Handgun Drills for Action Shooters
Handgun Drills for Action Shooters
photo by dagnyg via flickr.com

Action-pistol shooting is fast paced and there is a lot to think about besides pulling the trigger. Consider this: Experienced drivers don’t consciously think about where their hands are on the steering wheel, the exact pressure on the accelerator, or where the brake pedal is, which allows them to focus on more important issues. A handgun should be operated the same way, and these drills can help get you there.

Start Right:

Here’s a dry-fire drill you can do at home. First, clear the gun of all its ammunition. Double- and triple-check that. Then practice drawing from your normal holster, getting your sights lined up on a target, and pressing the trigger without the sights moving. Next, work the magazine release and generally become familiar with the gun. This may sound simple, but top shooters will often spend several 20-minute sessions each week doing just this.

Double Tap:

Most IDPA and USPSA stages require a minimum of two scoring hits per paper target. At the range, using a target appropriate for the game, practice drawing and delivering two quick rounds, at distances from 4 to 30 yards.

Shoot With Your Weak Hand:

Shooters are required to perform both weak- and strong-hand shooting during some matches. Strong hand is dictated by the side on which the holster is worn. Weak hand is the other hand. The gun must be held and fired with the specified hand only. Not many casual shooters practice this, and it hurts their scores when they go to compete.

Set up two IDPA/USPSA targets 6 feet apart, then shoot at them from 7 to 10 yards. For weak-hand practice, start with the gun in a low ready position. For strong hand, begin with the gun in the holster. At the start signal, deliver two rounds to the body and one round to the head of one target, then transition to the other target and do the same. This will force you to deal with both vertical and horizontal target transitions, and it’s a great skill builder for one-hand shooting.

Reload Fast:

The ability to execute a rapid reload is a critical skill and does require practice. Set up a single target at 7 yards and load all available magazines with only two rounds each. With your holster and your magazine pouches in their normal belt position, double tap the target, dump the empty magazine, let it hit the ground and make a slide-lock reload. Repeat this, reloading as needed, for about 20 rounds per session.

These basic drills will help you prepare for a match, but you will also learn at the match itself. Try to get on a squad with Master and Expert Class shooters. Don’t be intimidated by their skill. Instead, learn from them—most will be happy to share their knowledge. That knowledge can be as valuable as that gained from an expensive shooting academy—and a lot cheaper.