How often have you heard the axiom, “Practice makes perfect” throughout your life? Probably about a million and two, we’d guess. Of course, it’s such a commonly repeated refrain because it does actually work. Want to learn how to plan an instrument well? Practice. Want to get better at cooking things your family and friends will actually want to eat? Practice. Want to improve your accuracy with your AR 15? Yep, you guessed it: practice! But if you don’t have time to make it to your local shooting range after work, and your weekends tend to fill up quickly, what’s an AR owner to do? When you don’t have time to go somewhere safe and fire a few rounds, dry firing can be a decent substitute to help you develop and stay in good habits.
Put plainly, dry firing is just shooting without ammo. More specifically, it’s a mostly-complete simulation of firing your weapon; it’s going through all the steps and motions you’d usually take to fire a round, except you do so without any ammunition in the gun. It’s a great way for people who are brand new to the gun community, or even those who are experienced but learning to handle a new style of firearm, to learn the mechanics of a gun’s manipulation before adding ammo to the mix. And, because you aren’t using any ammo or other equipment, it’s also a great way to stay in practice with all of your firearms when you’re at home with some time to spare. To dry fire, start by clearing your gun (and add a chamber flag if you really want to be sure), pick a target, draw, take aim, and ‘fire.’
There is a pervasive myth around the gun community as a whole that dry firing can damage a firearm and should never ever be done. Well, that may have been true at one point, but that’s really not the case these days. If your gun chambers centerfire rounds, the firing pin won’t actually hit anything if the gun isn’t loaded, so you’re safe to dry fire. If your gun is a rimfire, you will want to invest in snap caps to take the hit without actually firing anything. But the point is, with a modicum of preparation, dry firing can be a valuable way to hone your skills and keep in practice with all of your firearms when you can’t make it out to the range.
It can seem counterintuitive that dry firing actually helps, especially since you aren’t actually firing live ammo. So how can you keep track of your accuracy? Well, it’s not quite as straightforward as spending some time dry firing at home and seeing immediate improvements in your accuracy the next time you get to the range. The big reason dry firing can help you boost your accuracy is that it is practice that helps you create muscle memory while the gun is unloaded. Assuming you practice proper form, that muscle memory will translate over when you’re next at the range.
Dry firing is a great way to practice all the basic skills on a routine basis — thus keeping your muscle memory well honed. It can even be a good way to correct poor posture or other issues you might have developed. Of course, this only works if you’re taking the time to thoroughly practice each step. A big part of dry fire drills is to make sure you’re practicing proper (and firm) grip, working on your stance, and practicing proper trigger control every time, not just working on your sight picture and sight alignment. Ultimately, running through every step on a consistent basis can help improve your draw time, get you more comfortable with sighting shots, and even help with the little things like reducing your flinch. This can also be a good time for you to try different stances and sighting shots to see what will be the most comfortable and sturdy of a stance for you.
As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, a solid grip and stance can have a big impact on your accuracy. When you’re going through dry firing drills, make sure you are doing so with all of your custom AR parts and accessories attached. It can also be a good time to shift around your forend grip or handstop to test what works best for you. And, if you need help getting a firm grip, check out RailScales for the best AR foregrip options. Our rail scales are lightweight, provide great texture for gripping, and work with any M-LOK or KeyMod rail system. Explore more online!