Skills Check: Snap-Shooting Rifle Drill

posted on June 4, 2018

At Gunsite Academy, we call bringing the rifle to the shoulder and firing a “snap.” It goes without saying there’s an emphasis on speed. We expect shots within 15 yards to be fired in 1.5 seconds, and shots out to 50 yards are fired in 2 seconds. Why all this emphasis on speed and close-range shooting with a rifle? Well, whether hunting or using the rifle defensively, there are times when it might be necessary to shoot at close, even very close, ranges and to do so quickly. Sometimes dangerous critters, either four legged or two, have to be dealt with. (Have you ever heard a story about someone charged by a bear or buffalo and had it fall at their feet?)

I’ve mentioned offset before, but a quick review might be in order. Let’s assume you’re shooting a .308-caliber bolt-action rifle with a riflescope mounted 1.5 inches above the bore. With a 200-yard zero, you’re going to be about 1 inch high at 50 yards and about 1.5 inches low from the muzzle out to about 25 yards. You need to keep this in mind when shooting short-range “snaps” or defending yourself from a dangerous critter who isn’t going to give you any time to figure it out and has to be stopped now.

I borrowed this snap drill from Gunsite Rangemaster Bill Halvorsen. He likes to use it daily when teaching a rifle class because it combines several necessary skills like mounting the rifle, understanding where to aim and operating the bolt from the shoulder. It involves only 30 rounds and to shoot it you will need an option or silhouette target. You can run it from close to far or far to close from a high- or low-ready position.

Here’s how it goes:

50 yards: One shot to the center of mass (COM) in 2 seconds. Repeat five times.

35 yards: One shot to the COM in 2 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

25 yards: One shot to the COM in 2 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

15 yards: One head shot in 1.5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

10 yards: One head shot in 1.5 seconds, Repeat 5 times.

5 yards: One head shot in 1.5 seconds, repeat 5 times.

I like this drill because it incorporates both marksmanship and gun-handling skills like mounting the rifle, shooting quickly, working the bolt from the shoulder and reloading the rifle. Give it a try and see if you like Halvorsen’s “Snaps” Drill.


man with pump shotgun
man with pump shotgun

Mossberg Maverick 88: The Affordable Self-Defense Shotgun

The Maverick 88 is a no-frills cousin of Mossberg’s legendary Model 500 pump-action shotgun, and although the two guns are aesthetically and mechanically similar they are not identical guns.

5 Great Concealed Carry Gear Items for the Fall

As the seasons change, so must your carry wardrobe. Here are products to keep you comfortable as the leaves begin to fall.

Review: Elite Survival Systems HIP Gunner Concealed Carry Fanny Pack

Off-body carry is attractive: you just stick your gun in a bag and tote it along with you. Here's one carry option that makes the best of both worlds. 

First Look: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus 3.1-Inch Optics Ready

Now Smith & Wesson Inc. is expanding its line of M&P Shield Plus pistols to include a new optics-ready variant, the M&P9 Shield Plus 3.1-inch OR.

First Look: Zeiss LRP S5 FFP Riflescope

Zeiss recently announced the launch of the new LRP S5 series of first-focal-plane riflescopes.

Review: Zev Technologies Core Duty Rifle

Zev Technologies has steadily increased its footprint in the firearm industry. Best known for placing its unique design spins on components for the most popular Glock and SIG Sauer pistols, this Centralia, WA-based company is also in the AR market.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.