Targets & Drills
Need something to practice next time you work on your marksmanship? Below are some of the targets we use in our classes. You can print these at home and avoid the cost of purchasing targets. We even replaced the solid shading with crosshatching to save on printer ink. Just click any of the target images to enlarge and print. We’ve also included a few drills, and we encourage you to try them. As always, follow the firearms safety rules any time you handle any firearm — regardless of whether you’re dry firing or live firing. Don’t forget to snap a photo of your target and post it on our Facebook page. We’d love to join you in celebrating your progress. Who knows… you might just earn a discount on future training. Have fun!
In the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting class, the goal is to get five hits inside each of the four circles (20 shots total). Each circle is four inches in diameter. For a Level 1 Qualification (Red), students fire from ten feet away. Level 2 (White) is fired from fifteen feet, and Level 3 (Blue) is fired from twenty feet.
For those aspiring to become NRA-certified pistol instructors, this is the qualification target. Instructor candidates will fire twenty shots from 15 yards. At least 16 of the 20 must be inside the circle, and the shots inside the circle must be concentrated in a six-inch group.
The 3-2-1 target is perfect for cadence drills. Aqil sometimes calls this the “Snowman” target, because of its three stacked circles of decreasing size (three inches, two inches, and one inch). As you progress from larger targets to smaller targets, you should adjust your shooting speed accordingly (the smaller the target, the more carefully you’ll have to aim). But the cadence should be even throughout each string of fire.
Think of cadence like the tempo of a song you might hear on the radio. Music typically doesn’t speed up and slow down in the middle of a song, right? Likewise, your string of fire on any given target should keep the same tempo throughout the string. On the three-inch bottom target, you’ll shoot at a moderate tempo. On the middle target, the tempo will decrease just a bit, because your aim point is smaller. On the one-inch target at the top, the tempo of your shooting “song” will be even slower. Make sense?
The 3-2-1 Drill
At a distance of 3 yards, starting from the low ready:
- Fire 3 shots into the 3-inch circle (in 5 seconds)
- Fire 2 shots into the 2-inch circle (in 5 seconds)
- Fire 1 shot into the 1-inch circle (in 5 seconds)
You can start with no time limit, and then steadily push yourself to meet the par time on each circle. Record your results for each circle at 3 yards. Work until you’re getting good hits within the 5-second par time for each circle, and then increase the distance (try 5 yards, then 7 yards). Once you’re hitting consistently from the low-ready, then trying adding the draw and running the same drill from the holster.
If you’re ever among the CSA crew and you hear a reference to “Vitamin B8,” this is what we mean. The full-size B8 Bullseye target comes in many variations from lots of vendors. The B8 repair center is a smaller version, typically with a 5.5-inch dark bullseye aiming point in the center. There are many drills you can do with a B8 repair center, both live and dry. We use this versatile target in lots of classes. Its unforgiving point rings can be very humbling, but they can also improve your marksmanship as much as vitamins improve your health.
Here’s one B8 drill that Aqil designed for structured practice. For this drill, you can hang the target alone, or you can attach it to a larger target, superimposed over the vital hit zone. Here’s a B8 in PDF that you can print and use.
CSA’s B8 Drill
From a distance of 3 yards, starting at the low ready:
- Aiming for the CSA logo in the center, fire 1 round in 5 seconds
- Then fire 2 rounds to the logo in 5 seconds
- 3 rounds in 5 seconds
- 4 rounds, 5 seconds
- 5 rounds, 5 seconds
- Repeat this progression until all hits are within the 8 ring
Once you’re consistently hitting inside the 8 ring, push yourself to keep all shots in the 10 ring. After that, try moving back to 5 yards, and then to 7 yards (same par time). As your accuracy, speed, and cadence become more consistent with a 5-second par time, try running the drill from the holster and adding the draw.
This is the (in)famous “Dot Torture” drill, as adapted by Todd Louis Green of Pistol Forum. Renowned trainer Greg Ellifritz offers his take on this drill at ActiveResponseTraining.net. Claude Werner, aka “The Tactical Professor,” explains the drill’s origin and development, tracing it back to World Champion shooter John Shaw.
Instructions for the standard Dot Torture drill are printed on the target. Feel free to try the original drill, or make adjustments to fit your needs, skills, environment, or comfort level. For example, you could increase or decrease the distance, adjust the time limits, or switch between drawing and working from low ready. You could also start out by doing away with the time limits altogether if you’d like to work on accuracy first and add the time pressure later.
Legendary firearms trainer Claude Werner (The “Tactical Professor”) often talks about the value of spot shooting — focusing one’s aim not on a general area but on a precise spot. In that vein, CSA created a very simple printable target with a subtle, two-inch aiming point (pictured above). Another variation takes a standard eight-inch circle target and superimposes a two-inch aiming point in the center, as pictured below. We’ve also included the negative, with a dark outer circle and a white inner aiming point. Some people like the dark aiming spot for its high contrast against the outer circle. Others prefer the white aiming spot for its high contrast against handgun sights.
We first learned about the 5×5 drill from Chris Baker of Lucky Gunner. Greg Ellifritz has also written about the drill on ActiveResponseTraining.net. The original drill is attributed to Gila Hayes of the Firearms Academy of Seattle. It’s shot on a five-inch target with a one-inch aim point. Some versions have two targets on one page, and others put only one target on a page. This is our version, featuring two targets set diagonally on a single page, but a bit farther apart than the standard version and with thinner border lines. We’ve also designed a negative version with the light and dark areas reversed. This target is great for lots of different drills, but the instructions for Gila Hayes’s original 5×5 drill are below.
The 5×5 Drill
From the low ready, fire five shots at one of the five-inch circles, from five yards, in five seconds. To pass the drill, you have to get all five shots within the circle under par time. Having two targets per sheet means you can quickly run the drill twice if you like. One possible variation is to run the drill five times for a total of 25 shots. Once you’re consistently getting good hits from the low ready, try running the drill from the holster.