Dry fire practice is such an important part of building and maintaining your pistol skills. Many of us perform dry fire practice several times a week or more, and even set up a special area in our homes where we can safely practice. But is there a safe way to conduct dry fire practice when you're traveling?
There sure is. Here are some strategies and products that you can use to keep your pistol skills sharp while you're away from your home.
Dry Fire Safety Challenges on The Road —
Just like at home, when we dry fire on the road, we need to follow some safety protocols. Hotel rooms pose a similar challenge to dry fire practice facing those who live in an apartment. Primarily, the challenge is finding a “safe direction” for practice. You probably have an outside wall, but that direction is likely not any safer than any other direction where only a few inches of drywall separate your room from your neighbor's.
To be clear, even at home when our “safe direction” is a basement wall, we must follow safe gun handling rules. I wrote this article a while back, which includes strategies for safe dry fire at home. However, the risk to uninvolved third parties is greater when you're practicing in a hotel room.
Where to Unload —
To start, consider where you choose to unload your firearm for dry fire. You likely don't travel with a clearing barrel or bucket of sand, so you'll need to find the safest direction to point the gun while you unload it. I'm sure we've all seen people crank off a round while unloading their gun. So between user error and mechanical failures, we need to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, just like we do when we load it.
Once you've cleared the gun, ensure you separate any ammunition and put it somewhere clear of where you're practicing. Consider emptying your magazine. Doing so just creates a layer of safety that makes it even more unlikely you'll negligently chamber a round.
Make the Gun Inert —
A simple product to use during dry fire is BarrelBlok. This simple, caliber-specific device renders it impossible to chamber a round. BarrelBlok doesn't require any disassembly to insert and remove, and provides a visible indicator that your gun is inert. The included MagBloks get inserted into your magazine and keep the slide from locking back on an empty slide. And like BarrelBlok, MagBloks provide a visible indicator that they are empty.
Dry fire practice with an empty gun is great, but the peace of mind and extra layer of safety that comes with an inert gun is well worth the price of the BarrelBlok.
Another way to render your gun inert is to use a laser cartridge, like the Laser Dot Trainer from Ready Up Gear. With a laser cartridge chambered, you can't chamber a live round. The benefit of using a laser cartridge is that each strike of the back of the laser cartridge by the striker or firing pin emits a laser pulse. The visible laser pulse allows you to see where you pointed your muzzle when the shot broke.
Shot Recording Software —
A bonus of laser cartridge is combining it with a shot recording program like LASR or Mantis Academy. These programs let you record strings of fire and track your shots, times and other metrics. Both products use your smart phone, so you don't have to lug around a bunch of special cameras or targets.
Being that LASRX is web-based, you can use it with a laptop or any other device with a webcam and internet access. We use LASRX in our monthly Shooter Ready Challenge dry fire program. You can see how versatile and comprehensive LASR software is by viewing any of our Shooter Read Challenge Videos.
Dedicated Training Gun —
Traveling with an inert laser training gun like the SIRT training pistol from Next Level Training is a fantastic option for dry fire on the road. You can use the SIRT with the shot recording software mentioned above, so it actually is an incredibly safe and effective method for safe dry fire practice in hotels.
Dry Fire Mag —
The Dry Fire Mag is a cool product that doesn't take up space in your luggage. The product replaces your magazine and keeps the striker from releasing during dry fire. What this means is you can get multiple trigger presses without needing to rack the slide and rest the striker.
Reusable Adhesive Dry Fire Targets —
A product you can easily travel with are these adhesive targets from Go Fast Don't Suck. Sure, you can use a light switch or some other object as a target, but these reduced scale targets allow you to simulate what specific targets like USPSA look like at specific distances. Designed specifically to peel off the wall easily without causing damage, these are perfect for travel or home use. I haven't used them yet, but Riley is a huge fan of these and takes them everywhere he goes.
Wrapping up —
What products do you use while dry firing on the road? What safety precautions do you employ to overcome some challenges of dry fire in hotels? Stay safe!