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AR-15 training.

The following AR-15 training drills are just a few you can use to develop your shooting skills.

These are drills I have used to improve my own shooting, and I’ve also used when instructing others. A benefit of these drills is that they offer a scoring mechanism, so you can keep track of your progress and evaluate your abilities. If you can meet the standards for a particular drill, you can consider your performance better than average, if not reasonably good.

AR-15 training drills. Basic prone.Basic Prone

This is a basic sight alignment and trigger control drill, one designed to reinforce the basic principles of marksmanship. When you first conduct this drill, run it at 50 yards. When you can complete the drill miss free at that distance, increase the range to 100 yards. (If you are shooting an AR with open sights, work at 25 and 50 yards.)

Concentrate on the basics of your position—breathing, sight alignment, and trigger control—and, at first, go at your own pace. There’s no reason to try to complete this drill within the time limit if you cannot complete it while taking all the time you need.

Start in the prone position with the rifle loaded and the safety on. At the start signal, fire one shot each at 10 different 2-inch Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C circles placed at 50 yards. Each hit is worth 10 points and the goal is to get 10 hits—100 points—within 60 seconds. Subtract 10 points for every miss and one point for every second over 60 seconds. Once you successfully complete the drill without any misses at the 50-yard range, move the targets out to 100 yards.

Practical Prone Precision Drill

AR-15 training drills. Kneeling.The purpose of this drill is to establish that you can make precision shots at various ranges; you’ll have to compensate for bullet trajectory. This can be done by holding high or low, depending on how your rifle is sighted in. You can also click-in the trajectory compensation with the target turrets on your rifle scope or you might employ a ballistic reticle with additional aiming points for each distance.

You’ll need three Birchwood Casey 5½-inch Shoot-N-C circle targets, one each placed at 100, 200 and 300 yards. (If you are shooting an AR with open sights, adjust the distance to the targets to 50, 100 and 150 yards.) Start in the prone position with the rifle loaded and the safety on. You can use a bipod or sandbags as a front rest, but nothing but body parts as a rear rest.

At the start signal, fire one shot at the 100-yard target, two shots at the 200-yard target, three shots at the 300-yard target, and then four more shots at the 100-yard target. The goal is to obtain all 10 hits within 30 seconds for a total score of 100 points. Subtract 10 points for every miss and one point for every second over 60 seconds.

Regardless how your AR is sighted in, the bullet’s point of impact (POI) will be different than your point of aim (POA) at each range. The key to completing this drill within the time limit and obtaining hits at each range is to use the correct point of aim at each distance.

Basic Sitting

AR-15 training drills. Basic sitting.Start in the seated position with the rifle loaded and the safety on. At the start signal, fire one shot each at 10 different Birchwood Casey 5½-inch Snoot-N-C circle targets placed at 100 yards. (If you are shooting an AR with open sights, restrict the maximum range to 50 yards.) Each hit is worth 10 points and the goal is to get 10 hits within 60 seconds. Subtract 10 points for every miss and one point for every second over 60 seconds.

Practical Sitting Drill

You’ll need 5½-inch Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C circle targets placed at 50, 75 and 100 yards. Start in the seated position with the rifle loaded and the safety on. At the start signal, fire one shot at the 50-yard target, two shots at the 75-yard target, three shots at the 100-yard target and then four more shots at the 50-yard target. (If you are using an AR with iron sights, adjust the distance to the targets to 25, 50 and 75 yards.) The goal is to obtain all 10 hits (each hit is worth 10 points) within 30 seconds for a total score of 100 points. Subtract one point for every miss and one point for every second over 30 seconds.

Basic Standing

AR-15 Training drills. Standing.From the standing position, fire one shot each at 10 different 5½-inch Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C circle targets placed at 50 yards. Each hit is worth 10 points and the goal is to get 10 hits within 60 seconds. Subtract 10 points for every miss and one point for every second over 60 seconds.

Practical Standing Drill

You’ll need 5½-inch Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C circle targets placed at 25, 50 and 75 yards. Start in the standing position, either in the indoor or outdoor ready position, with the rifle loaded and the safety on. At the start signal, fire two shots at the 25-yard target, two shots at the 50-yard target, two-shots at the 25-yard target, two shots at the 75-yard target and two more shots at the 25-yard target. The goal is to obtain all 10 hits within 30 seconds for a total score of 100 points. Subtract 10 points for every miss and one point for every second over 30 seconds.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with all shooting drills, practice makes perfect. The more you’re able to get out to the range and work on perfecting these skills, the more improvement you’ll see in your shooting performance. To find a range near you, check out WhereToShoot.org. Just enter your zip code and desired distance from your location and an updated list of range options will appear.

Click here to download the Summer 2015 issue of Modern Shooter magazine!


Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to the AR-15This article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to the AR-15. Among a wide variety of topics, firearms expert and noted author Richard Mann provides helpful ammunition and accuracy tips, an explanation of the AR platform, a wide range of AR-15 applications, and much more, enhanced by 250 black and white photos. Keep up with the increasing popularity of the versatile AR-15 with this indispensable shooter’s guide. Get your copy