Chris Sajnog aiming a pistol in a cardboard

Dry Fire Drills Using A Pencil: Training And Practice [VIDEO]

I’ve talked at length about the importance of dry fire drills on training your brain and creating the habits of a highly successful shooter.

I know it’s a hard sell to tell you that not shooting your gun is going to make you better at shooting, but I know dry fire training to be tried and true, and I’ll tell you why. Your greatest asset, either in a static setting like the shooting range or a dynamic setting of a battlefield, is your body’s ability to perform maneuvers by rote memorization. 

I’m talking about myelination, or as most of us call it, muscle memory. Before you even begin to train your body, you have to master training your brain both to receive information and to respond dynamically to aim accurately. 

Dry fire training is brain training, no doubt about it. And let’s face it, if you CAN’T aim a pencil, you’re aim with your gun can’t be much better. So, let’s talk about dry fire drilling, learn my favorite dry fire drill, and get your dry fire pencil drills up to scratch.

Dry Fire Practice Drills

If inexpertly burning through rounds on the firing range is what you want to do, I’m not here to stop you. But if you wanted to master your weapon, hone your skills as a shooter, and become a precision targeting machine, I’m here to tell you that an expert shooter starts his training at home, with pencil dry fire practice drills. 

Chris Sajnog holding a pistol practicing dry fire

Perfecting your aim with slow, deliberate dry fire pencil drills and other dry firing drills allows you to carve a neural pathway that leads to shooting with real skill, deadly accuracy, and incredible speed. I’ve said before, and I will say again

“There are two types of people you will meet on a range — those who choose to build up expensive piles of brass and those who build priceless pathways of myelin.”Say it with me five times fast: Peter Piper Paved a Perfect Pathway…Which path are you going to pave?

Why You Need To Practice Dry Fire

dry fire training (v)- the practice of "firing" a firearm without ammunition or practicing the manipulation of a firearm is dry fire training

Most of you, like me, want to get better at shooting, but time constraints, the 9-5 job, the resources and the space are all limiting factors in our growth and self improvement. 

When in the service, you have the advantage of as much dedicated training time as you can handle and unlimited supplies to train with. That was great! In active service, I didn’t feel like I needed any dry fire practice. 

But I’m guessing most of you aren’t active military right now. We have jobs, families, businesses, responsibilities outside the shooting range. So how, then, do we stay in peak form, develop good habits, and perfect our aim while paying the bills? Dry fire training, of course!

Chris Sajnog teaching someone how to practice dry fire

Dry Fire Training Drills

So what is dry fire training drills, exactly? Dry fire training is the generic term for practicing with a weapon that is unloaded. Anything and everything you do with your weapon, from handling, targets, grip, trigger control, breathing…the list goes on forever.

All dry fire training/dry fire practice. I prefer to use the term dry fire training rather than dry fire practice, to make clear how important it is to skill building. Make no mistake, the dry fire pencil drill is exactly that–a dry fire training drill. 

When dry fire training, you are training your mind first and your body second. A lot of these skills, like aiming while walking, breathing and shooting positions begin without the gun in your hand. 

When I talk about dry fire training I am talking about a lot more than just the dry fire drills using a pencil. You should be thinking about dry fire drilling/ dry fire training and skill building time as a time to reflect, seriously, about your posture, breathing, your grip and your stance.

Let the dry fire pencil drill be a reminder that everything you do on and off the range should be a calculated skill, not a casual approach to mastering your weapon. 

I’m talking about building that muscle memory. Practice, practice, practice…drill, drill, drill…Wax on, wax off…

You might be thinking, why do I care about dry fire practice / dry fire drilling? How can the dry fire pencil drill be that effective? Can’t I do all this at the shooting range? 

Sure, you can, but how much time and money do you have to spend there? To be a highly effective marksman, you owe it to yourself to dry fire drill between trips to the range.

This is about deliberate, slow movements which build strong habits, without the stress and distraction of an explosion in your hand. This is how you build skills, any time, any where, for small amounts of time throughout your day. 

Master these dry fire pencil drills in your spare moments, and when you finally have that gun in your hand, you will have the tools and gestures you need to be successful, accurate, and swift with your weapon.

Chris holding a SIRT pistol

Dry Fire Drills Master

Dry fire drills training is convenient, there’s no driving to the range, set up, clean up,  and you don’t need to dedicate large chunks of time to it. Dry fire training can be fit into even the busiest of schedules. And once you start developing these habits, you will find yourself practicing more often and more accurately, leading to better outcomes and superior mastery of your weapon.

Still not convinced? Let’s talk about the monetary savings of dry fire training. Think back to your last trip to the range. About how much did you spend on range time, ammo, targets, and gas to get there? It’s not inexpensive to hit the range. 

Now imagine you wanted to train 5 days a week at the range. With dry fire training, you can train 5 days a week (or every day of the week) without having to purchase range time, ammo, targets, or gas. Regardless of your income, I guarantee, when you can train for free, at home, you will. More training is more learning. It’s just that simple. 

There is a whole list of optional dry fire training gear you could invest in, like the SIRT dry firing pistol or laser targets, but those have the same drawback–cost. There is a whole range of prices for these kinds of dry fire training tools, like any other kind of marksman gear. I would never discourage you from building a dry fire practice arsonal! It certainly looks more impressive than your trusty dry fire training pencil.

However, dry fire training does you the most good when it is done daily. The appeal of the dry fire pencil drill is easy to see. This is my favorite dry fire training tool, but other dry fire training / dry fire practice techniques are good too. Starting with the dry fire pencil drill, feel free to develop your own practice of dry fire that suit your needs and the skills you most want to train. There is no one single dry fire practice / dry fire training tool to rule them all, but I think the dry fire pencil drill is a great place to start.

Chris Sajnog, and a quote, "Dry fire training is a kata of guns!"

Save even more money on ammunition by adding this dry fire training pencil drill to your home training.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword — but what about the meek little pencil?

Don’t underestimate your trusty number 2, the perfect dry fire training tool.

More proof that you have everything you need to train right at home!

  1. Clear out your gun
  2. Sharpen a few pencils
  3. Have some fun!

Watch this video on how easy (and fun) it is to do dry fire drills using a pencil, then click the button below to download my free training target and directions! You’ll be dry fire pencil drilling with the best of them in no time at all. 


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