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  Accuracy for Handguns Part 1 - *Dry Firing*
« on: November 12, 2007, 13:25:16 PM » by MSS Forum Admin
First and foremost, let it be said that although I hope to get across some tips and tricks and basic principles of technique for the accurate shooting of handguns, I do hope you accept that between preaching and effectively practicing there exists a wide chasm, almost as wide as my groups usually are...

Still, due to the relative novelty of this sport, especially for those who do not at least have a background in freehand pistol shooting, be it air pistol or black powder revolvers, I hope that some of these tips will prove useful to get one off to a decent start.

The first topic to discuss will be dry firing. Dry firing, as in firing a firearm without a live cartridge in the chamber. To some of you, dry firing will almost sound like an obscenity - thoughts of bent firing pins, peened hammers, and other such like tragedies immediately spring to mind. But dry firing is an almost essential practice if one is to achieve acceptable groups when firing "live". All the top shooters "fire" thousands of rounds dry. At the very least, dry firing will save you tons of ammo and frustration until you reach your goal.

Frustration blaming the gun, blaming the ammo, the wind, the sun, moon and the stars even, for what is very simply operator error. For firing live ammo will not allow you to analyze your trigger technique, your hold, your follow through, etc - all records instantly obliterated by the gun's violent equal and opposite reaction to the projectile's acceleration up the bore, otherwise known as recoil.

Dry firing is identical to live firing with the exception that nothing is leaving the barrel and there is no recoil.

With dry firing, you can minutely analyze what is going on exactly the instant the sear breaks, undoubtedly the most critical of events affecting accuracy, for it is what happens at this last instant that determines exactly which direction the projectile will be taking - and not the preceding 10, 20 seconds or more when the barrel and the target may well have been perfectly aligned. And not only - this event is the one event that is most likely in itself, to disturb said alignment.

In this topic, we are not going to discuss what can go wrong with your technique, but only dry firing itself. To get started, there are two main roads to follow, which choice depend on the gun itself. Many firearms are, contrary to popular perception, capable of being dry fired without any ill effect whatsoever - or at least, no more ill effect than shooting with a cartridge in the chamber would cause. You should be able to determine whether this is so or not, by consulting the manufacturer of the gun. Notably, rimfire guns usually do not fit this category and should not be dry fired.

In any case, snap-caps should be available for most calibres, snap caps being dummy rounds with a simulated primer in hard rubber, or spring loaded - so that there is no issue. Rimfire guns can be dry fired with an empty shell in the chamber, rotating the shell frequently so that a fresh section of rim is presented to the firing pin.

Whatever, you should aim to "shoot" many more rounds dry than you would actually be shooting live at the range. Study that critical moment as the sear breaks, and rest assured that you will at first find plenty of explanations as to why your whizz-bang top dollar (ok, Lm, anzi, Euro) match pistol, much like a shotgun, seems to "pattern" rather than "group".

You will likely notice the front sight shaking and wobbling, each micrometric wobble translating into several inches out at the target.

Next, you will need to work on the issues that are causing this wobble and any other undesirable movement, until you reach trigger-break nirvana where all the world becomes still at the critical moment and beyond. That work will be better described in another thread...

« Last Edit: November 15, 2007, 09:53:28 AM by MSS Forum Admin »
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