Saturday, August 13, 2022

Practice 2022: To Drill or Test?

One mechanism for improving your shooting skills is to shoot drills. Most sports have a set of drills designed to improve a specific skill or a combination of skills—shooting is no exception. There are literally hundreds of firearms training drills and some are better than others.
Shooting drills that challenge you is a great way to improve your shooting assuming that you can recognize what you need work on to improve. I have been working on refining my grip from a draw, acquiring a rapid sight picture, and trigger control.
2x2x2 Example
The primary drill I have been shooting is Dave Spaulding’s 2x2x2 Drill. The 2x2x2 Drill is shot on a 3x5 card placed vertically on a target backer that is 20 feet away. At the start signal, the shooter must draw and fire two rounds in two seconds with two hits on the 3x5 card. If a round breaks the card’s edge it is scored as a hit. The picture on the left shows an example sequence with seven runs, 14 shots, and one miss.  Any shot outside the card or over the two second time limit constitutes a failed run. So in this particular sequence, the miss would be a failed run.
You ideally should shoot several different drills that complement each other in working on the specific skill you are trying to improve. This adds variety to your practice and keeps the drills from becoming too tedious. I recently saw the No Fail Drill on the Active Response Training website and decided I would try it. The No Fail Drill is attributed to Chuck Pressberg of Presscheck Training and Consulting; however, I could not find the drill’s description on the Presscheck website so I went with the description on Primer Peak. (
A "Failed" No Fail Drill
The No Fail Drill is relatively straight forward. You start with the pistol concealed. You must draw and place a hit inside the 9-ring on a standard NRA B8 target center placed at 25 yards within 3.5 seconds. It must be shot cold. You do this 10 times; any shot outside the 9-ring is a miss and you fail the drill. I did not have difficulty making the time limit; however, I failed the drill with three rounds outside the 9-ring as shown in the picture on the right. Shooting the No Fail Drill adds one additional item to the skill set—drawing from concealment. With this drill however, I am still practicing establishing my grip from a draw, acquiring a rapid sight picture, and trigger control.
People occasionally mis-characterize shooting tests as drills and vice versa. So, is there a difference between a shooting drill and a shooting test? Yes, drills are a means to an end but not the end itself. A well-designed drill permits the shooter to work on a specific skill or a combination of skills in isolation. Tests (and qualifications) on the other hand measure the shooter’s ability to combine their skills to perform a specific task or tasks to a specific standard.
If you compare Spaulding’s 2x2x2 Drill with Pressburg’s No Fail Drill, you see similarities. Both drills allow the shooter to focus on obtaining a solid grip from a draw, acquiring a rapid sight picture, and trigger control. Neither is easy; however, both provide a mechanism to identify your shortfalls and measure your improvement.
Although they are different, a drill can also be used as a test with some modifications. In his classes, Dave used the 2x2x2 Drill as a test at the end of the class. The same starting position and other requirements as the drill; however, the shooter had to draw from concealment. Students who successfully passed the test with two shots on the 3x5 card in two seconds earned an engraved belt buckle and belt from Handgun Combatives.
When assessing whether a given shooting drill will address your improvement needs, the old adage that you should not practice what you are already good at comes to mind. If/when I reach the point that I can shoot the No Fail Drill or the 2x2x2 Drill from concealment successfully on demand, I will move on to shoot ever more difficult drills and continue to try and improve my shooting skills. I enjoy improving my shooting and drills help me with this process. I’m not sure I will ever hit the point where I decide that my skills are “good enough.”
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