Andrew’s Note: Today Prepography is pleased to offer Infidel’s latest article, Dry Run Your Gun.
Pop quiz folks, what are the two marksmanship principles you cannot do away without? Don’t remember? Well, they are trigger manipulation and sight alignment and there’s a way to practice these fundamentals without spending a dime or even going to the range.
Everything else tends to go out the window when normal folks are thrown into a stressful situation but if you can properly put your sights on the target and manipulate the trigger you will most likely prevail. I say normal folks because there are some people who can just naturally remain cool under stressful situations and then there are others that have survived numerous gunfights in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or even the mean streets of some of our own cities. So how do normal folks maintain their firearms skills when ammo is short supply or too expensive to shoot? By dry firing of course. Dry firing can be used to train your body and your mind for proper trigger manipulation and sight alignment even when you can’t get to the range.
So, how do you get started? The first thing is SAFETY! Remembering the four rules of gun safety is a good place to start:
1. Always treat the Gun as if it’s loaded
2. Never point the gun at anything that you are not prepared to destroy
3. Always be sure of your target and what is behind it
4. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you’re ready to shoot
Now let’s add a couple of safety rules specific to dry firing:
1. Select a room that can provide a proper backstop in case you forget the rest of the rules. A proper backstop is one that will not allow your weapon’s caliber to penetrate and damage anyone or anything on the other side. Think brick, concrete or a basement wall with soil on the other side.
2. Unload your gun in another room before you enter the room where you will be dry firing. Leave your ammunition in the room where you unload and do not bring any ammunition into your dry fire room or location.
The goal of dry firing is to practice your marksmanship principals in order to maintain your muscle memory between trips to the range. Follow these tips after you’ve followed the safety steps above to get the most out of the dry run of your gun.
1. Select your target. You can use anything as a target from a spot on your wall that you forgot to paint to a sticker…just make sure that it has that backstop behind it.
2. Practice slowly pulling the trigger back until the sear breaks.
3. Continue slowly pulling the trigger while maintaining your front sight focus. As the sear breaks, watch what the front sight does. This is where you can start calling your shots.
4. Continue steps 2 and 3 until you can watch the front sight and it stays on target. Let me caution you not to spend too much time on this task without resting for a few minutes. Practice for several minutes and then rest.
Now SAFETY on the back side. If you keep your gun loaded take it into your ‘ammo room’ before loading it. Once you leave your dry fire room or location you are DONE dry firing. You must not shortcut the process to get in one more round of practice or you might accidentally discharge a round. Safely store your weapon or re-holster it but don’t begin dry firing again until you go through the entire pre-practice safety routine. These safety rules are important so that you don’t unthinkingly pick up a loaded firearm and shoot, possibly shooting someone or something.
Dry run your gun to maintain those important trigger manipulation and sight alignment skills. Elite warriors and firearms competitors do this all the time to improve their shooting skills. It does work. Try it. Let me know using our contact form.
Andrew’s Note: Before running dry fire drills with any firearm make sure to read the weapon’s manual and make sure that it’s safe for that particular firearm. Dry firing is safe for most centerfire firearms, and not safe form most rimfire weapons but there are exceptions like Kel-Tec’s P3AT which, while certerfire is not designed to dry fire.
I was very fortunate to attend one of the Strategoes Low Light Instructor courses while I was employed as a police officer. That particular Strategoes course was a week long course that trained me to become my department’s trainer and subject matter expert on low light engagements…in other words, night fighting for the police officer. While I am now retired I’m fortunate to have decades worth of training to fall back on when times are tough and I thought I’d share some of what I learned about choosing a flashlight for night fighting both during that week and through my dual law enforcement and military careers. (more…)
How aware are you about your surroundings? I’ll bet that everyone that reads this will claim that they are very aware of what goes on around them. Really? By my very nature (Andrew’s Note: check out Infidel’s biography) I put everyone on the defense. Why? Because I’m very good at getting inside your OODA Loop (observe, orient, decide, and act). This keeps me on the offensive…keeps me a step ahead of the opposition. Now… do I do this all the time? No, because sometimes the body has to mentally relax to recharge the batteries. You need to know when it’s time to relax and when to maintain heightened situational awareness.
The four levels of awareness that are taught by most personal defense instructors now are the famous ones that originated with LT COL Jeff Cooper, the originator of Gunsite Training Academy. Cooper’s levels are White, Yellow, Orange and Red. The goal is to pick the appropriate safety awareness level for your surroundings and situation. This situational awareness continuum helps you to react accordingly to threats and potential threats to your safety. A full discussion of this situational awareness model will be discussed at a later time but I mention it here as a brief introduction.
Now, back to our discussion of surroundings…how many of you have observed someone breaking into a car, shoplifting, or actually making a drug deal?
Andrew’s Note: Prepography reader CCP wrote in to ask: “Why is the .223 caliber designated as 5.56mm by the military? Also, why is the .308 caliber designated as 7.62mm? 25.4mm = 1 inch. I thought it was a great question so I put it to the guy who taught me the difference between .223 caliber & 5.56mm…my buddy, Infidel…
Thanks for your question, I was going to do a article on the difference between the .223 and 5.56 chamberings anyway so I’ll discuss that as well.
.223 and 5.56 are different beasts. In a nutshell, a direct quote (and worded better than I could have) from Wikipedia, “The 5.56mm NATO chambering, known as a NATO or mil-spec chamber, has a longer leade (also referred to as the throat), which is the distance between the mouth of the cartridge and the point at which the rifling engages the bullet.” This longer leade allows the 5.56 to run higher pressures you cannot in a .223 chamber. This is the very reason you cannot shoot 5.56 out of .223 chambers. If you do you can cause damage to your firearm. At the very least you will have popped primers and extraction problems. Worst case you will blow up an AR (short for Armalite Rifle) really quick.
Andrew’s Note: Prepography reader Kim B wrote in to ask our firearms editor, Infidel the following question: “If you had an opportunity to choose between a 5.56mm (.223 caliber) , a 6.8 SPC or a 7.62mm (.308 caliber), what would be your choice? Based upon what factors?” That’s a great question…what’s the Best Prepper Caliber for the rifle? Here’s Infidel’s take on the topic:
Kim, thanks for the question. First and foremost, I am no expert. I consider myself a life time student of the gun and take every opportunity to learn. I have been blessed with some excellent shooting schools,great friends who show the same passion as me and life altering events. Thus I can get opinionated. But hang on, I will answer your question but first I’ll ask you a few… what role will this caliber be tasked to do? (defensive, hunting, target shooting)? Will you be carrying the rifle for long periods of time or distances? What kind of physical stamina do you have?