Improve Your Shooting: The 50-Round Skill Sustainment Course of Fire

by Tommy Grant

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In case you didn’t already know it, if you don’t continue to shoot over time, you will slowly lose your shooting skills. Ammunition is more reasonable that it was a couple of years ago, but you still want to make the most of your training dome and dollars. How do you maintain your skill set without burning through a lot of ammunition? Simple: take your time and make every shot a count.

Dry fire practice at home is a great way to keep your skills sharp. If you add a Mantis X training system, that’s even better. Travis Pike gave the Mantis five stars and Jeremy gave it four. Yes, it runs over $200 or about the price of 250 rounds of 9mm ammo. I haven’t formally reviewed my own personally-owned unit, in part because I haven’t used it as much as I’d like yet. At the same time I’ve used it enough that I strongly recommend it for new and experienced shooters alike.

Even at that, though, no matter how much dry fire and Mantis X practice you complete, everyone needs real, live-fire handgun practice.

Here’s a suggested fifty-round course of fire to maintain keep the skill sets you’ve acquired through past training and practice sharp. You should use something small, like a 3×5 index card or a 3″ circle at three to five yards.

Remember, aim small miss small. If you keep all fifty rounds on the target, move back to ten or fifteen yards and repeat (if you have enough gun food).

5 Rounds: Slow fire marksmanship

Concentrate on your crush grip, sight picture and alignment and a smooth trigger squeeze/press. Your goal: a ragged, one-hole group.  Want to add another aspect to this one? Load a single round in your magazine (or revolver) and practice reloads between shots. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

5 Rounds: Presentations from position two and three

Do this while dry-firing with an empty gun five times each from position two and again from position three, initially at about half-speed speed, watching for wasted movement. Eliminate any wasted motion which eats up precious time.

Repeat with a loaded gun: one shot each time, alternating between starting at position two (held at your hip) and position three (high compressed ready). Shot speed is dictated by your ability to put all shots into your target – it’s a balance of speed and accuracy. Again, load a single round into the magazine (or cylinder) to force yourself to execute (flawless) reloads.

5 Rounds: The Draw

Do this dry-fire at home, practicing a smooth draw after clearing your cover garment. Remember: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. And don’t put any body parts in front of that muzzle.

At the range, draw and fire one round, hitting a 3″ to 5″ target at 3 to 5 yards as quickly as you are able to make good hits safely. If you’re on a public range that won’t allow draws, practice more presentations from positions two and three.

10 Rounds: Strong hand / Support hand only

Shoot five rounds, slow-fire, strong hand only using good form. Repeat with your support hand only.  Concentrate on fundamentals and keep all shots in your circle or on index card.

5 Rounds: Rhythm drill

A rhythm drill is where you learn to shoot faster while keeping your rounds on target. Same target.  Start with five rounds loaded in your gun. Shoot one round, then a second shot one-second later, then a third a half-second later, then a fourth shot a quarter-second later then the fifth shot as quickly as you can get it off and stay on the target. Can’t shoot “rapid fire” at your range? Shoot five controlled pairs or repeat the previous strong hand/support hand drill.

10 Rounds: Reloads

Chambered round with an empty magazine in the gun. Draw and fire one shot, reload and fire a second shot as quickly as you can keep your shot on target. For revolvers, load and fire one shot and practice reloading.

5 Rounds: Malfunctions / Ball and Dummy

Load a “funny” mag with five live rounds and one or two spent rounds (first round into the magazine should be live). Start with an unloaded chamber and loaded “funny” mag. Revolver shooters, use the Ball and Dummy Drill loading 2-3 live rounds at random and spent shells in the remaining chambers.  Then practice your trigger control to fire all live rounds through same hole.

Final 5 Rounds

Circle back (pun intended) to the beginning and finish with what you started with, concentrating on marksmanship and focus. Shoot a perfect, precise five-shot string.

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