Training: Strong side draw handgun drill

Here are some suggestions for some handgun drills that can be both fun and tactically helpful.

What does it work?

These drills are working strong side pistol draws from an open carry position using a two-handed grip.

Note that all stages of fire in this training should be done without “warming up.”  Unless otherwise stated, before shooting, the shooter should be in the position in which he/she is prepared (e.g. physically aggressive stance with feet, knees, waist, head and hands ready to go).

Remember safety fundamentals—it’s fun if you’re safe.


I use paper plates and cardboard or some backing as targets in these drills.  Paper plates make for a good size marker when it comes to defense shooting and are only slightly redneck/backwoods/hillbilly-type targets if you are actually worried about that kind of thing.  Hey, I readily admit to using them when I can–paper plates are cheap and they stand out great on a “human sized” cardboard backer.

You’ll also need a pistol, a holster and some manner of shot timer.

Static drills

  1. Draw and shoot one round into human sized target at 5 yards as quickly as possible.

Goal:  Center mass hit (the size of a dinner plate) in 1 to 1.5 seconds

  1. Draw and shoot four rounds into human sized target at 5 yards as quickly as possible.

Goal:  Center mass hit (the size of a dinner plate) in 2.5 to 3 seconds

  1. Draw and shoot four rounds into human sized target at 5 yards as quickly as possible.


Don’t go quickly back to the holster.  That’s not safe for two reasons: (1) pushing the gun back into your holster quickly can be sloppy and sloppiness with guns equals danger.  In short, you could blast off a round into your leg.  (2) Going back to the holster fast trains you to hurry up and put away your gun.  That’s the last thing you want to do after a gunfight.  Why? Because if there’s one threat, there’s likely another one of his buddies lurking nearby.

After you have your gun out, take your time with the search (gun up, looking for more threats), scan (looking in 360-degrees for more threats with your gun in a safe direction or the sul position) and then go to the holster slowly.

Safety warning: Jeffrey Denning is a long time professional in the art of self-defense and any training methods or information he describes in his articles are intended to be put into practice only by serious shooters with proper training.  Please read, but do not attempt anything posted here without first seeking out proper training.

Latest Reviews

  • Four Years Later: IWI Tavor SAR Revisited

    Though IWI's X95, released in 2016, usurps the SAR, my Tavor SAR is still part of the family. For those just now coming across this model, how has it stood up over the years? Let's find out.

    Read More
  • Scope Review: Leupold VX-Freedom FireDot Twilight Hunter

    The budget-friendly line of American-made Leupold VX-Freedom riflescopes found a welcome audience last year, but 2020 sees even more interesting additions to the family, with our hands-down favorite being the illuminated-reticle FireDot line.

    Read More
  • Ruger AR-556: An Outstanding Gateway AR

    It should come as no surprise the Ruger name is synonymous with value, and its’ AR-556 looks to fit this mold as an entry-level AR-15 with a reasonable MSRP. So how does the no-frills Ruger AR-556 perform when put to the test? Read on to find out.

    Read More
  • A Look at the Sig P238, A Year Later

    The Sig Sauer P238 was the first .380 ACP BUG to grace my gun safe, a welcomed addition to the 9mm polymers, .38 SPL revolvers, and .45 ACP 1911s. After more than a year's worth of use, where do I stand on the P238? Let's find out.

    Read More