Dry Firing Tips from ITS Tactical and Chris Sajnog

As we all know, dry firing is probably one of the best bangs for the buck (see what I did there?) that you can get for training. That said, there are some important things you need to consider, and certain optimizations you can do to make the best use of your time.

ITS Tactical recently published an article written by Chris Sajnog regarding “dry fire” training and is one of the most complete guides I think I have ever read (I’ve seen various pieces of this knowledge scattered thorugh forums over the years, but nothing consolidated).

The article has ideas for training for both Pistol and Carbine, and breaks down drills you can effectively do with Blue Guns, Laser Trainers, Airsoft or Real guns. The carbine section also differentiates drills that you can do with optics vs iron sights.  Personally I’ve been using Benny Cooley’s Safety Mags for years for my dry fire efforts.

Obviously some of Chris’ recommendations require additional gear, but as expensive as it can be to go the range these days, spending some cash on training aids may pay off in the long run, allowing you to more effectively use your live ammo. So who here practices by dry firing? How has if affected your shooting?

Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


  • Phil Hsueh

    In the Marine Corps we’d practice dry-firing out M16s all the time before actually hitting the range and not once during boot camp, MCT, or after did we ever use anything special inside our weapons. If dry-firing an M16 was ever a concern the Marine Corps certainly didn’t care and during boot camp we’d do this constantly during 2nd phase before rifle qual. This may not sound like a big deal but you figure it was probably at least few dozen times before we’d hit the range then you multiply this by the thousands of recruits going through the system every 13 weeks, that’s a lot of dry-firing. Point being that dry-firing, at least on an M16, is not necessarily a bad thing and a dry-firing device is not absolutely necessary.

    • Bill

      Is it true that before ever going live, Marines in basic training will sit in a circle and dry fire at spots painted on 55 gallon drums? That came from a reliable source, and the safety nazi in me died a little.

      • Phil Hsueh

        Yup, that’s true, it’s called snapping in. IIRC the point was to practice getting your sight picture as well as well practicing your trigger squeeze. It’s one of the few time outside of the range that you actually get to “play” with your rifle, the only other time is using it in close order drill but during COD you never have a magazine it nor do you ever pretend like you’re going to shoot it, it’s just a prop that you move around while marching.

    • Welp

      To be fair, the marines probably don’t care about the well being of a few bootcamp rifles, if it breaks they just send it to armory to get a new firing pin and bolt carrier group installed.

  • Menger40

    When I first started shooting pistols, dry fire practice helped me get rid of my flinch and improved my groups a ton.

  • dan citizen

    Years back, doing live in security work, I had tons of dead time. An old timer taught me this technique:

    – Load your weapon with a snap cap or the like.
    – While sitting around randomly pick an object in the room (clock, light fixture, smoke alarm), draw and “fire” at the object quickly without using your sights. Remain on target.
    – Activate your laser, or use your sights to ascertain whether you were on target.
    – In between targeting holster, unholster, load and unload, (snap caps) and operate all functions without looking.

    By doing this 2-6 hours a day, every day, you really became fast at pointing and hitting a target, and operating your weapon becomes instinctive.

    • MR

      The story I heard involved television sets and NDs.

  • Tassiebush

    I’ve found it helps heaps when learning to work a bolt action and leveraction fast whilst acquiring a proper sight picture.