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Training Tips for When the Range is Closed

These are strange times indeed. It’s likely you might be in a situation where you can’t go to the range to work on your gun skills right now. Gun stores, ranges and the likes are closed in many states.  While that’s frustrating and an important political discussion, we all need practical ways to stay sharp when the range is unavailable.

The key to training without ammo is dry fire. Competitive shooters use dry fire training all the time. You’re going through the mechanics of firing your weapon, but there are no loaded rounds, so you’re not shooting anything. It’s safe, efficient, convenient and cost-effective. These tips will help you get the most from your dry fire training.

First, let’s talk about equipment. Technically, you can dry fire with nothing more than your weapon, but a few extra tools can do a lot of good. The first is a chamber flag. It’s simple enough. The chamber flag makes it very, very difficult to have a stupid accident. Safety is still paramount in dry fire exercises.

The second thing you want is a timer. When you dry fire, you can’t work on recoil control and follow-up shots, so you’re going to focus more on getting that first shot where you want it. That means you’ll do more draw and presentation practice. A timer lets you push that practice to get faster without losing control.

The third device to consider is an aim tracker. They come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and many of them can communicate with your smartphone to help you see exactly where your shot aims. They can be a little pricey, but you’ll make that money back by purchasing less ammo pretty quickly.

With your equipment ready, you want some exercises to focus your training. Dry firing willy nilly isn’t worth much. Cultivated practice routines can transform your shooting. There are three drills that can make up the bulk of your dry fire practice.

The first is draw. Essentially, you want to work meticulously on the mechanics of drawing and firing your weapon. Start slow and really attack every movement in your draw. Then, slowly speed up your routine to get it faster without sacrificing clean technique. When you’re feeling comfortable, you can use the timer to test your limits.

The second exercise is grip and trigger control. Even though you can’t work on recoil, you can still practice your trigger squeeze. The drill is simple. Balance a coin on your front sight. Then do some dry fire trigger pulling. If your technique is off, the coin will fall. When you can consistently and reliably keep the coin in place, find something that is even harder to balance. A perfect trigger pull won’t move the barrel at all, so you can escalate the balancing challenge until you’re confident your trigger pull is ideal.

Your third drill is positioning. This will benefit the most from an aim tracker. Start getting comfortable in uncomfortable shooting positions. Fire with each hand by itself. Fire from a crouch, kneeling, on your side and anything else you can imagine. Especially think about firing from behind cover, and consider how to move to new cover after firing. This training allows you to develop your skills immensely, and you can do it at home.

If you take dry firing seriously, no lockdown, ammo shortage or other obstacle will slow your growth. The next time you do get to the range, you’ll see just how much dry firing can help you improve.


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