Frequently Asked Questions about Dryfire

We get these questions often. Here’s our answers:

What is dryfire?

Dryfire is practicing firearm’s skills with an unloaded firearm that has been proven safe. Numerous skills such as trigger control, gripping the firearm, drawing, aiming, reloading and moving can be improved upon in dryfire.

How do I dryfire?

Unload your firearm and PROVE it safe. Remove all live ammunition from the training area. Use a location that allows you to point your firearm in a safe direction, preferably towards a backstop that will stop bullets (a cement basement is a great place for this). Pick something in this area to aim at – light switches, speakers, photo frames, etc. Once you’ve got this figured out – decide what part of your shooting skillset you are looking to improve and thoughtfully start manipulating your firearm and pressing the trigger to your heart’s content.

How should I dryfire?

Mindset is an extremely important part of dryfire. If the intended purpose of dryfire is to become a better shooter, than we must dryfire in a way that mimics live fire shooting and the context in which we will be doing it. Coming into the dryfire session with a specific skill to improve on, or following a routine is a good way to ensure we aren’t just mindlessly picking up the gun and pulling the trigger a few times to “put in the reps”. If you are looking for a plan to stay on track with your dryfire, we’ve got you covered here.

As always, the context of what we are training for should dictate our mindset in dryfire and how we test our performance for reality.

Will dryfire make me a better shooter?

This is a resounding yes. Dryfire works. It is an extremely important part of learning to shoot and continuing to improve. Dryfire is so critical to the process that even if a shooter had unlimited ammunition and could teleport to a range to shoot at any second of the day, skipping dryfire wouldn’t be a good idea. We’ll explain more on this below.

How often should I dryfire compared to livefire?

Many professional shooters recommend a high amount of dry fire comparatively to live fire, for instance a ratio of 1:9 or 1:10 – meaning for every live round fired, the trigger is pressed in dry fire 9 or 10 times. This can also be expressed in time to understand the importance of dryfire. If once a week – we spend 10 minutes actively firing 100 rounds at the range, we could apply 100 minutes of dryfire practice at home or 1,000 trigger presses.

For instance, the large majority of my time on the gun (~90%) is during dryfire at home and at the range. Meaning, even when I am at the range and am focusing on a specific skill, a large amount of time at the range is visualization (mental dryfire) and physical dryfire followed up by a drill confirming the dryfire. I normally will show up to the range with a plan and shoot a specific drill cold first to see where I am at. Then if I didn’t notice a specific issue, I may do 10 dryfire reps of the drill with draws before running through the drill again live-fire. If a specific issue came up during the cold run, then it may change the entirety of my training plan. 

With this type of training method, a 50 round range session is entirely possible and still a net positive even with the low round count. This is because we are soaking as much information from each round and dry trigger press as possible and using that to adjust what we need to train. 

However, this ratio of live-fire to dryfire does have exceptions and as a beginner – live-fire is arguably more important than dryfire. This is because it is essential for a shooter to intimately know what it feels like to have an explosion take place in their hands and understand how the gun behaves in live fire to be able to mimic it in dryfire accurately. If we don’t know how our firearm and ourselves perform in livefire, it can lead us to unrealistic training in dryfire.

In the end, the context of our goals dictates how often we will train dryfire, but of course, like anything in life – frequent and thoughtful practice in the basics will lead to high performance in reality.

How do I make dryfire more authentic?

There are many tools and techniques that shooter’s use to increase the authenticity of their dryfire. Things like snap caps, laser bullets, dedicated laser pistols, simulated recoil kits, shooting simulators and dryfire apps can assist with creating a more realistic training environment. However, remember that no tool can replace the requirement for the shooter to create an authentic mindset that mimics the live fire context that they are training for.

One drawback is that dryfire can often be monotonous and unexciting. Using dryfire tools to make the training more exciting is a good way to ensure that we maintain our habit of dryfire and see improvements in reality.

Does dryfire make me shoot faster?

It is entirely possible for a shooter to learn to shoot faster in dryfire and to push their ability to point the firearm where they want, push the cadence of their trigger finger and learn how the firearm reacts to rough and quick trigger presses in dryfire to be able to grip the firearm better in live fire. However, it is important to know how your firearm behaves in live fire and understand how quickly you can return the point of aim under real recoil to be able to improve on this in dryfire.

How do I stop flinching when shooting?

The “flinch” is something that is natural and exists in every shooter to some degree. The body learns when we pull the trigger that an explosion occurs in our hands, and it dislikes that at a very deep level, which is why it starts to brace for this explosion as soon as we decide to pull the trigger. The way to reduce the body’s response to this is to implement more thoughtful dryfire into our routine. We need to train our body to not tense prior to the recoil of the firearm as it will interfere with our point of aim. This can be accomplished with proper dryfire, along with numerous drills at the range that attempt to combat this, such as the “ball and dummy” drill where a magazine is loaded with random dummy rounds inside which cause a visible dip in the muzzle prior to the “click” occurring from the trigger break.

If you are a brand new shooter and received good instruction – you’ll likely place the first round you ever fire directly in the bullseye, or at least very close. Then, as you continue into your subsequent rounds, (especially if you are shooting a larger caliber) you’ll notice that you become more apprehensive about pulling the trigger and the rounds aren’t really landing where you’re aiming anymore. Even as a more seasoned shooter you’ll often see that the more rounds you put downrange in any given day, the more you will be prone to flinching when trying to land slow precision rounds.

This is because our body has something I like to call a “bang meter” that fills up the more we shoot, as it remembers the big bang we keep inducing in front of our face. When the bang meter fills up, we start to flinch as our body is trying to defend against the unwelcome impact, noise and flash of the firearm. The simplest way to empty the bang meter is to tell the body it isn’t scary to pull the trigger by dryfiring the gun and having no explosion occur. It is important that during this dryfire, we condition these trigger presses in a realistic manner so that the way our body responds in dryfire and livefire blend together as intended.

This is a excerpt from our From The Ground Up course for a visual reference of the flinch:

Why do I shoot low and left?

If you’re a right handed shooter that has rounds impacting low and to the left this is often indicative of the “flinch” mentioned above. This is due to the right hand tensioning in anticipation to brace for the recoil prior to the recoil occurring. If you put your fist out in front of you and watch the line of your second knuckles and then quickly squeeze your first tightly, you’ll notice that it dips down and slightly rotates inwards to the centerline of your body. This is what causes you to shoot low and to the left as a right handed shooter. As a left handed shooter, the opposite applies – with a pre-shot anticipation flinch you may be shooting low and to the right.

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