Vital practice to improve your shooting

By Darby Darrow

Would you like to improve your abilities with a firearm? What does it take to im-prove? Lots of rounds down range? We’ve seen many shooters plinking and having fun, but not improving their skills. Taking a class on firearms training? Absolutely, a class taught by a knowledgeable instructor can be very worthwhile, but may also cost in the hundreds of dollars and probably some days from work to attend. What if I told you that you could improve your firearms skills for just 10 cents and for a few minutes a day?

DRY FIRE

If you really want to improve your firearm skills, dry fire practice is one of the most cost effective methods available. Although you will be practicing with an unloaded firearm, there is always the risk of accidentally firing the weapon. See side bar for safety considerations.

THE BIG THREE

Before choosing a dry fire exercise you need to determine what needs to improve in your shooting abilities. We can generally break it down into three categories, accuracy, speed, and weapon manipulation. To be a great shooter you will need all three, but to facilitate the learning process we will focus on each of the attributes individually.

ACCURACY

Being able to hit the intended target with a firearm really distills down to three simple steps: Find the target, align your sights on the target, and keep them aligned until the bullet leaves the barrel.

Trigger control is one of the most important skills to attain, in order to improve accuracy. Hastily whacking the trigger, in an attempt to mimic fast shooters, will usually result in moving the sights off the target before the bullet leaves the barrel. A smooth, steady press to the rear will provide a better opportunity for an accurate shot.

Simple? Certainly. But simple does not mean easy! Most people can find the target with little difficulty. And many people can also align their sights on the target. But a large number of shooters find it difficult to follow step three. Today’s dry fire drill will assist in making step three easier.

FINGER PLACEMENT

An untrained shooter will generally place too much of their finger on the trigger. We recommend using the pad of the forefinger under the center of your fingernail. If you need more leverage because of a heavy trigger pull or a finger strength issue you can shift the finger over to align the trigger with the pad closer to the first joint.

THE DRILL

Using a visually and physically verified unloaded gun, balance a dime on your front sight. Assume a shooting grip and stance. With your gun pointed in a safe direction press the trigger directly to the rear until the hammer/ striker drops. The goal is to keep the coin balanced during the entire sequence. Five minutes of this drill a couple of times per week should have a significant effect on your shooting. If your handgun has both double and single action make sure to practice the drill with both the double and single action trigger pull.

TEST/RETEST

So how will you know if dry fire helps your ability to shoot accurately? Before implementing your dry fire practice routine, do a simple test. One of our favorite accuracy warm up drills is to draw a three-inch circle on a blank sheet of paper. Begin shooting at the three yard line. Fire two rounds into the circle, slow fire with no time limit. The goal is to make a ragged hole in the center of the circle. Then move back and complete the drill shooting two rounds at the 5, 7, 10 and 15- yard line. Measure your grouping. Hopefully all of your rounds are inside the circle. After a few weeks of your dry fire practice, retake the test and compare your results. We are betting that you will see an improvement in your shooting accuracy. There are times when scarcity of ammo, or the price of ammo can be a deterrent to actual live fire shooting, but if you are serious about improving your shooting ability, there is no excuse to not dry fire practice. Add this trigger control drill to your training, we think that you will be pleasantly surprised with your results.

See you on the range!

The untrained shooter will generally place too much of their trigger finger onto the face of the trigger.

The untrained shooter will generally place too much of their trigger finger onto the face of the trigger.

This finger placement is more acceptable.

This finger placement is more acceptable.

FIREARMS SAFETY RULES

1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.

2. Keep your finger along the frame, outside of the trigger guard until on target and have made the decision to shoot.

3. Point the muzzle in a safe direction at all times.

4. Be aware of your target and beyond.

ADDITIONAL DRY FIRE SAFETY RULES

• Dry fire in a room with no ammo in it (unless you are practicing at a live fire range)

• Visually and physically inspect the chamber(s) to ensure that it is unloaded, twice.

• If interrupted for any reason start over with the safety check.

• Tape up a target and remove when done.

• Add a time delay between finish of dry fire and loading your gun

• If the gun that you are using is your concealed carry weapon, as you load it with live ammo say “I am loading my weapon” out loud to signify completion of dry fire practice.

These rules are there to provide a context for your training. We don’t dry fire at objects in our home during our dry fire training, because we don’t want to get into the habit of shooting our TV or pictures on the walls. We want to have a specific time frame where we set up some specific targets, in a specific and safe direction for the duration of our training. Once the training is completed we want to take down the targets, which builds in a time delay before loading our weapon (if it is a daily carried or home defense weapon.)

To add an additional layer of safety we recommend that you use an Ammo Safe insert (www.ammosafe.com) this blocks the chamber from live rounds and provides a stop for your firing pin/ striker, it also provides a safe chamber visual flag.

If your training location does not have a safe direction a ballistic target stop like this one from Aim Pad (www. amazon.com/Bullet-material-backpack-insert-Stopper/dp/ B00F9G47G8/ref=pd_sxp_redirect/180-0466447-5857854) can provide some additional safety. The Aim Pad is a level IIIA ballistic panel.

If you live in an urban environment that would preclude a safe direction and you choose not to spend the money on the ballistic target stop, you can still start off your range day with some dry fire while at the range.

The pad of the finger, noted by the blue bar, under the center of the fingernail will give the most sensitivity. Closer to the first joint but still on the pad, indicated by the green bar, will increase mechanical advantage which is sometimes useful for a heavier trigger pull or a shooter with strength issues. The yellow bar should be avoided.

The pad of the finger, noted by the blue bar, under the center of the fingernail will give the most sensitivity. Closer to the first joint but still on the pad, indicated by the green bar, will increase mechanical advantage which is sometimes useful for a heavier trigger pull or a shooter with strength issues. The yellow bar should be avoided.

Balance a dime on the front sight and practice pressing the trigger straight to the rear while keeping the dime balanced on the sight.

Balance a dime on the front sight and practice pressing the trigger straight to the rear while keeping the dime balanced on the sight.

An empty shell casing can be used instead of a coin.

An empty shell casing can be used instead of a coin.

Ammo Safe inserts block the chamber and give a visual flag that they are inserted. They come in the major calibers for pistol, long gun and sub guns.

Ammo Safe inserts block the chamber and give a visual flag that they are inserted. They come in the major calibers for pistol, long gun and sub guns.

If you have a front ramp sight like found on our Smith and Wesson 686 you can still balance a dime on top. It will just take a steadier hand. And the heavy double action pull will make for some challenging practice!

If you have a front ramp sight like found on our Smith and Wesson 686 you can still balance a dime on top. It will just take a steadier hand. And the heavy double action pull will make for some challenging practice!

As a stepping stone to the ramp side with a double action pull you can place the coin on the barrel.

As a stepping stone to the ramp side with a double action pull you can place the coin on the barrel.