You may tell yourself you’ll react a certain way when faced with danger, but the reality is that, since most of us don’t have ice water in our veins, fear is what takes over. Your ability to make complex decisions and moves goes right out the window—what you’re left with is an instinctive drive to flee or, if cornered, fight. Fleeing isn’t too hard to figure out, but fighting effectively is more involved. This is where prior training can become the determining factor in your survival. One thing that will help you cut through fear and adrenaline is muscle memory, and the only way to build that up is through repetition.

Finding a range that allows you to move and fire or fire from cover may be difficult, and most ranges do not have facilities for practicing live-fire room-clearing drills either.

There is one type of training you can do cheaply, safely and conveniently at home: dry-fire practice. Simply stated, dry-firing is doing everything you normally do shooting at the range but with no ammunition. By finding a safe direction at home or outside and ensuring your firearm is empty, you can repeatedly practice all of the shooting fundamentals and build up your muscle memory. Sight alignment, breath control, grip and, most importantly, trigger squeeze dramatically improve with dry-fire training. When I am helping students on the range who have trouble with flinching or anticipation, I ask them to alternate between five rounds of live-fire and five rounds of dry-fire. The improvement in just one session can be dramatic, and there are many products available that can make training more fun and interesting and help you get the most from practice.

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