Skills Check: Precision Hits at Multiple Distances

Do you have what it takes to get precision hits at different distances?

posted on February 4, 2022
Skills Check handgun

This challenging drill requires only a box of ammo, a handgun, a target and a shot timer, but the increasing distance and limited time per stage require a high level of skill and focus.

We use head shots for a couple of reasons in our classes at Gunsite. The tactical reason is the need to shut an attacker down, instantly, by delivering a well-placed shot to the central-nervous system. We also use head shots in training to practice delivering a precision shot. I particularly like using them after running speed drills to slow things down and put the precision back in.

The classic example of the head shot is the one fired by Jack Wilson when he took down a murderer in his church. I detailed this and named it the Jack Wilson Drill a couple of years ago, and I’ve been teaching it to church-security teams and practicing it ever since. We usually train for it at 15 yards, but if you want to be precise the exact distance the shot was made is 14 yards, 3 inches and it was delivered in 3 seconds from the time the murderer started shooting. 

So, the Jack Wilson Drill involves firing a single head shot at 14 yards in 3 seconds from the holster. The target is the head-scoring area of an Option target, or you can use a 3x5 index card as a substitute.

I practice this drill as well as teach it. After measuring the distance from where I sit in church to the podium and discovering it to be 23 yards, I faithfully practice 25-yard head shots from the holster, using my carry pistol and carry ammunition as well. And, as you know, if you have followed my writing, I have advocated for a skill level sufficient to make this shot, and body shots at 50 yards, for a long time.

Along those lines, while it may not be tactically sound, how about including multiple 15-yard head shots as a measure of speed and precision? Here’s the drill:

At 15 yards, fired at the head-scoring area of an Option target, from the holster: Fire five head shots in 5 seconds. I call it the 5x5x15 drill.

As it turns out, the 3-second time limit for the Jack Wilson drill allows plenty of time to make one shot. I know because we do it on timed, turning targets. The 5-second time limit for the 5x5x15 is a bit tougher, but still allows plenty of time. I rather imagine an ace like Rob Leatham can shoot it in less than 3 seconds, but for us mere mortals, 5 seconds is about right.

Here’s the Drill
Here’s how you can set this up as a walk-back drill consuming 20 rounds; all shots fired from the holster into the head-scoring area:

3 yards Five rounds in 5 seconds

7 yards Five rounds in 5 seconds

10 yards Five rounds in 5 seconds

15 yards Five rounds in 5 seconds

Total 20 rounds

As usual, you can work this from a low-ready, muzzle-depressed position rather than the holster, if necessary.

You must push yourself to get better, and this drill will certainly help you improve your speed and accuracy.


Sheriff Jim Wilson
Sheriff Jim Wilson

Empty Hands

The threat has been stopped. Now what?

First Look: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro 10 Round Version

A reduced capacity model suitable for areas with magazine capacity restrictions.

Rifle Roundup: Springfield Armory Saint with a Holosun 510c

A defensive rifle combo that's finished off with a SureFire Scout weapon-mounted light.

First Look: MTM CaseGARD Rifle Rest

A stable platform for when precision really matters.

Review: Rock Island 5.0 9mm Pistol

An accurate, easy to shoot full-sized pistol with an innovative action.

Gunsite Training Across the Nation

New classes starting soon in South Carolina and Indiana.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.