Dry Fire And Exercise, Why It’s Important

Is Physical Fitness Important for Concealed Carriers?

You carry a handgun to protect yourself and others from death or serious bodily injury. But you may not be saving yourself from a threat within your own body.

Carrying a firearm is a lifestyle choice made because of a desire to live a life that terminates naturally, not at the hands of a criminal.

But, statistically speaking, you are much more likely to die of heart disease than at the hands of an attacker. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that in 2011 there were 4.7 murders for every 100,000 citizens in the United States.

Compare this with the CDC's statistics showing 187 per 100,000 Americans died from heart disease in 2016. We shouldn't base all our decisions on statistics alone, but it is safe to say that, in general, an unhealthy heart is more likely to kill us than an attacker. But it doesn't have to be a binary choice, don't forsake one for the other.

The Gun is Only One Part of the Solution:

Using a firearm for self-defense should be fused with a healthy mind and body. A while back, Jacob wrote an article that pointed out the vital role physical fitness plays in handgun training, and we have numerous articles on the benefits of dryfire. But I wanted to talk about how you can combine the two to live longer and become a better shooter.

Physical fitness, what do you need to commit?

First, try and commit 30 minutes at least a few days a week to improve your heart's health. This session should include a warm-up where you stretch. And at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercises with a heart rate in the cardio zone. Then a cool down where you stretch.

Here is a list of simple aerobic exercises that showed up with an internet search. If you have a basement or home gym like me, you can work in elliptical, rowing, or treadmill machines. I also invested in a Bowflex and workout bag (get them used, people will offer great deals on their workout equipment that is just collecting dust in their home.)

A set of free weights are not super expensive, and you can do a ton of good with just some dumbbells.

my modest home gym

If you have a small space to set up a home gym, add some essential equipment. And if you buy used equipment, you can do it for a fraction of the cost.

Some workout strategies

If you have ever seen an infomercial for some physical fitness program, you have likely heard all this before. But here is the difference, this workout targets your heart and muscles, as well as your handgun fundamentals through dryfire.

Don't wear workout clothes (unless you usually do), but instead what you typically wear. Choose something comfortable, but it MUST include your holster and gun. Make sure your gun is empty, or even better, use the BarrelBlok. If you have a holster that will work with the SIRT trainer, this is also a terrific option.

Now, for obvious reasons, do this at your own home or in a location where dryfire practice is not going to get the cops called. Set a random timer on your phone or timer that triggers you to stop immediately. Immediately go into your perfect draw from concealment, presentation, trigger squeeze, and heck, why not include a reload drill.

Get some dryfire practice on the trigger:

Maybe complete a couple more iterations, holster up and get back to your aerobic/strength exercises; you don't want your heart rate to drop.

Elevating the heart rate and working the body towards exhaustion before performing a physical task is a beneficial training technique. It will expose the difficulties in performing simple tasks when we are tired.

Military, law enforcement, and advanced handgun classes often employ this training method. Athletes train to the point of exhaustion and continue because there is a real benefit from this type of training.

By training under the conditions your body is more likely to be exposed to, you give yourself a much better chance of responding appropriately when the time comes.

Once you start doing this, you will likely extend your sessions past the 30 min mark because it becomes a lot of fun and is very rewarding.

Why should you want to do this type of physical dry fire practice?

You likely already know the benefits of dry firing, and you know the importance of keeping your body and heart healthy.  And now you should have a good idea of why training, while our bodies are fatigued, is so great.

Combining these three things allows you to be healthier and use your gun better, even if you have a packed daily schedule. No more do you have to forsake one for the other. But wait, there's more.

Testing your Gear:

Another thing that will be exposed when you begin to train this way is deficiencies in your gear. I have seen many holsters come off the belt along with the gun during a draw. Or clips that bend or break under some more strenuous conditions.

When you're dropping down to do push-ups, or jumping jacks, burpees, or whatever it may be, etc., you see how your gear will perform in a more realistic environment. You certainly don't want to find out your holster won't retain your gun when you're out doing backflips at the bar.

Even more important, if the holster shifts or doesn't properly secure the gun while you perform different exercises, what is the chance it will hold up if you become engaged in a physical fight? Or pick up your child and run to safety?

physical fitness and dry fire

Your dryfire will become even more effective when you combine it with physical exercise.

Here's another thing to think about:

Some estimate that 80% of street fights end up on the ground at some point.

In my experience fighting with many people who didn't want to go to jail, the fight frequently ended up on the ground.

So all those awkward positions you find yourself in when you are doing leg lifts, crunches, or push-ups–think about how you will have to draw from these positions and fight to your feet? You can't practice these problems on the range and, frankly, problems you should task your mind to solve when it is overworked and being assigned to do other things.

By doing these things, you are training your mind along with your body.

Of course, mixed martial arts training is amazingly beneficial. Unfortunately, there are many reasons someone may not be able to enroll in a ground-fighting class.

Dave Spaulding says:

Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives said something like this once, and I think it works well to explain this point: the person who survives the fight is not always the one with the best gear, gun, training, or the toughest. The person can observe the incident for what it is, formulate and execute a plan, and then adapt that plan as the incident unfolds. And do all this better and faster than the opponent.

In other words, you need to be able to pull from a vast memory bank of experiences to adapt and prevail. Simple training like this gives your brain the ability to quickly adjust and formulate a plan during a quickly changing incident.

shooting from unconventional positions

You won't likely be able to practice drawing from positions on a range, like this one where I was in the prone doing push-ups. Practicing these draws is made harder when your body is tired.

Everyone is at a different place in their firearms path and having other physical fitness goals and limitations. Of course, use common sense, and if appropriate, talk to your doctor about what restrictions, if any, you should place on your exercises. Even if it is one day a week, whatever you can do is working yourself toward a more healthy body, mind, and better gunfighting skills.

You likely won't have a perfect stance or shooting position during a fight. Here is a training course we put together called Fighting From Cover With Unconventional Shooting Positions. I think it works excellent with physical fitness, dryfire, and part of preparing to use your handgun in an actual defensive context.

Let us know your thoughts below.

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 Comment

  1. Steven on March 12, 2019 at 8:02 am

    I ? agree! I also practice racking and releasing the slide this will get your shooting muscles in shape, fingers wrist arms and shoulders etc.I am 65 yrs old and it works for me! Happy Shooting ?

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