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Dry Firing: Develop Good Habits With These Drills

February 19, 2018

For most of us, a little range time would be the perfect end to the day. Unfortunately, life gets so busy and full of other time commitments that time at the shooting range often falls to the end of the to-do list. Is once every month or two enough time for you? We know how hard life can make it to squeeze in all the things you need to do in a day and still save room for fun. So, when you don’t have time to make it to your local shooting range, it’s time to find other ways to stay in practice and keep up that muscle memory. Dry firing is a great way to help you keep in practice when you don’t have a safe space to fire a few rounds and, bonus, it can be done from the comfort of home when you’ve got a few minutes to spare.

Dry Firing Basics

Dry firing is the act of running through the actions you’d normally take to fire a gun, you’re just doing it without any ammo. There’s an ongoing myth that doing so can cause some major damage to your firearm, but as long as your gun is centerfire, you’ll be fine. And, even if your firearm is a rimfire, there are great workarounds so you can still run through some dry fire drills at home. If you’re worried about potential damage, snap caps are a great option for both centerfire and rimfire guns. Most snap caps are good for around 300 to 400 clicks before they lose their cushioning power and a multi-pack is generally less than twenty dollars, so they’re a pretty worthwhile investment. If you’re still not sure, learn more about the basics of dry firing in our previous blog post.

Get Practicing

Dry firing is a valuable process for any gun owner, not just AR 15 owners, because it can help you keep in practice, which will help keep your muscle memory strong. Don’t skimp on going through every step properly, however, because poor practices can also create some less than helpful habits. Whether you’re just practicing drawing, aiming, and firing or you’re running through one of the below drills, focus on your grip and stance above all else so you can make sure the habits you’re creating or honing are good ones.

The basic runthrough for dry firing is to clear your gun (then double and triple check, just in case) and make it unshootable if possible, then go through the motions as if you were really preparing to fire a round. Pick a target across the room, preferably something small, draw, take aim, and pull the trigger. Focus on proper stance and grip throughout and try to avoid flinching the same way you would with a loaded firearm. If you want to challenge yourself and keep improving, even away from the range, you can also try these drills:

Draw Practice

The AR 15’s origins as a military firearm means that a lot of the design elements are intended to help the owner get into a ready stance quickly and seamlessly. If you’re interested in improving your draw times, especially for competition shooting, focus your dry firing practice on precisely that. Go from relaxed to ready, but go slow and focus on the movements. Increase your speed after the muscle memory has started noticeable developing, not before.


This is a sort of continuation on the last, but practicing your ready stance from any position you might choose to fire from can help improve your accuracy when you do get a chance to go out and shoot next. That means going from relaxed to ready while standing, kneeling/sitting, and prone. As with draw practice, start off with slow, smooth, and steady movements so you can create better muscle memory.

Practice As You’d Fire

The basis behind all dry firing is to act as if you were really going to fire (but make sure there isn’t ammo anywhere near your gun for safety’s sake). That means wearing eye and ear protection, putting on your hunting gear or whatever you’d normally wear while shooting, and having your usual accessories attached.

As you go through dry firing practice, put special focus on your grip and stance. If you find you need help getting a firmer grasp, we suggest a few methods to help you out. Try the lightweight but durable forend grip and hand stop options from RailScales to give that boost you need to get a better grip and improve your accuracy. Shop online today to learn more!