I've long wanted to write about various devices on the market available to firearm owners for use in firearms training--specifically the consumer dry fire space. More importantly, what do you need just to get started and the progression of gear as you improve?
I'm not discussing the various brands but more or less the types of technologies available to the average American who likely carries a close-to-stock handgun. First, though, let's consider reasonable assumptions that sometimes serve as support or resistance to dry fire training.
What's my range time costing me?
I'll assume you have a gun already that's either a 9mm or .45ACP only because I'm familiar with what grain bullet owners of those calibers likely shoot. As I write this and look at Ammoseek.com for a measure of the cost of 100 rounds of--
9mm, New 115 Grain, Brass Case. There are 417 sellers whose price ranges from $0.21 - $0.26 per round
.45 ACP, New, 230 Grain, Brass Case. There are 235 sellers whose price ranges from $0.45 - $1.849 per round
I'm going to assume if you go to a gun range by yourself--
the typical non-member range fee at the local range is $20 per hour
you'll spend about one hour, during which you'll fire 150 rounds during your hour
Your numbers may be a bit different, but I think these are safe numbers for today. That said, on the low end, a trip with your--
9mm is roughly $51
.45ACP is roughly $88
1-Hour Range Time
One Day / Year
Once a Month / Year
Once a Week / Year
So our practice sessions with our little hobby or tool of the profession can be as much as a few mortgage payments or several trips to the gas pump. Is there a way to either defer or reduce the recurring cost, extend one's ammo cache, or both? All with the ultimate goal of improving the efficacy of your practice, I think so.
Why should I dry fire?
First, dry fire will get you used to handling your gun and how it functions (the manual of arms). Do it right, and that means you are also engraining safety.
Often I wonder if folks who own both a smartphone ad a gun are as confident handling their gun as they are their smartphone. Why not? In this day and age, your gun is as much a safety device as your smartphone.
Like with a smartphone, there are SAFETY rules to follow when using it. Safety is always first, and I'm going to assume you are practicing, at minimum, Col Cooper's Four (4) Universal Rules of Gun Safety for the duration of this post. Those rules are--
All guns are always loaded (so treat them that way).
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
Know your target and what is beyond it.
Secondly, dry fire will unmask those issues you have been struggling to fix with live fire.
When the gun goes off, it's hard to see all the small things going on with the violence of the explosion present. Even with someone
else present--a buddy, instructor, or coach--unless they are filming you, it will be difficult to know exactly all you are doing before, during, and after the shot.
On a side note, though, LASR Classic has a plugin called Shooter Watch that uses a second webcam to watch the shooter and record what they are doing during dry fire. I'll put a link at the bottom of this post if you are interested.
If you are having issues with pulling or pushing your shot, jerking the trigger, or flinching (anticipating the shot), good luck fixing that with live fire. You're more likely to further engrain that problem into your shooting by only using live fire --not to mention burning through your ammo.
Additionally, you can practice drills or tactics with dry fire that would be forbidden in a typical 25-yard static range or even a tactical range.
At most ranges drawing from the holster is prohibited, as is firing more than one shot a second. And any drills where you are breaking the 180-degree plane that requires you to practice shooting at targets behind you will get your thrown off and banned completely.
Whereas if you dry fire, these are techniques you can practice in your home. With LASR X, you can even practice moving around in the actual environment you operate or protect with the networking feature (e.g., School hallway, house, church or synagogue, etc.)
Lastly, what comes to mind is saving money and ammo.
I reload, and if anyone tells you they reload to save money, ask them how they got their equipment. If they inherited press, die, consumables, and all the other jazz, I might believe them. Otherwise, it's another money pit hobby. I do it because I like the precision and accuracy it affords me for rifles and matches. Unlike reloading, dry fire will help you save ammo because you're shooting less. I have seen the commonly mentioned ratio of dry fire to live fire shots as high as 8:1 or 9:1. I'm not that high--well, maybe since I cut back on range times during COVID, I might be, but typically, I'm 5:1. But even that low of a ratio. Just imagine what you can do if you defer that cost five times out at $88 per trip to the range. (Maybe the cost of a new gun or ammo every 6-9 months, maybe?)
The live fire trips became more meaningful because I am now using them to prove whether the adjustments and corrections in my dry fire practice were effective and whether or not they accomplished what I set out to fix.
I'll pause here and create the second part of this post, where I'll talk about what devices you need to get to build your dry fire kit.