Our Top 7 Combat Pistol Shooting Drills

Our Top 7 Combat Pistol Shooting Drills

Our Top 7 Combat Pistol Shooting Drills

Owning a pistol is not enough to ready you for self-defense or combat. To become a truly combat-ready pistol owner, you must learn how to correctly use your gun to defend yourself and take down assailants efficiently in various scenarios.

One of the best ways to master using your gun is by performing combat pistol shooting drills at a gun range. Practicing drills on your own costs less than hiring a personal trainer, and you can practice a drill at your convenience and preferred pace until you master it. Keep reading to discover the best combat pistol shooting drills for improving your handling, accuracy, speed, and overall tactical readiness.

How We Chose These Drills

Several combat shooting drills are available, and we chose the best ones by looking at their efficacy and adaptability. An effective drill will teach you shooting skills and techniques that can help you properly respond when faced with a threat.

Adaptability is also important because you may need to adjust a drill to fit your gear, environment, and skill level. Lastly, we chose the shooting drills on our list because you can practice them with easily accessible supplies, such as targets you can buy, make, or download from the internet.

Here are our top picks for combat pistol shooting drills you should try:

1. Malfunction Clearing

If your gun jams due to a faulty round or dirty or fouled mechanism, learn how to restore it quickly by practicing this drill:

  • Simulate a complication with an empty brass case or a snap cap
  • Get into the ready position
  • Eject the magazine and clear the malfunction by pulling the action several times with the ejection port facing downwards
  • Reload the gun and chamber a round
  • Fire a shot to complete the drill

Use a timer when performing this drill and work towards shortening the time it takes to clear the malfunction and fire a shot. Also, practice the drill repeatedly until the process of malfunction clearing becomes an automatic response when your gun jams.

Why It Made the List

A gun can malfunction at any point, leaving you defenseless. Fortunately, you can clear most malfunctions and quickly restore your weapon if you know what to do. We chose this drill because it can save your life by helping you master how to unjam your gun quickly and get back into a fight.

2. 1-Reload-1 Drill

The 1-Reload-1 drill is one of the best shooting drills for mastering reloading your weapon quickly during a gunfight. For the drill, you will need an IPSC target or any other target type and at least 20 rounds of ammo.

Perform the drill by following these steps:

  • Set up your target five to ten yards away
  • Load your pistol magazine with one round and have a full mag ready in your pouch
  • Fire your pistol at the target from the high or low-ready position
  • Eject the exhausted mag, pop in the full one, and fire another shot at the target

Repeat the drill until you can hit the target both times and complete the entire process within three to five seconds. As you improve, you can raise the difficulty of the drill by increasing the distance to your target and decreasing the target size.

Why It Made the List

During the heat of gun battle, you may lose track of the number of rounds you’ve fired. Instead of freezing or hesitating when you run dry, you should reload quickly to remain battle-ready. We chose the 1-Reload-1 drill because it’s an effective way to train yourself to reload without pausing when you run out of ammo during a gunfight.

3. Failure-to-Stop (Mozambique) Drill

The Failure-to-Stop or Mozambique drill requires shooting a target twice in the chest and once in the head without pausing. Supplies you will need for the drill include your handgun, ammo, and USPSA targets (or any other human-shaped target).

Follow these steps to perform the drill:

  • Set up your USPSA target at seven to ten yards
  • Pull your loaded pistol from your holster or the low-ready position
  • Fire two consecutive shots into the target’s chest and one round into the center of the head
  • Keep the gun aimed at the target until you are sure they are down

Repeat the action of pulling your gun and firing the three shots until you can hit the designated spots within two to four seconds. You can increase the difficulty of the drill by adding movements and placing the target farther away.

Why It Made the List

Not every threat will go down after one or two shots to the body, especially if they are wearing body armor. Practicing the Mozambique drill will teach you to automatically aim for the most critical areas (head and chest) to take down an assailant quickly and efficiently. After mastering the drill, you should notice a dramatic improvement in your target transitioning, defensive pistol shooting accuracy, and speed.


4. Phase 5 Drill

The Phase 5 drill requires a specific type of target, which you can download from the internet and print on 8.5 by 11-inch sheets of paper. You will also need a holster, pistol, a shot timer, and 50 rounds of ammo. Completing the drill requires shooting the target 50 times in a specific order – ten shots into each of the four circles and one shot into each dot.

The specific steps to perform the drill include:

  • Set up the Phase 5 target at least three yards away
  • Set your timer to a par time of 2.5 seconds
  • Draw from your holster and fire a single shot into the biggest circle (#1 circle) when the timer chimes
  • Re-holster, wait for the timer and fire again
  • Repeat the process until you have fired ten shots, then move to the next circle (#2)
  • Fire ten shots each into the #1, #2, #3, and #4 circles
  • Transition to the one-inch Phase 5 dots and draw and fire a shot into one each time the timer chimes

If you miss a shot, you must repeat the phase you are on. Due to the level of precision needed to perform the drill, you can start without a timer. We also recommend practicing your draw with an unloaded pistol before working with a loaded gun. After mastering safely and smoothly drawing your firearm and shooting accurately, you can introduce a timer to work on your speed.

Why It Made the List

The Phase 5 drill is a complex drill that requires patience and lots of practice, but it’s worthwhile because it will help you build muscle memory for a smooth draw. The drill will also help you find your best stance for accurate shooting and develop on-demand accuracy with your first shot.

5. VTAC 1-to-5 Drill

The VTAC 1-to-5 drill is similar to the Mozambique drill. However, unlike the Mozambique drill that focuses on one stubborn target, the VTAC 1-to-5 drill will train you to take down three stubborn targets.

The drill requires using a firearm that can hold at least 15 shots. The steps are:

  • Set up three USPSA targets or similar targets one yard apart
  • Stand five yards from the targets with your loaded pistol at high or low-ready
  • Fire one shot at the left target and two shots at the middle target before shooting the right target three times
  • Transition to the middle target and fire four times before ending with five shots into the left target

Aim to complete the drill within five seconds or less.

Why It Made the List

The VTAC 1-to-5 is one of the best combat pistol shooting drills for learning to take on multiple targets. Since the drill eliminates the dangerous assumption that a target will go down after one shot, you are less likely to overlook an assailant who is still mobile and armed.

We also like that the drill can significantly improve your speed and accuracy during target transitions. You can increase the difficulty of the drill by aiming for only headshots.


6. El Presidente Drill

If your pistol holds less than 15 rounds, practice taking on multiple targets with the El Presidente drill. You will need three targets set one yard apart and a pistol that can hold at least six rounds. On the targets, mark vital areas to aim at, such as the center of the head or the heart.

Start the drill by standing ten yards from the targets with your gun in the holster, back turned, and hands raised. Then quickly:

  • Turn and draw your pistol when the timer goes off
  • Keep the muzzle downrange until you are facing your targets
  • Fire two shots each into the vital areas of the left, center, and then the right target
  • Reload if you are using a six-shooter
  • Fire two shots into the vital areas of the right, center, and left target to complete the drill

Aim to fire all 12 shots and hit your targets accurately within 9 to 12 seconds.

Why It Made the List

The El Presidente drill is an excellent alternative for individuals who do not have pistols that can hold 15 rounds. Also, it teaches shooters to draw quickly from the holster, catch assailants by surprise, transition smoothly, and ensure that every shot counts.

7. Threat Response Drill

The Threat Response drill is a three-in-one drill that teaches how to defend yourself against close-range threats, such as when getting mugged. You will need an IPSC, USPSA, or IDPA target for all the drills.

The first drill covers very close-range threats and requires creating distance between you and the target by striking and stepping away before pulling your gun. The steps for the drill are:

  • Loading and holstering your gun
  • Standing one step away from your target
  • Throwing one or several palm strikes at the target’s head
  • Moving two or more steps away
  • Pulling your weapon and shooting three shots into critical areas on your target
  • Holstering your weapon

The second drill covers medium-range threats (about five yards away) and requires setting up your target five yards from your starting position. Start the drill by:

  • Loading and holstering your pistol
  • Moving quickly offline to your left or right while drawing your weapon and firing at the target’s critical areas

Your offline movement will make you a difficult target and pressure your assailant. Also, quickly drawing and engaging the target will buy you a second or two to take your shots.

The final drill is for medium-range threats. It will teach you to sprint offline towards cover and engage your assailant from your cover position. Set up the drill by placing your target five yards away and placing an object for cover four yards to the left and four yards to the right of your starting position.

Start the drill by:

  • Dashing offline to take cover behind one of your obstacles
  • Drawing your gun and engaging the assailant from your cover position without overly exposing yourself
  • Shooting the target in critical areas

Practice the three drills until you can complete each one in less than five seconds.

Why It Made the List

The 21-foot rule will not apply if a threat is already within your personal space. Running close combat pistol shooting drills like the Threat Response drills will ingrain in you the correct actions to take when your assailant is too close for you to draw your weapon.

Due to the movements required to perform these drills, we recommend first practicing with an unloaded weapon or an airsoft gun before using a loaded weapon. Familiarizing yourself with the movements before using a loaded gun will reduce the risk of an accidental discharge while running one of the drills.

What Are Your Favorite Drills?

Practicing combat pistol shooting drills with real ammunition will help you get used to drawing your weapon and gunfire. It will also teach you how to correctly respond to various combat scenarios and speed up your reaction time to increase your chances of survival.

If you have a favorite drill, avoid the trap of limiting yourself to just that drill. Otherwise, you will develop only one aspect of your shooting skills and neglect others.

Also, before starting any drill, don’t forget to wear personal protective equipment like shooting glasses and ear protection. Lastly, enhance your experience practicing pistol drills with a silencer that will help improve your aim and recoil management. Visit the Silencer Central store today or contact us to find the perfect pistol suppressor for your needs.