Competitive Shooting

Off Season Training: Dry Fire Plan

Looking outside my office window in a Seattle suburb, it’s definitely fall. How can I tell? It’s raining and 55 degrees. That means it is definitely the off-season for the shooting sports, unless you live in Florida or one of those places where the weather is fairly seasonable year-round. For most folks that means that their live-fire practice time gets cut down considerably. But it’s very important to keep your shooting skills up in the winter time as well, which means dry fire practice.

One of the essentials for dry fire practice are Snap Caps if you’re going to be practicing things like reloads. Using snap caps makes sure that you won’t sneak a live round of ammo in the gun and acts as an additional safety barrier for your practice. Today we’re going to take a 10,000 foot overview of a simple 3 day a week practice set up for dry fire. But first, let’s talk safety. Cooking off a live round in your dwelling is definitely a “no-no” but there are measures we can take to avoid that.

  • Don’t practice manipulations with a gun you’re going to load at the end of the practice session. If you’re practicing dry with a gun and then load it, you’re just asking for trouble.
  • Remove all the live ammo from the room you’re in. This may seem silly, but it’s an easy step to accomplish and does nothing to hurt you.
  • Use actual targets to practice with. Even if you’re just printing out IPSC silhouettes on printer paper, use something that’s clearly a definable “target” for your practice.

Now that we’ve got safety down, the next thing we want to look at is a rough training plan for the next three months. I like to sync my dry fire practice up with another activity such as exercise. So assuming for the moment that we do strength training M/W/F, we’ll do dry fire on those days as well. To add a level of difficulty to your dry fire practice, do it after you do your strength training. With October being Month 1, here’s a rough overview of the dry fire plan for the next month:

  • Monday: Draw stroke/trigger control – 15 minutes
  • Wednesday: Reloads – 15 minutes
  • Friday: Draw/reloads – 15 minutes

I’ll very rarely dry fire for longer than 15 minutes, because I get bored and frustrated spending more time than that on it. Dry fire is only slightly less boring than watching paint dry, so make sure you keep your practice sessions short. In the next few weeks we’ll look at specific dry fire drills to practice the fundamentals, as well as how to connect your dry fire practice to physical training. Don’t forget to order your snap caps!

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