Dry Fire Online – Extremely Awesome Training

Ammo isn’t getting any cheaper, and I don’t think we’ll ever see those 2018 ammo prices ever again. It sucks, but it doesn’t mean we can stop training. As any serious shooter knows, dry fire is a critical skill-building practice. There is only so much one can do with plain old dry fire, but there are ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and entertainment of dry fire. Gadgets and gizmos galore exist for improving your dry fire practice, but today’s isn’t a gadget or gizmo. In fact, I don’t really know how to categorize Dry Fire Online.

It’s an application that has a few different elements to it. First, you need a modern smartphone and some kind of tripod for it. You also need a computer, preferably a laptop. You could use a tablet, but you might not get the most out of a tablet. We also need one of those laser dry-fire cartridges or devices like the Mantis Blackbeard. The application does have a free setting for shooters, but to get the most out of it, a paid subscription is needed. This is the minimum setup you’ll need to use Dry Fire Online. 

Setting Up Dry Fire Online 

Download the Dry Fire Online app on your phone and go to Dry Fire Online’s website on your laptop. Your laptop will act as your display and target. However, you don’t have to use the small monitor of a laptop. You can connect the system to your TV, or in my case, I used a projector and a whole wall as my display. 

Your cell phone’s camera will scan the display and recognize it. There is a quick, easy-to-use calibration system that will have your phone scan the display. The phone reads the target and can perceive the laser fired from your laser-firing device. Once your display is set, it’s smart to calibrate the laser. It’s simple to do and ensures your phone can read the laser. 

projector and laptop
My setup is simple. The photo was snapped near Christmas, so it’s festive, even!

Finally, you’ll need to zero your gun and laser to the target. This is easy, and you’ll fire five shots at a bull’s eye, and the app will automatically compensate and adjust. This is based on your position, so if you move drastically, it can change. 

Once this is done, you can start training. Admittedly, of all the dry fire apps and gadgets I’ve used, this one has the most setup I’ve seen. It’s very involved and does benefit from a little practice and patience to get everything right. I’ll admit to being frustrated a few times, but ultimately, I was able to get the system to work like a charm with a little practice. 

What You Can Do 

Once you master the setup process, you are brought to an expansive training app. The app itself features hundreds of targets, stages, and scenarios you can utilize. This can be as simple as USPSA classifiers and Steel Challenge stages to allow you to get the practice to sharpen specific skills for those competitions. You can also shoot beer bottle targets, Texas Spinners, and so many more. 

target selector
There are tons and tons of targets to shoot.

I really couldn’t list them all because we would be here all day. You can shoot USPSA targets, Bianchi Falling plates, and even moving targets. One of the more fun challenges is to shoot two UPSA targets in a vehicle driving towards you. I’ve been shooting and training with Dry Fire Online for well over a month and feel like I’ve barely explored the entirety of the app. 

dry fire online proejctor on wall
The projector makes the field of view huge and lifelike. Let’s El Pres it.

The app has plenty of prebuilt drills and apps. We get the classics like the IDPA El Presidente and modern drills like the Dicken Drill, or maybe you just want to shoot hogs at 300 yards. That’s an option, too. There are some more obscure stages, like the Swiss 300-meter stage. There is just a ton to do and train. If you get bored, then that’s on you. You’ll spend a day of training just trying all the different things out. 

Make Your Own 

If you shoot your way through all of the included drills and stages, then build your own. Yep, you can build, save, and share your own stages. You can pick between those tons of targets and set them at various simulated distances in various environments. You can create moving targets that can move forward, backward, to the side and diagonal. You can adjust the speed of that movement as well. 

target movement
Setting up the moving targets takes a little trial and error to get right.

This is another feature that requires a little time to master. I certainly haven’t mastered it yet, but after a little experimenting, I’m getting the hang of it. Nothing is necessarily difficult to do; it’s just understanding the speed of targets, how they move, and where you put them matters. Experimentation and experience simply let you build the stage you want. 

steel challenge match
Dry Fire Online can replicate steel challenge matches.

Sometimes, I just sit in my bed at night, making stages on my laptop. I kinda wish Dry Fire Online had a subreddit or forum to share with other users. I’m betting there is some fun stuff out there. Making your own stage makes it easy to create every training scenario you could imagine. I’ve used movies to be my guide, and so far, my Han Solo vs Greedo Stage is working pretty well.  

Training With Lasers 

I think it’s obvious I’m a fan of Dry Fire Online and its stages and apps, but how well does it work? Lighting is important. If your room is too bright, it’s tough for the app to pick up the laser. Luckily, the room can be dimmed without issues since the display is illuminated. With everything properly calibrated, I didn’t have any issues with the system reading hits. 

When using the projector, I already have a dim rim. However, if you use a projector, bring a tape measure so you can set up your stages correctly.

laptop and projector screen
An HDMI cable to a projector gives you all the magic you need.

Proper sizing and distance are necessary to get everything to work just right. The Dry Fire Online app is really picky about those things, and honestly, it’s easy to understand why. There are lots of moving pieces. Heck, even the height of the shooter plays a critical role. Get your stuff right, and it’ll work well. 

To get the most out of this system, I suggest a repeating laser device. Something like the Mantis Blackbeard, the SIRT, or Cool Fire trainer works best. I mostly use a drop-in laser cartridge, and my carry gun. It works for some training needs but doesn’t capture them all. Being able to quickly fire without having to rack the gun over and over will give the most advantage possible. 

Who Is It For

If you would like to shoot and train, Dry Fire Online is for you. If you compete and want to sharpen up your basic skills, then boom, dry fire online is for you. If you want to play and relive the glory days of Duck Hunt but with USPSA targets, then Dry Fire Online is for you. 

beginner sub
Here is what the Beginner Sub gets you.

It’s really a great system if you’re bored of your standard dry fire practice. It spices things up, allows you to be creative, and allows you to take on real-world drills without spending a dime. Well, I mean, you have a subscription to pay for. Speaking of. 

advanced sub
We got the advanced sub as well.

You can use a very limited version for free. The Beginner subscription costs 2.99 a month, the Advanced subscription costs 4.99 a month, and the Expert subscription costs 6.99 per month.

expert sub screen
Expert is where it’s at!

It’s not free, but it costs about the same as a box of CCI .22LR, so it’s still pretty affordable. You get a free week to check it out, so you can at least see if it’s for you before plunking down your dinero. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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