When Dry Fire isn’t “Dry” – Did That Really Just Happen?

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 IV

 

P365 XRAY3 Day/Night Sights

What is the purpose of publishing these stories —

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 from which we can learn.

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.

Today's story is the third such post on unintended discharges during dryfire.

Past stories —

In the first story, 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.

The Range Safety Officer (RSO) of a gun store had an unintended discharge while periodically conducting dryfire during a slow shift working in the store. Here is a link to that story.

unintended discharge

Our third story showed how fatigue led to inattention while conducting dryfire. Our contributor in that incident reminded us why we should avoid sleepy dry fire practice.

Did That Really Just Happen —

My job requires that I handle guns on a near-daily basis. It's been like this for close to 25 years. In addition, each year, I attend regular firearms and self-defense training. Dry fire practice is a part of my lifestyle. I can't even estimate how many live rounds I've fired or hours I've spent in classes, training, and conducting dry fire practice.

I've read about many unintended discharges and seen a couple, but I wasn't dumb enough to ever be the person in the story. Not until the day it happened to me.

It was about 6:30 PM, and the family was getting ready to go out to dinner. I was the first one dressed and ready to go, waiting in the kitchen for the rest of the family. While they were upstairs, I decided to use my time wisely and practice some draws. Then, I unloaded the gun checked it multiple times like I've done so many times in the past.

dry fire

I left the full magazine and extra round on the counter and picked out an electrical outlet about 12 feet away. The family was upstairs and couldn't come into my line of fire. I choose an outlet on an exterior wall with nothing by my garage beyond it. For about 10 minutes, I worked on my draw, presentation, and pressing the trigger.

My father called me on my cell phone. He told me what the doctor said to him at his recent appointment. The conversation was meaningful, so I thought I would stop dryfire to concentrate on what he was saying. While on the phone, I loaded up my handgun, topped off the mag, and holstered.

While talking to my dad, my wife yelled down that she would be about 10 more minutes. The conversation with my dad had shifted to something less important, probably sports or something. So I figured I would continue conducting some dry fire.

I returned to the spot where I had been practicing for the last 10 minutes and continued where I left off.

I drew, presented, pressed, and saw my outlet explode in several pieces. Then, I could hear the recognizable sound of a shell casing bouncing on my hard kitchen floor. I remember thinking:

Did that really just happen?

I took a deep breath, told my Dad I would call him later, cleared, and holstered my gun.

dry fire tools

The aftermath —

My family yelled down the stairs, asking what had happened. They thought something fell, not even perceiving the noise they heard was a gunshot.

While they continued getting ready, I assessed the damage and ensured the bullet that exited my house couldn't have left my property.

I was overwhelmed and grateful that my carelessness injured no one. The damage to my wall, outlet, and the garage was all fixable.

What went wrong —

That night, I assessed and wrote down everything leading up to the unintended discharge of my handgun. That's one reason why I can relay so much detail now.

An examination of the incident exposes what went wrong.

My mind was preoccupied with listening to the doctor's diagnosis of my father's health issues and the annoyance of waiting (at least) another 10 minutes when I “finished” my dry fire and reloaded the gun. So I never registered that event in my mind.

I never left the area and didn't clear the gun again because I was “just continuing dryfire.” I regularly keep ammunition away from where I'm conducting dry fire; I didn't this time.

As a result, I assessed my process regarding dry fire practice. In addition to other things, I decided to incorporate a BarrelBlok in ALL my dryfire, unless I use a laser cartridge. I don't handle the gun unless I am singularly focused on that task and conduct 100% of my dryfire in the basement, not “the majority.”

Takeaways —

I hope you all are as grateful to the author as I am that he shared his story.

I pray you won't be too quick to dismiss this story as something that could never happen you. 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 these three stories shared with us, a life-changing lapse in attention happens to people who “would know better.”

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

3 Comments

  1. Doug G. on February 9, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    I didn’t read whether he repeated , out loud, “my gun is loaded” 3 times when he reholstered it. Thinking and saying something out loud helps to cement the idea in your brain. And whether it is for dry fire or after you’ve unload you firearm at night or after storing it, saying 3 times, “this gun is loaded” or something to that effect has proven helpful for many people and gives you another second to assess your firearms condition beyond what a press-check can do.

    I have a rule, that whenever I hear or read about an ND (as all unintended discharges are the result of negligence) I take the time to read, out loud, the 4 universal gun safety rules, or the NRA 3 rules, consider each and how I either uphold them or if I have become lax, then recommit to doing better and how I’ll do that specifically. It’s probably better to do these things with another person but I live alone so I just do it with myself.

  2. Gregory Pitts on February 9, 2022 at 3:15 pm

    I’m blessed to have a laser pistol to dry fire with. When I finish though and pick up my care gun I always load it. lay it in my hand look directly at it and say out loud at least 5 times “training is over, THIS gun is dangerous”.

    It is a reminder of the difference of purpose in the two.

  3. Rob on February 10, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    Good info. My ND story. This happened a couple of years ago. I took my G30 out of the safe (I keep it loaded) And went to nu-load it for dry fire. I screwed up the process. Normally I drop the magazine and rack the slid to clear the chamber. Then squeeze the trigger at my bed. This time (and only time ever) I racked the slide, saw the ejected round, and dropped the magazine, pointed the weapon at the bed, pulled the trigger and BOOM! Been shooting since 1952 first ND. Now, I talk my self (out loud) through the process EVERY TIME. I was lucky that time

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