Gun Skills: Utilizing Timed Turning Targets

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posted on March 4, 2024
gun range timer
Photo: Peter Fountain

If you practice at an indoor range, it’s likely you can utilize timed target settings. Not every indoor range has this option, of course, but most seem to, yet I don’t often see the feature in use. That’s a shame because the timed turning targets can be a very effective way to add useful stress into your training routine. For example, when you have a timer counting, you’ll need to make a shoot/don’t-shoot decision quickly. This training could serve you very well if you ever need to use your firearm in self-defense, where seconds—and your ability to make decisions quickly in those few seconds—really count.

If you’d like to give the targets’ twirl a whirl, here are some drills to try. These are adapted blends of published drills from Dave Elderton, a longtime instructor with a military and law-enforcement background. (Note: These drills assume holstering and drawing are allowed at your range. If not, set the loaded gun on the table in front of you. If this is still not allowed, start from low-ready or ready.)

Drill 1:

1. Set a silhouette target at 5 yards.

2. Set the timed target to turn to the side for 2 seconds, then face you for 2 seconds. The settings will depend on your particular range’s system, but you can set this to cycle either for 12 rounds of away and facing, or for endless repetition with you manually stopping upon the drill’s completion.

3. Load 12 rounds. (If you need to use multiple magazines, you’ll be adding in the complexity of needing to reload while the target is turned away—another good thing to practice.)

4. Start the program on the target system.

5. When the target faces you, draw and fire one round to center mass—the chest area. Do not fire if the target has turned to the side. You may feel rushed, but you don’t want to shoot the side of the target. (This is training your shoot/don’t shoot reactions under stress.)

6. Repeat 12 times.

7. Assess your target. If all shots achieved the ideal target area, modify the program to give you 1.5 seconds facing instead of 2 seconds.

8. When the target faces you, draw and fire one round to center mass. (Do not fire if the target has turned to the side.)

9. Repeat 12 times.

10. Too easy? Try two rounds in the target in 1.5 seconds. Still too easy? Move the target back to 7 or 10 yards and/or make one of the shots a head shot.

Drill 2:

1. Set a silhouette target at 7 yards.

2. Set the timed target to turn to the side for 3 seconds, then to face you for 6 seconds, for 6 rounds or for endless repetition with a manual stop.

3. Load two magazines with three rounds each.

4. Start the program for the turning target.

5. When the target faces you, draw and fire two rounds to center mass and one round to the head. (Do not fire if the target has turned to the side.)

6. Drop your empty magazine, reload and get back on target.

7. When the target faces you, draw and fire two rounds to center mass and one round to the head. (Do not fire if the target has turned to the side.)

8. Assess your target. If all shots made it into the ideal target areas, try it at 10 yards. Still too easy? Try decreasing the time the target faces you and/or faces away.

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