Range therapy and dry-fire

Story and photos by Russell Purcell

Like many shooting enthusiasts I find a day at the range to be therapeutic. This might sound strange to someone who has never had the opportunity (or the desire) to fire a gun, but there is something about the noise, the smells, and the feel of the explosive release of energy that comes with each press of the trigger.

Perhaps it comes from the fact that the process of target shooting involves a great deal of preparation, thought, and planning which all lead up to a satisfying climax highlighted by the lick of flames around the muzzle, a pulse of recoil forces down your arms, and an aural assault second to none. This might seem strange, but for some reason I even relish the sight of the brass casings pirouetting through the air, often bouncing off the brim of my hat or tumbling down my shoulder before joining the brass carpet forming at my feet. All my daily stresses seem to wash away as I focus on my front sight in an effort to defeat my paper adversary.

I will admit that there are times when nothing feels better than blasting my way through box after box of ammunition, but with a sagging dollar the cost to feed your firearm is escalating rapidly.

Luckily there are a couple of ways to help alleviate this financial stress.

Reloading is one. When I first got involved with shooting sports I would stop by my friendly neighbourhood hunting supply store and purchase several boxes of pistol ammo before heading to the range. Unfortunately, buying said ammunition in this manner is pricey, not to mention inconvenient. I then noticed that many shops offered deals on cases of ammunition- usually 500 to 1,000 rounds when it comes to small pistol calibres, but at the rate I was consuming them my credit card was wearing out.

Luckily for me I had an occasional shooting partner who was interested in learning how to reload ammunition. After a little research and instruction- followed by a few hiccups, it turns out he can produce consistent and reliable ammo for roughly half the cost of factory rounds. The actual manufacturing process is quite simple and straightforward and for the most part, the components – gun powder, bullets and primers – are readily available. On the plus side spent brass can often be sourced for free, and interestingly, these durable casings can be reused almost indefinitely.

Another valuable way to reduce operating costs is to integrate dry-fire training into your routine. You will find that by focusing a little more attention on your trigger control you will become a more efficient shooter and will no doubt see improvements with your shot accuracy. Free of the interruption that comes with the reactionary flinch that tends to follow the explosion that usually takes place in the gun’s chamber you are better able to learn how the various controls of your firearm function, and will soon become more aware of key elements of marksmanship like the trigger reset.

During a typical range visit I often dry-fire between magazines- especially if I am not getting the results I am hoping for on my target groupings. By slowing things down and gathering my thoughts between shooting sessions I tend to see better results as my time at the range progresses.

Dry-fire doesn’t have to be confined to the range as many who practice in this manner do so at home after ensuring that all the safety procedures and variables have been adhered to. I often dry-practice before, or after, I clean my guns, but lately I have taken to using a plastic replica handgun produced by Crosman – the Stinger P9T. The Stinger is available at a large number of retailers in Canada, but It is often a flyer item available at a heavily discounted price at Canadian Tire.

Stinger 1


The Stinger is a full-size, cock-and-shoot spring pistol that propels 6mm airsoft BB’s at velocities up to 275 feet-per-second. I like the fact that it features a steel magazine, simple blade and notch sights, and proper safety and mag release controls.

stinger 2

The grip features a stippled surface which feels good in the hand, and the pistol is nicely weighted. I can rack the slide to reset the trigger over and over without fear of doing any real damage to the weapon components, my walls, or even myself.

stinger 3

There are lots of tips, lessons and guides available online to help you maximize the effectiveness of dry-fire training, but it is important to take it seriously. The key is to maintain your proper firing position, stance, and grip while ensuring that you press the trigger exactly as you would if there was a live round in the chamber.

With a little time and concentrated practice you will have conditioned yourself to perform a smooth trigger press without moving the sights off target and hopefully, without a flinch reaction.

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