OSS Teachable Moment: Dry-Firing

By OSS Academy Staff | Fri, 5 Jul 2013

Dry-firing is the practice of firing a firearm without ammunition. That is, to pull the trigger and allow the hammer or firing pin to drop on an empty chamber.

One primary benefit of this type of practice is that it teaches refined trigger control, sight alignment, position, gun handling, target acquisition, recovery drills, and more.  This technique is also beneficial as it reduces the economic cost of using live ammunition.

Safety first!  Emphasis must always be placed on firearms safety to prevent an accidental discharge.  Never dry-fire using live ammunition.  Be sure to know and understand the manufacturer safety precautions published for your specific firearm.  Always follow the fundamental National Rifle Association rules for safe gun handling.

Usually 10 to 15 minutes of dry-fire practice each day is all you need to increase and maintain proficiency.  A notable practice application, if you are preparing for a qualification exercise, acquire a copy of the full course of fire and practice through it several times before the actual range firing day.

As you go through the mechanics of dry-firing each shot, stop at each step and think clearly about what you are doing, and where you can improve.  Remember, your stance, breath control, target acquisition, trigger control, follow-through and “calling the shot” are all still very important fundamentals during both dry-firing and live-fire exercises.  In the final stages, time yourself and develop a firing rhythm to fit either your own drills or published firearms qualification exercises.

It is important to note, dry firing may be mechanically damaging to rimfire weapons (typically .22 caliber pistols and rifles) where the firing pin strikes the breech face.  Precautions (such as the use of snap caps, or placing a spent cashing in the breach) should be taken if such a weapon is deliberately dry-fired.  Plastic bullets can be used as well, to simulate loading, recovery drills, etc.  It is generally acceptable to dry-fire modern center-fire firearms without a cartridge or snap cap.

In recent years, a number of companies have developed different methods of enhancing dry-fire practice to improve skills.  Products that fire a laser are becoming increasingly popular.  Laser products include chamber inserts available for various caliber firearms, such as those made by Laser Ammo, as well as dedicated training pistols or replacement bolt AR-15 carrier groups, such as those made by Nextlevel Training.

There are also a number of laser dry-fire target systems that use laser activated shot reporting software.  These products help people get more from dry-fire practice by providing immediate feedback regarding both, shot placement and timed exercises.