Obviously, one of the great advantages of dry fire training is that except for the time invested, it’s basically free. You’re not expending ammo, and you can practice free of distractions, letting your mind focus completely on the task at hand.
However, one of the dangers of dry fire, especially if you’re using a timer in your dry fire is to start cheating to get your times down. Mental discipline is tremendously important, because without the ability to tell yourself “no, that was a bad rep” you won’t progress as quickly as you should.
Right now, I’m working on a goal of getting a sub 1 second speed reload in dry fire; this is from the beep to dropping the hammer at the target. My usual routine starts with 5 reloads off the clock, then I gradually work my way down that day’s goal time in increments of five reloads. I’ll attempt reps at 0.20 seconds faster than that day’s goal time, which is where the temptation to cheat comes on. For example, I’ll have a rep where the mechanics of the reload go well, but as I’m bringing the gun back to the target I know that I break the “shot” before my sights were properly lined up. In live fire, you get the feedback of the bullet missing your intended point of aim to tell you what you did, and at least for me it’s a lot harder to hide from an actual bullet hole. In dry fire, the temptation is to say “oh, well the sights would have been good enough” and let yourself get away with a sloppy rep in the name of speed.
That’s a big part of why I don’t always train with a timer in dry fire. Yes, it’s a great way to improve speed, and can definitely be utilized as such. But it also requires self-awareness, because you have to be able to tell yourself when you’re getting sloppy and that it’s time to back off the speed and go back to focusing on the technique itself. All training, all practice needs to have a point that applies back to your shooting skills. If I’m throwing a mag in the magwell and then not properly establishing my grip to break the shot, I’m not training a skill that will actually help with my shooting goals.
Dry fire is great, and dry fire with a timer is a great way to get faster at fundamental skills. The time I’ve had to dry fire over the winter has already been hugely beneficial for me on the range. But I have to remember to stay disciplined. Keep your mind in the game, avoid bad reps, and focus on training skills that I’ll actually need when I get to USPSA Nationals in May.