Drilling (with Colonel Smoothbore)
By angelamontana

Posted: August 13, 2017

Practice to perfect one’s skills is necessary, but it can be more than a little boring. As the old saw goes, “variety is the spice of life,” and it is applicable with shooting skills. Later in this column you will find some more drills that will make your personal protection practice a bit more fun and will help improve your self-defense skills.

Before we get to the drills, a note of caution. If you have not had good training regarding drawing from a holster get trained before you engage in the practice drills. Drawing a handgun from a holster, especially from concealment is a motor skill that must be developed with practice. It is important to have proper instruction and supervision while learning how to draw. Believe me, I have seen more than one student and many experienced shooters sweep their and other’s body parts. It is just blind luck that more are not injured because they have not learned how to properly draw a gun. If you have not had proper training, start from the low ready or neutral ready position.

Secondly, most drills involve the use of a shot timer. If you don’t have one it’s not a problem. There are several apps available for both Android and Apple units that can turn your smart phone into a shot timer. While they don’t work as well as a dedicated shot timer, they offer adequate service for most informal practice. I can’t really recommend any particular program; my experience is you will have to experiment with a couple to find the one that works best for your phone.

Now here are some new fun drills.

Range: 5yd Target: special (see below)

Start position: holstered with three rounds in the pistol. Rounds fired: 6

Shooter begins the drill with three rounds in the gun. Using a shot timer, give yourself a seven second PAR time. On the buzzer, draw and fire six rounds as follows:

one round at the 1″ square,two rounds at the 2″ circle, perform a reload, three rounds at the 3×5 rectangle

Range: 7yd, Targets: two targets each with a head (3×5 card) and torso (8″ plate) scoring zone, Start position: holstered or ready, Rounds fired: 32

Shooter draws and fires two rounds at each target zone in an “X” pattern. Drill is repeated four times, starting with a different zone each time.

  1. A-head, B-body, A-body, B-head
  2. B-head, A-body, B-body, A-head
  3. B-body, A-head, B-head, A-body
  4. A-body, B-head, A-head, B-body

Reload Drill
Range: 7yd

Target: torso (8″ plate, sheet of paper, IPSC or IDPA target, etc.)

Start position: from the holster or ready position

Rounds fired: 4. At the start signal, present the weapon to the target, fire two rounds, reload, and fire two additional rounds.

Circle Drill
Range: 7yd,Target: 8″ plate, Start position: any, Rounds fired: 36

The Circle Drill is intended to teach students the relationship between speed and accuracy, and how time affects marksmanship fundamentals.

The drill begins by firing six rounds at the plate at a slow pace (1 shot per second). Repeat. This is fundamental marksmanship with little or no time pressure.

Next, pick up the pace. Fire six rounds at a moderate pace (2 shots per second). Repeat. This speed is the “comfort zone” for most shooters, they should still get reasonably good hits.

Finally, maximize speed by firing six rounds at a pace of about 4 shots per second (or as fast as possible if 4/second is faster than the gun can be kept under control). Repeat. This pace should push a shooter outside of his comfort zone and force him to work harder at recoil management and sight tracking. Accuracy will suffer but the goal is to keep 90%+ hits on the plate.

For added challenge, also perform the drill one-handed both strong- and weak-hand. Note that the times, especially the “fast” time, may need to be adjusted for one-handed shooting. The goal remains the same. First speed is slow marksmanship, second speed is a steady comfortable cadence, and finally maximum speed without losing control of the gun.

Remember, with all these drills start slowly and work your way up to greater speed. One accurate hit is much more important than 10 really fast misses. If you need targets just buy some 8 or 9 inch paper plates and some 3×5 or 4×6 index cards. 10 bucks will get you a year’s worth. And please be sure to pick up your trash at the range; it’s the considerate thing to do.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore