It’s been 30 years this month since I first stepped on those yellow footprints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. The world is a totally different place with new threats and new ways to handle them. Much has changed, but I guarantee you one thing is still the same. Before a young recruit will ever have his hand on a live round he will have spent dozen’s of hours learning weapon safety, parts and nomenclature of his M16 Service Weapon and hours and hours of dry-firing. All to ensure that the Marine’s retain their position as the world’s premiere marksmen.
Dry-fire even sounds bad.
Like Mis-fire. Why bother? The United States Marine Corps is famous for the caliber of shooters it puts out and the adage of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” One thing that keeps the Marines on top is dry-firing. Snapping In, a Marine term for dry-fire practice, is as important to developing a good marksman as time actually firing his weapon. It is safer than live fire, and thus mistakes are much less costly. It is not hard to figure out that it is also much less expensive!
During one of the final weeks of bootcamp, we finally get to do what we have all been anticipating, going to the rifle range. It wasn’t long until all the recruits recognized something new. Most of the screaming and harassment that we had come to expect, eased off. Drill Instructors, some of the most sadistic and competitive animals on the planet, want their platoon to do better than their peers. For this week, Instruction will win over all the harassment. We were given the unheard freedom of coming from chow in small groups of two to four. We spent most of our time snapping in. Focused on BRASS (Breathe, Relax, Aim, Stop Breathing, Squeeze). Sight Alignment, Sight Picture. We learned these things in a school circle and then we put it into practice as we aimed and dry-fired at 55-gallon drums painted with 1-inch silhouettes of targets.
Also while in school circle or in bleachers we would learn the different positions of prone, sitting, and standing. Learning how to use our slings to steady our shots. Coaches gave us advice in calm voices. They actually spoke to us. No screaming. The results were that a platoon of 85 guys were able to learn to shoot bullseyes from not only the 200-yard line but also from the 500 yards. All on iron sights. This sort of shooting can only be accomplished with the discipline, knowledge, and experience gained through dry-firing. The report of weapons did not distract us. There was no hot brass to worry about. All we did was focus inward and not worry what was happening down range. Do all this correctly, and when we did lock and load, the results would speak for themselves.
If you really want to master the basics of shooting or you are training for a competition then practice dry-firing. Place as much emphasis on it as the Marines. Don’t forget to practice drawing your weapon from the holster while you dry-fire. You can gain the muscle memory that possibly could save your life.
In my school, we offer classes on dry-firing with adaptive pistols that give you this experience and coach you through the basics. Check us out at Go2FirearmSafety.com and see if one of our instructors can help you.
Michael Brown is a former U.S. Marine and Firearm Safety Instructor. He is also an instructor of Krav Maga and a 7th degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.