I find an opportunity on almost every hunt to practice dry firing. If you don’t know what dry firing is, it’s simply firing the weapon without any ammunition in the chamber. Always ensure that the weapon is not loaded and that your magazine is empty. Dry firing is very common among pistol shooters working on training their technique. For all shooters, the practice has the benefit of being very cheap (free), can be done almost anywhere, and helps the shooter hone their technique. In this post, however, I will focus on dry firing in the field.
There is often the opportunity on a hunt when the animals have bedded, the weather makes glassing impractical, or there is nothing else to do. I will often take a few minutes to run through a dry firing practice in these situations.
For me, this practice involves setting my rifle up on my tripod, establishing a comfortable and effective body position, and running through my checklist of physical and mental actions I take before shooting.
Dry firing is the practice of simulating the discharge of a firearm without any live ammunition.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_fire
While I may have recently been at the range, going through this practice in the field sharpens my reflexes and increases the chances that I will do everything correctly when the time to shoot comes. You may choose to do this when you have downtime during a hunt, taking a realistic shooting position for the game animal you are hunting and the terrain you find yourself in.
The steps for this practice are simple. I like to be mentally focused on the task when performing this training. While hunting provides lots of opportunities for fun, I want to reinforce good mental skills related to focus, single-tasking and calm.
- Remove any ammunition from the rifle and ensure it is safe.
- Find a piece of ground similar to what you expect to shoot from. On a sheep hunt, I expect to be prone. A standing, seated, or kneeling shot is more likely on a moose hunt. Ensure you are not pointing the rifle in a dangerous direction.
- Prepare your shooting rest. I love shooting from a tripod in just about every situation. Thus, I will prepare my tripod for the shot.
- Take your shooting position. I prefer to have my legs in line with the rifle when prone. I lay down behind the gun.
- Complete your shooting position. Fill negative space, if you can, to increase your stability. You will see in the video below how I use my scope cover as a rear bag to provide support to my right arm.
- Cycle the bolt.
- Finalize your position and eye relief behind the scope. Touch your cheek to the comb in the same way you have done it at the range.
- Put your finger on the trigger. Your trigger control is now the essential part of the shot.
- Trigger squeeze. A smooth, steady, straight-back squeeze is mandatory. Pulling the rifle to one side or another will cause a poor shot.
- Cycle the bolt. Take a few more shots.
You may have other items in your shooting regimen I have missed here. Whatever your routine is, follow it. This is not the time to innovate! Your goal is to dust off your shooting process so that it is accessible to your mind and body when the moment of truth comes. This simple exercise takes only a few moments and will improve your confidence and, ultimately, your success.