Shooting fast is a relative term, since everyone's "fast" is different. Shooting fast is not simply a measure of how fast you can pull the trigger. It is the speed that you can pull it, while maintaining a desired level of accuracy.
A great drill to learn to shoot faster is the Bill Drill. This simple drill involves drawing from a holster and firing six consecutive shots at a single target. If you are not well versed in working out of a holster, or if you are shooting a long gun, start at the low ready position. You will need a minimum of one target, a shot timer and plenty of ammo.
Shooting fast is a relative term, since everyone's "fast" is different. And shooting fast is not simply a measure of how fast you can pull the trigger. It is the speed that you can pull the trigger, while maintaining a desired level of accuracy. The desired level of accuracy is determined by the target. For this article, let's say we're shooting a USPSA metric target, so our desired level of accuracy is an A zone hits.
Here are the basics of the Bill Drill as it relates to increasing shooting speed. First, establish your Bill Drill comfort zone. Your comfort zone is the speed at which you can perform the drill while keeping all six rounds in the A zone. Make a note of the overall time, the time of the first shot, and most importantly, the shot splits (the time between each shot). When you are shooting in your comfort zone your shot splits should be very consistent and you should be able to "read" your sights with a high degree of confidence. Shoot the drill multiple times to establish your comfort zone. If you are not able to consistently place the six rounds in the A zone at seven yards, forget about shooting fast and concentrate on improving your accuracy.
Shooting within your comfort zone is a great way to reinforce and maintain your current skills, but it does not improve the level of your skills, and definitely will not make you a faster shooter. To learn to shoot faster, you must shoot faster! You must push beyond your comfort zone. When you start shooting at a pace beyond your comfort zone you will lose some control, and your accuracy will suffer, but this lose of accuracy is necessary to the Bill Drill learning experience. Increase your speed until your are regularly missing the A zone a couple of times during the drill. Practice at this pace, with the goal of making slight modifications to your shooting techniques, until you find a combination of trigger control, sight alignment, stance and grip, that once again results in six consistent A zone hit. When this happens, you now have a new, faster paced comfort zone for your Bill Drill. With every subsequent practice session, keep increasing the pace of your shot splits, always working to find a way to maintain better control recoil, or a better technique for interacting with the trigger, or a better vision technique for "reading" the front sight. Here are some tips that may help you shoot faster and still maintain the required level of accuracy...
· Start with a .22LR firearm. When shooting a seven yard Bill Drill with a .22LR caliber gun the front sight or red dot should never leave the A zone of a USPSA metric target. If it does, you need a more aggressive stance and/or a better grip technique. A .22 LR firearm with very little recoil allows you to concentrate on the most important aspect of shooting fast, which is trigger control. When you have mastered the Bill Drill with a .22 caliber, move on to a center fire firearm.
· How does your finger interact with the trigger? Are you slapping the trigger or pressing the trigger? No need to hit that 3 pound trigger with six pounds of force. When you hit the trigger with more force than necessary you tend to push shots left and low (or right and low if you're a lefty).
· Does your finger loose contact with the trigger between shots, or stay in constant contact with the trigger? Your accuracy will improve drastically, especially with striker fired guns that have lots of pre-travel, if you only release enough for the trigger to reset. Plus, less finger movement equals faster split times.
· Be conscious of where your finger contacts the trigger. The placement of your finger on the trigger should allow the trigger to be pulled straight back to the rear.
· How does your sight track? During recoil, does your sight rise and fall in a predictable pattern? If the recoil pattern is erratic, your grip and/or stance needs work. It is very important that you are gripping very forcefully with your weak hand.
· Are you waiting until the sight settles back in the A zone to prep the trigger? If yes, don't! Prep the trigger during the recoil cycle. If your grip and stance are good, the sight will "recover" after each shot. This means that the sight should return to roughly the same spot on the target with very little conscious effort on your part. If you prep the trigger during recoil, you will be able to fire the shot the instant that the sight recovers..
· Are you getting a perfect sight picture for each shot? At seven yards, you don't need a perfect sight picture! In fact, you can have a pretty sloppy sight picture at short distances and still hit the A zone. Obviously, as the shooting distance increases, or the target size decreases, a more refined sight picture is necessary. This does not mean you should "point shoot". In order to learn to read your shots, you need to focus on the front sight for every shot.
You can waste a tremendous amount of ammunition, or you can learn a tremendous amount about shooting, from practicing Bill Drills. I hope these tips will help make your Bill Drill training a success.
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