Dry Fire, the Big Lie…Part 2

Last week’s blog about Dry Fire got great feedback, truthfully the feedback I was expecting. Some really understood what I was saying, some were resistant to the idea and others were flat out off their rocker.

You know it is coming

A lot of people commented how “dry fire has it’s place”. Yes, it does, but it is not the wonder drug for curing a bad shot disease. There are plenty of reasons why dry fire is good, but there are also some pretty bad ones as well. Stop for a moment to ask yourself why you don’t perform as well when you know there is a round in the chamber. I have watched several folks who go through some of our combination drills where we combine dry fire with live fire in a single evolution. They perform a prescribed number of dry fire repetitions to a prescribed number for live rounds. It is always curious when it comes time to fire the live rounds how the tempo all of a sudden slows down. That is one way of looking at it, or another way is the tempo when dry firing speeds up. Either way you look at it there’s a difference and the question is why? The answer: because you know that now you are firing a live round and there is a consequence attached to it, either you hit or miss. The hit generates praise; the miss promotes criticism.

Pick your poison

Now, some folks didn’t like my empty barbell analogy, which is too bad because in my opinion it perfectly explains the purpose behind dry fire: to rehearse movements without the external load. In this case, the consequence of a hit or miss. So, let’s look at it from another point of view. Have you ever watched a boxer work a heavy bag. It is always impressive to watch, you get a real sense for their speed and power. The heavy bag simulates an opponent in location and weight, but without defenses or offenses to worry about. Imagine that opponent employing defenses and then having to worry about their offense and the situation changes somewhat. Again, some may not like both analogies, but that doesn’t mean they are not a reality.

The talisman

Dry fire is a tool for the toolbox, but one comment we received summed it up well. A lot of instructors use dry fire as a crutch for being the end all be all to correcting shooting errors. Just dry fire more and you will be fine, you will get your hits or it will work itself out. The fact of the matter is dry fire at times does just the opposite: it reinforces the bad habits with several hundred more repetitions. It doesn’t matter if they are live fire or not, the body recognizes it as a rep and strengthening the neural pathways. So before you get all butt-hurt about slaying the sacred cow, recognize there is a very large gap between dry fire and the live fire component. Does it help, yes, does it hurt, yes. What I see all too often is folks who look at dry fire as their talisman -that secret or precious artifact that will bring good fortune to your shooting.

So, if all you have is, “dry fire has it’s place”, then you missed the whole point to the article. It does, but it’s also a big lie when it is purported to be the magic solution to your shooting problems.

"Obey the principles without being bound by them." Bruce Lee, Legend

3 thoughts on “Dry Fire, the Big Lie…Part 2

  1. Rcraigjohn says:

    As usual, Jeff, you couldn’t be more right. There are times when I find a ‘bit’ of dry fire lets me analyze some of the errors that have crept in and unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to live fire in the basement without the house boss getting nervous. On precision rifle (I know it is different before you jump down my neck), sometimes the shooter gets ‘trigger freeze’ — suddenly the mind refuses to squeeze the trigger or starts jumping it. Then, one (not the only) cure is a bit of dry firing to again retrain the mind to make it subconscious again. But not too much…. I’ve used dry fire to help my sight picture focus and to adjust my grip. But live fire is, and must be, different and the point of all the exercise must be to gain proficiency in live fire. Gaining proficiency in dry fire doesn’t really accomplish much when you need to live fire. Sometimes dry fire helps when my shooting goes sour — but only for some error correction. Too much and the infusion of different errors occurs — your grip starts to get sloppy. Your attention starts to drift. You convince yourself that your shots are all perfect….. blah, blah, blah. But then again, even live fire probably doesn’t simulate (or does so poorly) a fight situation, but it is much closer than dry firing in your nice, warm, safe basement…… Maybe I’ll just go learn to cook…….

  2. Rcraigjohn says:

    Ok, you got me torqued up. Another thing. Just like the guys who on the trap range are masters at shooting clays, doesn’t translate to being able to shoot a dove. But the whole focus needs to be as your motto says, Suck Less than the Bad Guys…..

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