Going to the range and shooting at targets the same old way, time and time again can get dull. You might even feel your skill development has plateaued. Start pushing yourself by incorporating a few new rifle drills into your regimen.
Try these 3 simple drills that can sharpen your rifle skills.
The first drill is my Reload Drill, and obviously it’s all about practicing the reload. This is a basic but important drill for any rifle shooter, regardless of whether you're focused on competition or self-defense.
Reloading is a straight-forward task, but you can shave seconds off your reload time by perfecting the process. To prepare for this drill, load all of your mags up with 1 to 4 rounds each, then begin the drill:
- Start with your rifle loaded, with the safety selector in SAFE position.
- Shoulder the rifle, move the selector lever to FIRE with your support thumb.
- Acquire a sight picture and begin shooting, until you've fired all of the rounds.
- Once the mag is empty, press the magazine release button with your trigger finger.
- As the magazine falls away, bring the rifle to your "work area" and simultaneously grab a loaded mag with your support hand.
- With the empty mag out of the way, insert the new magazine into the mag well.
- Hit the bolt release with your support thumb as you bring the rifle up to your shoulder.
- Start over with Step 3.
Repeat the drill 50-100 times and you will be sure to notice your reload times reduce. By using a shot timer, you can both put yourself under a little pressure and actually see your improvements. I randomly load the magazines with a variety of rounds so I never know for sure how many shots I can fire before I have to reload. #ChallengeYourself
Lefty Righty Drill
Alright, the Reload Drill was easy - let’s consider it a warm up. Now it’s time for something a bit more advanced, the “Lefty Righty” Drill. You’ll be firing a few shots and then switching the rifle to your other side / shoulder. This drill may feel awkward if you haven't practiced shooting with your non-dominate side. But don't shy away because there are definitely benefits to mastering this technique:
- Fire a few shots with your strong-hand (primary) side.
- Safely switch the rifle to the other side (keeping muzzle in a safe direction and finger off of the trigger / out of the trigger guard). Watch the video above to see my technique.
- Fire a few shots with your off-hand (support) side.
- Safely switch the rifle back to your primary side (keeping muzzle in a safe direction and finger off of the trigger / out of the trigger guard). Watch the video above to see my technique.
Try to keep both eyes open during the drill. It should be easier than trying to use your dominate eye (to see the sights) when switching to your support side.
Benefits of Lefty Righty
- Cover - When you’re on the left side of a barricade, wall, etc. as a right-handed shooter, switching the rifle to your left shoulder will keep more of your body behind cover. The opposite is true for left-handed shooters (switching rifle to their right side when shooting from the right side of a barricade, wall, etc.).
- Injury - If you happen to injure your dominate hand in a way you can’t operate the fire controls, being proficient with your non-dominate hand becomes extremely beneficial, potentially life saving.
5 in 3 Drill
The last drill is called the "5 in 3" drill. This drill is meant to test your skill at different positions.
- Start standing, on the signal, engage your target with 5 rounds standing.
- Quickly move into a kneeling positon and fire 5 rounds kneeling.
- Quickly move to prone and fire 5 more rounds.
The idea is to fire quick, accurate shots, but also move into the positions as quickly as you can. Try it from various distances. Start at 25 yards and work your way back to 100 yards. Always try to keep your shots within the center of mass of the target. I like to use the IDPA target with an 8" center zone.
Once you get better with your hits, try to improve your speed while also maintaining or improving your shot placement. Shot timer is a must for this drill!
And that’s all there is to it. Three solid drills you can do anytime, without a lot of setup or preparation!