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Dry Fire: Kata for Guns

Dry Fire: Kata for Guns

As the founder of BlackFlag firearms training, I have developed a unique take on training my students to be proficient with firearms. I approach firearms training just as any other martial art. Using the nucleus method of 7 Elements, I build a unique foundation that combines safety, knowledge and proficiency. To build these abilities, I use an ancient method called kata. In modern gun craft this is known as dry firing. The effective application of dry fire can be a very effective supplementary training method. The average shooter goes to the range twice a month, I hope. Which means they are only spending enough time with their equipment to become familiar with it but not proficient. The use of dry fire can make your actual time behind the gun more productive. Professional soldiers and pistol competitors spend thousands of hours doing just that and the fruits of their labor translate into survival and trophies.


The difference between traditional firearms training and BlackFlag is not just psychological but it’s physiological as well. Dry fire perceived as kata allows you to build skill sets step by step. It can enhance your focus by adding a beginning, middle and ending.

Example: Draw practice

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hands relaxed by your side.
  2. Focus on invisible opponent.
  3. Clear outer garment that conceals pistol, non-supporting hand rests on stomach.
  4. Get solid shooting grip on holstered weapon.
  5. Withdraw weapon with finger indexed on frame with deliberate pull.
  6. As weapon is withdrawn and clears holster, you begin to orient weapon towards target.
  7. Supporting hand is used to stabilize the weapon as it is pushed towards target.
  8. Weapon is fully extended.
  9. Trigger press is initiated.
  10. Focus is maintained until sear is released.
  11. Prior actions are reversed.
  12. End with pistol in holster.

This is an example of how this type of training could go. This can be done hundreds of times until it can be done smoothly and with authority.

Muscle memory

The goal of kata is to instill muscle memory. Practicing a movement repeatedly for a thousand reps can do this. Iado is a Japanese sword art that focus’ on the drawing of the sword alone. It is practiced as a separate art from Kendo and a master of this art can draw his sword, cut and return it to its scabbard in the blink of an eye.


 With an unloaded weapon, movement can be mastered. The student can practice getting into position behind cover and addressing angles. Practicing moving side to side, angular stepping and moving in a straight line can be added to your fictional kata.


Kata can be used to reinforce the ability to shoot in various shooting position by using isolation. You can start with a concentration on simple position and integrate the various positions to make your kata more difficult.


This method can be used to develop proper grip control of your firearm. You can constantly review the position of your hand when drawing and reholstering your weapon.  This training can assist you in maintaining muzzle discipline. Using the settings in your house as a staging point you can mentally address the possible shooting corridors and angles necessary to successfully defend your home and your love ones. It will also reveal to you the issues you will face using a long gun as your primary defensive weapon.


The advent of modern technology has made this an even more viable method of training. The use of lasers and lights attached to your firearms gives a visual verification to corroborate your efforts. Investing in a system such as the LaserHit, iTarget, or the Sirt can be beneficial to your training. However, if you are cost conscious something as simple as a G-Sight laser cartridge can be used as well. As firearms technology evolves, I’m sure there will be an economical VR training module coming in the future that will revolutionize training by putting you in a virtual crisis. This would present the trainee with a harsh reality by making you deal with tachy-psyche, fight or flight and other perception altering conditions that influence the outcome of real gun fights.

Final thoughts

As it becomes more and more difficult to train with your firearms, due to cost, lack of ranges, and hostile local governments, you will have to use more creative methods to train. The most cost-effective way to train is dry fire, it costs nothing but time. You can drill in all aspects of marksmanship, from accessing to muzzle discipline, can be practiced until proficient.  Also, with the development of laser and computer technology you can receive immediate feedback on your training efforts.

From the most ancient of warrior cultures to our modern secret warriors, the kata has been used to not only develop but pass on techniques that will increase the possibility of your survival in the event of an armed confrontation. If it has worked for them, it will work for you. Remember practice does not make perfect but it will make you better than the guy/gal that doesn’t practice at all.

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Modern Warrior Disclaimer: At the Modern Warrior Project we value the benefit gained by leveraging various experts in the field. One of the many ways we do this is by sharing post from a number of guest authors on our site. Like most things our opinions may vary on different topics, techniques, and various other things in which most of us hold deep opinions. While we may not always share the same opinion of any given author we think it is important to let it be heard and let the reader determine their position on any given topic of discussion. Provided the material does not fundamentally go against our values or we consider it to be ‘Bad’ advice we will alway lean towards publication. Bottom line: The opinions and statements expressed in our blog are those of the author unless clearly stated it is an MWP  positon on the given subject. 

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