Most “shooters” never do more than simply plink. They go to the range, however infrequently that may be, and they shoot at paper plates or empty coke cans. This may be a fun all-American pastime, but if you want to get good with your handgun this is not going to cut it. Obviously, seeking out good training is first priority if you are serious about shooting and defensive pistol craft. Beyond that, however, getting good is about doing the work. I know plenty of people who are training junkies, have taken classes with every known instructor out there, yet still shoot at a mediocre level. Training is important, but training simply teaches you how to practice correctly. You need to do the practice on your own time.
One particular means of keeping your practice on track so that you are efficient is to set goals for yourself through training standards. Come up with at least several different “standards” and see how well you do them currently, then push yourself to reach your next goal. Here are three of my favorite training drills that I use to set standards. All three require only a single target and all three are done from your real concealment mode at 7 yards, so you can do these at most ranges without the need for a lot of space or multiple targets:
- The F.A.S.T Drill. Created by the late, great, Todd Louis Green, the FAST drill is truly brilliant in that it tests almost all aspects of good pistol shooting in a simple 6 round drill. From 7 yards, draw from concealment and shoot two rounds into an index card sized head target, then reload from slide lock, and come back to the target and make a rapid 4 shots into an 8 inch circle. All hits must be clean. My standard is to do this in under 5 seconds. A 5 second fast drill is quite advanced and it is the top “expert” level as labeled by Todd himself. You need to be a serious shooter to do it in 5 seconds, but try it and gauge where you stand. A 7 second fast drill is a good goal and displays an excellent grasp of the shooting fundamentals. If you hit that goal, start aiming for that magical 5 seconds. Overall, it is a fantastic drill.
- The Mozambique Drill. This is sometimes called the “failure drill.” Essentially, from 7 yards, draw and fire two rounds into an 8 inch circle chest area, like the down zero zone of an IDPA target, then transition to the head and make a solid head shot. My standard for this, from concealment of course (real concealment, IWB holster under an untucked shirt) is 1.8 seconds or less. While the “tactical” application of the Mozambique is debatable this is a great drill that assesses your first shot, fast follow up, and transition to a smaller target. An initial goal of 3 seconds is solid, then progress from there.
- The Bill Drill. Established by Bill Wilson a long time ago, the Bill Drill is essentially 6 shots into the down zero zone of an IDPA target from 7 yards, using concealment of course. This drill assesses your ability to make rapid and accurate follow-up shots, and your ability to make a speedy first shot. My standard for this is about 2 seconds. A solid goal to set is 3 seconds, when you obtain that start working it down, keeping all shots in the down zero zone.