No matter where I teach in the country, I see shooters making the same marksmanship mistakes over and over. One of the most common errors involves shooting cadence, which is simply the speed at which one is shooting. Most shooters only seem to have one speed, no matter what size target or target distance is presented to them.
The problem with this is that shooting cadence has to be matched to the target size and distance. Too slow, and you fail to stop the problem in time. Too fast, and you miss, which still leaves the target shooting back. Ideally, the combat marksman learns to shoot as quickly as he can guarantee a hit, regardless of target size or distance.
The motto for this is: More target equals less time; less target equals more time. Thus, if a target is only partially exposed, or is at a greater distance, you must slow down to hit it.
To teach and reinforce this simple, but critical concept, we use “The Parrot Drill.” The drill gets its odd name from the mythical pirate with a parrot perched on his shoulder. We use a target such as the IALEFI-Q or the VSRT silhouette, and refer to the aiming circle above the silhouette’s shoulder as “the parrot.”
These silhouette targets also have a vital zone outlined in the upper chest, and a head circle, representing the ocular window. Thus, each target has three distinct aiming points of varying sizes. The chest circle is fairly large, the head circle is smaller, and the aiming dot above the shoulder (the parrot) is even smaller.
For the drill, start by facing this target at a distance of five yards. You can start from the holster or from the ready. Present the handgun and fire two shots at the chest, two at the head, and two at the dot. In order to actually hit all three areas, you will need three distinctly different shooting cadences: shoot the chest circle quickly, the head circle carefully, and the dot precisely.
Your goal is to learn the appropriate cadence for good hits on each target size, and to learn to “shift gears” as needed. Once you are proficient with this drill, mix it up. Shoot the aiming points in different sequences, always striving to keep good hits without wasting time. Shoot as quickly as you can guarantee hits on each different target size.
You can easily make a target for this drill, as shown in the photo. This is a simple piece of cardboard, with a paper plate, a three by five inch index card, and a business card, again providing three different target sizes.
This Month’s Challenge:
This month’s shooting challenge is to shoot the Parrot Drill from Rangemaster, and then take a digital photo of yourself or your firearm alongside your target. Send us your photos!
Please include the following information:
- Your name as you would like it to appear in the magazine if we use your photo.
- Firearm used.
- Ammunition, including caliber and brand.
- Distance and speed at which your shots were fired.
Send entries to email@example.com. Due to the volume received, not all submissions can be acknowledged or used in the magazine.
October Shooting Challenge: Smiley Face Targets
Here’s the winning photo, sent in by Jarrod from Minnesota. Jarrod used a Beretta 92FS and 9mm Speer Gold Dot JHP +P to carve this jack-o-lantern from a distance of about 10 yards. Congratulations, Jarrod!