Thursday, September 4, 2014

Training: Dry Fire

I “grew up” in the military. I say grew up because I was in the military shortly after my mission and being married about a year. I now work on a federal installation and am still subject to the infinite wisdom of the military industrial complex. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the military. It was in the military that they let me shoot automatic weapons and be around guns all the time. In all that time I have worked with many checklists. There is a checklist for everything! I still use checklists in my personal life. They often make life easier.
In shooting circles there is something called dry fire. I’ve mentioned it here and there. This is training that is done usually away from the range. Because of that, it can be done more often. In gun training we talk a lot about “muscle memory”. Muscle memory is simply consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. Muscle memory is the reason for dry firing your weapon each day.
I have been an instructor long enough to hear a lot of excuses for not practicing. “Who has time?” is one I’ve heard (and actually said), more than once. Think of it as you would exercise. Some of us do not like to exercise but as we get older, it becomes more important. Training with your gun is just as important as exercise. I like the way exercise makes me feel when I am done. Revitalized. Energetic. That happens to be how I feel after shooting… most of the time. I love going to the range. I am there more than the range master! I often sing “Home on the range” to my wife. I love to shoot! Now that my kids are older, and I have a little more money around, I can shoot more often. Do I love dry firing? NO! But like exercise, it must be done. I also like the way it makes me shoot. If you need to correct a shooting problem, dry fire is the answer. Dry firing is slow and methodical. It’s less stress than the bang (how I love the bang!) and allows you to see what you are doing right and wrong. It is also cheaper than the range. You don’t need to pick up your brass from those snap caps. So here I submit a dry fire checklist.
Remember the 4 gun safety rules:
1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover (point at) anything you’re not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Always be sure of your target and beyond it.

Step 1: Remove all ammunition from your gun.
Remove the magazine from your gun. Next, rack the slide to remove the cartridge from the chamber. Rack it again about 3 times. Look in the magazine well and chamber to verify that your gun is truly empty. Stick your pinky finger in there to ensure no round.
Step 2: Move the ammunition away from your practice area.
Take ALL ammunition out of the room. I do mean all! I take all my ammunition out of the room and any magazines except the one I am going to use. Then do Step 1 again. Getting distracted can have disastrous results.
Step 3: Choose a safe target and backstop.
We’re obeying Rule 1 and treating our gun as if it’s loaded, so we need to aim at a safe target and backstop during dry fire practice. You would be surprised what a round can penetrate. Make sure of this. A negligent discharge needs to be contained.
Step 4: Look at the front sight.
Focus on the front sight. Take your time make sure it is clear. The target and front sight will be slightly out of focus. If you are older and have bifocals, make sure lifting your head to focus does not make you lean back.
Step 5: Press the trigger slowly.
Press the trigger as smoothly as you can. Pay particular attention to the gun as you press. Don’t let it move. Press don’t pull. Normally if you pull the trigger the front sight will drop taking it off the target, shooting into the ground or low.
Try pointing at something, focusing on the end of your finger. Hold it for 30 seconds. You will probably see a wobble. Usually there is a little and that is pretty normal.
As you practice this it will come as a natural thing. Ensure you press with the same place on your finger. I like the tip pad of the finger, some like the joint. I’ve always felt the joint gives less control. But many are successful with it.
Step 6: Follow through.
As the gun dry fires, keep watching the sights until the action is complete. After the gun “clicks”, you’ll want to see the exact same sight picture as before the shot. That’s where your shot would have hit had you been firing a live cartridge. Follow through means you keep your finger on the trigger and let the trigger reset.
Step 7: Reset if necessary depending on your gun type.
Step 8: Make a point of being done.
I put the gun down and sit down for a second. Then I go into the other room to reload and put the gun away immediately. Some have dry firing accidents when they reload their gun, get distracted, resume dry firing only to experience a loud bang.

That is all I do. 5 sets of 10. After you do this for a week, make sure they are perfect shots every time or they do not count for you 10. Do this all slowly at first to get it just right. Do your shot the exactly the same. You will speed up automatically. If you follow this, you will be shooting better in 1 month.
Also remember not every gun manufacturer thinks dry fire is good for their weapon. Look in your manual to see if dry fire won’t hurt your gun. Most guns are fine to dry fire.
Semper Paratus
Check 6