Pistol potential

Here's a quick pistol drill I try to run every time I hit the range...

IPSC Target
50 yards, 7 yards
Full magazine

50 yard line: From the holster, facing up range - turn, draw, fire three rounds
Come to high port / ten gun, run to 7 yard line
7 yard line: Fire three rounds, strong hand only into head - switch to support hand - three rounds head

Calculate your score and record your time. Try to improve your time on each successive run without throwing any shots.

You can of course modify this in countless ways - add a reload while on the move - change the shooting position to kneeling or prone.

This drill is borne from the "get outside your comfort zone" methodology....i.e, most people don't like to shoot support hand and they don't like to shoot beyond 10-15 yards. So much of shooting and tactics boils down to the concept of what I call "gas and brake". The operator must develop to the point where they can seamlessly transition from moving very fast to moving slow and back again as the situation around them changes. So in this particular drill, you are still fast to the gun/fast to the target, but must be more sure of sight picture/sight alignment due to the increased distance involved - then you must explode off the 50 yard line and get to the seven as fast as possible. Now you are faced with a close target, but are dealing with a smaller target (the head) and have the handicap of strong only and support only shooting. The trick, of course, is striking that balance of necessary speed and adequate sight picture.  

And before I get a bunch of comments telling me that it is a waste of time to shoot a pistol past 25 yards, that's rifle work dadgummit!  let me say this - from a training perspective -

1. Distance magnifies shooter discrepancies and therefore is a useful tool. I have seen shooters who have decent groups 15 yards and in, but at 50 their groups start drifting left and off the target. So that little bit of trigger press discrepancy that is negligible on a range will grow exponentially under combat stress. 

2. Any serviceable pistol should be able to hold a mechanical five shot group of 2.5 inches at 25 yards - so, at 50 yards it should be able to stay inside the A box on an IPSC target....as long as the shooter is doing his job.

From the tactical perspective, it really boils down to a matter of percentages - what percentage of your day is spent with a rifle slung across your body? How about wearing a pistol? For most of us the greater number is of course with the latter. A rifle is, with few exceptions, the better weapon to have in a gunfight; lets not belabor that point, but you very likely could find yourself with only a pistol as an engagement unfolds. Don't sell yourself short, train to utilize your weapon's full capability.



  1. Good points, K. If I had a pistol and faced a threat 50 yards out (or even further), there's no doubt that I would attempt to engage.

    I'll have to give this a try next time I am out.


  2. Always remember, the average engagement distance in the Miami mad minute, with Platt and Matix was right at 50 yards. I learned form a fellow firearms instructor to work out to 50 and 100 yards with a pistol. You simply can't always control the distance, but if can shoot long distance, you may win the day. I intend to have every advantage I can get. Bruce Lee said only the distance changes in combat and you must be able to adapt.

  3. Given that a pistol is the weapon we are most likely to actually have using them further out has merit as a worst case scenario sort of thing.

    What distance is totally skill dependent. If your 10 meter target looks like it was hit with #4 shot from a short barreled 12 gauge then for you long shots are going to be 20 yards.

    Most decent pistols are mechanically accurate enough to shoot much further than shooters are capable of. As an anecdote I remember Massad Ayoob talking about doing grouping with a bunch of snubby .38's at 100 yards for a court case.

    1. At a school I used to teach at, I would routinely have the students shoot their pistols at an IPSC size steel target from 100 yards. Most students thought I was joking at first, but were elated when they heard the steel ring from their shot after applying the fundamentals. A huge confidence booster for many students.


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