Top 7 Pistol Training Drills 

When it comes to firearm proficiency, there is no substitute for practice. This doesn’t mean clacking off rounds mindlessly, we are talking about practicing structured training exercises. Taking the time to prepare for practice days at the range is the first step to becoming more comfortable with your firearm. 

To help you in becoming more proficient with firearms, we have prepared the top 7 drills that you can do at your local shooting range. Be sure to review the Range Rules at your local range as some of these may not be compliant.   

1. One Shot, Reload, Two Shot Drill:In this drill the goal is to become more comfortable with reloading. You will shoot at a close distance to the target and aim at center mass.  

To prepare, load your first magazine with 1 round and a second magazine with 2 rounds  

Stand close to the target in a “ready to fire position”.   

Discharge your first round at the target, drop the first magazine and reload with the second magazine. Immediately fire the two rounds at the target. Your goal is to make all 3 rounds hit the target in front of you while maintaining a solid grip on the firearm.   

2. Double Shot Reloading DrillSimilar to the drill above, you will use multiple magazines for this drill, all loaded with 2 rounds each. The more magazines you have for this drill the better.  

Once you are set up, the goal is to hit the target with as many rounds as quickly as possible.  

This involves keeping calm and maintaining your aim while you reload.  

3. Wall Drill for focus: This drill is a dry fire drill. Be sure to double-check that your weapon is completely unloaded. 

Using a blank wall that is free from any distractions (e.g. light switches, holes, pictures, etc.) the shooter practices proper sight alignment with front sight focus and trigger manipulation. This drill is great for getting proper alignment on your pistol without the distraction of a target.  

The goal of this drill is to maintain focus on the front sight. Your alignment should stay true as you pull the trigger.  

4. Jammed Weapon Drill: This is a great drill for practicing the inevitable malfunction. The goal is to clear the malfunction safely and effectively. 

To set up the drill you will need to re-create a malfunction. The best way to do this is by using an empty brass case to lodge awkwardly in the tube. You will have live rounds in the magazine to fire after the jam is cleared. 

Be extremely careful when doing this drill as it does involve live rounds and purposeful malfunction.  

This is a timed drill that requires the shooter to remove the malfunction and accurately fire at the target after.  

You can also do this drill using a rifle.   

5. Note Card Drill: For this drill, you will need a 3×5 notecard that you can tape to your target. This drill can be done at a variety of distances but to start you will want to be close to the target, at around 10’ away.  

For this drill, you will load 6 rounds in your magazine. Shots should be fired for maximum accuracy. At 10 feet, you should be able to have all six bullet holes close to or touching one another.  

Once you have mastered the 10’ distance, move back and try again at 20’.   

6. 5×5 Skill Test Drill: This drill involves drawing your weapon from the holstered position. You will be timing each of the four strings of fire.  

  • Using a magazine loaded with 5 rounds, draw and fire 5 shots at the target. 
  • Using a magazine loaded with 5 rounds, draw and fire 5 shots at the target using your strong hand only. 
  • Using a magazine loaded with 5 rounds, draw and fire at the target. Reload from sidelock and fire 5 more shots. 
  • Draw and fire 4 shots at center mass and 1 shot at the head of the target. 

7. The Dot Torture Drill: Last, we end with one of the harder drills, the dot torture drill.  

Using the target shown above, you will start at 10’ from the target. To pass, you need to successfully complete the task for each of the dots: 

  • Dot 1: Draw and fire 5 rounds within the number 1 dot. 
  • Dot 2: Draw and fire 1 shot, holster and repeat x4, five rounds total, all within the number 2 dot. 
  • Dot 3 & 4: Draw and fire 1 shot at #3, then 1 shot at #4. Holster and repeat x3 (8 rounds total) 
  • Dot 5: Draw and fire using your strong hand only. 5 rounds. 
  • Dot 6 & 7: Draw and fire 2 shots on #6 and 2 shots at #7. Holster and repeat x4. Total of 16 rounds. 
  • Dot 8: Fire 5 rounds using your weak hand only. 
  • Dot 9 & 10: Draw and fire 1 round at #9. Reload and fire 1 shot at #10. Holster and repeat x3 (6 rounds total). 

You can increase your distance as you master this exercise from 10’.  

Be sure to check with your local shooting range officials before practicing any of these drills.  

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