When Dry Fire isn’t “Dry” – I Don’t Remember Loading the Gun

Handling firearms comes with substantial risk. Unfortunately, the risk doesn't disappear just when we leave the range. Many unintended discharges (UDs) occur when people conduct dry fire practice.

When Dry Fire Practice Isn't “Dry” Part II

dry fire unintended discharge

For this reason, we decided to reach out to gun owners and peruse the internet for stories of unintended discharges while conducting dryfire practice.

We compiled a handful of stories that fit our criteria. First, the unintended discharge must have happened while conducting dry fire practice. Secondly, there must be some detail to the story that paints a picture we can learn from. And lastly, we asked that the story include a brief explanation of their experience with firearms.

As you can imagine, not everyone who shared their experience with us is eager to have their name attached to the story. So we agree not to publish anyone's name.

This is the second story we've published on the topic of unintended discharges during dryfire. In the last report, a person with many years of experience competitively shooting guns had a momentary lapse while conducting dryfire in his kitchen. If you haven't read that story yet, you can find it by clicking here.

unintended discharge

Gun Shop Dry Fire Mistake —

I was working at a local gun range as an instructor and RSO. My experience with firearms spanned many years. People who know me would have said I was overly cautious when it came to safety issues.

On one particular day, I was in the office, and we had no customers. We had no one scheduled for a lesson and the weather was not great, so we weren't likely to have any shooters. I recently obtained a new firearm and decided that I would take the opportunity to conduct some dry fire practice, and work on skills and pass the time.

I removed the magazine, checked for an empty chamber, and spent some time working on my aim and trigger press. I reloaded my firearm when I finished. I repeated this process several times throughout the day.

In the afternoon, our gunsmith came inside the office. He had his little boy with him, and I felt uncomfortable having the gun out with him present. I just felt a “check” to put it away and finish the drill after they left the office.

Once they left, I began my dryfire practice again. I turned to a corner of the office because “never point your muzzle at anything you don't intend to destroy” and pulled the trigger.

I heard the loudest bang ever and it seemed as though the world stopped- time stood still.


I Don't Remember Loading the Gun —

I do not recall having put that magazine back in the firearm to this day. My mind is blank as to when I stopped the dry fire and reloaded the gun or why it was in my hand at that moment. Clearly, I had just reloaded the gun and holstered it, but I have no recollection of doing it to this day.

The event was devastating, and I have never stopped being grateful that I pointed the muzzle in a safe direction. After sharing my story, people I assumed would have never done anything so irresponsible came from the woodwork sharing similar stories.

I've come to realize that often, the more experienced we are, the more likely we are to become “automatic” in what we do without giving real thought as we go through those steps.

Now, I am adamant about not having any ammunition in the room when I handle my firearm away from the range. I TRIPLE check the breech and magazines. When handling a firearm in a classroom, I verify with at least one other knowledgeable adult to confirm it is clear.

I learned that carelessness could occur even with the most experienced if we become too complacent.

dry fire tools

Takeaways —

I hope you all are as grateful to the author as I am that he shared his story. I pray that we won't be too quick to dismiss this story as something that could never happen to us. No one who has experienced an event like the one in this post intended it to happen. Therefore we should all guard against complacency and continually assess our systems and processes, even more so if we've been doing the same thing for years and years.

As we've seen in the first two stories shared with us, an experienced competitive shooter and an RSO of a range both had a life-changing lapse in attention. It happens, folks.

We need to learn from these stories.

BarrelBlok —

We have found a device that blocks the chamber, making it impossible for an unintended discharge to occur. It also provides a visual indicator that the firearm cannot fire. And the device does not affect the mechanical function of the gun.

The simple device is called BarrelBlok. Here is a recent post on the merits of the product.

Please consider using a BarrelBlok every time you conduct dry fire practice. After seeing how to use the product, I think you will agree that the product should be a fundamental safety device for every gun owner.

barrelblok dry fire tool

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Bob on January 27, 2022 at 7:06 am

    I submitted this previously. The most important take-away is the last line, “Every time you pick up a firearm except to shoot, clear it! No excuses!” Clearing a firearm MUST be done. This should be the first item on all trainers agenda along with NRA safety protocols. Clearing must be ingrained through constant repetition!

    I commend whomever came up with this Dry Fire subject. It is in my humble opinion, the most important subject that has been too long in coming!

    I was about to disassemble my firearm for cleaning. I was in the process of clearing my gun when the doorbell rang. When I returned to my bench, and knowing I had already cleared my gun, I put my finger on the trigger because to remove the slide on this firearm the trigger must be depressed. I hesitated! My training was nagging me. I knew I had cleared the gun and no-one else was home who could have touched my firearm. Oh well, It won’t kill me to clear it again. Finger into the mag well, lock back the slide… at which point a chambered round ejected!
    I froze. A shock went through my body. I stood there staring at it for what felt like minutes. I cannot describe the feeling. My brain remembered clearing but my training told me to clear it again.
    One last word, I use a chamber laser for dry fire practice. If I put my gun down to pick up the TV remote then pick up my gun to continue practicing I clear it. This is necessary for safety and for building habit. Every time you pick up a firearm except to shoot, clear it! No excuses!

  2. William D Gerdsen on January 27, 2022 at 9:11 am

    I completely understand the “freeze” feeling. Years ago I was asked to paint a room in a neighbors house. A closet was storage for a collection of firearms. i was familiar with firearms and comfortable with moving them to another location to complete the painting.
    After moving pistols and rifles; placing them on a bed several shotguns were stacked
    in the corner of the closet. The last was a pump; nicely engraved. Not wanting to damage
    the finish I carefully placed it on the head of the bed. In doing so my finger just brushed the
    trigger. That was a small bedroom and the blast alone almost knocked me off my feet.
    Fortunately, I was alone in the house. However, a change of clothing was almost required!
    Sheet rock was the only casualty!

    The owners explained the shotgun belonged to a recently passed relative. It was known
    for a light trigger pull and the story came out: that after a deer hunt; one shell was “stuck” in in the chamber.

    ” I was taking it for repair, but got distracted and forgot about it” That was the owner comment when I told him what happened.

    The owner did the repair and completed the painting. Needless to say. I declined
    hunting trips with him as a trust bond was damaged. .

  3. Don McCollor on January 28, 2022 at 6:29 pm

    (Don McCollor)..Distractions are dangerous. Had four episodes in my life. A 44 by a friend went through (fortunately through a glass panel in a door (showing it off and forgotten he had reloaded it). Three more with shotguns when we forgot we has loaded (a friend-that one would have been real real bad) and myself and my uncle that forgot when we were live back at the car….

  4. Jeff on January 31, 2022 at 10:26 am

    “Every time you pick up a firearm except to shoot, clear it! No excuses!” Clearing a firearm MUST be done.”

    No. Although that may be true strictly during a dry fire session, it is profoundly false most of the time. It leaves your gun forever empty and profoundly useless. Read the Rules and follow them.

  5. Dwight on February 16, 2022 at 9:34 am

    I do not “automatically” clear a firearm every time I pick one up. Every time I pick one up, I DO check to determine the condition of the firearm: Is there a magazine in position? Is there a round in the chamber? At that point I can determine what I will do with it depending on why I picked it up in the first place. I will clear it if required or leave it in the condition I found it in if appropriate. Of course if I am carrying concealed, I keep it “cocked and locked” until I put it up for the day.

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