Pro Tip: Practice Dry Fire
By Chris Sajnog, Author Navy SEAL Shooting
dry fire training (v)- the practice of “firing” a firearm without ammunition or practicing the manipulation of a firearm
I know most of you are just like me and want to get better at shooting, but don’t have the time or resources needed to improve or maintain this critical skill. When I was in the SEAL teams I basically had unlimited supplies of ammunition and was paid to perfect my skills – it was great! But now that I’m retired with a family to enjoy and a business to run, just finding the time to get to the range seems to get harder and harder. Sure, I have 15 minutes here or there between a kid’s soccer game and working, but the closest range is a 15-minute drive. So how do I solve this?
Dry fire training.
For those of you who don’t know, dry fire training is the generic term for practicing weapons manipulation with an unloaded gun. It involves everything you do with that weapon, from basic fundamentals to shooting on the move. Think about all the things you need to practice to become a more effective shooter: shooting positions, grip, picking up sights, movement, tracking moving targets, barricades, trigger control, breathing, front sight focus, natural point of aim, the list goes on and on.
You might be thinking, so what? I can do all of that at the range. Sure, but how often do you have time to go to the range? The biggest benefit of dry fire training is that it can be safely done anytime, anywhere (use your best judgement here, OK?). You’ve got five minutes before you have to leave for work? Spend it working on front sight focus in your living room, garage, or backyard. Can’t sleep? Practice breathing or meditation techniques that will help you on the range (and probably get you back to sleep).
Dry fire training is convenient, there’s no driving to the range and you don’t need to dedicate large chunks of time to it. Dry fire can be fit into even the busiest of schedules.
Still not convinced? Let’s talk about the monetary savings of dry fire training. Think back to your last trip to the range. About how much did you spend on range time, ammo, targets, and gas to get there? It’s not inexpensive to hit the range. Now imagine you wanted to train 5 days a week at the range. With dry fire training, you can train 5 days a week (or every day of the week) without having to purchase range time, ammo, targets, or gas.
Even if I had the time and endless supplies of ammo like the good-ol’ days, I still think dry fire training gives you more bang for the buck.
I’ve seen many people go to the range just to practice how to draw a pistol. You cannot focus on a perfecting your draw while people around you are constantly firing and pulling your attention away from whatever technique you are trying to master. The sound of gunfire, other people shooting and moving around you, or even just knowing someone is watching you, can be very stressful. Stress leads to mistakes and poor training. This is the main reason so many people have problems with anticipation or flinching. They’ve learned to shoot with the stress of the gun going off. There is no stress when dry fire training at home, so you’ll learn better and faster. By attempting to perfect your skills at the range, you are simply wasting your time and money.
Dry fire allows you to practice all the skills you would normally work on live-fire (minus recoil management) and you can do it safely at home. Once your skills have improved, you’ll be able to go to the range and confirm everything you learned dry firing. Improving your shooting is not magic; the magic is in the dry fire.
Retired Navy SEAL Chris Sajnog, a Master Training Specialist in the Navy, was hand-selected to write the US Navy SEAL Sniper Manual. He used this experience, plus four years of studying neuroscience and elite performance, to develop the New Rules of Marksmanship — a fundamental shift in learning how to shoot. He’s the author of two bestselling books, How to Shoot Like a Navy SEAL and Navy SEAL Shooting, and the owner of Center Mass Group, LLC a 100% Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business in San Diego, CA. Chief Sajnog, now offers his unique training online at https://chrissajnog.com.