Dryfire Drills

Dryfire Drills

These drills were originally created by David from Personal Defense Training in Atlanta, and we’ve had so many emails regarding them since we purchased the website, that I looked them up in the archives and am re-posting them here for everyone to continue to use.

These are interactive dryfire drills designed to help you improve your skills. Simply click on the link corresponding to the drill you’d like to use. It will open in a new window. When you’re done, simply close the new window or exit your browser.

It has been proven that weapon handling skills degrade by 20% in only one week if you are inactive. Dry fire practice is crucial to improving and maintaining live fire skills. Nobody has the time or money to live fire enough so these drills and procedures were created to help you practice safely and efficiently at the time of your choice and at no cost. In dry-fire, you essentially do everything except experience the bang and the cycling of the action. By not having to deal with recoil management or noise issues, you will be able to concentrate on proper equipment manipulation and trigger control. Top shooters are very comfortable with their gear and much of their smoothness comes from their familiarity with their gear. The key to effective practice is to perform the fundamentals perfectly. Trigger control, sight alignment, sight picture, grip and posture can all be practiced during dry-fire but it must be done correctly or you will just ingrain poor habits. The old adage “Only perfect practice makes perfect” should be followed.

What’s needed to dry-fire?

Safe area – Backstop capable of containing a round with a target of some sort. Be aware that handgun rounds can penetrate most materials in many dwellings. This includes both interior and exterior walls, ceilings and floors. Ideally, you should find an area that will positively contain any unintended round. An example would be an exterior wall that has significant dirt on the other side like a non-exposed basement wall.
Inert training rounds – Must be identifiable as inert and look distinctly different than live ammo. We prefer the type with an actual brass case such as the ones at S.T. Action Pro or the A-Zooms because the case won’t degrade with use like plastic ones. You should also consider obtaining the blue CRTC training magazines fromDillon.
Live ammo container – For placing live rounds which MUST be kept in a separate room from where you will be practicing.
Electronic timer with random buzzer is very useful but not mandatory. The primary method of using a timer for practice is by setting a PAR time for an exercise and then practicing until you can properly perform that exercise in the allotted time. Then start to slowly reduce the allotted time and practice that until you can do it. Continue as desired but always make sure that you don’t sacrifice proper technique for faster times. Speed will come with time but bad habits are very hard to break.

Guidelines for dry-fire

  • Clear your gun – Place all live rounds and magazines with live rounds in the ammo container in another room.
  • Place target in a safe direction to minimize potential for injury if a negligent discharge occurs.
  • Visually and manually inspect guns, magazines and training rounds to ensure no live rounds are present.
  • Visually and manually inspect all training materials again.
  • Do not allow yourself to be disturbed. If you are, stop the session and deal with it. Inspect all gear upon return.
  • When you have completed the practice session, clear and store training rounds. Audibly say “practice is over, I’m now going live, I will not do any more practice.” Virtually every negligent discharge related to dry-fire is because someone loads up, gets distracted, and then does just one more presentation. Once you are finished, NO MORE PRACTICE FOR THE SESSION.
  • Place the weapon in the condition you wish it to be in, but we advise that you consider leaving the pistol unloaded until after you have completed another task, such as eating, watching TV, etc.

How often should you dry-fire?

We think you should dry-fire 5-10 times as much as you live fire but just 5-10 minutes a few times per week will result in noticeable improvement in fairly short order. It’s not productive to practice for long periods because people tend to get sloppy which does nothing but build bad habits. It’s better to do 10 minutes three times a week than one thirty minute session once per week. Utilize a variety of regimens in addition to the drills presented here but here is a sample of what you might do. Keep in mind that this “regimen” is probably a week’s worth of practice over multiple sessions if you perform 5-6 repetitions of each exercise. Dry-fire practice is about quality, not quantity.

  • 5-10 presentations from a ready position, Don’t press the trigger.
  • 8-10 correct draw strokes with no trigger press. Do these perfectly and develop a “groove”. NO SHORTCUTS! Present the gun from the holster and aligned with the target.
  • 8-10 correct draw strokes but still without pressing. Add speed but keep them smooth.
  • 8-10 draws adding trigger prep (taking up slack) but still not pressing off the shot. As the weapon rises into the line of sight, take up the slack, pick up the front sight and FOCUS on the front sight. HOLD IT. FOLLOW THROUGH. Do everything right to the edge of discharge but don’t break the trigger. Mentally, pause and verify that everything is as it should be and make a conscious decision about if you could get a perfect hit if needed.
  • 8-10 draws just like the previous one but add complete trigger press. As you press, monitor the front sight for movement. Go for perfect execution with no front sight dip or bounce. Get perfect sight alignment and picture.
  • Do 8-10 presentations with turns, both 90 and 180 degrees.
  • Perform reloads and malfunction clearance drills.
  • Add movement in all directions while performing the drills. Concentrate on staying on target while minimizing bouncing.
  • Do presentations with your eyes closed to develop an index. Focus on the exact spot you wish to hit. Close your eyes and present the weapon. Open your eyes and see where you are actually aiming. Consider making postural adjustments so that you are better indexed.
  • Present while sitting and every other position imaginable – kneel, prone, non-dominant hand, sitting at a table, supine, etc.