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Drills for Skills Evaluation vs. Drills for Training

Most of us practical shooters like to shoot big STAGES, so when we plan our practice session, we tend to set up a big stage and shoot it over and over again.  Do we learn a lot from this?  Probably not.  There are too many variables in a stage; a mistake or a "hero moment" would have to be glaring for us to be able to isolate it and blame it specifically for our poor (or great) performance.  A drill that works on a specific skill enables us to keep the focus on small things and work on specific tasks.

Let's look at an example of a Skill Evaluation type of drill:

I have long read about a drill called "The Triple Nickel" that the Air Marshals like to do.  The "Nickel" part comes from the fact that there are five targets, set up 18 inches apart at five yards, and the par time is five seconds.  You draw and fire two shots on each target with a reload sometime between the first and last target engagement.  All hits must be in the max scoring area.  (That area on the Air Marshal target is roughly the same size as the A and C Zones on a USPSA target.)  Beside the obvious reference to the three aforementioned specs, the "Triple" part also comes from the fact that it must be done successfully three times in a row to be considered successful.

I had never given this particular drill much thought, because I thought that it'd be pretty easy.  It's a very short distance.  We routinely shoot the El Presidente' drill about that fast, and that includes a turn-and-draw from a "facing uprange" start.  I was wrong.... 

My first few attempts ran in the 5.3 to 5.4 range, foiled by bad reloads.  I was simply TRYING to be fast instead of just letting it happen.  As soon as I cursed myself out for that and told myself to relax and just let it happen, it happened.  Time went down to the 4.6/4.7 second range and the hits stayed there.

As fun and challenging as this drill is, it is simply too big to use for training.  Whether piss-poor or great, the draw, reload, transitions, and trigger speed can all have a profound negative or positive impact on the results of the drill.  In this instance, it's too hard to isolate issues.  When building a training drill, I want to keep the scope of it more-defined.

Let's look at how to build a practice drill....

If I am having issues on Field Courses, for example, I need to analyze my overall performance to see if any issues seem to leap out at me.  Say that Mr. Local Hero manages to beat me by 4-5 seconds on every Field Course.  Am I shooting as fast as he is (double-tap and transition times-wise)?  Can he really out-run me that badly?  Or (more likely) are his departure and set-up times in each shooting position a lot quicker than mine?  If I were to isolate the "departure and set-up times" as my main issue, it'd make sense to practice that, right?  So, let's go out to the range, set up a massive field course with 8 different shooting positions and shoot the heck out of it for the afternoon.....  WRONG!!!

What would make more sense is to set up just two positions, maybe four or five yards apart, with only one target at each position.  I'd start with the gun out and indexed on the first target (eliminating the draw as a variable).  When the beep sounds, I will fire two shots on that target, scoot over to the second position and fire one or two there.  Since we're working on movement, that'll be the time that we need: the transition time between shots 2 and 3 would be the metric that I am trying to measure.  Assuming that I am not going to become a world-class sprinter overnight, any decrease in that time is going to come from becoming more-efficient.  I am evaluating exiting that first box and getting set-up in the new box.  That's it....

When shooting that type of drill, make sure that you have clearly-defined points on the range so that you can't cheat it.  If you just say, "Oh, I'm gonna shoot two shots from right here, take three steps that way and then fire two shots on that other target.", you'll find yourself taking little tiny baby steps in order to get those three steps over quickly.  (Don't worry, it's human nature!).  If you have a window to shoot through over here and another window to shoot through over there, you can't cheat the distance.  The time will be "real" from run to run.

That's just one example, but I hope it will help you in building drills to challenge yourself to improve.

Our Big Special This Week:

SCCY Industries CPX-2 in 9mm, in various color combinations.  A great sub-compact 9mm featuring two 10-round magazines, double-action only trigger, and a transferable lifetime warranty.  Now through Cyber Monday.  Our lowest price of the year at $229.95 each, plus tax.

Recurring Specials:

Lots of folks make big purchases this time of year.  One of larger "capital" items that shooters buy is a reloading press.

I have recently gotten hooked up with a wholesaler who sells presses.  My dealer pricing is so good on these presses that I can offer them to you for a ridiculous price.  It doesn't matter whether you like blue presses, both flavors of red presses, or even the green ones, I can get them for a great price for you.

I am not going to run afoul of "Minimum Advertised Price" restrictions, but I will say this:  I just purchased my second "big press" by my favorite manufacturer.  I saved over $200 doing it this way rather than buying from the manufacturer's website.  (Those who know me know which brand and model I prefer.)  $200 is a lot of bullets to feed this thing....

E-mail me and let me know what you're looking for.  I'd bet that I can save you some money!!

Speaking of presses, we have a Dillon 550B package on consignment.  Press, 9mm and 45 Conversions, dies for each, two Powder Measures, tumbler, media, 500 Large Primers, 500 Small Primers, 45 bullets, 9mm bullets, plus some brass.  $600

Gun Cleaning Special:  Get the full-house, world-renowned CCGW cleaning job on your match guns, carry pieces, and hunting guns.  Most every gun will be only $25 each; complicated guns slightly higher.  (Glocks, M&Ps, 1911s/2011s, and the like are simple.  Benelli M-4s, piston-driven ARs, etc. are NOT.)  Turn-around time is typically less than a week.

We are offering complete basic guns built on our Camp Creek Gunworks-branded Lower Receivers, in addition to the full-house competition guns that we've always offered.  We're calling these mil-spec guns the "Basic Defense" series.  They feature a 16-inch barrel with A2 flash hider, a flat-top upper receiver, free-float handguard, collapsible stock, mil-spec trigger, mil-spec pistol grip, and the Magpul MOE trigger guard.  Add a soft case and 30-round MagPul magazine.  Of course, like all CCGW products, they're backed by our "We'll make it right" warranty.  The price is only $749 plus tax. 

Our latest thing has been PDWs (Personal Defense Weapons).  These are built off of our CR-15 lowers and feature short barrels (length depends on caliber and your desired features).  A pistol-stabilizing brace is added for greater accuracy potential.  5.56mm and .300 Blackout guns get the Noveske KX-5 suppressor.  9mm's don't need it.  An upgrade to a folding stock model is available for $300 more.  Prices start at $1500 for a basic model and go up to $3750 for the top-of-the-line model with EOTech HoloSight, TLR-2G light/laser combo, backup sights, premium SB Tactical brace, upgraded trigger, and custom fit case.

We have a 6-inch 2011 in-stock in .40 S&W.  It is built light, so it swings well from target to target.  The extra sight radius makes mid- and long-range shots EASY.  Only $2700

CCGW PCC's suitable for USPSA or 3-Gun competition are available.  Got one ready-to-go now for $950!

Glock 22C:  These are Blue Label Glocks (3 mags & night sights).  Brand new in the box for $499 plus tax.

Used Glock 23C.  LNIB with night sights and three mags.  $425

Until next time, See you on the Range!!
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