Controlled vs. Hammer Pairs Drill

The Drill:
For this drill, Steve and I will walk you through and highlight the differences between a controlled pair and a hammer pair. The goal is to get you out of the mindset that many range shooters fall into, and that is standing at the line and repetitively firing one round downrange. We know that a single round from a handgun is not likely to put down an attacker and stop the threat. Therefore, in this exercise, we will practice firing multiple rounds at varying speeds.

The Setup:
The setup for CP vs. HP is relatively easy. All you need is your pistol, ammo and a target. Also, you will need a location to shoot that doesn’t restrict your rate of fire. Shooting hammer pairs does go against the rules for some ranges that require at least a second between shots fired, so be sure to check your individual range rules to ensure compliance.

The Skills:
We are focusing on firing two rounds at a time at two slightly different and increasing rates of fire. Sight picture acquisition here is also key. For the controlled pair, you want to ensure that you are getting two clear sight pictures — one for each round being fired. For the hammer pair, the rate of fire increases and only one sight picture is used. Both sets of fired pairs require muzzle management and trigger finger discipline. As you increase the rate at which rounds are fired, these fundamentals will become more and more necessary for accurate shot placement.

The Details:
Start out facing the target at approximately 10-15 feet. As you become more comfortable shooting, this distance can be increased. For this video, we shot from about 21 feet. Your starting position can be from the holster or the low-ready position.

Controlled Pair:
• Draw to the target or, if at the low ready, raise your pistol to engage the target.
• Acquire a good sight picture.
• Press the trigger to fire one round.
• Acquire a second good sight picture.
• Press the trigger to fire the second round.
• Stay at the ready, scan and assess for any more potential threats.
• Smoothly and reluctantly re-holster.

Hammer Pair:
• Draw to the target or, if at the low ready, raise your pistol to engage the target.
• Acquire a good sight picture.
• Press the trigger twice in rapid succession, allowing just enough time for a good follow-through.
• Stay at the ready, scan and assess for any more potential threats.
• Smoothly and reluctantly re-holster.

The hammer pair rate of fire should take approximately half the time (or less) than the controlled pair. You should only attempt the hammer pair after you have successfully fired enough controlled pairs that you feel comfortable taking things to the next level.

Safety Considerations:
As always, be sure to follow the four universal safety laws. Don’t jump out of the gate firing as fast as you can. Start with controlled pairs and work your way up to hammer pairs. Take your time. Every round you send downrange must have training value, otherwise you’re just wasting time and money and sacrificing safety. If you are shooting at your local indoor range, be sure to follow all safety procedures when it comes to drawing from the holster and allowed rates of fire.

Closing Thoughts:
Start slow and increase your rate of fire as you get more comfortable shooting multiple rounds. Adding distance will also increase difficulty. If any of your rounds start to impact outside of the intended target area, slow your rate of fire and decrease distance until every round hits its intended target. Remember, slower controlled hits are more effective than fast misses every time.

Vary your training. Keep it fun. Keep it safe. And keep practicing.