This article, "Lucky Number Seven," appeared originally as a Skills Check column in the May 2017 issue of Shooting Illustrated. To subscribe to the magazine, visit the NRA membership page here and select Shooting Illustrated as your member magazine.
Max Michel is stretching out. As a competitive-shooting champion, he’s one of the best in the world, but his ability to combine a lightning-fast draw, a series of accurate shots and astonishingly fast reloads may be without peer. You can find videos of him doing what I’ll call a 6x6x6 drill; that is, shooting six fast shots on each of three targets, with reloads in between, in less than 6 seconds. I say he’s stretching out because I recently saw him shoot this drill with seven shots per target in less than 7 seconds. What’s next, eight in eight?
While most of us will never achieve the speed and skill necessary to equal Michel’s skill level, there’s no reason we can’t use him as an example and see what we can learn from him. The foundation of all shooting is the stance, and Michel points out it’s critical to his ability to move from target to target quickly. He uses a balanced stance that allows him to rotate his hips and drive his arms (and the gun) from target to target, without twisting his torso unduly or using his arms to muscle the gun from target to target. He moves his eyes ahead of the gun, as opposed to keeping his eyes on the sights and moving the gun and his head together, as this allows him to see the target—actually the spot on the target he is shooting at—and bring the gun into his line of sight. He uses what I call a modern isosceles stance and isometric push/pull on the pistol to keep it from moving around as he fires fast strings of shots.
Michel is quite fast out of the holster but suggests shooting this drill from a low-ready position before moving on to drawing the pistol. I concur. Be very careful here, as going too fast can be a bad thing. Once on target, staying on the sights, specifically the front sight or the dot if using a optical sight, is key to getting shots on target in a hurry—that and very rapid trigger manipulation. Next come reloads. Michel keeps the pistol on target, turning it slightly inboard to receive the reload and looks at the magazine as it starts to go into the pistol.
So here’s the drill. You will need three targets, either large steel plates or cardboard or paper silhouettes, a pistol, three magazines holding more than seven rounds each and a timer. At a distance of 7 yards, on the buzzer, fire seven rounds on the first target, reload, fire seven rounds on the next target, reload, and finish by firing seven rounds on the last target for 21 rounds in less than 7 seconds. Don’t feel bad if you can’t make the time—there are very few shooters who can. The idea is to enjoy a speed-shooting drill while working on perfecting all the steps necessary to shoot it quickly and efficiently. Remember: You’re only competing against yourself.