Drill of the Month

1 – RELOAD – 2

Working this drill into your practice routine will deliver benefits out of all proportion to the amount of work to set it up.

Start with your pistol loaded with only one round, holstered in your normal carry mode.

As with many drills, this one seems deceptively simple at first glance, but done properly it enhances a number of skills.

To set up for this drill, place a single IDPA or IPSC target, or an 8½ x 11 inch piece of typing paper at 5 to 7 yards. Your goal is to keep all hits inside the “zero down” zone of the IDPA target, the “A zone” of the IPSC target, or all on the sheet of typing paper. Shoot as quickly as you can keep all of your hits in the desired zone.

Start with your pistol loaded with only one round, holstered in your normal carry mode. If your gun is an autoloader, have an empty magazine in place in the pistol. Have a loaded spare magazine or speed loader on your person. Ideally, use an electronic timer to give you an audible start signal and record your times for each run. This is vital to determining at what points you are wasting time and to track progress. On the signal, draw your handgun and fire one round, at which point your gun will be empty. Immediately perform an empty gun reload, get back on target, and fire two additional rounds.

This simple drill works on a variety of skills. Let’s look at them individually: The first skill is your presentation from the holster. If you are out in public and need your gun, you will have to present it from the holster before you can do anything else with it.

Next comes the first shot. The first shot is always the most important shot—it’s the first one that can get to the target and start to change things in your favor. It is also the hardest shot. On the first shot, the shooter must establish a firing grip, get the gun to the eye/target line, establish a relationship with the trigger, establish a relationship with the sights, and establish a relationship between the sights and the target, all before a first round hit can be launched. This process is critical to success.

Next comes the empty gun reload, also called an emergency reload. I believe this skill should be practiced frequently. If your gun runs dry during a fight, the less time it is unloaded the better! Work on keeping the gun just below your line of sight while reloading, to allow your primary vision to stay on the target while your peripheral vision aids the reloading process.

Next comes another first shot. The most likely shot to blow in this drill is the first shot after the reload. If your hands come out of a firing grip on the pistol to reload it, or to fix a malfunction, the next shot is another first shot. You must reacquire a real firing grip, make contact with the trigger again, and get the sights back on target, before you start shooting again. This takes practice.

Finally, by firing two shots after the reload, we ensure that you have seated the new magazine fully and reacquired a proper grip on the gun.

This drill can be varied to avoid boredom and stagnation. Start at the Ready sometimes, and vary the target or the distance. Always try to get faster at getting all hits. Working this drill into your practice routine will deliver benefits out of all proportion to the amount of work to set it up.


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