Taking Dry Fire To New Levels – Beyond the Lightswitch

How much dry fire do you do? I try to do ten to fifteen minutes a night, mixing in various techniques. I use my dominant hand and my non-dominant hand, draw from my holster, and do simple marksmanship training. It’s functional, but I’ve begun to realize I might not be getting the most out of my dry fire. I don’t think most of us can say we are getting the most out of our dry fire.

Today, we plan to take it to the next level. Let’s get away from the typical boring, dry fire that many of us do. When something is boring, we often don’t dedicate ourselves to it. We might just be going through the motions, and if that’s the case, how can we say we are getting the most out of our training and efforts? Taking it to the next level will spice things up, maybe draw your focus back in, and give you a new edge in your dry fire practice.

With the price of ammo being what it is, dry fire is a great way to sharpen and build skills without spending a dime.

What’s the Next Level?

I have four different methods you can use to take your dry fire practice to the next level. You can add these to your daily practice, but as a busy adult, it might be tough to do them all at once. With that in mind, spending once a week with each of these skills will elevate those skills and spice up your dry fire.

Low Light Techniques

How often do you practice dry firing in the dark? Most of us likely never even think about implementing low light dry fire. Low light techniques include using a weapon-mounted light if you use one and using a handheld light. You might be surprised by how much holding a flashlight makes a difference or by how a light affects your ability to focus on a threat. It can seem surprisingly bright, even when it’s pointed away from you.

Holding a flashlight while shooting a gun can be challenging. Practicing with a flashlight in your hand in the dark can help replicate real-world scenarios. Practice one-handed use, if possible, work on basic marksmanship, and even fix malfunctions in the dark. It’s a real challenge and one worth practicing.

Odd Position Shooting

We often practice shooting and dry firing in a standing position, squared up to our target and hoping for the best. Reality isn’t always that great, and you might be forced to shoot in some nonstandard positions in a self-defense scenario. Practicing odd positions at a public range is often not allowed, so dry fire makes even more sense.

These positions could be sitting at a table or in your car. How often do you practice shooting in either position? What about practicing while holding something? If you have children, you might need to be able to draw and fire without dropping your child. I don’t recommend forcing your children into dry fire, but holding a pillow works well. Examine the positions you find yourself in daily and practice drawing and engaging in those positions. I learned quickly that it was easier to draw from my strong side while behind a desk than in an appendix position.

Implement Cover

Cover is very important. The goal of a gunfight is to put holes in the bad guy and avoid catching holes in yourself. That’s why cover is so important in a gunfight. If you can find it, you should use it. Cover stops bullets, and concealment prevents you from being seen. Concealment is good, but cover is king.

Getting behind cover, shooting from behind cover, and peaking around cover is a little different than you might think. I would suggest dry fire practice from behind low cover and standing cover. Practice shooting around the left and right sides of the cover at different heights and even shooting over the cover if the height allows it.

Get Your Heart Pumping

I hope you never have to use your gun in a defensive encounter, but if you do, your heart will be racing. It will be moving rapidly, and your body will be jacked on adrenaline. Dry fire in the bedroom at night and firing on a square range doesn’t exactly jack your heart rate up. If you want to try and replicate an adrenaline rush, then do some physical activity.

If it is safe to do so, get your heart rate up and then dry fire. Run sprints or do burpees, and then practice dry fire. I won’t say it’s fun, but it’s extremely valuable. Once your heart starts pumping, your hands will shake, your vision might narrow, and you’ll find accurate shooting to be a bit more of a challenge.

To The Next Level

Dry fire doesn’t have to be boring or simulate a square range. You get a lot of freedom when it comes to dry fire. As always, ensure your weapon is clear of ammo. Remove loaded magazines and put them away. Never point your weapon at a person while dry firing, and always make safety your number one priority. With safety in mind, take it to the next level and keep challenging yourself with your dry fire practice.

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.


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