Written by Greg Ellifritz
“Changing gears” is a concept I often employ in my practice shooting drills. Altering shot cadences between fast imprecise shooting on large, close targets and slow precise shooting on smaller targets is an important skill to train. It’s important to learn what you “need to see” to make a shot.
There is another type of “changing gears” that I hadn’t seen before until I read the article Mike Pannone wrote titled Mind Games: The Benefit of Conscious Contradictions in Training.
In the article. the author describes a drill where he does slow fire bullseye target shooting preceded by the fastest draw one can execute. He uses this drill to consciously separate the draw stroke from the shot, as the two might need to be made at different speeds. From the article:
“One of the drills I do in pistol classes is to have shooters execute a Bullseye string shot all from the holster. I tell them to draw as fast as they can and then take the shot at the appropriate pace to achieve the desired level of precision. After the draw it truly is absolutely no different than a regular Bullseye string but there is a key training principle involved. The drill is designed with the two major steps intended to consciously contradict each other.
When you draw rapidly the body is receiving a physical cue to go fast. Now after your body has received that very distinct subconscious cue, you must consciously tell yourself to slow down with the intended goal over time of the slowing process being subconscious as well based on what the sights dictate. Over time what I am patterning into the shooter is to detach the draw from the shot and thereby use the optimal speed for each specific task. I call this type of drill “changing gears” and more specifically it is a pace and precision adjustment exercise.”
The drill consists of (also from the article):
40 draws (10 with transition to support hand), 50 precision shots (30 freestyle, 10 strong hand only 10 support hand only), 5 slide lock reloads, 5 magazine exchanges.
If you concentrate and make every shot a proper one that is a lot of work in 20 minutes!
- Freestyle slow fire- 10 rounds
- Strong hand only- 10 rounds
- Support hand only- 10 rounds
- Draw shot slide-lock reload shot 10 rounds
- Draw shot-magazine-exchange shot 10 rounds
I shot the drill with both my former police duty handgun (Glock 17) and my backup gun (Smith and Wesson Model 12 .38 special). I shot the Glock out of an open carry Safariland ALS holster at a bullseye target 50 feet away. I shot my .38 snub out of the Alessi ankle holster I used on duty as well. I shot the .38 double action at a bullseye target 30 feet away.
Just for more challenge, I used a shot timer and limited my Glock shots to three seconds per draw. I limited my .38 snub shots to four seconds from the ankle holster draw.
Drawing as fast as possible and slowing down for a precision shot is harder than it looks.
Here’s the 50 round target shot with my Glock 17. Not horrible, but the few flyers bugged me a bit.
Next, I shot a modified version of the course with my .38 snub. I dropped the number of rounds fired to six per string of fire. For the stages with reloads, I did the first stage with full reloads using a speedloader. For the second reload stage, I reloaded using a Tuff Products Tuff Strip. I didn’t time the reloads or the shots after the reloads on those stages. I simply reloaded and shot as fast as I could while still hitting the target. Here are my results:
The shooting drill was a good workout and was surprisingly challenging. I plan to do it again soon. Give the drill a try and see how you do.