The Best Shooting Drills by Gun Type
An assailant attacks you. You have a gun, but you hesitate, freeze, or fumble your weapon. The assailant takes advantage of your mistake and harms you or your loved ones. That is a scenario you must avoid at all costs, and the best way to do that is by becoming comfortable and familiar with drawing and firing your weapon.
Instead of attending a pricey tactical training course far away from home, you can master your weapon by practicing tactical shooting drills at home or a nearby gun range. Regularly practicing gun shooting drills can help you gain muscle memory, enabling you to pull and fire your gun reflexively, smoothly, and accurately when needed.
Several rifle, shotgun, and pistol drills are available, and below are some of the best ones for learning to master your preferred weapon:
Rifle Shooting Drills
While rifles are reliable, they are not perfect. A rifle can jam, and when it does, you need to know how to clear it quickly, so the first drill you need to master is rifle malfunction clearing. For modern rifles, the malfunction clearing drill involves maintaining a shooter stance. Remove the magazine with your firing hand and lock the bolt to the rear with your non-firing hand.
Pulling the bolt to the rear should clear the jam. If it does not, clear the brass with your shooting hand. Insert a fresh magazine and fire a single shot to complete the drill. Practice this drill repeatedly until it becomes an automatic response when your rifle jams.
The above rifle malfunction clearing drill is for modern automatic rifles, but you can adapt it to suit old-fashioned or single-shot rifles. Let’s now look at rifle drills for improving shooting speed and accuracy:
1. The Box Drill
The box rifle drill is effective for mastering engaging two targets with an automatic rifle. The drill requires having at least six rounds in your magazine and placing your targets at least a yard apart. You will need two USPSA or IDPA targets or another target type that shows head and body shots. The further the distance between the two targets, the higher the drill’s difficulty.
Start the drill with your rifle at the low- or high-ready position. Fire two shots at the chest of one of the targets, then fire two shots at the second target’s chest. Next, fire a headshot at the second target before returning to the first target with a headshot.
The drill will help you master holding a rifle steady, shot placement, and multiple target engagement. If you want to master engaging more than two targets, you can adapt the El Guapo pistol drill, which we will discuss later.
2. The Advanced Box Drill
Unlike the simple box drill, which requires staying in place while shooting at targets, the advanced box drill requires moving while engaging two targets. You are harder to hit if you move around during defensive shooting.
For the advanced box drill, you will need four traffic cones or anything else you can use to mark out your practice area. You will also need two USPSA or IDPA targets. Place the USPSA or IDPA targets at least ten yards apart, then place a traffic cone five yards in front of each target. Place another cone ten yards directly behind the already installed cones to create a ten-by-ten yards practice area in front of your targets.
Start the drill at the front right cone by firing twice at the chest of each target while moving to the cone behind you. Fire again at each target while moving to the cone to your left. Then, fire twice again while moving to the cone in front of you. Finish the drill by firing two more shots while moving to the front right cone.
You do not have to rush while practicing this drill. With time, you will develop surer footing and better aim. Also, the drill will allow you to experiment with various rifle shooting stances and learn to reload on the move if you run out of ammo while moving between cones. However, we recommend attempting the advanced box drill only after mastering the simple box drill.
The 1-reload-1 will help you master reloading your rifle quickly while on the move during a gunfight. You will need an IPSC target for the drill or another target type.
Start by loading your rifle with a magazine containing one round and have a full mag in your pouch. Fire your rifle from the high-ready position, then do a mag change and fire another shot at your target. The entire drill (from firing the first round to reloading and firing from your fresh mag) should take less than six seconds. Keep practicing the drill until you can complete it without hitches within four to six seconds.A TACTICAL GUIDE TO SHOOTING STANCES
Pistol Shooting Drills
If you prefer handguns, practicing the right pistols drills can help you improve your drawing and firing speed, accuracy, and more. Before delving into the best tactical pistol drills, you must master pistol malfunction clearing.
An effective drill for mastering clearing a malfunctioning pistol is simulating a complication with an empty brass case or a snap cap. Practice the drill by ejecting the magazine and pulling the action several times while facing the ejection port downwards. Reload the gun and fire the weapon to complete the drill. Perform the drill repeatedly until it becomes an automatic response when your pistol jams.
Let’s now look at pistol drills for improving your weapon handling:
1. The William Drill
The William pistol drill is a modification of the Bill drill, and like the Bill drill, the William drill involves practicing shooting from the holster at seven yards. The drill is excellent for learning to manage recoil and improve aiming. It can also help with improving drawing speed and targeting.
To perform the William drill, you will need a USPSA or IDPA target or any target with a high center chest scoring area. Start the drill by pulling your pistol from the holster at seven yards and firing five shots into the center chest of your target. Then, shoot the target once in the center of the head.
Transitioning to a smaller target while firing will force you to focus on precision, reducing the risk of shooting wildly at a target. Keep practicing the pistol drill until you can fire six rounds and consecutively hit your target dead center in less than five seconds. The quicker, the better. See the William drill in action in this video.
2. The Mozambique Drill
The Mozambique or Failure-to-Stop drill is another drill for improving accuracy, target transition, and speed during defensive pistol shooting. The drill will come in handy if you ever face an assailant that will not stop attacking after you have shot them center mass several times, such as if the attacker has body armor.
You will need a USPSA target or a silhouette target with highlighted chest and head areas for the drill. Set the target at seven to ten yards and start the drill by firing two consecutive rounds into the center of the chest and one round at the center of the head.
If the two rounds to the chest do not take down your assailant, the shot to the head will. Keep practicing the drill until you can hit the target dead center with all three shots in under five seconds. You can even add movements to the drill to make it more difficult. Besides pistols, you can practice the Mozambique drill with rifles, but you must set the target to 15 to 25 yards.
3. El Guapo Drill
The El Guapo drill is an updated version of the El Presidente drill and is excellent for learning to take on up to six assailants. Unlike the El Presidente drill, which uses three targets, the El Guapo drill requires six human-sized targets and a pistol that carries more than 12 rounds.
Set up the targets one yard apart and ten yards from you. Turn your back to the targets, and once the timer starts, turn around, pull your pistol, and fire two shots into each target as fast as possible. Eject your mag, reload, and fire two more rounds into each target. Aim towards completing the drill within ten seconds. You can increase the difficulty of the drill by aiming solely for headshots.SITUATIONAL AWARENESS SCENARIOS AND SOLUTIONS
Shotgun Shooting Drills
Shotguns are simple, but to master controlling the weapon’s recoil and reloading, you need to practice with it. Also, like other guns, shotguns can jam. Learn to get a jammed shotgun shooting again by practicing shotgun malfunction clearing drills.
A simple malfunction clearing drill for shotguns with tubular magazines is to pull the pump back and remove the malfunction with your free hand. If it’s an automatic, pull the pump, lock the bolt, and clear the malfunction with your hand. Repeat the drill until you master it.
You can cause an obstruction by loading the shotgun with snap caps. If your shotgun uses box mags, you can clear it by using the same malfunction clearing drill for rifles we discussed earlier.
Would you like to improve your shotgun handling? Try the following drills:
1. Mirror Mount Drill
The recoil on a shotgun is powerful, and if you don’t mount the gun correctly, it can fly out of your hand or hurt you. Correct mounting requires that the shotgun comb (the upper part of the butt) lies against your cheek while the base of the butt presses into your shoulder.
Practice shotgun mounting drills in the mirror at home by slowly mounting the gun. The process involves moving the comb to your cheek and the butt to your shoulder. After mounting, check the mirror to verify that the lead lines up directly with your dominant eye. If your dominant eye is not on the same line as the lead, adjust the position of the shotgun without moving your head.
Hold the mount for five seconds, then slowly drop the gun. Repeat the mount several times, each day, every week, until your eye automatically lines up with the lead every time you mount the shotgun. Mastering this drill will help you achieve a correct and consistent mount every time you raise your shotgun, leading to better accuracy and safer shooting.
2. Shoot, Reload, and Shoot Drill
The shoot, reload, and shoot drill will help you get used to the recoil and reloading. The drill requires setting up a target at seven to ten yards, and your shotgun should have one round in the chamber and extra ammo on the shotgun rack or holder. Mount the shotgun, fire the round at your target, pump and reload the shotgun, then fire the freshly loaded round.
The drill ends after firing your fresh round, and you can repeat the drill as many times as necessary to get used to your weapon and hitting targets. You can also time the drill to monitor your shooting and reloading speed.
3. Shoot Two-Load Two
Shoot two-load two is another effective drill for mastering reloading your shotgun during a shootout and improving aiming and shooting speed. The drill requires setting up a target ten yards away. Load two rounds into your gun and have another two in the rack.
When your timer starts, shoot two rounds at your target, reload two shells, and fire again. Keep the shotgun pointed at the target while reloading, and reload the shells with your non-dominant arm. The more you repeat the drill, the better and quicker you will become. You can also increase the difficulty of the drill by incorporating movement.
Start Working on Improving Your Tactical Shooting
Before starting shotgun, rifle, or pistol drills, you should get the necessary accessories, such as a shot timer, targets, and ammo. The more you practice your loading, handling, and gun shooting drills, the better you will become at using your weapon. The more competent you are with your weapon, the better your chances of having the upper hand during defensive or offensive shooting.
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