A gun is a tool. Any gun is only as good as the hands of the shooter holding it. Shooting drills should be a part of any gun owner’s routine just like cleaning and safely storing your weapon. Whether you want to feel more confident in sport shooting situations or know that you can safely defend yourself in a dangerous situation, shooting drills will make you a better gun handler.

What You’ll Need for Shooting Drills

Make sure you’re prepared to run your drills the next time you hit the range. To complete all three of these you’ll need:

  • Your rifle or handgun
  • Targets (most ranges provide these but if you’re drilling for accuracy you may want to bring your own that show more detail
  • Snap Caps
  • A timer or a buddy

While the hope is always that you won’t have to use your gun in a defensive situation if you do you’ll be sure to thank your lucky stars you practiced these drills. Read on for some of our favorite drills and how to practice them.

Defensive Shooting Drills

These first two drills can be practiced across gun types. These are known as “defensive” shooting drills. Practicing these are meant to prepare you for gun handling under stress. You may feel like a confident shooter when you’re out showing off your latest scope purchase to your range buddies but having to shoot an intruder or deal with a gun malfunction during an emergency situation is a completely different deal. Practice makes perfect. Get those hands gun ready.

FSD Drill

The FSD Drill, also known as the “failure to stop drill” is meant to imitate stopping an intruder. The aim of the drill is to practice hitting the body points that will stop an assailant most effectively in order to prevent them from returning fire or advancing to a point of danger. Here’s how to execute the drill:

  • Set up a target – review your range’s rules on the types of targets allowed. A manakin is best but you can also use a paper silhouette target.
  • Set a timer or have a friend cue you – speed and accuracy at a moment’s notice are the goals of this drill. Have a buddy signal you to begin the drill, or if you’re shooting solo, set a timer on your phone to cue you. Use the vibration mode and put the phone in your pocket so your alarm doesn’t disturb other shooters and you don’t have to worry about hearing it through your ear muffs.
  • Shoot – at the cue, shoot your target. Your goal is two shots to the chest and one to the head.
  • Check your work – examine your target and review your accuracy.

What makes this drill challenging: the transitions. The ability to shift your aim from one part of the body to another on a target quickly is a difficult one to master. People underestimate how difficult it is to control your body’s movement for good aim when you’re moving fast. If it can save a life, it’s definitely a worthy skill to have.

The Panic Drill

This drill is exactly what it sounds like. Meant to imitate one of the most frightening situations a shooter can encounter, the intention of this drill is to get you so comfortable with clearing a gun malfunction that you can do it in your sleep. Here’s what you do:

  • Load your weapon with a Snap Cap plus live rounds in the magazine.
  • Set a timer that will count you down before it begins (the point of this drill is speed so you want to be able to time your execution or have a friend do it for you). As soon as the timer goes off you must clear the malfunction your Snap Cap is causing
  • Fire – Firing ends this drill

What makes this drill challenging: the pressure of the timer should make your hands sweat a little. The whole idea here is to test how quickly you can deal with a malfunction under pressure because honestly – that’s the only time it matters.

Rifle Shooting Drills

Rifles are fun guns to shoot but they aren’t the easiest to control. Whether you’re shooting for sport or safety be sure to hone your speed and accuracy with shooting drills like this one:

1 to 5 Drill

This drill is best for an outdoor range where you can place three targets about one yard apart from each other and five yards away from you. The goal of this drill is simple: shoot from left to right and then right to left. Shoot your first target once, the second target twice, the third target three times, then back to the middle target with four shots and finish with five shots to the very first target you shot. Practice this drill until all of your shots land and you can complete the drill in about five seconds.

What makes this drill challenging: having to think consciously about the number of shots you’re landing on each target. This drill is mental as much as it is physical. Having the presence of mind to track and count your shots as you aim, fire, and transition between targets will make you a more steady-handed shooter as you practice.

Aside from practice and drills to ensure your gun is in the best hands possible, take care of your weapon when you leave the range too. Make sure your gun is always clean, stored safely, and protected. If your weapon has a scope, make sure that’s protected as well. Spending the time to be a prepared gun handler won’t do you any good if your weapon isn’t at the ready.
ScopeShield has covers for all of your scope-mounted firearms. Check out our shop for the best way to keep your sights clear and ready for anything.


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