By: Jeremy Brown (Treadstone Defensive Tactics)

I remember when I first started learning how to shoot a pistol. I studied anything I could get my hands on and I tried many training tactics. One of those methods was dry training (this is when you train with an unloaded gun). I went out and bought some snap caps, and started training on my own.  However, it wasn't until I started training with an Israeli anti-terrorist firearms instructor (who would become my primary firearms instructor for close to 5 years), that I began to understand how huge an asset dry training really is. Anti-terrorist units in Israel spend roughly, the first 2-3 weeks of their training, dry training. Most of your fundamentals and tactics can be trained dry. If done correctly, you will see your skills vastly improved, and you will progress more rapidly than if you only train with live fire. An added bonus is: It's free!

There are several things that we have to stress before we get too far into this discussion.




The firearms safety rules apply at all times

  • Treat all guns as if they are loaded.

  • Never point your muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.

  • Know your target, what’s in front of it and what’s behind it (visible or not visible: ie: behind walls).

  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights/muzzle are on target and you are ready to shoot.


To begin dry training you need to prepare the environment for your training.

  • Make sure there are no other weapons in the training area.

  • Make sure you unload your gun (If you are interrupted at any stage you must start again from the beginning).

  • Make sure you clear your gun in a safe location.  An empty ammo can, filled with sand and placed on the floor against an exterior wall, makes for a good unloading place.

  • There can be no ammo present during dry training. Take your ammo out of the training area and then verify that none of your magazines or pockets have ammo in them.

  • Make sure your training area is private. You do not want your neighbors calling the cops because they saw a gunman in your house or garage.

To end your training session.

  • You must find a way to clearly end your session and switch back to a loaded gun.
    • Put away all training equipment (besides the gun) first. While you do this do not touch the gun (leave it in your holster).
    • Now audibly state that your training session is over.
    • Go through the unload procedure (in your designated safe area).
    • Put your gun away in your safe, close it up, and walk away. Go get some water (always good to be hydrated), then when ready return and go through your safe load up procedures.


If you feel that I have missed a safety rule, ADD IT TO YOUR CHECK LIST!!!


Here are my ProTips for dry training:

  • Buy and use a barrel plug (this is a plastic rod that fits inside your barrel and makes it so that you can not load a round into it).

  • Plan your training session.  

    • Two key factors to keep in mind when building your training session are:

      • Safety - again is the first concern (See above and keep it at the forefront while you train).

      • Quality of your training.

        • Be deliberate and think about each drill.

        • Ask yourself, what good habits does this drill create?

        • Ask yourself, what bad habits does it create?

        • What drills can I add afterwards to unwrite those bad habits?

  • Video yourself training.

    • Take short clips (This will make it easier to review, analyze, and learn from)

  • Use different speeds to help your process. (sometimes slow motion, sometimes fast, and other times dynamic and fast).

  • Do everything as if it were real.

    • Grip the gun with the same force that you would if it were firing live rounds.

    • Scan, move, finish off the scenario (ex: Faking a phone call to 911 etc.)

    • If you mess up don’t stop and reset, finish the drill- then go back and fix it.

  • Do not be afraid to scrap the rest of your plan if you need to focus on a specific element that you are struggling with. So often my training session will dictate what I really need to work on. Just remember to analyze what good and bad habits your specificity will create.

  • Spend 80% of your gun training- Dry training.


Over the years, I’ve seen that people really like to hear, feel, and experience a gun going BANG. Often dry training gets passed up because either they do not know how to use it (properly) or it is viewed as boring (See ProTip: Train like a Professional).  Approach every training session and training method with an open mind.  If you are unsure of how to train, there is a plethora of information on the web or seek out a trainer or class that will teach you specific drills and exercises to do.  Once I understood how to properly use dry training, I became addicted to it - who knows, you might too.

Train Hard and Be Safe!