Maintain six feet of distance at your local gun range and sling some lead downrange with these drills!
Most of us are happy to shed the constraints of our homes and thrilled to be able to head back out to the gun range to get back at it! But after the long quarantine, and maybe putting on a few unwelcome pounds, where do you start?
First and foremost, always follow the four rules of gun safety!
Now, without further ado, here are some fantastic drills to get you back in the swing of things as recommended by a few well-known instructors:
After retiring from the Palmer Alaska Police Department in 2012, Donna Anthony founded Alaska Investigation Agency, LLC. With over 20 years of law enforcement and security experience, it’s also no surprise she is the proud owner of Point Blank Firearms & Self Defense Training, LLC.
Donna recommends the following drills to get your shot back on target:
- Dry-Fire: Using a blue gun and holster, place a bullseye target on a mirror. Standing in front of the mirror, slowly draw your gun from the holster, point in at the target, see your front sight, “squeeze” the trigger (follow-through, even though it’s a blue gun). Keep your gun on target and step to one side to get off your original starting point (and avoid tunnel vision), scan and assess, then reholster your firearm. Repeating this drill will help you form good muscle memory!
- At the Range: Load 2-3 magazines with 20 rounds of ammo each – load one safely then holster your firearm and set the rest in mag carriers. Get a firm grip on your firearm and slowly draw from your holster – point into the target, acquire the bullseye through your sights, squeeze the trigger, steadily allow the trigger to reset, and pull the trigger again when you acquire your target again. Next, step and move either left or right, with the gun still presented and slightly below eye level, scan and assess the area before reholstering. Never let your guard down after stopping a threat – where there is one, there very well could be two. Now increase the number of rounds fired; 2, then 3, then 4, and so on.
Michelle Cerino, a.k.a. “Princess Gunslinger”, is well-known throughout the firearms industry. As an instructor for the Chris Cerino Training Group which she runs with her husband, she is also an avid hunter and gun writer.
Michelle suggests the following drills:
- Controlled Pairs: At 15-feet from the target shoot controlled pairs from the holster. Begin without using a timer, then add it in once your manipulation skills are up to par.
- Step Back Drill: Begining 8-feet from your target, set your shot timer for 3-4 seconds. Shoot 2 shots from the holster, then step back 1 yard and repeat. Continue moving back and run this drill until you reach about 50-feet or 25-yards, whatever your abilities can handle. If you only have access to an indoor range without the ability to draw from a holster, set your timer for 2-3 seconds and shoot from high ready, moving the target downrange each time.
Il Ling New
Il Ling New is an instructor at the legendary Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. She teaches Defensive Handgun, Rifle and Shotgun courses, as well as Hunting Rifle and wing-shooting.
“If you haven’t been to the range for a while — and especially if you haven’t dry-fired during your lay-off — I highly recommend slowing things waaaaaay down in your ‘re-entry’,” New says. “Spend a little time re-introducing your body to what it needs to do, rather than trying to get the ‘old you’ back right away.”
One drill that she uses for this (sometimes even in the middle of a class) is:
- Six Perfect Shots: Take a marker, or a piece of tape, and make a 1″ aiming point on a target. Stand at three yards away, in a ready position. Set your hands and fingers properly, as well as the rest of your body. Aim in at your point and deliver one perfect slow-fire round: think about a smooth, gradual application of pressure on the trigger, remember your follow-through to trigger reset; look at the front sight while you do this, then reacquire the sight-picture, etc. Do this five more times, aiming at the same place each time. Consider each shot to be its own event; this is not a six-shot drill. See if you can obliterate that aiming point! Remember that this is a slow-fire exercise so give yourself time to really think about each element. Repeat until you’re able to get at least 4 of the 6 rounds in one hole.
- Next Step: Once you’ve done this, extend your distance to 5 yards, and/or fire all six rounds in a string (still slow-fire, but not returning to a ready position), from the holster/concealment.
If it’s been a while since you’ve handled firearms, New recommends running some of the best fundamentals in order to ‘refresh’ your muscle memory.
- Dry-Fire: This is one of the most common drills away from the gun range and for good reason: it works. Start with acquiring the proper grip, push out toward the target, see the sights on the target, and slowly squeeze the trigger. I use the “Penny Drill” to practice good trigger control. Lack of trigger control is one of the biggest culprits of shots being pulled off target. Place a penny, or even a spent casing, on the front sight of your gun. Focus on holding the firearm steady while pulling the trigger. The penny, or casing, shouldn’t fall off.
- Ragged-Hole Drill: Practicing that same trigger control on the range, set your target at 15 feet, and load a magazine with 5 rounds. Focus on a small part of the target, whether it’s the bullseye or a dot, similar to the “Six Perfect Shots” drill listed above, and slowly take a shot. *Aim for the same spot each time.
*It’s important not to make corrections by aiming at different places each time. You should see that all of your shots are hitting the same spot, creating a ragged hole.
Another Great Tool
Whether you’re locked down in quarantine, laid up after an injury, or just can’t make it to the shooting range, there are ways to keep your skills sharp away from the firing line.
We love the MantisX system. It gives shooters feedback to correct aim, perfect grip, improve trigger pull, and even analyzes their holster draw – from your own home! The smart training system attaches to the rail of your handgun and connects to an app on your phone where shooters complete basic marksmanship drills to gain feedback on how to become a better shooter!
If you need to see where your “shot” is landing, you can always give laser training a shot! With so many options available – Laser Ammo, LaserLyte, G-Sight, and iDryfire, to name a few – it’s just a matter of finding what works with your firearm and budget.
Shooting skills are perishable, so it’s important to practice on a regular basis. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the range, hopefully, some of these drills will help you take aim and hit the mark again!
What are some of your favorite drills? Have you found yourself a little rusty after the lockdown? Have you signed up for any additional training courses? Sound off in the comments, we want to hear from you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stacy Bright is an NRA Certified Pistol and Rifle Instructor, Refuse to be a Victim Instructor, Missouri Concealed Carry Instructor, Certified Instructor for The Well Armed Woman Organization, TWAW State Leader, and local Leader of the SW Chapter of TWAW. Stacy has also written for several firearms magazines, both online and in print, including Women’s Outdoor News, Range365.com, Outdoor Life, and USCCA.
In her free time, Bright enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time with her husband and three daughters.
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