Dry-fire is a generic term for practicing at home with an unloaded gun. It does not necessarily only mean pulling the trigger. It can refer to practicing reloads, drawing, or most any other skill you need.

I wholeheartedly recommend dry-fire practice. I attribute dry-fire to my ability to classify as master in several disciplines within a year after I first started shooting. When you dry-fire, you can practice just about any of the skills you can work on in live-fire without going to the range and paying for targets, ammo, or range time. Then when you do go to the range, you only have to verify the dry-fire practice has helped you to become proficient at the basic skills. Generally, after the first few weeks of practice, I recommend you dry-fire at least weekly and shoot live-fire at least monthly.

Do not dry-fire at an interior wall that a bullet could pass through. An interior wall with an outer brick wall on the opposite side or a stone fireplace works well. I have a friend who uses a cardboard target with a Kevlar vest on it. Never, under any circumstances whatsoever, dry-fire at anything you could possibly destroy. This includes people, pets, the TV set, or anything else a bullet could destroy. Other than being unsafe and irresponsible, you can be charged with a felony (in TN, specifically but in most other states as well) if you point a gun at a person, regardless of whether it is loaded, unless you have justification to take their life.

If there is nothing in your house at which you can safely dry-fire, do not dry-fire at home. Do not dry-fire at something unsafe because you "know the gun is unloaded." I reiterate, never, under any circumstances whatsoever, for any reason whatsoever, are you to dry-fire at something you could destroy. Do not dry-fire if you are tired, distracted, or your mind is on anything other than your practice time.

This type of practice should be done in the following setting:

1. Go off into a room by yourself and shut the door.

2. Turn off the TV, radio, computer, iPod, cell phone, and any other devices that could concievably distract you.

3. Clear the gun, put the ammo across the room (in another room is even better) and check it to be sure it is clear.

4. Find a small target that is in a safe, bullet-proof place. (see above paragraph)

5. Get into position.

6. Check your gun again.

7. Check your gun again.

8. Take a deep breath and relax.

9. Check your gun again. Be absolutely, by God sure, the chamber and magazine well are clear!

10. Say out loud, "I'm beginning my dry-fire practice time."

11. Stop practicing before you are tired or distracted, as you tend to get sloppy in your techniques and build bad habits.
      A. For the first two weeks, practice every day, 15-20 max.
      B. For the next two weeks, practice 2-3 times a week, 15-20 max.
      C. After that, practice 1 or 2 times a week, 15-20 max.

12. Vary your practice routines.
      A. Start with slow presentations. Make them perfect, then speed up gradually.
      B. If you have a DA/SA gun, practice using the double action trigger.
      C. Move on to other skills. Always start off slowly/perfectly.

13. If you are distracted for any reason, start over from step one or quit for the day.

14. Once finished, say out loud, "I'm finished for the day."

15. Put the gun away. Do not practice any more, not even once more!

16. Go on with your life until your next practice session.

Practice different skills. Multiple targets, shooting on the move, reloads (using dummy ammo), etc.

Don't dry-fire the following types of guns:

Cheap, crappy guns
.22 caliber or any rim-fire guns
Berettas (Beretta says it will crack the firing pin)
Any gun that the manufacturer says not to dry-fire

Most other high quality, well made sidearms can be dry-fired with no problem. I dry-fire my Sigs all the time, however, if there is any question, contact the manufacturer as in some cases, dry-firing may void the warranty. You can buy 'snap-caps' or other types of dummy cartridges, for any gun that you don't want to dry-fire.

When you go to the range to practice, have a set of drills you want to work on. Donít just go to the range and send lead down range. You can use any of the drills on this page or any others you may already have. Most importantly, practice skills that are needed in real-world confrontations. Don't waste a lot of time practicing skills you will never need. For the most part, the average citizen needs to work on quickly getting the gun into action from concealment, and fast accuracy. I know people that go to the range and spend all day practicing bullseye shooting at 50 yards. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's concievable that you would need different skills in a close-range lethal attack. It is a good idea to keep up with your progress over a period of time. Keep a log of the drills you practice and your accuracy rate, so you can compare it to what you do at a later day. Otherwise, it's difficult to know if you are improving.

Start off with a dry warm up for one or two minutes, doing everything slowly and correctly. Once you change to live fire, strive to do everything right. Start off slowly and speed up gradually. As you speed up, do not sacrifice correctness or proper technique for speed.

Once you are about finished for the day, set aside about five or ten rounds. Once you have finished everything else you are going to do, take the rounds you set aside and load them into your gun. Fire a small group (smallest group possible, to work on trigger control) at the target (any distance is ok, but preferably 7 yards or less, so you can see the shot group).

Once finished with this, stop for this session. Do not try anything else for this session. When you do "one more" whatever, you tend to do it wrong and leave with a bad impression in your mind.

Getting the most from IDPA or other matches. A related article. Click here.:

If you are lookng for the drills that were at one time listed on this page, please download the following document. I incorporated those drills into another document that I already had here and reposted it as a PDF file.

Click here for the drills:


Click here for the drills:


Click here for a specific set of drills that I compiled:

Even though there are rankings listed, you will not suddenly become an expert gunfighter if you can shoot these drills. The drills are intended for a person to have a good base of shooting skills that might be needed in a gunfight, and the rankings are for informational and comparative purposes only so you track your progress and are not intended to give you some arbitrary title of "master" or "expert" which, in and of itself, doesn't really mean anything.

I should note that if you happen to already have an older copy of the document, there is a notation on it regarding achieving a certificate. I decided to remove that because too many people are worried about attaining a title, which, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, is completely arbitrary and means nothing.

In real gunfights, there is almost always lots of movement on the part of all parties involved. The only reason these drills don't incorporate much movement is because at most public ranges, shooters cannot move much, if at all, while shooting. To make the drills more realistic, you can add movement, side to side or in various directions when you have the opportunity to do so safely.

If you have any trouble downloading the file, Click Here to Send Me an Email to Request the File