the Sig Sauer academy recommend it:

“The key to shooting is manipulating that trigger to the rear without adding movement to that front sight,” says SIG SAUER Academy instructor Allison Glassick. “That’s the secret to shooting.”

For beginners, the blast and recoil of a live round often causes a natural human reaction to flinch or anticipate the shot which can disrupt their grip and trigger manipulation. But taking away those live fire distractions and working through some drills with an empty handgun can pay dividends when it’s time to head to the range.

“The bang inevitably will disrupt my senses and my ability to focus in on what’s important—that slow, deliberate process of pulling the trigger from front to rear while managing that sight alignment,” says SIG SAUER Academy instructor Justin Christopher. “The best possible way to train your body how to do this is without any bullets in the gun.”

Even the people at the US Concealed Carry Association recommend it, as long as it is done in a safe manner. When I dry fire, I make sure that there is no live ammunition in the same room. That way, you are less likely to have an ND (I learned that one the hard way- I once shot my dresser when dry firing) because you aren’t tempted to load and then pull a trigger on a loaded firearm. From the USCCA, dry fire safety rules:

1 No interruptions! Turn the ringer off the phone and make sure the front door is locked. If you are interrupted, start again from the beginning rather than picking up where you think you left off.

2 Unload your gun.

3 Check that the gun is unloaded. Use both your eyes and your fingertips. Lock the action open and then run your pinky into the empty chamber to be sure it’s really empty. If you have a revolver, run your finger across each hole in the cylinder. Count the empty holes to be sure you touched them all.

4 Remove all ammunition. Get it out of the room and out of sight. I even go so far as to lock the door to the room where the ammunition is kept so that it takes several deliberate steps to get the ammunition back together with the gun.

5 Choose a safe backstop. A backstop is anything that will reliably stop a bullet from the most powerful load that your gun is capable of firing. Never dry-fire without a solid backstop.

6 Place a target in front of your backstop. To avoid a “just one more” mishap, do not dry-fire directly at anything that will remain in the room. Use a target that will be taken down when you are done.

7 Double-check that the gun is still unloaded.

8 Mental shift to practice. Say to yourself, “This is practice. I have checked and double-checked the gun. Ammunition is not present. This is only practice.” Say it out loud, and if you find yourself wondering if it’s really true, go back and check again.

9 Dry fire. Ten to 15 minutes is as much dry-fire practice as most people can safely handle. If your mind begins to wander, stop immediately. That’s a sign that you are not paying attention to what you are doing — an important red flag.

10 Take the target down immediately — before leaving the room and before reloading the gun. Never leave the target up after you are done practicing. As you take the target down, say aloud, “Practice is over. No more dry fire. Practice is over.” This helps you make the important mental shift back to the real world and prevents the infamous “just one more” mishap.

11 Put your gun in the safe or if you are unwilling to lock your defense gun away for an hour or two, at least get yourself out of the practice room. Stay out of that area until your conditioning to pull the trigger there has been replaced by conscious thought.

12 Reload out loud. When do you reload the gun, say aloud, “This gun is loaded. It will fire if I pull the trigger. This gun is loaded.” Say it three times and say it out loud. This allows you to think, speak and hear that the gun is no longer in dry-fire condition.

If you want to do it on the cheap, balance a coin on your front sight. Pull the trigger without losing the coin. It’s a good way to learn to pull the trigger without moving your point of aim. Once you see the improvement, you can try a training system like MantisX.

Once you are proficient with dry fire from a prepared stance, you can advance to trying it while drawing.

In summary, dry fire is an important part of my firearms training. Maybe you should make it a part of yours.

Categories: Firearms


Jay Dee · December 7, 2022 at 6:14 am

Dry firing is excellent practice when no other alternatives are available. I like to use the Mantis X laser cartridges. They’re not expensive; typically about the cost of a box of top of the line ammunition. You can fire them hundreds, possibly thousands of times. (I’m working on thousands) Finally while the laser is briefly activated, you can see where the shot would have gone and how well are you maintaining your aim.

The Mantis X cartridge stays in the chamber. You have to push it out with a pencil or cleaning rod. This is actually a safety feature as you cannot inadvertently load a cartridge while practicing.

Finally, it’s a good idea to remove the batteries when not in use. Batteries leak and corrode stuff.

Elrod · December 7, 2022 at 9:45 am

+1 on incorporating a laser. Any laser, as long as it’s securely attached to the firearm for the duration of the practice session. Movement of the dot will show you that the gun is moving, and in what direction so you can figure out how to not do that. (I have a pair of SIRT pistols I use in my classes, so I use one of them; the Pro version turns on a red laser at start of trigger take-up and a green on sear break).

Low-def video also helps to keep track of the dot; play back the video at the end of the session BUT BEFORE YOU RELOAD THE GUN AND RETURN TO “NORMAL.” Watching the dot move – your errors – will tempt you to “try it again to correct it.” THAT’S what puts unwanted holes in things.

That 30-minute+ gunless break between dry fire and “normal” – loaded gun – is critical to shift the mind out of Practice Mode. Much More Betterer is to designate the same area each time, and the practice same setup each time, for dry fire practice so your brain associates “this space” and “this time” with practice and “all other spaces and times” with “loaded gun.”

    Divemedic · December 7, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    That is what MantisX does. It tracks the movement of your muzzle during the 200 milliseconds before the trigger breaks, then tells you what you are doing wrong. It does the same thing for live fire and also acts as a shot timer. Useful at a range where there are a lot of shooters and sound driven shot timers don’t work.

BobF · December 7, 2022 at 11:10 am

I, too, use Mantis. I can’t think of a single reason I shouldn’t dry fire my firearms.

June J · December 7, 2022 at 12:19 pm

I’ve never read nor heard any firearms instructor or anyone else who is knowledgeable about shooting say that you shouldn’t do dry fire.
Here’s a product I use to ensure safety during dry firing.
(I have no affiliation with this company, just use their products.)

AC47spooky · December 7, 2022 at 1:18 pm

I agree – dry-fire aids in becoming more proficient in handling arms. Not only that, but I have a small double-action revolver with which the trigger pull will improve with repeated action. Having the cylinder full of snap caps not only allows me to practice, it helps smooth out the trigger.

WallPhone · December 8, 2022 at 10:00 pm

Fantastic tips, I’ll definately be incorporating these initio my regimine. I have had a phone book sitting in the corner of the room for years as a “safe direction” for Glock take-down procedures, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to incorporate these additional layers and even dry fire into the occasional cleaning and inspections.

Aesop · December 9, 2022 at 1:58 am

200x/day or more, for the last month. 10-20 shots at a time. The LaserLyte round has already paid for itself many times over, and I can randomly practice point shooting with instant feedback.

I knew a world-champion competition shooter that practiced dry-fire on cowboy and war movies, and regularly wore out gun parts doing it.
Then again, he shot stages in 12 seconds where the average for most folks was 45-60, so replacing a trigger bar or a spring every 10,000 shots is a small price to pay for first place.

Doubly so in extremis, and your skin is on the line.

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