5 Drills You Should Practice at the Range

posted on October 22, 2018

Range Day! Two words that almost every shooter gets excited about. There is no doubt that going to the range is an exhilarating experience. We get to spend time with our firearm and put lead downrange. But most of us are not taking full advantage of this precious time. I use the word “precious” because most shooters do not have access to daily or weekly range visits. At best, most are lucky to get to the range monthly. When we do have the opportunity, it needs to be productive shooting, rather than simply static shooting you employ by blowing through endless expensive rounds. This article will cover five tips that, when utilized properly, that can make your range time more productive.

Prior to the start of your range day, have a plan outlined. Being sufficiently prepared ahead of time will ensure better time management giving you the most out of every minute. Create a “to do” list, so to speak. It’s just a list of specifics you are planning to work on during your range session. List the drills and the amount of time you want to spend on each. Next, estimate the required amount of ammunition needed for each drill. Doing so helps to safeguard against wasting or depleting your ammunition supply without getting everything done. Incorporate a checklist of all items needed. Number of rounds, targets, which gun(s) you plan on utilizing, staple gun, etc. Once everything is mapped out, check your bag to confirm that you have everything you need. By doing this not only will you be physically prepared but also mentally prepared.

The Drills: (The following drills are based on the knowledge that your gun sights have already been sighted in.)

  1. Figure-Eight Drill

Many shooters struggle with “moving sights” or what they deem as “shaky hands.” This occurs when you are pointed in, but you feel like your sights seem to be moving. When this happens, you tend to grasp the gun harder and tense up, but doing this causes you to shoot worse. You’re not seeing things, your sights actually are moving; however, they’re not moving as much as you think. The figure-eight drill helps you understand that slight movement does not truly affect the shot. It also shows that good trigger control can overcome the slight movement. To do this drill, set yourself up approximately 5 yards from the target. Aim in and move the front sight in a vertical figure-eight motion, about 6 inches wide, over the bullseye. As your sight comes across the bullseye, relax, breathe and take your shot. Stay pointed in and repeat, using five rounds.

  1. Ragged-Hole Drill

Focus on a single spot on your target. A great target for this has a small solid dot. If yours does not, you can create your own with a marker, creating a small, 1- to 2-inch colored circle. From 3 to 5 yards, fire five rounds aiming at the center of the dot. It is imperative to relax and breathe, as controlled breathing with every shot increases accuracy. As you fire your five shots, use the exact point of aim for every shot. Do not look over your sights with the “did I hit it?” mentality. Take your time and be conscientious of your trigger press, imagining the pad of your trigger finger coming straight back to your nose. The goal is to end with a single ragged hole within the dot. If your shots are spread out you will know that you still need to work on some fundamentals.

  1. Shrinking Targets

Upon conquering the ragged hole, move to shrinking targets. This drill will quickly improve your accuracy. The optimal target for this drill will have three circles, each diminishing in size. Begin at 3 yards and fire five rounds into the smallest circle. Move back to 5 yards and repeat on the middle circle. Then move to 7 yards and repeat on the largest target. The goal is to have each shot in each circle touching each other, similar to the ragged-hole drill.

  1. Timed Shooting from Low Ready

This drill is not only helpful in training, it’s also fun. From 5 to 7yards, hold your firearm at low ready, finger off the trigger. If you don’t have a shot timer, several timer apps can be used. Upon the timer sound, engage your target firing a single shot. After firing, remember to stay pointed in and practice after-action techniques, like scanning your surroundings to make certain there are not other threats. Once clear, slowly reholster. This drill is lets you see just how accurate you are in a timed situation. Don’t be discouraged if your accuracy is off. Putting everything together in one fluid and timed motion is an entirely different ballgame. With time and dedication, your accuracy and speed will improve.

       5. Drawing/Shooting from Concealment

Practicing this is self-explanatory. We carry to defend ourselves and those we love. It will all be for naught if we aren’t able to get our gun out of the holster. This drill can be done the same as shooting from low ready, except from your holster. It allows you to practice moving clothing before you draw, letting you discover what works and what doesn’t. Even though this can also be practiced by dry-firing from home, doing it for real brings the training up a notch.


Incorporating a plan and utilizing these drills will help make the most of your range day. You will also obtain an accurate picture of your current skill level. With repeated practice you will most certainly begin to see your skill level grow.



man shooting target at gun range
man shooting target at gun range

Gun Skills: Shooting from Retreat

Shooting at a stationary target doesn't represent a defensive situation; it's important to "get off the X." But even when we do, we often forget rearward motion as an option.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory DS Prodigy

The DS Prodigy provides the same magazine capacity as most striker-fired polymer pistols; however, it also provides the familiarity–and much-better trigger–of the 1911.

Gun Owners Aren't to Blame For Surging Violent Crime

Increases in violent crime are the result of a number of factors, yet some politicians and media members are blaming lawful gun owners. Here is why.

NRA-Backed Constitutional Carry Introduced in Florida

Another state looks to advance freedom for its citizens.

Confiscation in Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's authoritarian zeal to disarm his citizens is a warning to any free people–and it shows how fundamentally important our constitutional protections are.

America's Rifle

Gun-control activists and politicians don't want citizens to know the truth about these semi-automatic rifles. So here is the history, and the contemporary facts, about these rifles.


Get the best of America's 1st Freedom delivered to your inbox.