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This article was first published on Nov 28, 2011. The price of ammunition has doubled since I retired from law enforcement and while the supply shortage has ebbed, the price has not receded and I doubt it ever will. Because of this, I remain a supporter of dry fire training as many combative pistol skills can be mastered without ever firing a shot. That said, the most essential of fundamental skills requires live fire and for most of us, a lot of it! Trigger control is the separation of the index finger from the rest of the hand. It is in direct contradiction to how the hand is designed to work which is four fingers working together in opposition to the thumb. We perform functions using the hand like this hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day which makes isolating the index finger while depressing the trigger all the more challenging.
Because ammunition is a costly commodity, I am a fan of drills that reinforce the fundamentals while using a minimal number of rounds. Well known drills like Jeff Cooper’s El Presidente’, Bill Roger’s Bill Drill and Todd Green’s F.A.S.T. are excellent examples of what I am talking about. I shoot these drills during my training sessions as a way to determine where I am lacking and if it is not a trigger or recoil control problem, I will work on it dry. One of my favorite drills is not well known but remains a challenge even though I have shot it for years. I was first introduced to this drill while attending John Shaw’s Mid-South Institute for Self Defense Shooting in the 1990’s. I was talking to a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces and he told me the drill was used as a way to get unit members to keep their pistol skills sharp.
This soldier told me that a call to shoot the 2 x 2 x 2 drill could come at any time…you could be standing in the chow line when called out and if you could not perform it on demand, a remedial course of fire would be required. What is it? It’s shooting 2 rounds in 2 seconds at 2o feet from the holster on a 3 x 5 card. In the case of the soldier who passed it on it was from a leg holster (back then the holster was worn high on the leg just below the armor or carrier vest. The practice of wearing the gun low on the thigh is a new phenomenon and actually slows the draw, not make it faster) but I shoot it from concealment. It’s a matter of your real world of work…if you wear a duty rig, that’s how you should shoot it. Thigh rig, chest rig, concealment? Keep it real. Unless you are one of the characters on the current edition of Hawaii Five 0 and walk around in plainclothes with an exposed gun, shooting it from open carry would be a waste.
Start shooting the drill with the card upright as (believe it or not) it makes the drill easier to shoot due to the path of recoil. If you want more of a challenge, turn it sideways. The drill tests your ability to draw smoothly and direct the gun to a precise location, which could be viewed as shot placement. Then you must control the trigger, not once but twice while controlling the gun’s recoil, i.e. the fast follow-up shot that might be needed to stop a determined assailant. Considering 1/16th of an inch of muzzle movement translates to a 4.5 inch miss at 20 feet it is easy to see just how much control is required. I shoot this drill in all of my classes and while my students think it is great fun, they also find it to be quite a challenge. Give it a try yourself…it tests a number of fundamental…no, essential skills with just a few quick rounds.
Stay safe and check 360 often!
Dave Spaulding is the 2010 Law Officer Trainer of the Year and Law Officer’s Firearms columnist. A 28-year law enforcement veteran who retired at the rank of lieutenant, he is the founder of Handgun Compatives. He has worked in corrections, communications, patrol, evidence collection, investigations, undercover operations, training and SWAT—and has authored more than 1,000 articles for various firearms and law enforcement periodicals. He’s also the author of the best-selling books Defensive Living and Handgun Combatives. Visit his web site at www.handguncombatives.com and like him on Facebook.