Make the first shot count

This is an article I wrote for beginning shooters on the National Shooting Sports Foundation First Shots blog. That doesn’t mean experienced shooters can’t benefit from it, as well.

The shot that is missed most often in pistol shooting is the very first shot of a string of fire. One of the best ways to correct this is to make first shots the majority of your practice.

For this drill, take any large target at your range and turn it over. Make six dots about 3 inches in diameter on it, spaced roughly evenly apart. If your range carries the bright orange Tar-dots, those are ideal but a magic marker works fine, too. You will also need a magic marker for later in the drill. This drill consists of 48 rounds total. Many people will find that 5 yards is a good place to start. It’s deceptively challenging.

NSSF dots annotated

  • Starting with pistol aimed at the bottom of target, fire 1 shot on upper left dot. Return to the bottom of target. Decock, if your pistol has a decocker. Repeat five more times for a total of six shots. Starting position for each shot is aimed at the base of the target and you will fire only one shot each time.
  • Starting with pistol at a compressed ready, fire 1 shot on upper right dot. Return to compressed ready each time. Decock after every shot, if your pistol has a decocker. Repeat five more times for a total of six shots. Starting position for each shot is compressed ready.
  • Starting with pistol aimed at bottom of target, fire 1 shot on middle left dot, then one shot on middle right dot. Return to bottom of target. Decock, if your pistol has a decocker. Repeat twice more for a total of three shots on each dot. Starting position for each string is aimed at the base of the target.
  • Starting with pistol aimed at bottom of target, fire 1 shot on middle right dot, then one shot on middle left dot. You are moving in the opposite direction from String 3. Return to bottom of target. Decock, if your pistol has a decocker. Repeat twice more for a total of three shots on each dot. Start position each time is aimed at the base of the target.
  • Starting with pistol at compressed ready, fire 1 shot on bottom left dot, then one shot on bottom right dot. Return to compressed ready. Decock, if your pistol has a decocker. Repeat twice more for a total of three shots on each dot. Starting position for each string is compressed ready.
  • Starting with pistol at compressed ready, fire 1 shot on bottom right dot, then one shot on bottom left dot. You are moving in the opposite direction from String 5. Return to compressed ready. Decock, if your pistol has a decocker. Repeat twice more for a total of three shots on each dot. Starting position for each string is compressed ready.
  • Mark all the hits on your target with a magic marker.
  • On the dot where you had the least hits, i.e., your group was the largest/worst, fire six individual aimed shots, resting between each shot.
  • On the next worst dot, fire a six shot slow fire group as one string of fire. That concludes the drill.

You will find that your marksmanship improves much faster when you concentrate on your first shot and you can tell where each shot goes.

Here is a PDF of the drill you can take to the range on your SmartPhone.

First Shots drill for phone

6 responses

  1. Reblogged this on Growing Up Guns and commented:
    I’ll be doing this drill next week after a 5 month hiatus from shooting.

  2. Eager to see some improvement in my own practice with these helpful tips. Very easy directions to follow and simple enough to implement. Hopefully I won’t have any problems!

  3. Reblogged this on disturbeddeputy and commented:
    Conservation of ammunition through accuracy. Make EVERY shot count

  4. This is an excellent drill, Claude, and, as you point out, far more difficult than it seems. I ran it with the +P+ load I carry, and then again with the ball ammo I generally practice with. Got some excellent insights and useful cognitive/kinesthetic feedback from the process. Thanks! cheers, m

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: