Skills Check: The 5-5-5 Drill

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posted on February 8, 2019
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This article, "The 5-5-5 Drill" appeared originally as a Skills Check column in the April 2017 issue of Shooting Illustrated. To subscribe to Shooting Illustrated, visit the NRA membership page here and select Shooting Illustrated as your member magazine.

With more folks than ever carrying concealed, it makes sense to work on shooting from concealment with the pistol you’ve chosen to carry. What you can do with your range pistol and gear is one thing; what you can do with your everyday gear when the fur flies may be something entirely different. This drill is one I borrowed from top trainer Tom Givens and it’s designed to test your speed and accuracy with your carry pistol, shooting from concealment. You’ll need a playing or index card, five rounds of carry ammunition and a timer to run this drill, but I would recommend a box or two of ammunition and a deck of cards, as you’re going to try it more than once.

Setup is simple. Tape or staple a card to a target backer, step back 5 yards and, on the buzzer, draw and fire five rounds at the card in 5 seconds or less. I like this drill because it incorporates a lot of skills that have to be performed correctly if you are to be successful. First, we need to work on drawing the pistol from concealment. If you haven’t worked out how to get a hold on your gun from underneath your cover garment, you need to figure that out before anything else. Next, you must obtain a firing grip on the pistol before it starts to come out of the holster. If your holster won’t let you get a full firing grip, it needs to be replaced. (Do I need to mention keeping the trigger finger away from the trigger until the gun is on target?)


Whether target shooting or fighting, the shooting fundamentals apply and the same goes for completing this Skills Check. The sights need to be roughly aligned, and your focus must go from the card to the front sight. Press the trigger, as opposed to jerking it, and use a strong firing grip with both hands so the pistol moves around as little as possible as you stay on the front sight and fire your five shots. There’s plenty of time to look at the card and see how you’ve done after the firing is done.

A word or two of caution is in order. If your draw stroke isn’t regularly practiced and smooth, you need to get that worked out before trying this drill for speed. Folks sometimes have a tendency to slam the gun back into the holster after shooting speed drills—resist this urge. A good way to do so is to come down off target, take a couple of deep breaths, reload the pistol, then carefully and slowly holster with the trigger finger straight and off the trigger and the pistol de-cocked or with the safety on, depending upon pistol type.

Use this drill from time to time by shooting it cold to see how your level of training and preparedness is working. Remember, it’s not what you can do after getting warmed up and practiced that counts—but what you can do now, on demand.

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