Break the Shot

Boost vision speed and shoot the exact moment the sights enter the area of acceptable accuracy.

What is the Break the Shot Drill?

In practical pistol shooting, we don’t need touching groups in the center X of a bullseye target. Practical pistol shooters use a defined area of “acceptable accuracy.”

For defensive pistol shooters, such as conceal carriers or police, that’s generally going to be center mass on a human torso. For shooting sports like USPSA/IPSC, IDPA, 3 Gun, or 2 Gun – that’s going to be a large area on a cardboard target. Sometimes it’s smaller, like on a partial target, or at least perceived smaller, like on a far target. The idea is the same though – anywhere in that large area of “acceptable accuracy” is fair game. There isn’t benefit for two hits to be touching, they just need to be anywhere in that pre-defined area.

This is where lots of practical pistol shooters take too long. They “over aim” and stare down sights that are on target and in that area of acceptable accuracy… but they don’t pull the trigger. They’re over confirming their sights or trying to move them slightly closer to the center of the target even if there’s no additional benefit.

In a shooting sport like USPSA, an A Zone hit that is closer to the center doesn’t give more points than an A Zone hit along the perferation.

In defensive pistol situations, staring down the sights and not pulling the trigger gives the adversary more time to shoot you, run, or do something else.

In practical pistol shooting it is critical that we pull the trigger as soon as we’re anywhere inside the area of pre-defined acceptable accuracy.

All that explanation is all to say:

Shoot sooner, not faster.

Which is the point of this drill – programming shooters to pull the trigger as soon as the sights are on target instead of watching the sights get on target, stare at the sights on target, and then pull the trigger.

How “soon” do we pull the trigger? That depends on the difficulty of the target and the area of acceptable accuracy, which is why this drill involves targets at two distances.

How to Setup

Drill Setup

  • 2 Targets, both hidden behind a vision barrier. One target at 3 yards, the other target at 9 yards. (This can be done with a full size target and a one third size target, both at 4 yards)
  • Start position: Gun at compressed ready, 2 yards off to the side so the target is out of sight
  • 4 shots required
How to Dry Fire

Drill Steps

  1. At the beep, raise the gun to full extension and prep the trigger while moving to the spot where the targets are visible
  2. When passing the vision barrier get the sights on the 4 yard target
  3. As soon as the sights get into the acceptable area of accuracy, break the trigger and engage with two shots
  4. Transition to the 12 yard target and engage with two shots
How to Mod

Drill Modifications

  • Swap the far target to a simulated steel target.
  • Use a fault line on the ground that is in line with the vision barrier. Move to the fault line, don’t pass it, and lean around the vision barrier to engage the two targets.

Drill Tips

Most dry fire drills don’t need an activated trigger – they’re perfectly fine to run with a dead trigger. This drill greatly benefits from an activated trigger. The trigger prep should be felt so the gun is a hair’s breadth away the moment the sights get on target.

If you’re a competitive shooter, cut out the A Zone or Down 0 out of the target and out that on the wall. Or use a sharpie and draw a thick black line around the area of acceptable accuracy. That will help provide a clearly defined line of acceptable accuracy.

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Drill Diagnostics

As with all dry fire, being honest with yourself is critical. Since the Break the Shot drill is all about seeing when the sights get on target, vision speed and honesty is the only real way to measure success. Watch the sights as they enter into the scoring zone and break the shot as soon as you recognize they have entered the area of acceptable accuracy.

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Drill Author

Brian Purkiss

Brian Purkiss is a USPSA Carry Optics Grandmaster and the founder of Locked Back Training.

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Drill Environment

More Drill Modifications

Modifications to focus on: Conceal Carry

Modifications to focus on: General Modifications

Modifications to focus on: Movement

Modifications to focus on: Push Speed

  • Broaden what is considered “acceptable accuracy” - More info »
  • Decrease the distance laterally between targets - More info »
  • Increase the distance laterally between targets - More info »
  • Move targets closer - More info »
  • Put a black dot on the main point of aim on the target - More info »

Modifications to focus on: Tighten Accuracy

Modifications to focus on: Transitions

  • Decrease the distance laterally between targets - More info »
  • Don’t pull the trigger during transitions - More info »
  • Increase the distance laterally between targets - More info »
  • Transition from outside targets of an array and work inwards - More info »

Further Training with:


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