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Structured Training: Building a Routine With Pistol Shooting Drills

Structured Training: Building a Routine with Pistol Shooting Drills | Strikeman Dry-Fire Training Systems

In the military, it is believed that even the most average person can be turned into a deadly and effective soldier with structured, effective, and consistent training exercises. The same thing is true for marksmanship.

With a well-researched and formulated weapons training program, you are certain to see tremendous improvements in your shooting skills. This means you have no excuse not to improve your shooting as long as you can properly hold a firearm and follow a structured training exercise.

The rest depends on how hard you are willing to push yourself.

The article is a candid and practical exploration of the benefits of developing a routine for a beneficial pistol shooting drill, an overview of the fundamentals of developing a routine for firearms training, practical and effective pistol drills, and the importance of dry-fire training systems.

Why Do You Need a Routine for Pistol Shooting Drills?

There are two critical reasons you must consider using routine-based training for your pistol shooting drills.

Consistency and Skill Development

The linchpin to skill development in any discipline is consistency, and it is no different for pistol shooting. Developing a goal-oriented routine for your marksmanship training ensures that you consistently work on targeted drills, which allow your skills and confidence to evolve and elevate over time.

In most disciplines that require muscle memory to perform, you must assimilate and practice the basics until they become second nature.

A well-structured and goal-oriented routine for pistol shooting practice should include drills that cement basics like pistol grip techniques, pistol holding stances, sight alignment and acquisition, trigger control, and lots more.

Goal Orientation

“Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” – Fitzhugh Dodson

The above saying is true for mastering pistol shooting. While you can spend an entire year learning how to properly hold a gun and shoot a few cans with accuracy, without a clear training goal, it becomes difficult for you to improve your marksmanship.

Structured training with consistent shifts in levels of difficulty and progression ensures that you attain your shooting goals.

Think of a structured routine as a framework for setting and achieving your pistol shooting goals. This allows you to customize certain aspects of your training to address some of your known weaknesses and enhance your strengths as well.

Check out our article on the importance of setting goals in target practice.

Habit Formation

Lastly, professional shooters rarely have to think before they make accurate shots; they have practiced the basic and advanced moves so much that they have become habits!

The formation and retention of good pistol shooting habits is why you need structured routine training for your pistol shooting drills. Trigger discipline is one habit every student of the art of shooting should master regardless of their proficiency.

The Fundamentals of Building a Routine for Firearms Training

Here are some of the fundamentals to look out for when building a structured routine for your pistol shooting drills:

Set Clear Objectives

Clear objectives or goals are the load-supporting beams for your structured pistol shooting drills. As we mentioned above, if you don’t have clear-cut goals for your pistol shooting drills, you might as well not train at all.

Every aspect of your training should have an end goal. Think of the skills you need to enhance or learn and create your goals around them. For example, speed, accuracy, reaction time, tactical movements, trigger control, and so on are great goals to have.

Allocate Time Efficiently

Learning the fundamentals of anything can be tricky. If care is not taken, you can spend six (6) months learning the basics of shooting a pistol without making any real progress.

Ensure that your structured training has effective time management baked into it, and make sure every aspect of your training has a specific time slot, and stick to that time frame. This ensures your progress and helps you track just how fast you are progressing.

Focus on Gradual Progression

Any skill worth mastering takes time to achieve. You should go into your structured routine pistol shooting drills with the mindset that your progress will be gradual but steady and consistent.

If you try to take on too many shooting drills too fast, especially the advanced ones, chances are you will end up botching the fundamentals and end up with half-backed pistol-wielding skills. 

Take Breaks

Taking breaks is just as important as being overly consistent with your firearms training. This is because, like in any exercise or training, your body and mind need time to rest and recover from the onslaught of new knowledge and rigorous activities that you may undergo.

It is important to take breaks between drills to let the new knowledge sink in and let your body recover well enough for the next round. It is also just as important to take breaks between drill days to keep your training fresh and exciting. 

Types of Pistol Shooting Drills to Incorporate Into Your Routine Firearms Training

Now that you understand the fundamentals of building a routine for your firearms training, the next step is knowing the kinds of drills you should focus on to achieve the best results.

Here are three kinds of pistol shooting drills you should incorporate into your routine:

Accuracy Drills

A wise man once said, “You only get one shot; do not miss your chance to blow 'cause opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” Okay, maybe the wise man, in this case, is the famous and prolific rapper Eminem. However, those words ring true in the world of shooting.

In some cases, accurately shooting your first shot may be the difference between life and death. Therefore, it is important to incorporate accuracy drills into your structured pistol shooting drills to enhance your accuracy and guarantee precision at all times.

Some common drills for improving pistol accuracy include The Accelerator (live-fire/dry-fire drill), Cartridge on Sight, One Shot, and Single Hole. 

Speed and Reaction Time Drills

In real-life firearms scenarios, the saying “You snooze, you lose” holds a lot of weight. The shooting game is one of accuracy and speed. It doesn’t matter if you have the most accurate shot in all of the western hemisphere.

If you can’t get your shot off in time, then you might end up injured or dead. To ensure that you train your body and hand coordination for speed and accuracy, your structured routine pistol shooting drills must involve pistol shooting drills that focus on improving your speed and reaction time.

Typically, we advise that you start incorporating speed and reaction time drills only after you have mastered the basics.

Two common pistol shooting drills for improved speed and reaction time are controlled pair and alternating target drills.

Scenario-Based Drills

In real-life scenarios, anything and everything can go wrong. It is up to you to have trained in advance to be prepared for anything that might come your way.

It is a good idea to include scenario-based drills in your pistol shooting routine to help create a dynamic training environment. This is a tried and tested way to prepare for the unpredictability of real-life situations.

Dry-fire training systems coupled with a tracking system provide users with some innovative scenario-based drills with lesser risk than live-fire pistol drills.

Examples of Pistol Shooting Drills to Incorporate Into Training

Phase 5 Pistol Drill

The Phase 5 pistol drill was designed to help with muscle memory. The process of this drill is quite straightforward. On the target board, there are five circles of varying sizes. Each circle is referred to as a phase, and the higher the phase, the smaller the circle.

Your task is to shoot ten shots into each phase before moving on to the next one. It sounds simple, and it is, but that doesn’t make it easy. This drill works for holster draw, shot placement, and speed.

Baer Standard Pistol Drill

The Baer Standard pistol drill, named after a Special Forces operator, is a drill designed to improve holster draw and shot placement.

This drill can be used with or without a shot timer, but a shot timer is recommended if you are trying to push yourself. The most important aspect of the Baer Pistol drill is the target paper.

The target paper consists of two boxes or even more and a small circle in the center. Your goal is to draw your gun from your holster with ten rounds loaded, shoot five rounds in one box, and then move on to the next to shoot another five rounds.

Reload your weapon and put three rounds in the circle at the center of the target. This can be done from any distance.

The Importance of Dry-Fire Training in Developing a Structured Routine

Consistency is a critical aspect of any structured training, and many factors can affect the consistency of your pistol training, especially when you have to rely on live fire training. Live fire training requires live rounds, which are expensive and dangerous to wield.

Dry-fire training, on the other hand, does not require using live rounds, and, in some cases, dry practice does not even require a real gun.

Dry-firing is the process of shooting at targets without live ammunition but instead using laser cartridges, laser guns, and SIRT guns. Dry-fire training systems are popular mechanisms among expert marksmen and beginner shooters for developing their skills.

Strikeman is a leading manufacturer of advanced dry-fire training systems that provide users with realistic simulation, customizable tactical training modules, progress tracking features, and a safe way to practice your pistol shooting skills.


In your quest to advance your pistol shooting skills to the next level, developing a structured routine for your pistol training is critical to ensuring that you train efficiently and effectively.

Structured training and dry practice help you make use of every second judiciously and reach your training goals in no time while forming good shooting habits.

Dry-fire training systems are great for practicing your pistol shooting skills at home or anywhere without the risk of using live rounds.

Check out some of the best dry-fire training systems on our website.

Happy shooting!

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