Safety and Dry Fire!
This being my first attempt at a “blog” (is that a real word?) I thought I’d address the single most important aspect of your training and practice; safety.
And specifically discuss safety in the context of another important aspect of your firearms proficiency development; dry fire.
As those of you who have trained with CDT can recall, we stress dry fire as an important, inexpensive, and beneficial way to develop good habits with all aspects of the fundamentals, absent the loud “bang” that occurs when you practice with live rounds. Dry fire is the best tool to develop correct, “perfect” habits that will make your live fire practice more productive, and more positive reinforcement proven out with live rounds. As you know, it’s not “practice that makes perfect,” it is “perfect practice” that will go a long way to achieving a solid understanding of the fundamentals and the ability to execute them on demand. And when the best shooters in the world, both competitive and in the military, tell you they dry fire 70% of their trigger presses we should read that as a clue as to what helps them achieve such high levels of performance.
However, dry fire, if not safely approached and executed, is an area of training with a high potential for an accident. Practicing one’s trigger press, reloads, and draw stroke “dry” results in more negligent discharges of live rounds than you might think.
So the purpose of this article is to remind you of the safe way to set up for dry fire practice:
Pick an area for dry fire that has a safe backstop; i.e. a concrete or other hard wall, preferably impenetrable. If a hard wall is not available, make sure no one is or will be on the other side.
Ensure that area has NO live ammunition in it.
Check your magazines, magazine pouches, pockets, dump pouch…everything…to ensure no live ammunition comes into this “sterile” area.
If using dummy rounds, check each one to make sure it is indeed an inert training round. They are the same size and feel enough like a live round that not paying attention at this point of your process could lead to a live round being loaded into a pistol magazine.
Rack the slide on your pistol, locking the slide back, and look into the chamber. Look away, and then look again at the chamber to ensure nothing is there. Yes, we can fool ourselves if we look assuming the chamber is clear, and “see” an empty chamber that actually has a round in it. So, look away to break that tendency, checking the chamber twice.
Look in the magwell to ensure there is not a pistol magazine in the firearm, which could have live rounds in it.
Once all this is done, focus on what skill you are working on that session, to the exclusion of any other concern. Execute your perfect practice for 10-15 minutes, allowing no distractions. If distracted, simply stop dry firing for that session, and return another date or time.
When finished, talk to yourself. Yes, I mean engage in a dialogue with yourself, saying “dry fire is over, dry fire is over.” Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, set the pistol down and do not reload for several minutes.
After some time has elapsed, go ahead and put the firearm in the condition it needs to be in for your planned activities.
This simple but effective procedure applies to any firearm, to include pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
Following the above important steps will prevent what could be an embarrassing accident or, far worse, a tragedy, while at the same time improving you as a shooter. Dry fire is not a substitute for live fire, done safely 10-15 minutes per session, three times a week goes a long way into making your live fire more effective.
Thanks for reading and be safe and have fun.