When you consider the available data regarding average, everyday folks using firearms to protect life, you’ll typically see a defensive-shooting range of around 3 to 5 yards. Undoubtedly, this means that practice and training within those distances is vital for someone to be better prepared to stop a threat. But this doesn’t mean that training at distances beyond such close range is invalid.

Of course, we’re not talking about long-distance shooting here, so it’s time to strike a balance. For this drill, you’re going to work through some shooting challenges at varying distances to help increase your defensive-shooting skills. You’ll start at the closest distance of 3 yards, then shoot at 5 yards and finally move out to 7 yards (hence the name “Odd Man Out”).

Set Up the Odd Man Out Drill

To prepare for this drill, you’ll need your firearm and holster, three magazines, magazine pouches (if you have them; if not, just use pockets), IDPA targets or paper plates (or any targets with a 6- to 8-inch target area), and about 100 to 200 rounds of ammunition. Set up three targets at 3, 5 and 7 yards. You can also set up one target and move back to the required distance, though you will want to paste or mark any misses each time. You’ll need to verify whether you are landing defensive-accurate shots. Before shooting, load each magazine with four rounds.

Starting with the first target (positioned at 3 yards), with a shooting command or the sound of a shot timer, present the firearm from the holster to the target and fire all four rounds from the first magazine. Be sure to use target-focused shooting. You do not need to use your sights at this distance, as you likely would not be able to focus on them during a threat. Conduct an emergency reload and continue to engage the first target with four more rounds. Reload again and work your way through the third (and final) magazine. You should have 12 rounds on target when you get through all three magazines.

Repeat the drill at 5 yards. Then run it again at 7 yards — twice. This farthest distance will force you to apply all of the skills necessary to get defensive-accurate hits on the target and should also prove that you can engage the threat a bit faster when you’re shooting at the closer distances. As always, do not sacrifice hits for speed. If you’re missing, be sure to slow down and ensure that you’re applying good shooting fundamentals, especially a smooth trigger press. If your eyesight or skill level does not allow for target-focused shooting at this distance, then use your sights if you need to. Remember: Only hits count, so be certain that you’re training in proper technique and not just throwing bullets around.

Run the entire drill again from the starting point at 3 yards. Hopefully, by successfully incorporating the longest distance, you will notice your ability to increase speed at the 3- and 5-yard lines. Feel free to use a shot timer to time and record each stage so that you can compare your performance at the varying distances.

Make It More Challenging

For even greater skill-building, you can move laterally on each reload. While moving laterally, be sure the movement is dynamic, as it’s intended to simulate you getting off the line of attack. It should be about a body’s length in distance to either side and should continue until you are back on target and engaging the threat. Move quickly and with purpose, but do not rush yourself or otherwise compromise firing-line safety. You need to train effectively, but you also need to train safely.

If you choose to incorporate lateral movement, be sure to do so on each reload and on each malfunction-clearance.

If you choose to incorporate lateral movement, be sure to do so on each reload and on each malfunction-clearance.

If you want to add more challenge to the “Odd Man Out Drill,” load up the first magazine in your firearm with four rounds and load the other two magazines with four live rounds and two dummy rounds or snap caps, in a random order, to simulate malfunctions. When you conduct your emergency reloads, you will have to clear the malfunctions as you encounter them.

If you choose to incorporate lateral movement, be sure to do so on each reload and on each malfunction-clearance. Steel targets can also be fun to use at the 7-yard distance to mix things up a bit. Just remember that steel should not be used at closer distances due to ricochet and shrapnel, and, as always, wear eye protection (along with ear protection) with every shot you take.