Looking at the empty ammo shelves at Wal-mart the other day, I was reminded that, while this ammo shortage is likely to be temporary, there will come a time when the shelves will be permanently bare. Ammo will be scarce resource, to be rationed and closely monitored. Every shot will have to count.
While I am comfortable with my stockpile, I am not made of money. My days of blowing through a couple hundred rounds at the range are over. Firearm training is important, of course, but I have other survival priorities that are just as pressing. Food, energy, medical supplies…the list goes on. In times like these, it is vital to know how to get in some quality trigger time without using upprecious ammo stocks.
Luckily, the 4 fundamentals of shooting can all be taught and practiced without busting a single cap. I am referring to dry-fire practice. Would you believe that the mighty U.S. military relies ondry-fire practice to train soldiers in marksmanship and small-unit tactics? Their methods can be used by your family or survival group to teach the inexperienced shooters and maintain your skills.
First, let’s review the 4 fundamentals of shooting:
1. Body position
2. Sight picture
4. Trigger squeeze
New shooters should master these fundamentals before they acquire bad habits at the range and waste precious ammo. Even expert marksmen need to practice these drills to keep their skills sharp.
A quick safety note: when dry-firing weapons make sure the chamber and any magazines are empty. Remove all ammo from the room or area where the training is taking place. At the end of the training session say this out loud: “Dry-fire practice is over. No more practice.” Then you can load your weapon and store it in its normal spot.
Before we ever went to the range in basic training, we spent hours doing dime/washer drills. This drill focuses on trigger squeeze, but the other 3 fundamentals should be practiced at the same time. To perform this drill with a rifle, get into a stable kneeling or prone firing position and have a friend place a dime or small washer on your barrel. As you practice your smooth trigger squeeze, the dime should remain in place.
If you jerk the trigger in any direction, the dime will fall off. You can increase the difficulty of this drill by placing the dime on the front sight or somewhere on your rifle with less surface area. Make sure not to neglect the other 3 fundamentals as you perform this drill.
Pistol variant: This drill can also be done with a pistol. A nice challenge is to balance an empty cartridge on the front sight.
Target on the Wall
Dry-fire practice in your home is easy and rewarding. Pick a spot on the wall or small object across the room and practice lining up your sights, breathing out and smoothly squeezing the trigger. Make sure your sight picture is consistent, with the same amount of open space between each side of your front sight and the rear sight notch or aperture. After several iterations, incorporate drawing from a holster or from a low-ready position with a rifle. You could also have a friend call out targets around the room to add difficulty. Next, practice “clearing” your house, moving from room to room and picking out targets.
The George Romero Drill
Ok, we all love zombie movies and TV shows like The Walking Dead. Next time you sit down to watch your favorite show, get in some dry-fire practice. Every time a zombie appears on your TV screen, pop him, concentrating on all the fundamentals we discussed. If you’d rather watch Jeopardy, then pop Alex Trebec, it doesn’t really matter. The point of this drill is to make you conscious of your speed getting on target and squeezing the trigger. You can also incorporate drawing from a holster.
A note about rimfire: Repeatedly dry-firing rimfire weapons will damage them. To practice with rimfire get some Snap Caps, which are inert plastic rounds.
It is my sincere hope that everyone in the Wolf Pack will use these drills to maintain their readiness and save some money. If you have any other drills or variations sound off in the comments!