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“Dry Fire, Dry Practice, Dry Firing”

“Dry Fire, Dry Practice, Dry Firing”

By: Tom Perroni

The motivation from this article came from a discussion I had with several firearms instructors. We were discussing the fact that some of the veteran officers who had recently come to the range to qualify were having problems with low scores. The same officers fresh out of training had much higher scores.

So the question was asked to the veteran and rookies: How often do you practice? The answer was not very often… The follow up question was how come? The answer was that going to the range was expensive and the officer simply did not have the funds available to practice on his or her own time. I was shocked since most of the training at my Academy is for Law Enforcement and Private Security. These folks are paid to deal with Deadly Force situations. And the Handgun is the most important tool of their trade. With their lives and the lives of the public at stake they should be at the very least proficient with this tool.

So my follow up question was have you ever heard of or practiced Dry Firing or Dry Practice? I was again surprised by the puzzled looks on the faces of these officers. One officer finally said, “What is Dry Firing?”

Dry Fire – This when the trigger is pulled without live ammunition in the firearm.
This method of training can be done just about anywhere and costs absolutely nothing. In this Instructors opinion it is vital to anyone who uses or carries a handgun. Essentially you are doing everything you would do at the range except your handgun is empty. (NO AMMO) The most important single fundamental skill in shooting - Trigger Control – is one which can best be improved off the range in dry practice. As I have stated in past articles there are (7) fundamentals of Handgun shooting which all can be practiced with Dry Fire.

Tips to get you Started

1. Safety: This is the most import facet of Dry Fire practice! Make sure the Handgun is UNLOADED! Make sure that all live ammo is out of the room or area you will be training in. Also make sure you have a suitable backstop. The use of snap caps is up to the shooter. Some people feel they protect the firing pin. However you can fire most modern firearms without causing any damage to the fringing pin or the action of the handgun. Consult your owner’s manual to be sure.

2. Targets: This is left up to the individual. You may use anything you like B-27 or an FBI –Q or life-size human target or a 3X5 index card or a spot on the wall; you will however need a reference point to aim at. This is important.

3. What should be practiced? I suggest practicing everything you do at the range - all seven fundamentals of marksmanship:

1. Stance
2. Grip
3. Sight Alignment
4. Sight Picture
5. Trigger Control / Press
6. Breathing
7. Follow Through

Also the draw which has (5) points, as well as reloading and safe high speed gun handling. There are several types of Reloads that can also be practiced.

A. 5 Points to the Draw

1. The firing hand secures a firing grip on the handgun while the support hand touches flat to the abdomen
2. The handgun is lifted straight up until it just clears the top of the holster. The trigger finger is straight on the Handgun. The support hand is still flat against the abdomen. The hand and the forearm are in line with the handgun.
3. The firing side elbow drops and the muzzle points directly toward the target. The support hand is still flat against the abdomen. The trigger finger is straight.
4. The handgun starts toward the target and the support hand establishes the proper grip. The muzzle never covers any part of the body. The trigger finger is still straight. The hands come together fingers over fingers and thumb over thumb
5. The handgun is at eye level and the finger is on the trigger.

Then we place the handgun back in the holster in the exact reverse order while maintaining eye contact with the target. “Do not look at the holster.”

B. Speed Reloads: These drills help develop muscle memory. Press the magazine release to drop the magazine while at the same time with the non shooting hand grab the fresh magazine from its pouch, indexed with your finger, and insert into the magazine well. If this is done correctly the magazines will pass each other in mid air.

C. Tap-Rack-Asses this drill clears malfunctions and or Jams and effectively “resets” the firearm.

Tap- means to smack the bottom of the magazine firmly enough to lock it into place or dislodge any bind in the magazine.

Rack- is a cycling of the slide to eject any hammered or dead casing or to re-chamber a new cartridge following a malfunction.

Assess- means being prepared to commence or resume fire as required by assessing the situation.

(These maneuvers most be able to be performed flawlessly and subconsciously any time the shooter experiences a failure to fire or malfunction)

3. How often should I practice “Dry Fire”?

Practicing the above drills for 10-15 minutes each day will greatly benefit the shooter. I have seen marked improvement in students who practiced these drills for just 2 days. However please remember Handgun Skills are like buying a car: if you do not make your payments the car will be repossessed. If you do not practice the new handgun skills you paid for they will also be repossessed.

In conclusion remember smooth is fast, and speed is economy of motion; Accuracy always takes precedence over speed. As John Skaggs from the Chapman Academy says “You should own two guns . One you wear out dry-firing and the other you shoot with.”

I urge you to spend the minimal time required to develop your “Dry Fire” skills with this cost-free method that will improve your life saving skills.

Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!

444 Posts
“Trigger Control”

A Pressing Concern for Instructors & Students

By: Tom Perroni

I have been an Instructor for about 20 years. I have been an Instructor Trainer (Someone who trains Instructors) for about 5 years and I have been a Firearms Instructor Trainer for 4 years.

My father, who was a U.S. Marine Corps small arms Instructor & NRA Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, taught me anyone can call the line… it takes an Instructor to fix the students problems. He would always say, “Watch the shooter, not the target.” In this way you can see what they are doing wrong and then verify it by looking at the target.

I teach that there are seven fundamentals of handgun shooting, and that each one is important to get accurate hits on a target. Whether we are talking about “Target Accuracy” or “Combat Accuracy” is something I will discuss in a future article. The most important thing in a gunfight is to hit what you aim at. However there is one fundamental that causes the most problems for students and instructors: Trigger Control. The vast majority of the time, a bad shot on an intended target can be directly traced to trigger control, or a lack thereof.

Here are some of the facts that I teach Firearms Instructors about Trigger Control:

1. It is the most common problem in shooters.
2. If not done correctly, you will not hit what you aim at.
3. Has to be done properly, even when hurried.
4. Trigger jerk and anticipation of recoil will consume 75% of your corrective action as an instructor.
5. This is the cornerstone of shooting fundamentals.
6. Once mastered, it must be practiced to the point where it is a subconscious act.
7. A shooter can practice with dry fire or ball and dummy exercises.
8. A shooter's target clearly tells the instructor whether proper trigger control is being employed.
9. Too large a percentage of firearms instructors do not know how to correct this in shooters, or themselves.
10. The exact same fundamental should be used no matter what weapon system the shooter is utilizing double action (DA), single action (SA), double action only (DAO).
11. Shooters will find a hundred excuses before they admit they are jerking the trigger or anticipating recoil. Most single action systems allow the shooter to jerk the trigger with minimal sight movement. Up close this is not a problem. To find out about trigger control, shoot from 15 to 25 yards.
13. A firearms instructor MUST be able to teach the proper method of controlling the trigger.
14. No matter what terminology you use, the trigger must cause the hammer to fall without disturbing the proper sight alignment!

All too often instructors will tell the student about their trigger control or lack thereof; however no one seems to be able to tell that student how to fix the problem. I will attempt to give you a few tools to fix this problem in your students or yourself.

Let’s begin with the trigger finger’s placement vis-à-vis the trigger. At Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy we teach students who are using a semi-auto pistol that the trigger should cross the finger approximately halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint, over the swirl of the fingerprint.

Finger Placement The finger is placed so that the trigger is halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint. “The trigger is squeezed or pressed straight to the rear in a smooth continuous manner without disturbing sight alignment.” You should not be able to predict the instant the gun will fire. Each shot should come as a surprise. Note the trigger finger continually maintains contact with the trigger.

Trigger Squeeze / Press. After attaining proper placement of the finger on the trigger, proper trigger pressure can be applied to the trigger. There are three parts of trigger pressure each time the weapon is fired. They are slack, squeeze / press, and follow through.

All three parts are important to proper trigger control.

1. Slack. The shooter must first take up the slack at the beginning of the trigger movement by applying slight pressure to the trigger. The trigger will move slightly to the rear until the internal parts of the trigger mechanism come into full contact with each other, and the “softness” in the tip of the finger is eliminated.

2. Squeeze / Press. The trigger is then in the squeeze / press portion of its movement, which is when the internal parts of the weapon are being disengaged from each other to allow the hammer to fall. The pressure should be a smooth, constant, and even pressure, applied straight to the rear so that the sights are not misaligned at the instant the hammer falls. Once the hammer begins to fall, the follow through portion of trigger control begins.

3. Follow Through. Follow through is the continued steady pressure applied to the trigger until the trigger reaches its most rearward point of travel. If the shooter does not continue to apply the constant, even pressure during follow through, it is possible that the impact of the round could move on the target, thus spoiling an otherwise good shot.

Trigger Release
Once the shot has broken and the trigger is fully to the rear it must be released forward for follow up shots. The most failsafe method is to maintain contact with the trigger and let it move fully forward at the same speed with which you pressed it. The marksman’s trick of letting the trigger return only far enough to reset the sear or "hear the click" This is most evident in Glocks! When shooting fast with a loss of fine motor dexterity the tendency is to not let the trigger forward enough. The result is at best a momentary pause in the firing and at worst a perception that the gun has malfunctioned somehow. We call it "double clutching" the trigger.

Dry fire practice is the key to achieve proper trigger press and will not damage a modern handgun. However you must press the trigger to the rear without disrupting sight picture and sight alignment.
Point of aim is point of impact. Which means where ever the front sight is when the bullet leaves the barrel is where it will impact on the target.
There is also one other Federal Law Enforcement Agency that has it’s agents repeat front sight, front sight, front sight, front sight until the trigger breaks. This allows them to focus on the front sight to get that surprise break “while using proper trigger control.”

Believe it or not there are more things to talk about when it comes to trigger control but we only have so much room for the article. Want to know more? Come to class, and we’ll talk…..
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