Eight good rifle drills - borrowed from the Michigan Militia

Written by Lee Miracle

Some suggestions:

a. Safety - safety - safety!

b. Where the author uses bowling pins, consider substituting water filled milk jugs.

Tactical Weapon Drills 1-8

Quick Fire Drill #1

Range: 25 Yards
Weapon: Rifle
Shots: 3 (repeated)
Time: Not timed, but rapid
Target: Paper, silhouette or other
Score: Self-evaluation
Purpose: Allows shooter to evaluate and develop close-range, rapid engagement skills

Shooters begin with rifle carried at the ready. This may closely resemble port arms . At the Range Officer's signal (usually a whistle), shooters will raise their rifles to obtain a quick sight picture, and fire a single shot. Shooters then returns his rifle to the ready position. This is repeated two more times, for a total of three shots. The Range Officer should vary the time between signals, to keep the shooters off-balance. The Range Officer should not be visible to the shooters. Range Officer or assistants may keep track of time, to admonish shooters who take too long to sight in. The purpose of the drill is to engage quickly. While no specific time is prescribed, the skill of rapid engagement is better developed with quicker timed shots. Shooters and Range Officers will check targets after each three-round session. This will help determine where the rapid shots are hitting, so shooters can make adjustments, and develop an awareness of where their first rounds will impact in a rapid engagement. Targets should then be taped where the shots impacted. This drill should be repeated several times. It is a simple and effective close-range rifle drill.

Quick Fire Drill #2 Multiple Target

Range: 25 Yards
Weapon: Rifle
Shots: Unlimited
Time: Time is kept, penalty added for "unkilled" targets
Targets: 5 Paper Silhouettes, with scoring rings
Score: Primarily Self-evaluation, may be scored by time
Purpose: Allows shooter to develop and maintain the ability to rapidly engage multiple targets quickly and effectively. May be used as competitive drill, as well.

Shooter, at signal, engages seven targets as quickly as possible, traversing from either left to right or vice-versa. Shooter decides when a target has been killed, and moves to the second target, and so on, until shooter believes all targets to have been "killed" A target is considered "killed" when it has sustained two or more hits scored "7" or higher. The event may be timed, with time and shooting starting at a signal from Range Officer. Time will stop on signal from shooter. Range officer or other scorekeeper must accompany shooter downrange to check targets. Penalty time will be added as follows: Five seconds for the first target that has merely been "wounded" (has not sustained two shots scored "7"), 7 seconds for each subsequently "wounded" target, and 15 seconds for each target that has not been hit at all. This drill will force the shooter to develop ability to not only engage targets quickly, but to be confident in that ability. Shooter must tape all holes in the targets for the next shooter. Only one shooter can be allowed to do this drill at a time, so other shooters must be allowed to try it before the first shooter goes a second time.

Training idea: Perform any of these drills while wearing a gas mask. It is not a bad idea to get some feel for how well or how poorly one will shoot in a chemical environment.

Quick Fire/Reload Drill #3

Range: 25 Yards (May be increased up to 100 yards)
Weapon: Rifle
Shots: Begin with 2, then unlimited
Time: Yes
Target: 7 Bowling Pins
Score: Fastest Time
Purpose: Self-evaluation, reloading drill

Shooter begins standing at the ready, with only two rounds loaded in his/her rifle. Upon a signal from Range Officer, shooter moves to covered position nearby, and then engages the bowling pins. As the rifle begins with only two rounds, shooter is forced to reload his/her weapon from behind cover, and then continue to engage the remaining bowling pins. Timekeeper begins time at signal, and ends time when the final pin falls. Shooter will then clear his/her rifle, and go downrange to reset the bowling pins. Range Officer will insure that the shooter’s rifle is cleared. This drill will reinforce the need to practice reloading skills under combat conditions. Far too often, we start and end our drills without ever having to change magazines. This will develop and promote the skill of rapid reloading. This drill may be backed up to 100 yards if the shooters’ skill necessitates a greater distance. For competitive purposes, drill may be repeated at 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards, with the overall fastest time being declared the winner. Drill may also be done using pistols at 7 and 15 yards. Range Officers and shooters must always be sure that each session is started with only two rounds in the weapon, whether it be pistol or rifle. Drill may be repeated as often as time allows, as long as each participant has had a chance to shoot a session. Range Officer should monitor how well shooter remains behind cover while reloading. Targets do not shoot back, but bad guys do….

Training Idea: Try this drill from within a foxhole. We dig them, and we should learn how to shoot from them.

Drop and Shoot Drill #4

Range: No Less Than 25 Yards, may be increased
Weapon: Rifle
Shots: Unlimited
Time: Timed, but primarily self-evaluation
Target: 5 Bowling pins (may be varied)
Score: Optional: Fastest time to knock down all pins
Purpose: To develop the skill of rapidly assuming a prone position and engaging multiple targets.

Shooter begins at 100 yards, walking toward targets. Between 100 and 25 yards, Range Officer will give signal (usually a whistle), at which point shooter will assume a prone position and engage 5 bowling pins. Shooter must safely drop into a prone position. If, because of his/her position, shooter is not able to see and/or engage all of the pins, then shooter must move to a better position. This should be done by either low crawl, high crawl, or combat roll. Range Officer should vary the distance at which the signal is given, to keep shooter alert. A variant of this drill is to intermingle bowling pins of various colors, and not informing the shooter which color he is to engage until the signal is given. This could be accomplished by multiple whistle blows: i.e., one whistle means shoot the green pins, two whistles means shoot the blue pins, etc. Every effort must be made to maintain a safe environment. Shooter must not place his/her finger on the trigger until he/she is down in the prone and ready to shoot. At the conclusion, shooter must clear weapon and reset the bowling pins. This may be combined in some form with the reloading drill.

Variation: Shooter may close from 100 yards, and engage ONLY ONE target per signal. This means that the shooter will have to get up and down into the prone position many times. Range Officer must vary time and range at which signal is given, to keep shooter alert.

Training Idea: Have your shooters make shots from around corner positions, preferably using both right and left handed engagement techniques.

Transition Drill #5

Range: 25 Yards or closer
Weapon: Rifle, transitioning to pistol
Shots: 2 in rifle, unlimited in pistol
Time: Yes
Target: 6 Bowling Pins
Score: Fastest Time
Purpose: Primarily self-evaluation, stressing the ability to transition to a secondary weapon after engaging with rifle.

Shooter begins with two rounds in rifle, held at the ready. On a signal from Range Officer, shooter moves to cover, engages the pins with the two rounds in his/her rifle, and then draws handgun and engages remaining pins until they have all been dropped. Shooters without a tactical sling may ground their rifles, keeping them pointed downrange, once they are empty. Shooters may also wish to hold their rifle in their non-firing hand while engaging target with their handgun. Stress may be enhanced by allowing the shooter only two rounds in his secondary weapon, which will require either a reload, or a further transition to a third weapon. Stress may be enhanced further by intermingling different colored bowling pins as “friendly” pins which will cost time/points if they are shot. A tactical sling is highly recommended for this drill, otherwise, you may be forced to shoot with one hand while holding your rifle in the other, or even allow your rifle to drop to the ground. Get the tactical sling, OK? The idea is to introduce stressful transition fire as a practical drill.

Training Idea: Conduct one or more of these drills using the shooters normal non-firing hand. Right-handed shooters should shoot left-handed sometimes, and vice-versa. This can be done with either rifle or pistol. Some shooters may need additional coaching to do this. You never know when you will need to shoot with your other hand.

Hip Shoot/ Point Shoot Drill #6

Range: 25 Yards
Weapon: Rifle
Shots: 2 Per Target
Time: Rapid, Time not actually kept
Target: Paper Silhouettes, 3 Per Shooter
Score: Self-evaluation only
Purpose: Shooter will determine his/her ability to rapidly engage targets from the hip. This will be ugly.

Shooter carries rifle at the low ready, at or near waist level. Upon signal from Range Officer, shooter will engage a target, from the hip, as rapidly as possible, firing two shots at one target. Shooter will then return to the low ready position, and wait for the second signal. Shooter will shoot a total of two shots per target, from the hip, at 25 yards. Shooter will then clear his or her weapon, and go downrange with Range Officer to evaluate his/her hits (or lack thereof). This may prove to be an effort in futility. Shooting quickly from the hip will rarely produce effective shot placement. This exercise will also demonstrate that to shoot from the hip effectively, you will require a great deal of range time, time that could be spent developing more practical weapon skills. However, we strongly suggest that everyone attempt this drill at least once. You may further impress the futility of hip-shooting upon your shooters by allowing more than the listed two rounds per target. You may also achieve this by allowing more time to shoot from the hip. In most cases, you will find that the extra fraction of a second that it takes to raise the rifle and sight it in, even roughly, will yield much more favorable shot placement.

Variation: Point shooting is much more effective with a shotgun. This drill can be done using a shotgun to demonstrate this fact.

Pistol pin Shoot Drill #7

Range 25 Feet (feet, not yards)
Weapon: Pistol
Shots: No Limit
Time: Absolutely
Target: 5 Bowling Pins on Level Table
Score: Fastest to Knock All Five Pins Completely Off Of The Target Table Wins
Purpose: Fun, Shooter Learns to Rapidly Engage Multiple Targets, Excellent Competition Drill

This is a commonly used competition drill. Shooters begin with pistols loaded and ready. Pistol must be touching the ready table at start (ready table is set up 25 feet from the target table). At signal, shooter lifts pistol and engages pins. Time starts when signal is given, and time stops when the last pin falls off of the target table. Shooter may reload his/her weapon as often as needed. Additional weapons may be kept on the ready table for use as well, should the primary weapon run completely out of ammunition. A stop watch with hundredths of a second capability is needed to effectively time this event.

Training Idea: Some of your shooters may wear glasses or contacts. It is possible that they may not always have their corrective lenses available. So, if it can be safely done, have some of your shooters shoot without their glasses or contacts for some of these drills.

Training Idea: Dark glasses may be used to simulate low light conditions for a shooter, while still enabling the Range Officer to see the target and shooter. If this can be accomplished safely, have your shooter wear dark glasses to engage some of the targets.

Four-Pin Tactical Run And Shoot Drill #8

Range: 100 Yards, Closing to 25 Yards
Weapon: Battle Rifle
Shots: Unlimited
Time: Yes
Target: Four Bowling Pins From Four Different Ranges and Positions
Score: Fastest Overall Time Wins
Purpose: An exciting tactical shoot, this drill simulates closing with and engaging four targets from varied ranges and positions. This is one of the most effective drills that we participate in. This drill was initially developed to enable a comparison between the effectiveness of "spray and pray" versus carefully aimed, well-placed shots. Note: Shooter must wear minimum Level One gear (weapon, ammo, canteen, web gear, first-aid kit, and cleaning kit). Shooter begins at 100 yards from a standing position. This may be supported or unsupported, depending on shooter's discretion. Shooter engages first bowling pin. Time starts with first shot. Upon successfully knocking down the 100 yard pin, shooter then engages the safety on his weapon, REMOVES HIS FINGER FROM THE TRIGGER, and runs to the second position, which is kneeling behind cover, at a distance of 75 yards. Shooter may use cover to support his rifle. Upon successfully engaging the second pin, shooter then quickly and SAFELY moves to the third position, which is the prone unsupported position at 50 yards. Shooter may use a bipod for support, if he/she began the shoot with a bipod on the rifle. Shooter must use caution when getting down into or up from the prone position, to make sure that weapons are always pointed in a safe direction. Never have your finger on the trigger while running. Upon successfully engaging the third pin, shooter then quickly and SAFELY moves to the fourth and final position, which is standing unsupported at 25 yards. Never have your finger on the trigger while running. After knocking down all the pins, shooter will clear his/her rifle, and go downrange to reset the pins. Shooter will keep his/her weapon pointed in a safe direction as he/she returns from the range. Range Officer will inspect said weapon to ensure that it is empty, clear, and on "safe". Be safe, have fun, and happy shooting.


Diogenes said...

Sadly all of the ranges in my area are so Politically correct, even suggesting something of this nature would have me labeled negatively and ousted from the range permanently. I can only get training like this in when I escape to my dads land which isn't often enough.

One suggestion I would make for those in my shoes. Its not the same but it does help teach point shooting to a good degree. AirSoft guns. You can set up a two or three stage course in your basement or backyard. It doesn't drill you on the reloading aspects or the stresses of noise or the nature of your battle rifle. It can bring home some basics though. I grabbed the idea from the National Pistol Champion this year. He lives in Japan and can't shoot live pistols. He practiced the drills using airsoft then came to the U.S. for a week to practice with the real guns to adapt his skills to the addition of noise and smoke. Since he made champion, I would say it worked. A completely different level of event to what we are preparing for but to not practice at all is the worst sin.

theotherryan said...

Good drills, For Close quarters stuff be sure to throw in walking backwards as well as forwards and particularly at angles, ditto for turning around and shooting.

One thing to watch. It is very tempting to want to progress to tacti cool and fun drills and such before you actually should. Increases in difficulty level (range, time, stress, less stable positions, etc) should be incremental and made after consistent satisfactory performance at the current stage.

Backing off to 30 meters when you are not doing well at 20 doesn't make any sense. If you can't reliably hit a target at 15 meters with a pistol you won't be able to hit one at 15 meters with a pistol while doing a front roll.

To go with my last thought I would sort of separate drills/ practical stuff and fun. Taking a few pistol shots at the big rock on the top of the hill 100 meters away can be fun but unless you are rock solid out past 80 it should not be the core of your training.

Matt said...

Love this. My back yard provides me up to 50yd shots, and I'm surrounded by fields, so some of these are sure to get some implementation. I will be printing these off and sending some traffic your way.

GunRights4US said...

I'm looking forward to a range trip with a crapload of gallon water jugs as targets. THAT should be pretty awesome to behold using a .308!!!