Skills Check: The 3-Second Drill

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posted on July 12, 2016
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As I’ve mentioned before, it’s only stealing if you claim a drill as your own and fail to give attribution. In the firearms-training business, the good guys give credit and the bad guys steal drills, but we all use drills and training ideas that come from others. The 3-Second Drill is a good example. I heard of it from writer/trainer Rich Grassi, who saw a video of Safariland’s Scott Carnahan demonstrating the drill. If you were to ask Carnahan he would probably tell you he got the drill from someone else—and so on and so on.

To run the 3-Second Drill you will need your pistol, 21 rounds of ammunition and the target of your choice. A steel target will work fine if you maintain a safe distance, or you can use a paper target with a center scoring area to start the drill up close, say at 3 yards. Have a training partner time you or use the self-timer function of an electronic shot timer. Start by drawing and firing one shot within 3 seconds. Next, draw and fire two shots within 3 seconds, then three shots within 3 seconds, followed by four, then five and six shots, each within the same 3-second window of time.

This sounds pretty simple, but there are some things you should bear in mind. You need a smooth, quick drawstroke to pull this off. If your draw isn’t up to speed, don’t push it until you have done sufficient dry practice. If you aren’t comfortable running the drill from the holster, you can do it from a low-ready, muzzle-down, starting position. Thinking of each shot string as a separate drill will help you concentrate on getting your hits, and it goes without saying that a good grip, shooting stance, trigger press and proper use of the sights are necessary for success. If you’re working from the holster, separating the six stages of the drill will help prevent you from speed holstering—that is, slamming the gun back in the holster—a dangerous practice that must be avoided. Make it a point to always holster slowly, reluctantly and carefully.

You can mix this drill up by shooting it at different ranges. If you’re successful at 5 yards, for example, move back and try it again at 7 yards. You can shoot it with your training pistol, but should also run it with your carry gun shooting from concealment. Any time you change pistols or holsters you ought to run the 3-Second Drill again to assure yourself that all is well. Since the drill requires 21 rounds, you’re going to be reloading at some point, possibly several times, so incorporate a speed reload when necessary as part of the drill.

Like many shooting-related things in life, the 3-Second Drill sounds easy, but it may be a little harder than it seems. However, if you can accomplish it with your carry pistol and ammunition, you’re well on the way to mastering your defensive handgun.

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