Shooting Circles


Shooting circles to improve your handgunning.

Improve your aim with these simple shooting drills.

Practice drills on hostage targets.
Practice drills on hostage targets.

Although we shoot our defensive pistol at center mass, shooting it precisely is also important. Shooting groups with a pistol is fun and also helps us develop better trigger control and trigger reset ability. Trigger reset is the amount of return your finger allows on the trigger until it clicks or resets for the next shot. This of course pertains to semi-autos but is part of trigger control.

By only releasing the trigger enough to reset, we avoid taking the finger off of the trigger and developing trigger slap, which deteriorates accuracy.

I like to start all of my training sessions shooting circles. Many instructors use similar training, and I got this drill from Ed Santos of Center Target Sports.

It consists of a target that only has to be made once and then copied as many times as you practice. It has four 2-inch circles drawn on it with a heavy marker. It is a precision exercise and requires the shooter to attempt to put the bullet though the same hole. It’s a simple drill, but when practiced regularly, will do wonders with your accuracy.

Start by standing directly in front of the target. First shoot one of the circles at 3 yards and fire three shots. This is not a speed event; try to put each round in the same hole and concentrate on trigger reset. If you’re not happy with the group, shoot the next circle three times trying to do the same thing.

Groups shot at 10 yards.
Groups shot at 10 yards.

When you get a clover leaf consistently at 3 yards move back to 5 yards and then to 10 yards. After that, if you’re really confident, move back to 15 yards. I don’t spend a lot of time on these drills, maybe 24 rounds each training session. I even do it with a .22 sometimes, but it’s good to do with your carry pistol to manage the recoil and become more accurate with the handgun you may be called upon to use in an actual situation.

This practice will perfect sight alignment and trigger control and the training drills will generate notable shooting improvement. While shooting this exercise, remember to use proper grip and stance. There are many versions of hostage targets that can also be added to your training, and they are good for putting a face on something you might hit if you spoil the shot.

Remember as a concealed carry citizen there may be a time you will be called into action. In many situations, there will be a bunch of people running around in a frenzy. Never take a shot that could harm innocent bystanders.

Accuracy is certainly critical at such moments and being able to deliver a round precisely where you intend it will prevent you from getting into trouble. Keep up the training and be sure to work shooting circles into your training regimen.

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