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1 Reload 1 Drill

A lot of gun people I observe are 50-100 round range shooters; firing hundreds of rounds is expensive, and maximizing range time is key. When I was learning to run a gun, I practiced 5-7 different skills with 400-600 rounds per visit to the range. Perhaps I felt I needed to catch-up. Regardless, times have changed. Ammo is precious.

What you don’t want to do as a novice shooter is fill your mag, present, and then fire, fire, fire. For a novice shooter, this is just throwing ammo down the drain. You are ready to work on 2nd+ shots only when you have overcome the 1st shot accuracy challenge. By this I mean if your first shot is not at least 3-4” away from bullseye, every time, without taking more than a second to fire, you need to work on your draw, aim, and 1st shot fire routine.


We have discussed before the importance of 2nd shot accuracy. But let’s step back to the 1st shot. In a defensive situation, your first shot deals the blow, the 2nd and so on finishes the job. If you can’t hit a target accurately on first shot, are you ready to face the response of a well prepared attacker before you get the second one off? Doubt it.

To be honest, your first shot should be your worst, but that doesn’t mean it should be abysmal. You still need to hit the target in a critical way. So before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to establish accuracy with the first shot. We need to ensure we have engaged the target accurately before we can even start to send additional rounds.

When I train a new shooter, the first thing they learn is sighting. Granted, blowing through a few dozen mags is a requirement, but at some point you have got to stop all that and start to work on 1st shot accuracy from draw. Once you know how to sight a target, it is critical you pause the training and concentrate on the most important skill of all. Otherwise we get into a cycle of dumping mags, feeling pretty confident, and then when the time comes, and the adrenalin kicks-in, first shot looks like 2nd, 3rd and so on. They all suck.


I practice this drill with every new holster draw student. It is literally Holster 101 that cements 1st shot accuracy and incorporates a ton of skills into a simple rep.

First, standing 5 yards from target, load a mag with a single round. Chamber the round, holster, draw, and fire. At slide lock, reload with a full mag and fire your recovery shot quickly. Shot 1 and 2 should be fairly accurate, like 4-6” from bullseye. Now, carefully pickup you empty mag from the ground, finger off the trigger, load the empty mag into your gun and holster the full mag for another rep. You should already have a live round in the chamber.

Start slow. Get the movements down. This should all happen within 4 seconds if you are proficient. I am a consistent 3 second and under time. No ninja skills are necessary here, but you need to be accurate. If you can, once you feel like you have this drill down, have someone video you or use a shot timer. Do not settle until you are at 4 seconds or under.

What you are learning here is a multitude of skills in a single rep. First, you are practicing your draw and first shot; the two most critical parts of self-defense. If you can’t do this accurately, everything else is a waste of time.

Next you are practicing reload and recovery shooting. Also both fundamental parts of your practice. This drill will challenge you in a lot of ways, but also keep you grounded in your current skill level. You will know you need practice when you see shots fly. Accuracy and speed are the key.

When you can perform this drill around 4 seconds, and your accuracy is good, start to speed-up. You will notice your accuracy diminish. It’s OK, keep pushing. In just 100 rounds you will have performed this drill 50 times. That’s plenty. Try it again next time you hit the range. Continue speeding up until you are both accurate and consistent. Timing under 4 seconds is really irrelevant if accuracy does not suffer. The more you practice it, the faster you will become.

When you feel like a ninja, move the target back to 10 yards and embrace the suck. You don’t need to be shooting at 25 yard targets with is drill, 5-10 will make you proficient. Then, and only then you can start to work on multi-shot accuracy. Anybody can roll through a mag, but few can perform this drill efficiently and demonstrate they have earned the right to move to the next level.


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