How to Modify Drills to Push Skill
Intentional modification of live fire and dry fire drills can help enhance improvement of specific skills.
There are many standardized handgun drills out there. Many amazing drills and many… we’ll just call them “not worth our time drills.” A good pistol drill has an intentional shooting skill focus and is structured to test and/or push that shooting skill to new levels – doesn’t matter if it is dry fire training or live fire training.
It is generally best to run drills how they are designed. If it’s a good drill, then modifying the drill runs the risk of undermining the design and focus of the drill. Running the drill as designed is also a great way to use par times to measure progress and push skill. A good training session selects specific drills to work on specific skills after all.
However, it is perfectly valid to modify drills in order to double down on a particular skill or include a secondary skill in the drill. Some drill modifications are almost needed in order to push skills farther and faster.
Only modify a drill if the intent of the drill and the intent of the modification are both understood.
Common drill modifications
Mods to push speed
The best way to go faster… is to just go faster. Pushing speed is all about teaching the brain and the body what it feels like and looks like to go faster. New levels of speed force the brain to process what it sees and feels. At first, the new level of speed feels uncomfortable. But after maintaining the new level of speed for a while, the new speed becomes normal and the old speed becomes slow.
So a great way to modify drills to push speed is to make it easier to go faster.
Reduce the target distance, move them closer together, and make the area of acceptable accuracy bigger.
Push speed under these conditions for a while, then return back to the original designs and it is easy to go faster than the old times.
Mods to improve accuracy
The concept for improving accuracy is the other side of the same coin for pushing speed. Want to make normal targets easy? Practice on harder targets. Make targets smaller and farther. After working hard on the more difficult targets, easier targets become super easy.
Mods to enhance interleaving training
The contrast of pushing speed and improving accuracy highlights the importance of variety. The training concept is called “interleaving” and has been shown as a very effective way to train by many studies.
The idea is simple and easy – change up what you’re doing.
That means don’t run the exact same drill the exact same way for 15 minutes. Simple changes such as the target type, distance, orientation to the start position, and the like can be an incredible way to enhance practical shooting skills.
More drill modifications
There are many more ways to modify drills to double down on pretty much any skill.
The Drill Modification section of the site provides a variety of drill modifications to enhance a training session.
Written by Brian Purkiss - always a student, sometimes a teacher.
I don't consider myself a competition shooter - I think of myself as a performance pistol shooter. I am all about performing at as high of a level as possible. Towards that end, I am obsessive about learning how to perform. I spend a lot of my life learning from the best across the entire firearms world and even into other areas of performance and other sports. I am a USPSA Carry Optics Grandmaster, currently working towards my second GM title in the Open division.