Skills Check: Countdown Drill

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posted on February 26, 2018
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As (SFPD) Inspector “Dirty Harry” Callahan reminded us, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Knowing our limitations is a critical skill for defensive shooters, and a couple of them have to do with time and distance. I view these two variables as being the same thing; when there’s little distance (from a threat) there is precious little time to act, but as the distance increases, there is more time. At Gunsite we advise maximizing distance from a threat by simply stating, “Distance is your friend.”

You can run this drill on an outdoor range by using a fixed target starting at 3 yards and working your way back to 25 yards. On an indoor range, you can set the target at 3 yards and send it farther downrange for each stage. I like to run this with my carry pistol and shoot it on an Option target, but you can shoot it with any pistol and target and start either in the holster or from a low-ready, muzzle-depressed position. There’s no time limit because the idea is to see how quickly you can make accurate shots—work as quickly and safely as you can. Here’s the drill:

If you have a shooting partner, try shooting this together as a contest. You stay in and keep shooting as long as you make all your hits—a miss means you’re out. The person who makes it back the farthest is the winner. Tied at 25 yards? Not a problem. Move back to 35 and, if necessary, 50 yards and fire single shots.

Want to make this more challenging? Try reducing the size of the target or timing yourself on each stage, then working on beating your times as you shoot it again. My mentor, Jeff Cooper, felt one of the most-difficult pistol shots is the single shot taken at 25 yards, from the holster, within 2.5 seconds. If you can consistently make this shot, you have earned my respect.

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