The Best Beginner Shooting Drills – Building Blocks of Success

Seeing is believing when it comes to optic-ready handguns. These five will make you a believer.

It’s a good year to sell guns. We’ve seen gun sales explode throughout both 2020 and now into 2021; they’ve continued. What’s the hottest selling guns? Well, handguns, of course. If you are one of the many new gun owners out there, I welcome you! I advise you to learn the ins and outs of your firearm and get some safety training. To help your training efforts, I’ve gathered four of my favorite beginner shooting drills for you to take to the range or practice at home.


Ken Hackathorn designed the Hackathorn headshot standards years ago. It’s a great drill but is tough to accomplish at most ranges. The iHack keeps the same idea but makes it friendly for indoor ranges. You’ll need a free printable target you can find here. It’s effortless as far as beginner shooting drills go. The target has six small circles. You’ll use one set of circles per drill.

Place the target 3 yards from you. Set a par time on your shot timer (a phone app works too) for three seconds.

String 1

Fire one round in each circle, going left to right.

String 2

Fire one round into each circle, going from right to left.

String 3

Fire one round into each circle, starting with the center and its dealer’s choice on the left and right dot’s order.

A passing score is a 7 out of 9 shots hit. Anything outside of the three-second timer counts as a miss.

This drill challenges beginners to shoot accurately, shoot fast, and transition between three targets multiple times. Beginner shooting drills should be simple to understand and be safe to practice for beginners. The iHack is all that, and it’s challenging.

3×5 Card Drill

The 3×5 Card drill allows you to figure out just how far you can accurately engage a target. Predictably all you need is a 3×5 card, or cards, to act as your target: no timers, no drawing, no transitions. Start with the card at 3 yards and shoot 3 shots into the target, back up to the 6, 9, 12, and 15-yard range and repeat.

Repeat until you can no longer hit the 3×5 card with all three shots. Now you know your max distance, you can practice at that range and extend it when necessary. The card drill is one of the best beginner shooting drills for establishing a baseline of performance. Plus, it doesn’t require special targets or gun handling a newbie might not be accustomed to.

Wall Drill

The Wall Drill dry fire drill and beginner shooting drills should be filled with dry fire. Dry fire drills allow you to build skills without any live ammunition safely. With that in mind, ensure your firearm is completely clear of ammunition per its instruction manual. Store live ammo in a different room before you begin the wall drill.

Start near a wall with no aiming points or distractions. When you are in a firing position with your handgun, the wall should only be one to two inches from the barrel of your gun. Practice doing everything perfectly. From your trigger press to your sight alignment.

Practice with two hands, one hand weak and strong side, and practice, practice, practice. 15 minutes of the wall drill a day will make you a better shooter.

Dot Torture

The very best of these beginner shooting drills is Dot torture. Dot Torture requires 50 rounds of ammo, a holster, a spare magazine, and a free target you can print here. Dot torture is a series of drills that practices a wide variety of skills, from drawing to mag reloads and one-handed shooting. Each dot acts as a target and provides instructions for the next part of the drill.

Dot torture is for higher-level beginners. If you feel uncomfortable with any of the drills, either skip or modify them. Personally, I would go super slow with the draw and reload. Build the skills safely. There is no par time for these drills or required range. Shoot as fast as you safely and accurately can from as far as you can. I recommend starting at three yards and moving rearwards when you have 100% accuracy.

Variety is the spice and life, and Dot torture provides plenty of variety. It’s perfect for building essential skills. Beginner shooting drills don’t necessarily mean easy drills, and any experienced shooter will tell you dot torture is never easy. If it gets easy, make it harder.

Beginner Shooting Drills – Building Blocks

Everything skill-based starts with building blocks. Shooting is no different. Shooters craft and stack these blocks to become better. Some of these building blocks are gun safety, basic accuracy fundamentals, and others are the challenging drills you see here. Try out some of our beginner shooting drills and let me know what you think below, and include your favorite drills in the comments.

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.


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