It’s a well established fact amongst serious shooters that dry-fire practice is critical to improving your shooting skills and building that correct muscle memory. You can practice all of your fundamentals including draw, reloading and malfunctions without having to go to the range or spend money on ammo. It must be said once, but before you begin a dry-fire practice session you must CLEAR THE WEAPON SAFELY and put all live ammunition away, in a separate room ideally. People may scoff at this but even the most experienced shooters can get complacent and make mistakes, so its best to just practice good habits all the time, every time.
I have been using a cool system called the ReactionTyme from LaserLyte for my dry fire practice for a couple of years. It uses a laser-emitting cartridge that is sized for specific chambers, and a laser-sensing reactive target that will give you audible and visible feedback when you shoot it. The Targets use 3 x AAA batteries, and the laser cartridge uses 3 x 377 batteries. You simply drop the laser cartridge into the empty chamber of your unloaded firearm, turn the ReactionTyme target to “on” and you can begin dry fire practice. Every time you hit the target with the laser, it beeps and blinks twice. You can also set the target to “rt” mode, and it will randomly turn on and be reactive for just a few seconds, before turning off again. The “on” mode is good for practice, the “rt” mode is good for running drills and pushing your reaction and speed.
There are several reasons to spend your hard-earned money on this system. The added value comes in the form of making your dry-fire regimen both more fun and more effective, and you can use this system with any of your own personal guns, you don’t have to use a fake trainer pistol. The ReactionTyme target gives you instant audible feedback of two beeps and two blinking lights every time you make a hit, so you can have confirmation that you did everything correctly, instead of just assuming it. Up close this is fairly easy, but the targets are no larger than 2 inches square, so as soon as you put them across the room or down a hallway you have a challenge, especially if you are practicing concealed draws on the “rt” mode. Also the targets have holes on the back for easy hanging on walls, so you can get creative with your placement.
Another good training aspect is that you can follow through on your shots, maintaining your sight picture and your focus (depending on your methods, that could be your front sight or on the target). What this means is that you don’t have to look over your sights to see if the laser is hitting where you want it to, the target will beep and blink, letting you know instantly that you are on target.
The only aspect of this system that is not ideal for single-action (SA) or striker-fired handguns, such as the 1911 or Glock pistols, is that you are required to cycle the gun manually for every shot in order to activate the laser. The laser cartridge does not have a rim on the case for an extractor to grab, so you can work the slide without ejecting laser. If you are practicing with a double-action (DA) or DA/SA pistol then you will be able to practice a lot of double action trigger pulls using the laser repeatedly without having to cycle the action. Normal dry fire practice usually involves cycling the action after shots anyways, and/or executing multiple trigger pulls on dead triggers in the same way that you would if the trigger was actually reset.
My perspective is that since I am going to have to cycle the gun to reset the striker to use the laser again anyways, then I might as well practice malfunction drills and tap-rack between shots, just as if my gun went “click” instead of “bang” in a live fire drill. I demonstrate some examples of this in the video above.
Overall this system is a good investment, I enjoy using it and find that it adds value to my dry fire practice. The ReactionTyme targets can be found for sale online on Amazon (4.5 stars) for about $150, and the laser cartridges can be found for about $80. You may find better deals somewhere else, I encourage you to shop around. You can buy direct from LaserLyte, but this particular model doesn’t appear to be available on their website, probably because they have a newer version available with a shot clock for $199. Consider this system as an alternative to the SIRT pistol systems if you are looking to get the most out of your dry-fire practice.
Image from GunsAmerica.com