It’s a new year, shooters! That means we should be setting new goals for our skill sets to help us grow as competitors, defenders and or even hobbyists. So set some attainable goals like “I want to get faster at reloading.” Or “I want to shoot faster and more accurately.” Fantastic, how do we go about that? Reps. Lots and lots of repetitions.
New Year New Shooting Goals
Today, we’re going to review the top 10 drills that we recommend for people looking to build a solid foundation for their shooting skills — but there are some challenging drills too so make sure you read all the way to the bottom and don’t forget to bring your shot timer to the range!
Photo Source: TRB Training
This is the first thing you should nail down in your repertoire of shooting drills: the one-reload-one drill. Prepare two magazines with only one round in each mag. In this drill, regardless of weapon platform (it can be an AR15, pistol or even shotgun) you can either start at the low ready, or draw from the holster and then fire one shot.
At this point the slide should lock back. Drop the empty mag and reload with the fresh mag that only has one round in it and fire that shot at your target as quickly and accurately as you can.
Time yourself against a shot clock and start slow. As you work your way up to faster speeds you’ll begin to learn fluency of manipulating your chosen platform within your muscle memory. Click on the image above to see how our friends at TRB teach this skill.
If this drill is getting old for you, you can set up two cones. Fire the first shot at your target, then reload to the next mag while moving to the second cone. Fire your next shot with the new mag at the second cone.
Additionally, you can increase the distance of your targets to make this even more difficult or the distance between your two cones. Using steel targets will feel good to hear the positive feedback of that “ding” sound, but paper targets will keep you honest. Use a USPSA size cardboard target if you have them and always aim for the A-zone.
Photo Source: Ben Stoeger
The Bill Drill is a classic multipurpose drill that teaches you a lot about where your current skill level lies as a shooter. How it works is you have a USPSA size target at either three, five or seven yards away from you - you are to draw from the holster and fire six rounds into the target. All six rounds should be in the A-zone. But with further distances, it’s understandable if you have some rounds start to veer into the C-zone.
Compete against yourself with a shot timer and you’ll be forced to learn how to stay relaxed and still control your trigger while going as fast as you can accurately afford to. Generally speaking, at three, five and seven yards - you should be able to easily get this done in under three seconds with a pistol.
Photo Source: Police1
In the image above, you’ll see a B8 Target. How this drill works is you choose either a pistol or your carbine rifle of choice and fire 10 rounds at a distance of 25 yards.
Based on where your hits land on the target, you add the points up from your 10 shots. A full score is 100.
We would advise aiming for accuracy first, then to use a shot timer and increase your speed. Typically the target print out will have a ring for ‘7’ as well. If you are unable to get at least a score of 80 even without the constraint or pressure for time, then you probably need to work on your build a little more to either re-zero your optics, get better glass or tune your gun to be flatter shooting.
Photo Source: Outdoor Life
The El Presidente drill is often treated as a more fun option for a cold start drill. It teaches you to engage multiple targets quickly and accurately.
So here’s the setup: the shooter is 10 yards away while there are three targets placed within one yard of each other. Shooters are to start with their back facing the targets at the surrender position.
If you haven’t figured out that you need to buy a shot clock, well this is your sign - go get one! At the buzzer, turn around, draw and fire two shots at the center of each target as quickly and accurately as possible.
Another great cold start drill when you get to the range and are first warming up — You can adjust the distance between you and the target based on your comfort and skill level but generally speaking you should do the Mozambique at 10 yards.
At the loud beep from your shot clock, draw your pistol from the holster and double tap two rounds to the A-zone or chest, then follow up with one final shot to the head. This may be a short drill but you can really challenge yourself whenever speed and accuracy are both goals you have to achieve and push past.
Photo Source: The Law Offices of Guy A. Relford
In 2022, we saw a very young and heroic concealed carrier stop a mass shooting at a food court in an Indiana Mall. This drill is named after him, Elisjsha Dicken. While accounts of the incident vary, the point is to practice shooting targets at further distances with your handgun, preferably the one you daily carry.
Here are the rules. From concealment, you have 40 seconds to draw, fire 10 rounds and have at least eight rounds hit the target.
Some accounts of the engagement stated that Dicken advanced on the active shooter after initially drawing and firing so if you want to emulate that, by all means feel free. You can even throw some objects like bags or chairs to block your path which can train your peripheral vision to prevent you from tripping and falling on your face when it counts the most.
The Coffee Saver
Photo Source: Life With Mover via YouTube
We’re not sure if anyone has emulated this event yet but we’re going to go ahead and lay claim to this drill and call it “The Coffee Saver.”
If you watch the linked video, you’ll see that this SWAT officer arrives at a distance to the scene of an active shooting. He carefully places his Starbucks on the dash, parks the car, calmly walks back to his trunk, retrieves his AR15, chambers a round, takes aim and neutralizes the threat with one shot at 183 yards away. From the moment he put his coffee down, this all went down in 32 seconds.
So here’s how we’ll do this if you don’t have a range where you can incorporate your car with doing this drill:
Place your rifle bag 4 yards behind you, zipped shut. At the ‘beep,’ walk back to your bag, retrieve your rifle, charge it with a round. Take aim either kneeling or against a post and fire your one shot. You’ll want to use steel targets so you can know more easily whether it hit or not.
50 Round Carbine Drill
Photo Source: T.REX Arms
Courtesy of Lucas from T.REX Arms, we have the 50 Round Carbine Drill. This drill trains multiple fundamental skills with a relatively low round count that will get your blood pumping and challenge you to handle your weapon under time and pressure.You’ll engage three USPSA sized targets at a distance of 5, 10 and 25 meters. You’ll also be shooting on the move so make sure you watch your muzzle awareness to not frighten nearby fudds. Based on your hits you can achieve a maximum score of 250 points. During the course of fire no make up shots are allowed. Instructions are detailed in the image above.
50 Round Pistol Drill
Photo Source: T.REX Arms
Similar to T.REX Arms’ carbine drill above, they also have a great 50 Round Pistol Drill. In this drill you practice core handgun manipulations, good habits and all around fundamental skills that will help you become proficient with your sidearm of choice.
Just like the carbine drill, you’ll be engaging three USPSA sized targets but at 5, 10 and 20 meters for a maximum of 250 points possible. Remember, no make up shots during the course of fire - this challenges you to follow instructions and is a great way to warm up for a competitive match if you have one coming up. Instructions are detailed in the image above, make those shots count.
Lockwood 4X4 Challenge
For our final recommended exercise, it’s a bit of a vanity drill - the Lockwood 4 by 4 Challenge.
Essentially, you have a holstered handgun and a USPSA target at four yards away. The goal is to shoot four rounds cleanly into the A-zone of the target in less than a second.
That’s all there is to it. However, being able to complete this challenge will involve mastering your draw and initial grip in order to get good trigger pulls subsequently.
To work your way up to this speed and accuracy though give yourself a few seconds to do this at first. Maybe even one second per round. Gradually step up the pace while keeping good shots on target within the A-zone. Eventually, you’ll find yourself close to a second flat or under.
If you’re tired of shooting at indoor ranges and aren’t sure how to grow your skills, the solution awaits you at an outdoor range. As we all know, shooting is an easily perishable skill. You gotta use it or you’re gonna lose it.