Great Shooting Drills For Beginners

Authors Training Travis Pike

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

When it comes to firearm training, there is a wide variety of routes to take. The NRA and USCCA offer excellent training for beginners. Most big-name instructors have beginner-oriented classes, and typically, even a basic concealed carry class can be a great way to learn a thing or two. With all that in mind, what are you to do when you can’t go to training? How do you practice in your off time? Going to the range is always beneficial, but what you do there matters. With that in mind, I’ve gathered a variety of drills that I think are perfect for new shooters and are beginner-friendly as well. 

You don’t need much more to shoot these drills outside of a gun, some ammo, and the basics of ear and eye protection and targets. While that’s all you need at a minimum, you can improve your training efficiency by including a shot timer in your training. You can even download any one of a number of free apps that work half decently. I suggest not relying on shot detection and using the ‘Par’ time feature. 

This allows for an objective measurement of time, and your target is your objective measurement of accuracy. If you can be fast and accurate, then that’s a great measurement of skill and capability. 

Let’s dive in and start shooting. 

Failure To Stop Drill

The Failure to Stop drill, often known as the Mozambique drill, is a classic combative drill that came from a mercenary fighting in Africa. Jeff Cooper heard the original story and implemented it into his modern pistol technique. The Failure to Stop drill only requires three rounds to run and a man-sized target with a defined chest and head. 

2 - The Best Drills For Beginners
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The Failure to Stop the drill is fairly simple. I would start at seven yards, but feel free to adjust the distance as necessary. Beginners should start in the low-ready position with the weapon oriented downward. At the command to fire, the Shooter fires a quick double tap into the chest of the target, then follows it up with a well-aimed headshot. The keyword is well-aimed. 

Take your time and put that shot dead center. This drill is great because it’s practical, and a shooter can easily understand the practicality of the drill. It’s also fairly easy and gets the Shooter’s mind right when it comes to combative shooting. It stresses shot placement, speed, and combative skill. 

Box Drill

The box drill is a fancier, more complicated version of the failure-to-stop drill. Much like the failure to stop drill, it’s rooted in practical combative shooting. This drill ups your target to two and is a favorite of the United States Marine Corps. Shooters can use a rifle or pistol for this drill and should adjust the range depending on the platform utilized. Rifles are easier to shoot, so you can do the drill at greater distances. Let’s say pistol at seven yards and rifle at fifteen yards. 

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Set up two man-sized targets side by side. Start at your platform’s appropriate range, and on the command to fire, you are going to shoot two rounds into target A’s chest. Immediately transition to target B and put two rounds into that target’s chest. Now, transition to Target B’s head and fire one well-aimed shot, and then transition to Target A and place a round into that target’s head. 

Thai drill is fun, combative, and requires fast transitions and excellent accuracy. It’s great for training those transitions on one target and between multiple targets. The Box drill is a step ahead of the failure-to-stop drill, and while more difficult, it can still be an excellent piece of training for new shooters. 


The 10-10-10 Drill is an excellent yardstick for shooting skill but still isn’t difficult or dangerous for new shooters to conquer. The drill requires ten rounds of ammo per run, a single B8 target, and your handgun of choice. The drill is shot from ten yards, with ten rounds, and you have ten seconds to pass the drill. A basic version of the qual does not require reloading, draws, or anything too fancy. 

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The Shooter starts in the low ready. When your timer beeps, aim and fire ten rounds at the B8 target. If you can’t get all rounds fired in ten seconds, you’ve failed the drill. You should aim to get all ten rounds in the black. Use the B8 target to obtain your score. You should always aim to get a higher and higher score within those ten seconds. Your secondary goal is to keep a high score while driving down the time requirement. 

The 10-10-10 Drill encourages speed and accuracy on a relatively small target. You have to work within a specific time limit and accuracy standard. You’re working on your cadence as well as your recoil control. It’s easy to shoot and won’t stress your logistic needs. Plus, it’s a great framework to add in other skills and build on. Add in a reload, a movement, or even a draw to make things a little harder. 

Vice Presidente Drill

Another one of Jeff Cooper’s famous drills is the El Presidente. The El Presidente is a great drill but offers a little complication for new shooters. The turn and draw can be a bit much for new shooters and raise some safety concerns. There is an adaption to the El Presidente called the Vice Presidente. The Vice Presidente simplifies things. You’ll need 12 rounds per run, a spare magazine, and a magazine pouch, as well as three man-sized targets. 

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Set up the targets one yard apart. Load the magazine in your gun with six rounds, and load your spare magazine with six rounds. Start from a low-ready position. At the command to fire, you’ll raise your gun, aim, and fire two rounds into the chest of each target. After firing six rounds, you’ll need to reload. Do so, and fire two more rounds into each target. The par time is ten seconds, and the firing line is ten yards from the target. 

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The Vice Presidente drill is much simpler than the classic El Pres and less demanding. It’s also a  bit safer. It does train target transitions, shot placement, as well as a reload. All valuable skills to understand and master. It can be a great way to get into the El Presidente drill. 

VTAC 1-5 Drill

The VTAC 1-5 Drill comes from the mind of Kyle Lamb. Lamb is a former Delta Force commando and owner of Viking Tactics. The VTAC 1-5 Drill was imagined as a rifle drill but could be used with a handgun, but only if it held at least 15 rounds. The drill calls for three targets and 15 rounds per run. The targets are only five yards from the Shooter. 

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With your rifle or handgun loaded, assume a low-ready position. At the beep, fire one round into target one, two rounds into target two, and three rounds into target three. We aren’t done yet. Transition back to target two and fire four rounds into this target; transition back to target one and fire five rounds into the target to finish it off. Five seconds is an average time, but as a new shooter, go as fast as you can safely shoot. Start slowly if need be. 

The drill works rapid transitions and forces good recoil control. It also breaks you out of the monotony of firing one or two rounds into a target. A threat doesn’t always agree to go down within a certain number of rounds, so being skilled in firing quickly and efficiently into multiple targets with multiple rounds can be a smart move. 

Blasting Away

Beginners can advance their skills quite quickly with proper and consistent training and practice. Training is what an instructor provides. Practice is what you can do in your time. Drills provide a framework for practice and allow you to practice valuable skills in your off time. Using drills properly grows your skills and allows you to get sharp and stay sharp. 

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  • Kane November 9, 2023, 8:33 am

    good info

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