Position a target with six 2-inch circles at between 5 and 7 yards. Shoot one shot at each circle, drawing the handgun from the holster before each shot. The goal is to fire one shot at each circle and hit each target once. This is not a speed drill, but rather it’s an accuracy and gun-handling drill to help you establish a foundation for gun presentation, sight alignment and trigger control. Conduct this drill four times at the beginning of every trip to the range.
The Failure Drill (24 shots)
Il Ling New, an instructor at Gunsite, is one of the best firearm instructors I know. She believes practicing head shots at between 5 and 7 yards is a great way to stay sharp. Why? According to New, “The idea is to become absolutely confident in making that shot, at least at that distance, every time, under all conditions and on demand. If I can do that, I am well-equipped to deal with bad things that may happen to me. Vital zone shots at 15 yards should be easy if one can do head shots at seven yards.”
I agree, but to maximize training opportunities I like to incorporate head shots with torso shots in what’s called a failure drill. The failure drill presents the problem that you have engaged an attacker with two shots to the torso and they have had no effect. To stop the attack, you transition to the head as a target and fire one shot.
Position a silhouette target at between 5 and 7 yards. At the signal, draw your handgun and fire two shots in quick succession to center mass. Then, immediately fire one shot to the center of the head. You’ll have to slow down to make the head shot count. Something between three and four seconds is commonplace. Perform this drill eight times during each practice session to establish your average time. Work toward a goal of completing the drill with no misses in less than three seconds.
New also stresses the importance of practicing head shots from every position you can think of; not just while standing square in front of the target. You can do the same with the failure drill.
The 45 Drill (25 shots)
Even a disciplined shooter’s reaction to a stressful situation can be chaotic. The first few times police officers and good competitive shooters are subjected to close-quarters, force-on-force training, a common reaction is to point their handgun at the threat and to pull the trigger until they run it dry. The same response has been observed in gunfights. Adrenalin surges prompt the shooter to thrust the gun forward and pull the trigger fast and repetitively.
We cannot simulate the stress levels you’ll experience in a life-and-death encounter, but we can simulate your reaction. This is why I believe the adrenalin dump drill is important. If your reaction is going to be to shove the handgun toward the target and start yanking on the trigger, then learn how to do it effectively. I call my version of the adrenalin dump drill “The 45 Drill,” because the drill has four elements of five—five shots at a 5-inch circle at 5 yards in five seconds.
This is a difficult task for many shooters, especially when drawing the handgun from concealment. If you can successfully perform this drill on demand, under time, with no misses, you should be able to pass any shooting requirement necessary to obtaining a concealed carry license. Practice it five times each training session. At first you’ll probably have several shots land outside the 5-inch circle, and your time will be slow. Slow down your shot cadence even more and strive to get all five shots in the circle. Once you can do this consistently, gradually speed up with the ultimate goal of completing the drill in less than five seconds.
The El Prez—Modified (24 shots)
The likelihood of your being attacked is slim, and the likelihood that it will be by multiple attackers is even slimmer. But the threat of multiple attackers is not the only reason we practice multiple-target drills. Learning to transition from one target to the next, especially when they are set at different ranges, teaches you to obtain a sight picture quickly and to control your shot cadence based on range to the target.