With ammo prices skyrocketing and supply unable to meet demand in many areas, it’s never been a better time to seriously consider the benefits of dry fire training. There are a ton of dry fire training aids available to gun owners, but not all systems may suit your individual needs.
All of our MantisX Systems work with dry fire training and offer valuable feedback for every one of your trigger pulls. When you do find time to hit the range, our Mantis products work for live fire training with handguns, rifles and shotguns.
So let’s talk about dry fire training aids and why they should be on every gun owner’s shopping list. Here are some of the main benefits (in no particular order) to making a habit of dry fire training when you’re not at the range.
First, we’ll go over common types of dry fire training systems and devices that are available to shooters nearly everywhere.
Types of Dry Fire Training Aids
The capabilities and price range for training aids will vary depending on budget and what you’re trying to accomplish. However, even for those who are on a shoestring budget, or don’t want to take money away from your new gun purchase, there are still cost effective options that yield dividends when it comes to increasing your firearm familiarity and accuracy.
Here’s a brief description of different types of dry fire training aids:
Laser pistols are handgun replicas that contain a laser embedded in the unit. This laser will then activate for a fraction of a second with each trigger pull. While laser pistols are great tools for working on foundational skills, they lack the realistic feel of your own handgun, and it will likely feel different from what you’ll actually be shooting. There’s also no recoil with most generic laser training pistols. You can read our comparison between laser pistols and laser cartridges here.
Laser cartridges, like the Pink Rhino, come in a variety of common calibers for handguns and have the added benefit of allowing the user to use their own personal firearm. This adds to the realism of handling your own gun, which increases comfort and familiarity. You also have the added benefit of being able to train while utilizing your own accessories, such as drawing your gun from a holster or home safe.
While this option may not be within everybody’s price range, or even an option depending on your firearm model, there are systems that allow you to use a common handgun, such as a Glock, and replace your regular magazine with one that uses compressed air to simulate a realistic blowback recoil. When paired with a laser system, regular handguns convert into dry fire training aids that provide an additional level of realism while removing the need to rack the slide after each trigger pull.
Keep in mind, these systems are costly and often used by organizations who train dozens or hundreds of people for real-world scenarios. Not only do these systems have firearm limitations, but you also have the added expense of incorporating compressed air into your training routine. Just know that these systems are out there and becoming more common in their use.
Laser targets will require a laser cartridge or laser pistol of some sort in order to work. Some laser targets even only work with red lasers in order to allow for green lasers to be used if the shooter has one mounted to their firearm.
There are tons of laser targets available online and many incorporate shot timers and challenges. This gives you both a fun way to train and a timer for any holster draws you may practice.
We touched on snap caps in our article about what to bring in your range bag, and they’re a great tool that doesn’t require much of an investment at all. Loading snap caps into your live magazine for malfunction practice is useful, and it also comes in handy considering those are one of the absolute least expensive training aids available.
If you don’t want to invest in a laser system, then spending a few dollars on your caliber of snap caps will still allow you familiarize yourself with your holster draws, trigger break and different carry positions without the risk of an accidental discharge.
Most people overlook BB and pellet guns as dry fire training and yes, I know, they’re technically live fire and not dry fire. However, I wanted to mention them here because the cost of ammo is substantially less than the cost of firearm ammunition, and oftentimes you can find a BB/pellet gun in the same caliber and form factor of your everyday handgun.
The best pellet pistols on the market feature realistic blowback of the slide, magazines that are loaded into the grip and have rifled barrels to increase short range accuracy. BB guns are less accurate than pellet guns due to them not using a rifled barrel and using a round BB rather than an aerodynamic pellet.
Not everybody has the liberty of having a firearms instructor standing next to them, analyzing every shot, everytime they head to the range. This is why popularity in dry fire training devices like our suite of Mantis X products and Mantis Laser Academy has increased over the years. Firearm owners want to be the best shot they can, but the cost and time it takes to practice at the range makes live fire training an occasional hobby for most of us.
Being able to both dry and live fire practice with feedback devices is vital for increasing accuracy and precision. Having a professional, data-driven feedback device attached to your firearm gives you the power of a coach in the palm of your hand. With people everywhere owning smartphones, you now have the ability to visually track and maintain a log of your progress as you continue to train, something unheard of not too long ago.
So, WHY Should You Consider Dry Fire Training Aids?
Now that we’ve gone over common dry fire training aids available to gun owners everywhere, let’s talk about the why of the matter. Here are some of the benefits of dry fire training and why you should consider investing in the tools needed to do so safely.
You Can Train as Often as You’d Like
Public shooting ranges aren’t open 24/7 (although some are) and the cost of renting a lane adds up quickly. Being able to remain in the comfort of your own home lets you train on your schedule, without racking up the costs associated with going to the range. No range costs, along with the privacy of your own place, means you can train as often or seldom as you choose.
Cost Effective Training
The cost effectiveness of dry fire training tends to be a major factor that many consider when investing in training aids. Price of ammunition will fluctuate with market conditions, and historically ammo prices inflate much quicker than they deflate.
When you incorporate dry fire training into your daily or weekly schedule, you cut the cost of discharging ammunition out of your overall budget. Considering laser training is just as accurate as a discharged round at close ranges, you can rest assured that the feedback you receive while training with such devices will play a big role in your overall increase in accuracy.
Whether it’s snap caps or laser trainers, the cost of pulling the trigger with a dry fire training aid versus live ammunition is substantial to say the least.
Practice Home Defense Scenarios
For those of you who’ve purchased and own guns for home defense, it’s key that you familiarize yourself with the dynamic of discharging your firearm within your home’s floor plan. Drywall and studs are not a reliable stopping source for a fired bullet, so if you have others in the house that you’re trying to protect, then it’s imperative that you understand the risk involved with a variety of scenarios.
For that reason, dry fire training throughout your house is a way to make sure that an accidental injury (or worse) doesn’t happen to you or your loved ones. Of course, make sure your firearm isn’t loaded with any live ammunition before doing so. Setting up paper or laser targets throughout your house and familiarizing yourself with multiple possible scenarios will make you much more comfortable if the time comes to defend your family at home.
Become Familiar With Trigger Pull and Break Point
Having a working understanding and natural feel for your gun’s trigger is often overlooked by new gun owners. The reality is that your trigger pull can greatly affect your accuracy, so having an intimate familiarity of how your particular trigger feels and functions is one of the most fundamental things all gun owners should strive toward.
When it comes to understanding your trigger on an intimate level, there’s a lot you can’t feel while you’re firing with live ammunition. Finding the point at which your trigger breaks will help you remedy shot anticipation and recoil management, but this is something that feels vastly different when you incorporate recoil from a discharged bullet. Steadiness of your hand will keep your trigger fixed until you’re ready to release some slack and reach the breakpoint again.
The best way to really get a feel for your trigger’s slack and breakpoint is to utilize a laser training system like our Mantis X product line. While snap caps can help too, the feedback that a laser training system provides is far superior to non-feedback devices.
Help Prevent Accidental Discharges with Trigger and Muzzle Discipline
Sadly, accidental discharges are alive and well throughout the firearm world. Even worse is that they’re 100% preventable. There’s no such thing as too much training when it comes to trigger and muzzle discipline. In fact, as long as you’re holding your gun, you’re training your mind not to point the muzzle at anything you’re not willing to destroy, as well as not putting your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
Oddly enough, having such disciplines isn’t immediately natural for many people and it can take some practice to get used to carrying and handling a firearm properly without giving it much thought. For new gun owners, using training aids to work on safely drawing your gun, pointing the muzzle in a safe direction, putting your finger within the trigger guard and pulling the trigger, will help you forever prevent injury due to accidental discharge from your own negligence.
Increase Your Concealed Carry Proficiency
Not everybody decides to carry a concealed firearm when away from home, but for those who do, staying proficient in safety and skill is important. When a self defense situation arises it takes only seconds to escalate from an exchange of words to a sometimes fatal level. For this reason, every second counts.
Not only should your firearm be comfortable while you’re carrying, but you should be able to efficiently draw your gun without hassle from whichever position you prefer to carry. Having a laser training system, especially one that offers a free app with valuable feedback, allows you to track your timing and accuracy while drawing and discharging your handgun.
Become Familiar With Your Own Firearms
There’s nothing stopping you from taking your new gun out of its box and holding it in your hand in order to become familiar with it. I actually suggest that everybody do this when they first purchase a new gun. However, handling an empty firearm only goes so far in becoming intimately familiar with its functionality, especially if you plan on using it for self defense.
A firearm is a tool that can be dangerous if mishandled, and it should always be treated as such. Anybody planning on using a gun for self defense should be just as familiar with handling it safely as they are with driving their car. When we drive our cars, it eventually becomes so second nature that we almost become one with our vehicle. This is the same level of comfort you should eventually have with a gun you plan on using to protect yourself. It should almost be as second nature to you as having a third hand.
Practicing Misfire ‘Tapping and Racking’ Your Slide or Resetting the Hammer
When you pull the trigger of your gun, you’re probably expecting to hear a loud bang and feel a forceful recoil hit your hand as a bullet discharges from the barrel. When that doesn’t happen, it could be alarming to the unprepared individual. Dry fire training will help you prepare for this.
There are a few reasons why your gun may not fire a bullet when the trigger is pulled, from a fault of the ammunition itself, to a shortened or mushroomed firing pin that isn’t striking the primer with enough force.
Regardless of the cause, one of the most common and quick fixes for guns that don’t fire the round that’s chambered is to ‘tap and rack’ your slide. This means that you slap or ‘tap’ the bottom of your magazine to feed it further into your grip and ensure that it wasn’t accidentally released. After doing so, you then rack your slide, which will either expel the current cartridge or chamber the cartridge that may not have been chambered properly to begin with.
One safety precaution when it comes to clearing a malfunction like this is to always keep your firearm pointed down range at your target. Becoming familiar with how to comfortably accomplish this cycle will prevent you from bringing your firearm in close and having the muzzle pointing in undesired directions. You should be able to complete this task with minimal adjustments to your firing posture.
Unless you have an auto-resetting dry fire training system like our Blackbeard AR System, or one that uses compressed gas, you’ll likely need to manually recharge your gun by racking the slide or pulling the hammer back (on revolvers). This helps you become familiar with the action of your firearm and how you would go about resetting it if you experience a malfunction.
Many people also have trouble racking the slide back on certain makes and models of semi-automatic handguns. While there are accessories that help you get a better grip and more easily rack your slide, dry fire practice will help you build the muscle memory needed and further break in your gun. Keeping your firearm clean and well-lubricated also helps with rack resistance, but it doesn’t make much of a noticeable difference.
Practicing recharging your firearm while dry fire training also helps those of you who carry two steps from firing (by choice or law) get used to drawing your weapon, racking your slide or pulling your hammer back and pulling the trigger in a smooth, efficient motion.
Dry Fire Training Makes You a Better Real World Shooter
The reality is straightforward - dry fire training makes you a better real world shooter overall. After your initial, often minimal, investment in dry fire training tools, the cost of each trigger pull is so low that it almost doesn’t register during your training. You can be as liberal as you’d like with more trigger time compared to how you may be at the live range.
When you factor in bullet drop being unrecognizable at short ranges, you can guarantee that the overall level of situational realism that dry fire training provides directly correlates to you becoming a better real world shooter than you currently are.
Shooting is a decayable skill, meaning when you go long periods of time without practicing, you’re bound to become less proficient. Those who dry fire train regularly, be it daily, weekly or monthly, are more accurate with their gun than they would have otherwise been if they had chosen not to dry fire practice between range time. As an illustration of this point, 94% of Mantis X users improve their shooting within 20 minutes, thus showing that 94% of shooters were less proficient prior to dry fire training.
If you take into consideration the possible shooting restraints, such as range accessibility, legal shooting hours available, or even fire restrictions on public land, you may not have as much time plinking than you’d otherwise like.
Having almost no restrictions when it comes to dry fire raining in the privacy of your own property, you can maintain the skills you’ll need to remain proficient with your guns year round. The best part is, we have systems that you can use for handguns, rifles and shotguns, so you have the flexibility to practice with a wide array of firearms. In addition to that, there are no restrictions placed on your dry fire training from the shooting range or market conditions.
Is it Time to Incorporate Dry Fire Training Aids Into Your Regimen?
There are plenty of laws and regulations surrounding the firearm industry, but there’s obviously nothing requiring us to use dry fire training aids. However, maintaining proficiency with our weapons while cutting down on range and ammunition costs will make better shooters out of all of us.
No matter how you decide to increase your dry fire training, it’s a good idea to consider investing in the relatively minimal cost (and overall money saving tool in both the short and long term) of training aids that allow you to train from the comfort of your home.
Choosing which tools to aid in your training doesn’t have to be a stressful task. Any amount of training will increase your proficiency with your firearm and thereby making you a safer and better shooter. There are options for nearly any budget, and within our useful line of Mantis X dry and live fire training systems, we have different products that meet different shooters’ needs.
So, do yourself a favor if you haven’t already done so, and begin investing in dry fire training aids to increase your proficiency with your firearms and become an overall better shooter. You can learn more about our line of products by clicking here and remember that safe shooting is fun shooting.