To find your speed it is important not to continually practice at a single range. Spread your targets out between near point-blank and about 15 yards. Your shot cadence should vary at each distance; fast up close and slower the further the distance to the target.

Most defensive handgun instructors teach that the proper employment of your pistol is a balance of speed and accuracy. What this essentially means is that you should shoot as fast as you can get hits. Where this balancing act becomes complex is when the range to target varies. You cannot get multiple hits as fast at 15 yards as you can at 4 yards. If you can, you’re wasting your time reading this and should be out winning matches and saving lives.

Savvy pistoleros will find their speed at different ranges and continually work to get faster. To do this you need a structured plan that will let you evaluate your performance and continually challenge your skill level. Here is a straight-forward practice regime that will let you do both.

Before grabbing your gear and heading to the range to start blasting away ammo that seems to be getting more expensive all the time, understand—this drill is not for shooters who have not mastered the basic fundamentals of sight alignment and trigger control. Before advancing to any drill that incorporates speed as a primary element, you should be capable of delivering accurate kill zone hits at the ranges you intend to shoot at, at least at a slow-fire pace.

Place five silhouette targets at about 1, 4, 8, 12 and 15 yards. Regardless of the silhouettes you use, place a sheet of copy paper over the kill zone. This 8.5×11-inch sheet of paper is your target and is essentially the size of the human vital zone. You will engage each target with two to three shots, depending on magazine capacity. You do not want to reload during the drill. This will break your stride, limiting your ability to establish a shooting pace…

Shooting Phases
Phase 1: Start facing the targets with your handgun in the holster or at the low ready. You can use a shot timer to time the drill if you like, but initially, your total real time is not a critical element of the exercise because you are going to shoot as fast as you can engage each target…

When you find you can engage targets out to 15 yards and keep most if not all your hits inside a folded sheet of copy paper, its time to get on the clock. Using a shot timer, run the phase four portion of the drill again and this time see how long it takes you to fire all 6, 8, 10 or 15 shots…

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To find your speed it is important not to continually practice at a single range.…