Tri-Lambda Drill

posted on April 20, 2011

"The winner gets to name the drill after himself," Leatham said. Lamb won, but balked at naming it. "I thought it was a little foolish," he told me. Leatham had always jokingly called Lamb, "Lambda, Lambda, Lambda," a reference to the fraternity in the movie "Revenge of the Nerds." The drill uses three sets of three targets, so Leatham jumped in and named it the "Tri-Lambda."

This is a good, close-range pistol speed drill that works on a lot of skills, including focus, sight picture, cadence, transition, precision and reloading speed.

The Tri-Lambda uses nine USPSA targets. Three are arranged side-by-side at 3 to 5 yards. On the left are three more targets at a 45-degree angle to the first trio and three more are on the right, also at a 45-degree angle to the center. One target in each of the two side banks will have a "hostage" covering all but a few inches of the center "A" zone or set up to force a head shot.

Scoring is simple. One-half second is added for each point dropped—shots out of the "A" zone of a USPSA target or center bullseye on any other target. A miss adds 20 seconds. If you shoot a hostage, it's 20 seconds, plus 20 more for the miss.

The goal is to get shooters away from the idea of a fast double-tap and into what Lamb likes to call a "controlled pair." While a lot of double-tap shooters see the sights for the first shot and hope and pray for a hit with the second, the concept of a controlled pair involves the shooter seeing a clear sight picture for both shots. When this is executed correctly, it will sound like six continuous shots. In other words, the transitions between targets will take about the same amount of time as the splits between shots.

Lamb likes to use the term "drive the gun," which means pushing the gun to the target. But, it also means you are in control—in the driver's seat—and that you should always have your pistol doing what you want it to do. You drive it from target to target on a prescribed path and at a prescribed speed. You are driving the gun, but you must also focus on small areas of all the targets. So, while going fast is desirable, it's only a good thing when you have total control.

At the buzzer, the shooter will draw his pistol and fire two shots at each center target, then reload and shoot two shots at the right or left targets as they prefer. Last, reload and fire two shots each at the remaining targets.Most first timers complete the drill in about 15 seconds. With practice, times usually drop to 10 seconds. The best do it in less than eight seconds. Remember, that's after penalties are added, so you must shoot it clean and fast.

To view a video of Lamb shooting the Tri-Lambda in 7.69 seconds, go to


E 17
E 17

Handgun Grip Vs. Hold: What's the Difference?

Grip and hold on the firearm are often viewed by handgun shooters as one and the same. However, seasoned defensive and competitive shooters break down handgun shooting stability into two distinctly but equally essential subcomponents: grip versus hold.

First Look: FN America FN 303 Tactical Less Lethal Launcher

New from FN America is the FN 303 Tactical Less Lethal Launcher with a modular chassis system that allows operators and armorers to quickly customize the buttstock, grip or sighting system.

First Look: Diamondback Sidekick Rimfire Revolver

Diamondback Firearms is introducing the Diamondback Sidekick, a 9-shot, single- and double-action rimfire revolver that has an interchangeable swing-out cylinder.

Wilson Combat Unveils Their Latest Expansion

Wilson Combat recently underwent a $10 million upgrade to its facilities, which will help the company keep pace with ever-growing demand. 

Mossberg 500 and 590: America’s Defensive Shotguns

Since 1961, the O.F. (Oscar Frederick) Mossberg company has sold more than 11 million of its Model 500 pump-action shotguns, making it the most popular shotgun of all time, if not one of the most sold guns in any category, period.

Customizing the Colt Detective Special

Got a gun with that has seen better days? Perhaps Grandpa’s favorite gun was obviously “well loved?” Talented gunsmiths and other artisans are out there who can give your favorite firearm a much-needed face-lift.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.