Live Fire Drill: 50 efficient rounds


Dry-fire practice is extremely beneficial from the aspect of body mechanics and training neuromuscular pathways. This helps but is not enough to get you to Operator speed and accuracy. Firearm proficiency is a perishable skill and requires some live fire work. The US Military preaches “Train to Maintain” because it’s true!! However the US military is not constrained by the same ammo shortage that plagues the citizens in 2013.

One 50 round box of designated training ammo is all you need for this drill. I advise against a warm-up string because in real life the bad guys don’t give you warning (training scar alert). Since ammo is so scarce these days warm-ups seem like a major waste of resources anyway, don’t they? Speaking of wasting resources I am amazed at the number of people I see at ranges who don’t invest in a magic marker- targets can last a really really long time if you mark previous hits between strings of fire.  
For targets I suggest something like this that has a large area (silhouette, bottle, shape, etc) and also some smaller areas to allow you to aim at small targets and transition to larger ones. You also could get by with two mags but I like to train with 3 (2 in a mag holster) since that plus a holster is a basic IDPA rig. Enough babble– time to make with the drill details:
Phase 1
Send the target downrange 10 yards, 5 rounds in the gun, holstered with a round chambered. Draw and fire all 5 with a two-hand grip. Go as fast as you can to maintain ‘A’ hits (8″x8″ circle around point of aim). If you don’t put all 5 shots in the 8″ A-Zone try to diagnose the reason why (how? use one of these) and try again (typically try to slow the pace down).
Phase 1 Focus:

  • proper grip before you draw
  • proper presentation
  • clear sight picture (front sight against target)
  • smooth trigger press

Phase 2

Bring the target back, tape or mark the hits from Phase 1. Send the target back downrange to about 7 yards. Load 2 rounds in your pistol and holster it with one round chambered. Now run the 1-1-R-3 drill (if you don’t know what 1-1-R-3 is this should help) two times with a two-handed grip. The speed limit here remains as fast as you can score A-Zone. If you start missing slow it down until you’re scoring again.

Phase 2 Focus: 

  • Smooth draw and presentation
  • Fast initial target acquisition (eye on target before you draw)
  • Smooth, coordinated  reload (smooth is fast)

Phase 3

Mark up your target. Send the target downrange about 10 yards. Run two more strings of 1-1-R-3 like you did in Phase 2. I find it takes more focus to hit the longer shots and because of that my speed suffers a little. However that’s alright as long as you stay in that A-Zone.

Phase 3 Focus:

  • Smooth draw and presentation
  • Strong and deliberate target acquisition (proper grip, head up,)
  • Smooth trigger press (don’t slap the trigger to go faster)
  • Smooth, coordinated  reload (smooth is fast)

 Phase 4

Mark up the target and send it back downrange to about 15-20 yards. Load 5 rounds, chamber one and holster your sidearm. Draw and fire the 5 at the center of the target (or any available 8″ zone). Speed is not the critical element here – accuracy is. If you want to add to this drill and the range allows it use the left edge of the shooting booth as cover and lean into the shooting lane. 
Bring the target back for markup, assess your hits and run a second string but this time shoot weak side with no support hand.. 
Phase 4 Focus:
  • Proper grip before you draw
  • Keep wrist locked, grip high on the weapon
  • (For weak hand string)- Draw and transition weapon to weak side
  • Focus on the front sight against the target
  • Shooting from concealment (minimize the amount of your body you expose to the line of fire)
Phase 5

Depending on how you weathered Phase 1 you should have 10 or 15 rounds remaining. Which of the previous drills was the most difficult? This is an opportunity for extra reps with that exercise. If you have focus areas already identified this is the place to work on them also. If you’re having a perfect outing I suggest practicing 5 round mag dumps at various distances… but constrain your speed to A-Zone scoring. 

We don’t improve by doing what we have already mastered- improvement comes from working on the areas that are difficult. The A-Zone is a pretty forgiving sized target…why not focus on smaller targets to improve your accuracy? If you make that your training habit the A-Zone will look like a billboard when it counts!!

That should take you right to fifty rounds- nice work!! With one box of ammo you covered a lot of ground: strong side, weak side, using cover, reloads, draw-present-fire and extra reps.
I always take a photo of my target to allow for analysis after I get home and process the training session (did everything feel right? what do I need to work on?). This really helps with self-diagnosis of your results because you can look back at history to see your progress. It also gives you multiple reference points to track against a target analysis chart. 
Thanks to Paul Merkel at for inspiring this endeavor with his One Box Workout™ article. This drill is focused on speed and tactics that aid in Practical Shooting while his revolves around slow focus on basics.


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