Drills are the basis for developing muscle memory and good shooting skills. Every instructor you train with will have her own favorites. As basic and simple as they seem at the time, they’re essential to building the fundamentals of good shooting. Even if you’ve been shooting for 20 years, drills help keep you sharp and focused.
Darin Oberhart owns QCI Firearms Training in Bettendorf, Iowa. He uses a number of drills, depending on the curriculum of what he’s teaching, but the one he uses most frequently is the Five Fundamentals: sight alignment, trigger control, hold control, breath control, and follow through.
“When I go through the fundamentals, I use training guns,” Oberhart said. “One gun that really helps with dry fire training is the SIRT laser pistol from Next Level Training.” The SIRT pistol simulates the size, weight and function of a Glock, and lets students handle a gun that “feels” real but isn’t.
“As you pull the trigger the laser goes off to show you’ve pulled the trigger,” Oberhart said. “Then when you break the shot, a second laser fires.” At the same time, he said, he drills on sight alignment.
“Students get immediate feedback from using the SIRT pistols,” he said. “I can tell from the laser where the shot would be hitting on the target.”
When he works on grip training, Oberhart goes through the two-handed grip over and over.
“We do it until everyone in the class consistently gets the same grip when they pick up their gun,” he said. “We spend anywhere from half an hour to a couple hours working on these things, depending on the size of the class and how well the students actually are ‘getting it.’”
Jeff Gunn owns Oro Grande Firearms Training in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also uses a laser drill with his classes.
“That way students can see how much they’re moving,” he said. “People—especially new shooters—don’t realize how much they’re actually moving when they’re looking at a target. So I mount a laser under a gun, and the student can see the spot moving around on the target; it gives them immediate feedback and it really opens their eyes.”
Gunn has students dry fire the gun with the laser on it.
“When someone pulls the trigger, if the laser moves down and to the right, I can tell they have trouble with their trigger squeeze,” he said. “Or if it moves to the left, she’s gripping too tightly. I find it much more useful for the student to be able to see what she’s getting rather than just pointing at a spot on the wall and telling her to pull the trigger.”
Gunn does this as a classroom activity.
“I set up a target at one end of the room and we go through all the positions there in the classroom before we go out to the range,” he said. “I use a combination light and laser unit on a real firearm. It saves us time on the range, plus lasers don’t work all that well in daylight in summer in the middle of Colorado.”
Steve Morrison teaches the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course in Winnfield, Louisiana. He has his students hold some kind of a pointer—pen, pencil, firearm, whatever—and point it at the wall.
“I have the student pick a target,” he said. “The target can be a piece of paper on the way, or something on a poster, or whatever she likes. Then I have her hold the pointer like she’s going to shoot the piece of paper, close her eyes, and make a figure 8 with the pointer. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a horizontal or a vertical figure 8.”
He tells the student, “Once you’ve made a figure 8 and you feel like you’re back on target, stop and open your eyes. You should be back on the same place on the target.”
Once the student masters this exercise, Morrison said, he can put any firearm in the student’s hands and she will be able to shoot it accurately.
“It’s a muscle memory exercise that we do in the classroom,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the student has in her hand. Once she trains her body to always get back to the same position she started in, she’ll be on target every time.”
Students find this exercise a challenge.
“When we go on break I’ll see them practicing it,” Morrison said. “Usually by the end of the first class, they’ll have gotten a lot better at it.”
Tom Grounder teaches NRA handgun courses at Defensive Logic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He said the key to proficiency in shooting is sight alignment, aiming, and trigger control.
“When you shoot a handgun, everything is about those three things,” he said. “The only way you’re going to work on those without having to put rounds downrange is dry firing. And right now, putting rounds downrange is hard to do because either people can’t get ammunition or it’s very expensive.”
Grounder has his students practice using snap caps.
“I have them go home and practice loading, aiming, and trigger pull, so that when you pull the trigger, none of your sight alignment moves,” he said. “You do it over and over and over, and it will translate when you go to the range. It is the most inexpensive, easiest thing to do, and it’s what professional and competition shooters do on a regular basis to stay fresh.”
By Carolee Anita Boyles
Carolee Boyles Media Group
P. O. Box 13166
Tampa, FL 33681