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Why it is important, how to do it right

by Jerry Webb


I like the five minute dry-fire practice idea. Why only five minutes?


If you dry-fire properly on a regular basis, it should not be a marathon session. Like most things requiring a state of zen, you can only maintain the required sharp mental focus for a given amount of time.

All you are doing is keeping your trigger manipulation honest when you are already a skilled shooter and practice dry firing. AAMOF, if you were to go to the range with me, you would see me dry-fire the gun before (and a little during) my practice. If you hand me a gun of yours to shoot, the first thing I will do is dry fire it 5 or 6 times before loading it to fire.

When dry-firing I am calibrating my trigger finger and honoring the sight picture during trigger squeeze. I practice follow through and watch the front sight - it will tell me if my grip and trigger finger placement are correct: the front sight should not move. If it does I will make adjustments and continue dry-firing until I can grip, present the gun, and squeeze the trigger over and over until the sight is motionless most of the time at hammer fall.

Since each gun is different, I will dry-fire the gun before shooting to adapt to it's grip and trigger. If while shooting I pull a shot, I will stop and dry fire three or four snaps, and go right back to shooting to reinforce the proper synaptic process. If I screw up once, I want five or six perfect synaptic processes in succession to overcome the pulled shot.

If you flinch or snatch your shots (more egregious than pulling a shot), you are in bigger trouble and need to do more dry firing than I do and do some ball and dummy work before you will ever become an expert shooter. But even expert shooters will pull shots, which is typically corrected in your mind by frequent but short dry-firing practice, even when at the range with live ammo.

Understand this though: I am not a traditional target shooter, but I do learn any valid method or technique I can. I try things, and what works best for me is used until I find something better to add. We are all generally the same, but the fine points will be different from shooter to shooter. A good instructor and a good shooter will always be humble enough to keep an open mind and keep learning. A good shooter is disciplined but not rigid or stubborn. A given gun or technique is not going to fit everyone. When you find what works best, then you practice it.

The more confident and relaxed you are, the better. By grooving in your synapses to the degree that gun manipulation happens properly without mental effort, you are freeing your conscious mental capacity to fully concentrate on one or two critical things--which is all the human brain is capable of.  Your brain should command draw or fire and the details like grip, stance, breathing and sight alignment should happen without thought. Dry-firing, practicing draw, reloads, and malfunction clearance will improve your skills and increase smoothness. As a result your confidence and efficiency will improve, and your primary concern will be shots on target, without anxiety, doubts or mental clutter.

Dry-firing is serious practice requiring dedication. But it is best low in volume, high in frequency, because that is how the human brain and body creates those synaptic connections that result in efficient, fluid and automatic functions both basic and complex.

Like dry-firing, point-shooting is a skill that must be learned by the brain and body through repetitions and the synaptic processes.  But that is another subject for another commentary.

Uploaded: 8/5/2008