I’ve had a few questions on dry-fire, so let’s talk about that.
I am a big fan of dry firing when conducted properly. Dry firing fosters good trigger control, and especially aids the drawstroke and presentation. It also exposes problems with equipment like holsters.
In the TAG, LLC Progressive Pistolcraft course we teach good dry fire methodology. The critical issue is to ensure all live ammunition is physically separated from the room when dry firing. The line at Gunsite is to "put your ammo in a sock and place it in your empty bathroom tub".
This is of course a mental image designed to illustrate how safety is imperative during at-home, unsupervised dry fire practice.
In short, ensure all people in the home understand you are not to be disturbed and all distractions (phones, TV, computers, etc.) are silenced and put away.
Unload and clear your weapon, locking the action open. Again, remove all live ammo physically from the entire area.
Next, have a pen and paper handy and write down what your dry fire session will consist of and what your goals are. For instance, "I want to work on improving my drawstroke and presentation from the holster and achieving a better front sight focus."
This is actually two goals, but doable. Next, write down the time and date. Ideally dry fire is 10 minutes or so per session, two to three times a week. Every day or longer sessions and you'll lose focus.
By the way, try focusing, I mean really focusing on something for more than a couple of minutes. Stare at your watch. How long can you clear your mind and really focus on your watch before distracting thoughts enter your mind and take your attention off your watch? One minute? Three? Five minutes and you're a genius...or you have no life! The point is limiting your dry fire practice to the amount of time you can shut out the world and do it right. This is not just for safety, but to ensure the session is worthwhile.
Okay. After checking all magazines again and ensuring the firearm chamber is clear, place your pistol in your holster.
Now that you have environment set up, your goals set (we'll use the goal above to start and as an example only) then close your eyes and mentally rehearse what you are about to run through. Picture moving your hands to the right position...correctly. Support hand moves with your weapon hand.
As you mentally grip the weapon (correctly) your support hand is on your lower chest. In your mind, you release any holster retention and clear the weapon up and rotate it to a level close ready position. Then you move to the 'smack' where as you thrust forward and your support hand intercepts and completes the grip.
Still mentally, you see the front sight in your peripheral vision as you extend your arms pushing the weapon forward and on target. You watch the front sight as it settles on target and increase your focus, sharply, on the front sight alone. Now on target your trigger finger moves to the trigger and a rearward press begins removing the slack. Pressing, not pulling, not jerking, not slapping, you add weight to the trigger smoothly until, as you stare at the front sight, you achieve a clean, surprise break.
You remember to not 'fake' recoil and continue to focus on the front sight. Then slowly reverse the drawstroke back to close ready and then into the holster with your support hand back on your chest. There is no 'speed re-holster '.
Remember, “Draw quickly – shoot carefully – re-holster reluctantly.”
You did all this standing still, hands at your side, and your eyes closed. Visualization is used by all martial arts and pro athletes. It is essential to good dry fire.
Now prepared, having visualized yourself doing it correctly, you will start dry fire.
(SAFETY- RECHECK WEAPON)
Begin in slow motion. Practice does not make perfect, Perfect Practice makes perfect. (Ok, I actually dislike that saying but use it here to illustrate you should not allow yourself to do it wrong. Perfect is the enemy of excellent so don't beat yourself up when you do something off of correct. Just stop, breathe, and go back to step one.) Go slow and execute the draw slowly but as good as you can. Sometimes I just work on one phase of the drawstroke, like moving from a relaxed position to the grip in the holster.
Do three very slow, correct draws and presentations. Take a breath. Work on exhaling as you draw. Do three more at half speed. Never practice a technique at full speed. Speed will come with thousands of correct repetitions, never from trying to be quick. As soon as you mentally say 'now' and try to go fast...you'll dork it up.
Smooth is the real fast. Smooth and correct will beat fast and flustered every time.
Three more draw strokes ensuring the front sight is in sharp focus. Half speed at the most. If you catch yourself messing something up, go back to quarter speed and fix it.
What? Ten minutes are up? We just got started! Great, but stop. Write down the time and close your session.
Put away everything and set your firearm up for storage - or depending on the situation - back ready for CCW carry. Resist the urge to go longer, or after dry fire practice is over, to re-unload and go again. That's where accidents happen.
Clear? Safe? Now let the world back in.
Future sessions might be trigger control and reset drills, possibly using plastic dummy rounds. This increases the risk somewhat so we add emphasis to the safety controls we put in place. Magazine changes are another good topic, but again we have to adjust the safety controls we put in place.
Sometimes there is a limit to what you can do on your own and you need to have a mature, trained and skilled observer help by watching you. Pick this dude wisely as someone who nit-picks you death will kill your focus. I hate golf to this day because of the guy who wouldn't let me swing once uninterrupted!
Anyway, and with only a little self-promoting, this is what Progressive Pistolcraft (the PRP) is all about and CCW just isn't. Professional coaching before bad habits set in, is essential.
We'll talk firearm selection next. Don't let a lack of gun prevent you from attending the PRP. We can rent you one pretty cheap until you decide what you want to buy!
David C. Reed, Director
Tactical Analysis Group, LLC
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