How To Become A Better Shot For Free
The price of ammunition has gone up considerably over the last few years. Whereas you used to be able to go out to someone’s land and shoot all day for just a few dollars, today it is hard to even shoot 100 rounds without breaking the bank. In addition to that you have to pay your range fee and you have to pay for the gas to get there. All this doesn’t even include things like targets, staple guns, spotting scopes, hearing protection, etc.
But is there an easier and less expensive way to become a better shot? Is there a way to practice shooting and see noticeable results without breaking the bank?
Actually there is. It is called “dry fire” (or sometimes “dry practice” since you are not actually firing). Dry fire is simply where you fire your gun without any ammunition.
“But wait,” some will say, “I’ve heard that you are never supposed to ‘dry fire’ your gun because it will damage it.”
Actually, for the majority of modern firearms, that warning is overstated. Most modern firearms will not be harmed by dry fire. Some user manuals even state it explicitly. Certain military and law enforcement officers are now encouraged to do almost 70% of their shooting practice dry and only 30% live. Now, it is still wise to not dry fire older guns. I don’t recommend dry-firing your civil-war-era-revolver. Also, you may not want to dry fire many types of rim fire guns as the firing pin will hit the mouth of the chamber and can cause damage. But, if it is a modern, center fired weapon then usually you won’t have a problem. If you are still uncomfortable dry-firing your weapon then I recommend you buy dummy rounds or “snap caps” so you can still practice dry-firing.
The exciting thing about dry-firing is that it means we can practice shooting even when we can’t make it out to the range. The benefits of dry-firing are:
It is free. It allows you to practice more often. You are not as constrained by the time it takes to go to the range. You can work on one fundamental at a time: stance, grip, sight alignment, breathing, trigger control, etc. You become much more familiar with how your gun works (you get comfortable working the slide and feeling where the trigger “breaks” the shot, etc.). You get used to how the gun feels in your hand. You can stand in front of a mirror to critique yourself.
You can practice things you are not allowed to do on the range such as drawing from a holster, speed reloading, moving while aiming, and pointing the gun in different directions. You learn to stay relaxed and not anticipate the shot because you know the gun won’t go “bang.” This really helps with shooting accuracy. It’s easier to teach a beginner to shoot by dry-firing before taking them to the range so they can practice without the anxiety new shooters tend to have.
Did I mention that dry-firing is free?
Now, there is no substitute for actually shooting live rounds. Dry-firing should not totally replace your live firing but should just supplement it. Be overly careful to follow all firearms safety rules (keep it pointed in a safe direction, make sure it is unloaded, etc.) when dry firing and have fun!