Dry Fire Training: Come out of Quarantine a Better Shooter
Eve Flanigan 03.26.20
Most readers are, at this moment in history, under some sort of isolation or social distancing policy. It’s easy to wax philosophical on the proper intersection of public health and the concepts of individual liberty that the United States was founded on – and there’s a time for that. But that must be balanced with the skills to preserve security and secure liberty, not to mention food, should this thing go on for months – with superior marksmanship and gun handling. Days away from the range make the best shooter rusty. But you don’t have to let dust accumulate on your gun, nor rust on your skills, if you take a little time each day for some dry fire drills.
I think I’ll call it the “2020 Coronavirus Dry Fire Challenge.” And who’s your competition? Yourself.
In this installment of what may be one or many “isolation drill” articles, I’ll cover activities you can do to keep your skills honed. This one, for the home defense carbine, borrows heavily from one recently posted on Instagram by Kyle Defoor of Defoor Proformance Shooting, whose pistol and defensive tactics class I’ve had the privilege of attending.
On your mark!
Pick a spot on a “safe wall,” preferably of solid construction, that is the distance of an average living room from where you’ll be dry firing. On that wall, at approximately chest height, place a target of some sort – an 8 – or 10-inch disposable plate is fine if you don’t have an IPSC – or IDPA-style target.
There should be NO AMMUNITION IN THE ROOM when conducting your drill. That means magazine removed, chamber checked and double-checked, preferably visually and with a finger for extra assurance! If you share your home with a gun-loving partner, or at least a tolerant one who’s willing to learn, have them double-check that there is no ammunition in the gun or in the room.
A timer is great but not necessary. If you have a shot timer, set it for a two- or three-second delay to give yourself time to start the drill on “BEEP.” Or have that supportive partner be your timer-operator, knowing that you’ll owe them the same service, or maybe a homemade martini, or that last bit of TP on the roll later.
My carbine of choice this week (okay, the last two years) is a Savage MSR Recon chambered in .223 Wylde. I have it outfitted with a Magpul two-point sling, which for this exercise is around one shoulder at a level of adjustment that makes the transition between trips to the coffee pot and firing position seamless. On top of the rail is a Mepro RDS Pro V2 red dot (yep, it’s big, but I like it).
Defoor suggests 0.75 seconds. My shot timer only does 1/10 increments, so I ran this at 0.8, still a challenging time.
Stand the distance of the room away from the target, being conscientious always of muzzle safety – don’t muzzle pets or family members! (Don’t tell my family member what order they appeared in that sentence).
Hold the slung rifle in the ready position, that is, safety on, and the bottom corner of the buttstock planted where it’ll be while you’re firing, and the muzzle pointed about four feet below the target plate—the level of your imaginary intruder’s feet.
Pro tip: most people want to set the buttstock of the combat carbine too low, as if they were nestled in tight behind a hunting rifle. Play with the rotation up to your cheek for a few reps. The butt should be high enough that you don’t have to tilt your head more than a couple degrees to get a cheek weld.
Start with eyes fixed on the center of the target. On “BEEP,” rotate the rifle straight up from the ready position to your firing position, simultaneously moving the safety lever to the fire position. When the target appears behind your front sight or red dot, place finger on trigger and “fire.”
Do as many reps as needed without paying attention to the second “beep,” to insure your technique is perfect – the rifle is moving in a straight line up from ready position to your cheek, and that you’re seeing the sight clearly when the “click” happens (what would be a “bang” if the rifle were loaded).
You should be able to say, for each rep, where your sight was on target at the moment the shot broke. This will help develop your skill at what is one of the two most-neglected fundamentals – follow through.
Run the charging handle to reset the trigger and repeat.
With practice, you should be able to beat the timer within one or two sessions of just 20 or so reps. I found this drill well within my limits until adding the step of turning on the optic. Thanks to the ergonomics of the Mepro Pro V2 it’s still possible to make the time and land the shot on target, but I’m not yet hitting 100 percent consistency. I can feel it coming though, and after three practice sessions it’s a lot easier. What a treat to know my snap-shot time will be better after this quarantine than before!
Hope you enjoyed this little drill. Let us know if you’d prefer more pistol or carbine drills for the “2020 Coronavirus Dry Fire Challenge.”