Using Dummy Rounds

Dummy rounds are a useful training tool. They have more uses than training but let’s focus on my current method and the techniques it reinforces. These days my training is focused on qualifying for NRA Instructor school. Part of that entails putting 20 rounds inside an 8.5 inch circle at 15 yards with a maximum spread of 6 inches. 2 10-rounds splits or 4 5-round splits- shooters’ choice. Practicing this drill helps tighten your groups, but using dummy rounds is a good way to see how you’re doing in live fire. 

Find some quality dummy rounds that are made from real brass like the ones shown above. I like bright colors because they’re easy to see when you clear them.

I keep two rounds with my 3 practice mags. Mix up the dummy rounds with live ammo each time you load the mags and don’t look at the mags when you load them. You can mix up the ammo in your pocket if you like, I just put the dummy round and 4 others in my hand to load each mag. This gets easy with a little practice. Now you shouldn’t be able to predict the sequence of the dummy rounds in your splits.

When a dummy round is chambered during your split you just simulated a misfire. In a defensive situation having your gun go click when it’s supposed to go bang is a bad thing, so practicing your handling of this will prepare you to handle it smoothly. For those of you that don’t know what to do when you get that click after expecting a bang: power stroke the slide. This is training benefit #1- you can practice racking the slide to clear the bad round – taking care to:

  • Bring the gun back into your workspace 
  • Rack the slide by putting the palm of your support hand on the top of the slide and pushing back hard- under stress you won’t have the motor skills to use your fingers so don’t develop a habit that will cause you to fail in a life-threatening situation 
  • Push the gun back out and resume fire
The second training benefit relates back to the drill mentioned above. When you press the trigger and no shot breaks, what does the front sight do? You want to see the sight remain on target. If you see the sight jerk off target you know that you need more work on the grouping improvement drill. This is really helpful- for me it shows where to focus training. If you have any flinching issues whatsoever you will see them when you strike a dummy round. 
Storing them is easy too – I load them in my practice mags after each range session. These are just a few uses for dummy rounds- it’s a very inexpensive way to enhance your training and the best part is that they can be reused over and over again. They’re a great way to refine your skills and identify and eliminate bad habits.

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