When an accident happens during dry fire there is usually some sort of interruption or outside influence that occurs. A common mistake people make happens when they become distracted while dry firing and re-load their carry gun, leaving the dry fire world while still in the practice mindset. Then, when coming back to practice, they think what they’re holding is an unloaded gun and they fire off a shot that was never intended to leave the barrel. To avoid situations like this, you should have a consistent ritualized process for your dry fire practice.
A Pierce County deputy named Bill Burris came up with a ritualized dry fire process that we subscribe to here at Tenicor. Though the process itself can seem corny and weird, but the process is basically smarter than the individual conducting it, and its fail-safe when following the proper order of things. The first thing to do is pick a specific time and place where you can have uninterrupted training. For example, you have a room where (hopefully) no one will come and bug you. The door could also be locked. You and anyone else involved are here solely for the purpose of training and nobody has anything scheduled where you may need to leave halfway through.
The next part of the process is to remove ammunition from your gun and entirely from the room. A good practice is to store the magazines and ammunition in some sort of container that can be left outside of the room after you have unloaded your gun. You could even unload your gun at your gun safe and lock the ammunition and loaded magazines in the safe. The principle here is to ensure that no live ammunition is in the vicinity when you are dry firing.
After all ammunition is removed the next important step is to set up some sort of target that could stop a bullet and has a backstop located in the safest possible direction. This could be a paper target hung up on a thick concrete wall or even a large steel target that would stop a live round. Avoid hanging a target on something like a door or in an area other people might be moving through. The target should also be easily removable and temporary. After dry fire is over, you might forget that you are not going through this process and try to get that extra rep in, shooting a live round when you did not intend to. So, it is important to remove the target later.
Now that you have made the environment safe, let’s talk about the weird and possibly socially uncomfortable part: the mantra you repeat to indicate that you are entering the make-believe world of dry fire practice. When you dry fire, you are doing things that you would not typically do with a live firearm. For example, you probably would not use a live gun to shoot a steel target that is hanging up on a wall in your house, hence the mantra. Out loud, say, “This is practice, I am practicing now…”. Try to say it out loud at least three times or more. Repeating this mantra puts you in the mindset of distinguishing practice from reality. Once this step is completed, you are free to practice and dry fire as much as you want.
So you have completed dry fire training? Now it is time for the next step. This step is our final mantra spoken out loud to leave made up dry fire world. Say out loud three times or more, “Practice is over, this is reality…”. Repeating this final mantra indicates to your mind that practice is over. No more final trigger pulls. No more final draw from your holster. Nothing. This is when you reset to the condition you were in prior to the very first step in the whole dry firing process. Load your gun, put it in the safe, whatever you need to do. All while avoiding anything else until you are done. This is also a great time to remove the target you hung up earlier.
Dry firing is a great way to practice skills without using live ammunition. It is imperative that this is practiced safely and consistently. By following this ritualized, systematic process for going in and out of dry fire practice, you can practice safely and responsibly without ending up as the protagonist in one of those silly--or catastrophic--stories.