This month’s drill serves three separate but related functions.
Use it occasionally to test yourself, as well as to build your fundamental pistol marksmanship skills. It can also be used to compare one handgun to another to see which one shoots better in your hands.
Over my several decade long shooting career I have been privileged to shoot with many of the finest shots in the country. Whether the discipline involved was small bore rifle, PPC, IPSC, or IDPA all of the very top shots in that field shared one thing in common. To a man (or woman) they all relentlessly practiced the fundamental elements of marksmanship, and worked very hard to perfect the most basic skills.
The second purpose of this course is to help those who have a lot of restrictions placed on their live fire practice by the range rules where they shoot.
Then, no matter what challenge a match presented to them, they could focus on solving the problem, rather than on how to shoot. The same thing applied to several very experienced gunmen I have known, including the late, great Jim Cirillo. Cirillo spent thousands of rounds working on very basic skills, which he told me allowed him to concentrate and get hits even under fire in his many on the job shootings. This course of fire will aid greatly in polishing and perfecting these basic skills.
The second purpose of this course is to help those who have a lot of restrictions placed on their live fire practice by the range rules where they shoot. Many ranges don’t allow work from the holster, or even silhouette targets. Fortunately, if you are stuck with such a training venue, you can perfect your presentation from the holster during dry practice at home. You can use a silhouette target at home with your dry practice, to ingrain getting a proper sight picture on a humanoid figure. You use this course of fire at the range to perfect your actual shooting skill—the ability to hit what you wish to, on demand.
For this course, we use the NRA B-8 bullseye target. This target is available at just about any range in the US, or from numerous target vendors. It has been a standard NRA bullseye pistol competition target for decades. It is scored as printed. The course is divided into five stages, fired at 25, 15, 7, and 5 yards, in 5-round strings. Since all strings are five rounds each, you can even use this with a five-shot revolver. All strings begin with the pistol loaded, in both hands, at the low ready. Use a shot timer, or have a shooting partner time you with a stopwatch.
The first string is fired at 25 yards, and it is designed to test your maximum precision with the gun and ammunition you are using. On signal, fire 5 rounds in one minute. It is best to fire these one at a time, coming back down to ready to take a couple of breaths and get ready to go again. Think of these as five individual, precisely aimed shots.
Work on this drill periodically, even if your range does allow drawing from the holster, silhouette targets and so forth.
Next, move the target to 15 yards. Here we will fire 2 strings, as follows. First, on signal fire 5 rounds in 15 seconds. This is adequate time per shot to allow you to concentrate on getting a good sight picture and a smooth trigger press. For the next string, on signal fire 5 rounds in 10 seconds. Cutting the time limit forces you to work on immediate follow through and an appropriate cadence.
Now, move the target to 7 yards. Start with only 5 rounds in the pistol, and have a spare magazine, speedloader, speed strip or whatever you use for fast reloading on your person. On signal, fire 5 rounds, reload, and fire 5 more rounds, all in 15 seconds. This drill works on trigger control, follow through, proper cadence, and reloading skill, all in one string.
For the last string, move to 5 yards. On signal, fire 5 rounds in 5 seconds.
That’s it. You have fired 30 rounds total, for a maximum possible score of 300 points. If you can consistently shoot 285 or better on this, under the time limits, you are a pretty darn good shot. You have also had a good work-out that covered sight alignment/sight picture, trigger control, follow through, recoil control/recovery, reloading under time pressure and appropriate cadences for different distances, all in less than one box of ammunition.
If you wish to compare the “shootability” of a couple of handguns, this will make it readily apparent if one shoots better for you than the other. Work on this drill periodically, even if your range does allow drawing from the holster, silhouette targets and so forth. Regardless of your current skill level this will make you a better all around handgun shooter.