Dry-Firing and Handgun Training

Hi all,

I am a recent recipient of a license to carry. As far as my rig, I’m currently carrying a Sig Sauer P238 in a Sticky holster (IWB appendix).

I don’t get to the range as often as I’d like, and have been told that dry firing is not only a convenient alternative, but should constitute 70% of my training regime. I bought snap caps to facilitate this.

For the more experienced defensive handguns users, what are your thoughts on the following routine? (I am also unsure of the definition of much of the terminology used within).


In particular, how would you define the following:

Double trigger press (I assume two cocked and locked shots?)
Double action press (my pistol is single action)
Malfunction drills writ large

In addition, any links to helpful literature would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,


To me, when you talking just dry fire training, it only constitutes actually dry firing the gun. Draw practice is its own thing and should be practiced regularly.

I think dry fire practice works best at improving trigger control. I put a penny on the front sites and dry fire. The object is to be able to pull the trigger without losing the penny.

Now, when we are talking about draw practice, I think it’s crucial to spend time each week. You need to be fast and confident drawing your weapon from its concealed location.

Also, as a part of dry fire practice, it’s good to work on misfires and reloading.

I can’t answer your specific questions. But I have been taking dry fire practice more seriously and have read many online articles. I don’t offer links because I’m not expert enough to say who is worth listening to and who is not.

What I have distilled as a beginner is:

Safety first, of course. Clear the weapon, empty the mags you’re going to train with, put all live ammo away. Double check everything before you start. I don’t train when there’s anyone else in the house.

I used to point and click at random stuff around the house, but I think it’s best to use targets. This is easily done, I get a few tshirts out of the closet, take a picture or two off of the wall and hang the shirt by its hanger on the hook.

I focus on fundamentals. Sight picture, squeezing the trigger without moving the front sight, and smooth mag changes. In fact I try to do everything smooth, I’m not worried about speed. I don’t have a holster that I really like yet, so I’m not working on drawing right now.

Focus! I only practice about 5 or 10 minutes a day. I don’t do anything else while I’m dry firing! I don’t do laundry or check my text messages or cook a meal. This is important, and maintaining proper gun safety is every bit as important even when you know the gun isn’t loaded.

Interesting video: look up Real Gunfighter Lance Thomas on YouTube. I’d be interested to hear what some of the posters here have to say.

Some basic information from Doug Koenig, one of the best competitive shooters of the modern era.

Good basic article you posted, especially:

" Your dry practice should be conducted 3-5 times per week and last no more than 20 minutes. I often work through the scheduled session and repeat if any time remains. When conducting the training, I work at 50% or less speed, focusing more on consistent, perfect practice repetitions over speed"

IMHO, unless you have a laser like mental focus, 10 minutes is about all a “normal” person can focus on the fundamentals. I base this on my years of teaching CQB and shooting. Start with 10, if you seem fresh after 10, increase. Spend 10 minutes focusing on the front sight, 10 on trigger control, 10 on drawing from concealment, etc. The final sequence, place a SPENT cartridge on the barrel behind the front sight, squeeze the trigger without the case falling off. I often use dry fire practice as a form of meditation, withdrawing into a state which only consists of simple, perfect movements. ( Well, as much as I can:)))

BTW: Proper shooting of a handgun is a lot like martial arts, its been done before many times, but just “renamed for the present” . Its kind of sad, but I personally know several “brand name” firearms instructors and each have developed their own “defensive terms” . This instructor is using “access, withdraw, and drive”. OK, what happened to drawing your weapon from the holster and “engaging” your target? “drive” (I guess) is a more PC term for civilians.

“Access” --get your hand on the gun

“withdraw”-get your gun out of the holster

“drive”–point it at the badguy.

Good Lord, I can see me screaming those commands out to some third world SF or police unit. LOL.

“Double or triple press”–shoot two or three shots

“Tap, Rap, Access”–clearing a jam or malfunction, slap the mag to make sure it is seated, rack the slide to eject or reload, look at the gun’s loading port or top of the barrel to find the problem, all else fails, eject the mag, rack the slide several times, reload a fresh mag, assuming you are still in the fight:))

“Tactical reload”–I think you know this one but for the others: a tactical reload is done during a break in the fight, like finding new cover or running to cover and replacing a partially spent magazine with a full one, placing the one you reloaded back on your body. A lot of people teach to carry them in your hand after this technique, which in my opinion is shear madness. you cannot properly grip a handgun with a magazine in your hand.

thank you idaho, your vids help a lot

One of the most neglected forms of training for CCW’s and regular patrol officers is shooting on the move. In my humble experience, I have done more shooting on the move than shooting static: clearing a room, running from the bird ,running for better cover,exiting a vehicle after an attack, serving a high risk warrant, ect. As a legal CCW carrier, add this skill to your training, because, standing out in the open in a gunfight is not a smart move.

For those interested in more weapons tactics, go to the following website, click on “categories”, go down the list to “Gunfighter Moments” . The are around 200 tips by some of the best instructors in the business

Couldn’t agree more with this. The idea that static, marksmanship style training is the best way to prepare for a gunfight is just not reasonable. Shooting slowly and precisely, shooting fast and accurately “enough”, moving and shooting and moving and shooting under physical exertion may be interrelated, but they are also seperate skill sets.

This is painfully evident the first time you introduce movement on the range. I clearly remember how awkard I felt the first time I did a variation of that box drill in the article. It looks incredibly simple, but it’s very humbling just how difficult it is, especially when you already fancy yourself a decent marksman. It’s really case of needing to learn to crawl before you can walk.

I would also add that a quality “blowback” airsoft that approximates as closely as possible your carry/service weapon is a great traing tool. I’ve ripped off a couple thousand rounds in the comfort and convenience of my basement for negligible cost (after the initial fairly significant outlay for the pistol itself).

It provides a safe way to practice moving and shooting, off cover shooting and numerous other practical shooting skills. The biggest limitations I’ve found are that the triggers are fairly light (compared to the average service pistol at least), even the best blowback pistols can’t simulate actual recoil so follow up shots are a bit too easy and magazines are relatively delicate so if you dump them on a hard surface in a speed reload situation they will eventually break. I’ve busted 2 so far.

Can’t agree enough about a quality gas airsoft pistol. It’s not a replacement, but an effective tool to build skills. It’s really easy to squeeze in some drills when you are pressed for time. I have to drive over an hour one way to the range and for the cost of fuel for one range day I can shoot thousands of airsoft BBs in my house.