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How To Make The Most Of Your Dry Fire Training

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Aaron Spuler is a firearms enthusiast and recreational shooter. Follow more or his work at The Weapon Blog

After assembling your choice of an upper receiver and pairing it with just the right lower, you may be thinking about immediately taking your rifle to the range for its maiden voyage. If you’re a practiced firearm enthusiast, there’s no harm in that, but for the novice, there may be something else you may want to consider, and that’s dry firing your rifle.

Dry firing your AR15 is testing the firing mechanism without ammunition. You can try dry firing your rifle from the comforts of home, but first, you need to ensure your AR is entirely free of any ammunition.

Unloading Your AR15 Completely

Before bringing your AR15 to your shoulder, remove the magazine and pull back on the charging handle. Inspect the chamber to ensure there’s no round, and with the handle pulled back, you may want to poke around with your finger to be certain physically.

You’ll want to remove your hand from the chamber before releasing the charging handle, or the resulting pinch may be a little unpleasant.

So now your AR15 is cleared of ammunition and ready to dry fire. If you’re asking yourself why you’re even doing this in the first place, there are many things you learn when dry firing your weapon.

Although dry firing your rifle is little more than pulling the trigger until you hear it click, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an exercise in boredom. It may sound that way, but there are so many ways to make the best of your dry fire training that you’ll be glad you make a habit of it.

Safe Operation

One of the best things dry firing your weapon will teach you is the right way to operate and sometimes expose the wrong way you’re handling your AR15. With no ammunition in the rifle, you can visualize and perform each step in the process.

With each dry fire sequence, you can safely practice the best way to acquire a target, whether you’re using a scope or iron sight.

How you handle your rifle is just as important as how you fire it. Do you always remember to keep the muzzle pointed downrange? What about stock placement against your shoulder? What about hand grip and support hand placement?

If it feels awkward during a dry fire session, it’s going to be just as uncomfortable when you cycle a few rounds at the range.

Making the most of your dry fire training means you get to go through all the steps to firing your weapon as many times as you want but without all the explosions, heated cartridges flying around, and the smell of gun powder filling your nostrils.

Most experts agree that the quickest way to hone your firing skills is by practicing dry fire training. Visualization techniques during dry fire training sessions help a beginning shooter become more at ease using the weapon.

While nothing comes close to the thrill of a day at the range and plinking targets, how well you acquire the targets and hit them is typically the result of more than a few dry fire training sessions.

What You See

Getting the best of dry fire training means mentally cataloging what you should see and feel during a live-fire session. You can tack a full-size target on a wall or tape a few pieces of paper or sticky notes instead, then step back and practice your target acquisition.  

Don’t get into the habit of inspecting your AR15 each time you hear the trigger click. This part of dry firing training should be teaching you how to focus on whatever type of sight system you have in place.

When shooting with iron sighting systems, the sight at the tip of the barrel where the muzzle opening is should always be your primary focus. If the tip of your iron sight is in focus and the rear notches of your iron sight are a little fuzzy, then you’re probably doing it right.  

If, however, the rear sights are in focus, it means you’re not placing your visual attention where it needs to be, especially if the piece of paper on the wall is crystal clear. The trick of this portion of dry fire training is to create the habit of instinctively keeping your eyes on the aiming tip of the muzzle.

Peering through a scope concentrating on the red dot is intuitively just the opposite. At this point of your dry fire training, you need to make sure you’ve got that red dot precisely in the center of that piece of paper on the wall, and the image of that tiny target is in perfect view.

Becoming the best at anything means plenty of dry fire practice training. The more you practice, the quicker you will get. Even after you believe you’ve mastered target acquisition, continue to practice dry fire training.

What You Feel

Another aspect of dry fire training you need to concentrate on is what you feel as you bring the rifle to your shoulder. What are you experiencing each time you wrap your hands around the forend, grip, and curl your finger around the trigger?  

Check your stance as you aim at your paper target on the wall. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Have you monitored the way you breathe as you squeeze the trigger until it breaks? What did the movement of the trigger feel like before you heard it click?

Did it surprise you, and did the barrel of your AR15 waver a tiny bit?

You’ll want to practice all these steps, from target acquisition to pulling the trigger during dry fire training in groups of five or six attempts at a time. Start each sequence with the rifle down at the mid-waist or on a sling and then go through the motions until the trigger breaks. 

The Final Outcome

Remember what you’re attempting to accomplish with each dry fire training session. Before you start pumping live rounds through your AR15, performing a host of dry fire training will teach you how to operate your rifle efficiently and correctly.

Continued dry fire training means achieving an intuitive understanding of the best way to operate your AR15, acquire those targets, and hit them consistently.

To get the most out of dry fire training you’ll want to have several sessions under your belt before you venture out to the range and start peppering a target with live rounds.


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