Dry fire

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Gun storage boxes for civilian visitors at a courthouse in Prague, Czech Republic. Before storing, the gun is aimed at the gun clearing trap (left, red), it is unloaded and dry fired. The bullet trap is constructed so as to safely contain a fired bullet in case the operator mistakenly left a round in the chamber. Loading of firearm when leaving is also conducted while aiming into the bullet trap, without engaging trigger.

Dry firing is the practice of simulating the discharge of a firearm without any live ammunition, or practicing with an inert laser/infrared training platform and may also include the use of a target/feedback system. The terms also commonly refers to simply "firing" a gun that has no ammunition in it. Concern is commonly expressed that doing so might damage the gun.

Dry fire does not pose any real risk of damage to most modern centerfire firearms; however, it can for rimfire weapons, where the firing pin in most designs will impact the breech face if the weapon is dry-fired. Because of this, precautions (such as the use of snap caps) are recommended if such a weapon is to be deliberately dry-fired.


Dry firing is the practice of simulating the discharge of a firearm without any live ammunition, or practicing with an inert laser/infrared training platform such as an iMarksman or SIRT training pistol, and may also include the use of a target/feedback system, such as the iDryfire or LASR software.

There are many benefits to dry firing. Learning is faster and can be safer with dry fire, and it's easier to practice trigger control without developing a flinch, which is a pre-emptive reflex some beginners develop due to being unaccustomed to the trigger weight or anticipating a recoil. Dry fire also allows shooters to practice trigger control in locations where they couldn't practice with live ammo. Grip, drawing, sight alignment, trigger control, reloads, troubleshooting malfunctions, and more can be trained during dry fire practice. The technique allows people to conduct a safe, economical form of training to improve their shooting skills. [1][better source needed]

In recent years, a number of companies have developed methods of enhancing dry fire practice to improve skills. Products that illuminate a laser beam, as opposed to a solid projectile, have become increasingly popular. These include chamber inserts available for various caliber firearms, as well as dedicated training pistols or replacement AR-15 bolt carrier groups. There are also a number of target systems for these laser dry fire training aides, that are becoming more affordable and popular. These products help people get more from dry fire practice by providing feedback on shot placement and times, and make dry fire a more enjoyable experience. In addition, there are training aids such as training cards that provide shooters a variety of drills to do that will help them develop skills that will carry over to live fire.[2][better source needed]


It is generally acceptable to dry fire more modern centerfire firearms without a cartridge or snap cap for limited volume training. Older designs such as the CZ 52 and Colt Single Action Army are exceptions. However, dry firing a rimfire firearm, striker based firearms or guns with angled firing pins (such as revolvers with hammer-mounted firing pins or older shotguns) can damage the gun. Furthermore, damage can occur to the chamber mouth of a rimfire firearm.[3] Ultimately, one should check with the manufacturer of the gun to ascertain if it is safe to dry fire, but a snap cap should be used for all high-volume dry fire training where the firing pin articulates.

In archery[edit]

Dry firing in archery, also known as "dry loosing", refers to the releasing of a drawn bow without an arrow. This practice should be avoided as much as possible, because without the mass of the arrow to absorb the elastic energy released, the energy is instead dissipated through vibration of the bowstring and the bow limbs, and can do significant structural damage to the bow itself. Compound bows are particularly susceptible to damage due to high tension and numerous moving parts. Dry firing a modern high-energy compound bow even once may cause a combination of cracked limbs, bent axles, string derailment, cam warpage, string/cable failure, cable slide failure, and can even cause the bow to shatter. While some bows can survive a dry fire with no apparent damage, typically manufacturers do not warrant their bows for dry firing, and any bow that has been dry fired needs to be thoroughly inspected for damage before shooting again. In particular, the limbs need to be inspected for cracking around cam axles and the opening of the slot where the cams or pulleys fit in (since they tend to tilt sideways during a dry fire).

Crossbows, with their high draw weights, are even more likely to be damaged by dry firing.


Recorded from the 1980s,[4] the term "dry fire" was possibly coined as analogous to the phrase "dry run", which is a rehearsal or testing process and in the case of the firearm, one is "testing" the trigger action and observing the hammer or striker drop, without using live ammunition. For the expression of "dry run", it has been suggested that the "dry" originates from exhibitions by late-19th-century fire departments in the United States, where drills (runs) were conducted for public viewing without the use of water (dry).[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dry Fire Training web.archive.org
  2. ^ "Dry fire tools". Concealed Carry Inc. 2018-01-02. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  3. ^ Dunlap, Roy F. (1963). Gunsmithing: A Manual of Firearms Design, Construction, Alteration, and Remodeling. For Amateur and Professional Gunsmiths, and Users of Modern Firearms. Stackpole Books. p. 348. ISBN 978-0-8117-0770-1. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  4. ^ Drill sergeant course: weapons, U.S. Department of the Army (1984), p. 1.
  5. ^ "Dry run". World Wide Words. 2004-07-03. Retrieved 2017-02-27.