Training Part 3, Dry Fire

In a crisis situation, you will not “rise to the occasion.” You will descend to the level of your training.

I refer to shooting as “Loud Tai-Chi.”

Tai-Chi, if you don’t know what that is, is a slow martial-arts kata. It is used simultaneously as exercise and meditation. You must be calm of mind and calm of body to perform it properly. It is just slow, smooth, repetitive motions.

If you record one of these long-term Tai-Chi practitioners, then speed it up, they’ll kick Bruce Lee’s butt. Shooting is identical to Tai-Chi. You must be calm of mind and calm of body to perform it properly. It is just slow, smooth, repetitive motions. These repeated motions will build a muscle memory into your brain and body. Like how you can drive from home to work and back and your mind and body don’t bother the thinking side of you to get this done because you’ve do it so often.

So when you decide to get into serious training, you should work on the fundamentals first. Dry-fire, at home, empty weapon (no ammo in the room at all), not even a laser bullet. That will come later. Your target will be a light switch or a small post-it note on the wall. The most wonderful thing about dry-fire practice is you can take ten minutes and get 8 minutes of practice in. When you account for grabbing the weapon and clearing it, then reloading it when you're done. That's a minute at most for each operation.

And you'll be watching the thousands of YouTube videos on every piece of shooting advice out there. Massad Ayoob, Bill Wilson, Warrior PoetLenny Magill and a lot more will all give conflicting advice on how to stand, how to grip your weapon, how to pull the trigger and all that. I will never say "ignore them, *I* know the best way." What I do recommend to you is, in the words of Clint Smith, "try different shit until you find what works for you."

I am not going to recommend a certain model firearm, a certain firearm company, or a certain caliber. My standard for you is being able to quickly put rounds where you need to. Accuracy first, then speed. A bad guy will not care if you shoot him with a .380 Auto or a .44 Magnum. If you can quickly and consistently put your bullet in the midline of the attackers chest, 3-4" below the soft spot in his neck, caliber won't matter for the most part.


Professional shooters fire hundreds of rounds a week. Must be nice getting all the ammo you want for free from the sponsor manufacturer. ;-) And for every live round they fire, they dry fire 5-10 times. You dry fire so you don't get the flash, recoil and sound of a live round, which helps you develop the correct muscle memory to shoot properly.

When doing dry fire, practice grabbing your weapon in its holster from concealment. That’s something you really don’t want to mess up is getting to your weapon. Get your concealment garment out of the way. You want a good and proper grip. Grab the weapon and not your clothing. Draw the weapon out of the holster and bring it to your center line, meeting your off-hand in front of your belly button. Obtain the proper two-handed grip as you bring it from low-ready to compressed ready. Extend your arms, bringing your front sight into line with your eye and the target. Once the sight is on the target, pull the trigger so as not to disturb the sight picture until the gun goes “click.” The first few times, that evolution from drawing to click should be several seconds.

Now, do that another 1,000 times, gradually getting faster. ;-) In Feudal Japan, both Ninjas and Samurai would practice drawing their bows, focusing on drawing it properly to develop the correct muscle memory. If they consistently do it properly, after about five years or so of practicing their drawing, they might even get arrows.

Don’t forget reloading your weapon. Practice reloading in dry fire and live fire.

There’s three types of battle reloading:

  • Tactical reload (some rounds still in 1st mag). Grab 2nd mag in non-dominant hand, drop 1st mag into hand with 2nd mag, insert and seat 2nd mag, return 1st mag to magazine holder.
  • In-Battery reload (round in chamber, mag low or empty) This is almost the same as a Tactical Reload, except you just drop the magazine. Drop mag, grab and insert 2nd mag and fire. I don’t recommend this, as you could have a magazine still with some ammunition in it. Better to perform a tactical reload, checking the ejected mag before putting it into the mag holder.
  • Emergency reload (slide lock). With slide to the rear and an empty magazine, you must drop mag, grab and insert 2nd mag, drop slide (pull or slide release) and fire.

Once you get the accuracy down, then move on to the next article and practice specifically the "Comfort Zone" and "" drills so you can start working on speed.

As some famous Cowboy gunfighter said a long time ago,

It’s not who draws first, or even who shoots first. The winner of the gunfight is who hits first.

Always take that to heart. If you have achieved smooth, you can go fast. If you have achieved only fast, you cannot be smooth.

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