Pistol 1: Fundamentals

This firing table concentrates on the fundamentals of target engagement with pistol. Mastery of table 1 sets the base line for all other skills. In this drill Shooters will work strict target practice. As a shooter/instructor firing this drill first will identify problems that you/your students may have without the complications of draw and movement.
Pay close attention to the fundamentals: (clicking the following links will open a new window for each as a reference while you read this page)

Sight Alignment
Sight Picture
Trigger Control
Follow Through
Stance & Breathing

Shooting Instructions

1. Once out on the firing line you will be instructed to load and press check.

2. Once you have loaded the weapon, de-cock or safe the pistol, come to position 3.

3. All engagements are single round engagements. For double to single action weapons, all engagements will be in double action mode

4. All shots will be fired on the command of “UP.”

5. On the command of “UP” go to position 4 get a good sight picture and fire. This is a single round engagement drill.

6. After you fire, keep the trigger pressed to the rear and regain your sight picture.

7. Once you have re-established your sight picture slowly let the trigger move forward and feel the trigger reset.

8. After you have felt the reset, scan left and right of your target.

9. After scanning, remove your finger from the trigger, safe or de-cock the pistol and return to position 3.

10. When you’ve returned to position 3 look down at the pistol and check that your weapon is still in operating order. (No stovepipes, malfunctions or that your slide is locked to the rear)

11. When you reach the end of the magazine immediately perform a magazine change and re-engage the target, second sight picture, trigger reset, scan, de-cock or safe then holster and retain the pistol.

12. You will be told when to buddy clear pistols after all shooters have finished the exercise.

Range Master’s Call:

Once the shooters are on the line and the line is “hot,” start calling the drill. Be sure to keep the pace slow. Give the shooters time to make good shots and follow the drill. Start the drill off by calling the steps. If you are shooting alone, you can also record the call of the drill and play it back on headphones while you are on the range.

UP (shooters fire when ready, but have them hold the position until you call the next step)

Repeat until the table is complete. You may decide that the full call is not necessary at some point in the drill and allow the shooters to perform the drill at their own pace as long as you control the rate of fire. Example:

UP (shooters fire, acquire second sight picture, reset trigger, scan, de-cock or safe and return to 3 on their own. Once the entire firing line is back to 3 continue the drill.)

Common Mistakes:

There are a number of problems shooters may exhibit during this firing table. Remember we are looking for a baseline of basic skills. There is no surefire diagnosis by reading a target to show what the shooter is doing wrong.

Hits on target may point toward a problem but the only sure way is to observe the shooter as they fire. Here is a list of common mistakes and their target evidence, remember problems can come in combinations. The following diagnosis is for a two handed grip.

1. Shots to the support side: too much support hand (either strength or grip

2. Shots consistently low:
   a. looking over the sights.
b. Looking for the hit: improper follow through.
c. Anticipation of recoil. Generally novice shooters

Shots consistently to the dominant side.
a. Too much trigger finger
b. cross eye dominance

Shots consistently to one side/high/low. Improper sight picture or sight alignment

Poor grouping.
a. Changing sight picture
b. Slapping or jerking the trigger
c. Milking or clutching the grip or support hand
d. Breathing
e. Loose Grip

Drills & Skills


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Don is a Retired Green Beret over at:

Rodney and Brian are Law Enforcement Officers over at:

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