Dry Practice

Dry Practice

October 05, 2021

Originally Published 15SEP2019

We call it dry practice and not dry fire because there isn't going to be any firing. Words have meanings and by calling it fire, we are in the beginnings of programming ourselves to expect firing. Here’s the great thing about dry practice, the goal is to practice all the things in between the shooting. Believe it or not, if you are at the point on your journey that you are dedicating time to dry-practice you can probably press the trigger just fine. I’m willing to wager that you do that better than all the other things we do with a gun.

I have students that the closest range doesn't let them move, or even draw from a holster. Great, when at that range they can focus strictly on trigger presses and at home, they can dry-practice that draw. When I dry-practice, after all of the safety considerations below, I always start with drawing the gun. This is a perfect draw, slow and deliberate. I take at least one giant sidestep but will do more depending on available space. At this point on my journey, I’m programmed to start moving my feet anytime my hands move towards my gun, that's exactly where I want to be. The point of dry practice is to build that neural pathway so I don't have to put any conscious thought into adding that step.

On that same note, every single time I reholster my pistol, there is a full 360* scan preceding it. The same thing, I have a neural pathway established at this point to get a full picture of my surroundings before I put my gun away. I could easily do a 5-minute dry practice session and do nothing but draw the gun and aim in. Then scan and reholster and get good results on gun handling skills.

One of my favorite things to practice is clearing malfunctions. This is actually one of the few times I touch a trigger during dry-practice. I will load a few magazines up with dummy rounds and after the draw, I will aim in at my target and press the trigger without disturbing the sight alignment. When I get a click, I move my feet and clear that malfunction. Often I’ll set up different types of malfunctions, some with empty brass and practice those without the draw. The reason behind that is I don't want to build a habit of drawing the gun and expecting a click and instantly go to fixing a gun after the first press of the trigger. When I’m actually shooting, starting immediate action after the first shot is counter to my goals.

I’ll practice reloads, usually from a ready position (High-ready, Low-ready, Gun-Up, Gun-Down, Assess, Position 3) with the sear already tripped. I get that dead trigger/gun empty feel and move my feet and reload my gun from my primary magazine location before I get the sights on target. I will often press the trigger on this one to trip the sear. I can then practice a tactical reload and have a dead trigger to set up the next emergency reload.

2 reload practices per rep.

The thing I focus on in these is to initiate movement at the beginning and as much as possible during each rep. Many times that will be moving into a piece of simulated cover. I usually dry practice at my house and it is full of different sizes and shapes that I can use.The safety considerations below mention that you should have a backstop behind your target that will stop bullets if you ignore all the other considerations. Folks will let a brick wall or something similar define their dry practice location and not be able to utilize cover or even movement. The simple solution is to make your target smaller than your plate carrier and simply stick it on the front with a binder clip and then hang your plate carrier wherever it works for you.

 Dry-practice probably has the largest ROI (Return On Investment) of any practice that you could possibly do, but it can be overdone. Each rep should have 100% focus. After removing all possible distractions, it’s still easy to burn yourself out and start cutting corners. Corners cut in safety can be catastrophic, corners cut in execution will certainly cease progress and most assuredly lead to regression. This is why I limit my sessions to a strict time limit. For my self, it’s never more than 5 minutes at a time. You can pick whatever time limit suits your ability to completely focus, but I suggest starting shorter than what you think you can go. The good news is that you can do multiple sessions in a day after you’ve had a chance to decompress. I think we all could see a large increase in gun handling abilities with a small investment of our time. Let’s take a look at the actual procedure.


Follow all firearms safety rules while dry practicing.

If you are interrupted during your dry-practice, (phone call, knock at the door, etc) Start over at step 1.

1. Go into your dry practice area and remove all possible distractions (phones, Tv ect turned off).

2. Unload your gun.

3. Do a three-point check to assure that it is empty ( Chamber, Breachface and Magwell should be EMPTY).

4. Put live ammo outside the room and close the door behind you.

5. Do another three-point check on your gun.

6. Put up a target on a backdrop that will stop a bullet.

7. Do another three-point check on your gun.

8. Announce out loud “I am beginning dry practice”

9. Perform a perfect draw, with movement. Continue on with whatever regimen you decided to work on prior to starting. Even if you are not working on the draw (why not?), any time the gun comes out of the holster it should be a perfect draw. Every time it goes back in the holster it should only be done after a good scan. Practice each rep perfectly, never sacrificing good form for speed. Like a musician, we need to get the notes perfect before we get them up to speed. Nobody plays Holy Wars on their first day of guitar lessons.

 10.Repeat these reps until your allotted time has passed. If you are losing focus or getting sloppy, STOP.

11. When you are finished, Take down your target and announce “I am done with dry-practice”. The verbalization will cement in your mind that it is over. Taking down the target reduces the temptation to do “one more rep”.

12. Unload the dummy rounds from your gun. Put away any dummy rounds.

13. Open the door to your dry practice area and retrieve your live ammo on the way out.

Charge your gun and reholster it. (Did you scan?)

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