Dry Fire Safety
Dry firing a gun with when you go through the whole process of shooting a gun, including pulling the trigger, but without any ammo in it. Dry firing can have many positive benefits and can be especially helpful to newer shooters. It allows one to practice different movements, drills, form, weapon drawing etc., all without the danger of a loaded weapon. And it's of course cheaper than going to the range every time you want to practice. However, while the very act of dry firing a weapon is in no way dangerous, the whole process is. You can find plenty of examples on the internet where somebody thought the weapon was unloaded and they went to dry fire; resulting in severe injury or death. It's easy to say, "Well, I always pay attention, and obviously I'd never shoot without making sure my gun wasn't loaded," but it's also easy to get distracted and make mistakes.
Dry firing can be a safe and helpful event as long as you follow some consistent gun safety rules and use good common sense. There are a few consistent rules that one should always keep in mind when handling firearms, and this certainly includes when dry firing as well.
1. Always treat a gun as if it were loaded- It's simple common sense, but unfortunately not always followed. While guns are ultimately tools, they are also deadly. And this rule doesn't mean treat the gun differently after you've checked to see it's unloaded. ALWAYS, act as if the gun is loaded. So, loaded or not, you should never find yourself pointing a gun at someone who is not an immediate threat to your life; whom you are willing and preparing to shoot. The importance of this rule cannot be overstated, and if followed, will be your foundation for good gun safety for years to come.
2. Never point your weapon at something you are not ready and willing to destroy- This one really goes hand in hand with the first rule. If you aren't willing to shoot something, intentionally or not, don't point your gun at it. This goes for friends, the family pet, and anything else that you wouldn't want to harm. This doesn't mean you can point the end towards something if it's unloaded and you don't have your finger on the trigger, it means NEVER point the end towards something important. Drawing a hard line in the sand and strictly adhering to this rule will greatly reduce the chance of gun related injury; including especially, accidental misfires or discharges.
3. Don't place your finger on the trigger until the target is in your sights and you're ready to shoot- A target is anything you are deliberately aiming at. Poor adherence to this rule is how people shoot themselves in the foot while drawing their gun. In a dire situation you may need to move quickly, but you should never rush and place your finger on the trigger before you're aiming down the sites and ready to fire. Until that point, many choose to rest their finger firmly along the slide of the gun. This makes it easy to shift into a firing position if need be, but lowers the odds of accidentally firing the weapon because you slipped.
4. Always be sure of your target and what's behind it- More common sense that is easy to forget or ignore. Bullets have little trouble passing through objects and continuing on into other unintentional objects. I myself grew up shooting out on the farm and regardless of what kind of target we were shooting at, we always made sure there was an embankment behind it. This rule could also apply in a situation where you are attacked. You may be dead accurate and able to hit your attacker, but in a crowded mall what might you also unintentionally hit after the attacker?
ALWAYS use the above 4 rules when handling a firearm. The following should also be practiced when dry firing a weapon.
Make sure you have a safe place to dry fire with a solid backstop. Using rule no.4, you'll be sure that your dry fire target is on the back wall of your cement garage, which happens to back up to a hill. As opposed to something hanging on a drywall wall.
Remove all interruptions, you don't want to be answering the phone in the middle of your dry fire routine.
Unload your gun by racking the slide repeatedly.
Double check that your gun is totally unloaded. Lock the slide back and inspect the chamber both visually and physically. If you are doing a magazine drill, make sure those are completely empty as well.
Remove all ammunition from the area. The safest thing here is to lock it back up.
Check once more that the gun is completely unloaded. If you find yourself second guessing or questioning, check again. Safety is of paramount importance.
Mentally shift your focus into practice mode. Adhering to all the above rules while reminding yourself that this is practice. You will sink to the level of your training when forced to react in a real situation. So take this time seriously and focus.
Dry fire. You can now do any dry fire drills you wanted to practice. Typically 10-20 minutes is enough. It's important not to let your focus drift.
When finished, take down any target you set up, and return your gun to it's original locked place. If you typically have your gun loaded, remind yourself as you load your gun that the weapon is now live. It may sound weird, but say it out loud even. This helps readjust your mind out of dry fire practice.
Dry firing is not an activity to be taken lightly and can be dangerous. But there are many uses to it as well. We will be mentioning different dry fire drills here on our site, so don't hesitate to come back to this article anytime you need a refresher. Just remember to put safety first and follow the above principles and gun safety rules to the strictest level, no exceptions!