Action Pistol shooting is often considered to be a high speed, “hose the targets” affair. But that’s not always the case.
Match Directors can be pretty sneaky when they design their courses-of-fire and often incorporate targets that force the shooter to slow down and deliver a precision shot. And it makes no difference whether it’s an IDPA, USPSA, or ICORE match. They all do it. One tactic is to snuggle a No-Shoot target tight to a Shoot target, leaving little scoring area available. Hit the No-Shoot and you eat a pile of down points that trash your score. In addition, sometimes they will put up a hardcover target that covers most of the Shoot target behind it, and shots that hit the hard cover mean you eat the down points for the shots you missed on the Shoot target. That doesn’t help your score either.
This requires a shooter break off from their “hose ‘em” pace to settle down to deliver a precision shot on a target that may not offer more than a couple of inches of scoring zone—and at ranges out to 15-plus yards. These shots require intense focus on the basic fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment, and trigger control. That’s precisely what the Focus Drill requires.
The Focus Drill is shot at 5 yards. The target is a 1.5- to 2-inch circle on a clean white background. The drill is to bring the gun up in a freestyle hold and, taking your time, fire five deliberate single shots– bringing the gun down between shots and taking a short rest.
The objective is to chew one ragged hole in the center of the circle—basically putting every round into one large hole.
It’s not as easy as it may appear. The 5-yard distance is far enough to challenge the shooter to be perfect in their grip, stance, sight picture and trigger press, yet close enough to remove the mechanical accuracy variables from the handgun. Regardless of how the gun and load may group from a 25-yard bench rest, any decent competition revolver or semi-auto should be able to shoot a .5-inch group at 5 yards. At least they will if the shooter focuses on the basic fundamentals of handgun accuracy and executes them properly.
Making appropriate targets is easy. Shooters can purchase small stick-on target dots from the various target makers and just slap them on an 8×10 piece of white copy paper. Or, most of the cardboard tubes from a roll of paper towels or bathroom tissue measure just under 2 inches. Stick one end on a piece of white paper, shoot some spray paint into the other, and you can make targets all day long.
Targets are easy to acquire and their use goes beyond the standard Focus Drill.
Shooters who truly want to master shooting skills will also engage these targets with both their weak and strong hands only. Action Pistol shooters are often called upon to engage targets with the weak and strong hand and will benefit from this. But they’re not the only ones. Conventional Pistol shooters will also find this a valuable drill. If they can make one ragged hole in a 2-inch dot at 5 yards from their normal stance the 10-ring isn’t that intimidating.
Another very useful application of the 2-inch dot target is in refining the first shot presentation from the holster. For many shooters their worst shot on a stage will be the first shot on the draw because they were so eager to get into the fray that they rushed it and were not fully on target. Stand at 5 yards and draw and fire one round. Holster and repeat. The shooter who can put all their rounds in the circle will have their draw stroke/presentation down pat.
As well, one doesn’t have to be on a live fire range to gain benefit from that 2-inch dot target. It is an excellent dry fire target to set up in the home. Most shooters can find 15 feet of space in the house to set the target up. The dot makes it easy to see where the sights are when the trigger is pressed whether one is doing deliberate dry fire or working on a presentation from the holster.
Overall, the dot target can be a great training aid. Shooters who master the Focus Drill will be able to handle the tightest shots—and thwart even the most devious Match Director.