By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Well, it looks like we won’t be shooting any time soon. Just about every state in the union is under a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order of some kind. While gun stores are intermittently being considered “essential” in some jurisdictions, they aren’t in others. Store shelves are depleted of ammunition, and buying online is about as spotty.
What the heck are we supposed to do in the meantime?
The best thing to do in the meantime is dry firing. Yes, we won’t be getting the aromatherapy/range therapy that really helps one destress. Unless of course you live in the country and can shoot at your place and have enough ammunition to do so, in which case we’re all jealous and we hate you.
They haven’t closed BLM land yet, so the public range I go to is still open, for now. But not everyone has the kind of access to public lands we do out here in the inland PNW.
So dry firing is what we got for the time being. If dry fire is already part of your practice routine, awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing.
If it’s not, then here’s a few tips to get you started.
First, let’s remember the first rule of gun safety – treat guns as if they’re loaded. Take out the magazine and clear the chamber – or dump the cylinder, for my revolver fans – and make sure the pistol is totally cleared. A best practice here is to put your ammunition in a different room; do your dry firing away from any ammo.
You should also make sure to have a target of some kind, and the smaller the better. You can pick a spot on the wall, a picture of a relative that owes you money, or put something up that you can use as your dry fire target. I find one of the little adhesive-backed dots that come with a lot of targets work really well, especially the orange ones for high visibility.
What you want to work on with dry fire is all the fundamental skills that you technically don’t need ammunition to train. The only aspect of shooting that requires use of live ammunition is recoil control. While that’s important for putting multiple shots on target, especially while doing multiple target exercises like an El Presidente drill, almost everything else does not require live ammunition.
Your grip, sight alignment, trigger manipulation, presentation, can all be worked on with dry fire. In fact, it’s ideal, since you’re in the most controlled setting possible and don’t have the complication of recoil anticipation to muck things up.
This, folks, is where you build muscle memory. The hard part is turning off the part of your brain that thinks “oh my god this thing is going to EXPLODE” and messes you up!
You can also work on other skills as well such as reloads. You dry fire, feel the gun go “click,” draw and insert an empty magazine and make the next dry shot. Again, make sure those magazines are empty, and keep your ammunition in a different room.
Dry fire practice is also an ideal time to work on your draw stroke, and indeed the first shot from concealment. It’s sometimes said that it isn’t the first hit in a gunfight, it’s the first accurate hit that matters.
A vital skill of armed self-defense is being able to clear leather (or Kydex, whatever) and put an accurate hit on target to hopefully stop the threat as quickly as possible or get that all important faster time and higher score in competition.
No better way to get a whole ton of reps than dry firing, which is what a lot of pro competition shooters will tell you.
If you’re going to be at home anyway, putting in 10 to 15 minutes a day, or even 5 minutes a day doing dry fire will pay dividends at the range once we can all start shooting for real again.
Now go wash your hands.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.