Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: The First Shot Drill Might Be The Only Training Exercise You Need

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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Some are of the opinion that a person doesn’t need all that much in terms of training exercises to actually get good at something. Often, you can get great results with a few simple exercises. You learn the fundamentals and through enough repetition, get as good as required to progress from there.

And so it is with handgun drills. Does the average person really need the kind of training normally reserved for SWAT teams or the Marines? The truth is while training is good, and a person needs to be competent with the gun they pack in a concealed carry holster, you might not need more than just one drill.

Namely, what a lot of people call the “First Shot Drill” may be all you ever need.

The “First Shot” is a draw and fire drill, nothing too complicated or fancy. You simply draw, aim and fire. The goal is to get the gun out and place a shot accurately in as little time as possible.

Why is this one so good? Why shouldn’t a person learn and practice a variety of drills?

Chances are you’ll never have to draw a gun in defense of yourself. If you have to draw, odds are that you won’t have to fire. As we recently learned, even a buried CDC study shows that upward of 2.5 million defensive gun uses occur per year, with the vast majority consisting solely of drawing the gun and alerting the threat to the presence of the Great Equalizer. This would appear to corroborate the findings of Gary Kleck, one of the few researchers to tackle defensive gun uses.

As we know, too, years of FBI data shows that only a few hundred criminals are killed in the midst of their felonious activities every year by civilians.

What, then, is the best skill to have if you’re going to carry a gun to defend yourself? Drawing the pistol. Thus, the concealed carry drills that will do you the most good in terms of practical skills involves drawing the gun.

So, how to get started:

Start as a dry-fire drill. Incorporate a shot timer if possible, and there’s no excuse to not have one because you can get a free shot-timer app on your phone.

Begin by picking a spot that you’ll aim at. Maybe put up a target in your garage, a photograph on the wall, the television or a knick-knack you don’t particularly like.

Make sure that your gun is clear of any ammunition before attempting a dry-fire drill of any kind. Check, re-check, then check again. You should point it in as safe a direction as possible.

Begin with your pistol holstered. Get purchase on the pistol, draw smoothly from the holster and rock the muzzle forward and up as soon as you’ve cleared leather, kydex or whatever your holster is made of.

Acquire a sight picture – or get a point-shooting alignment – and as soon as you’ve got the sights on target, dry-fire once.

If you aren’t used to it, start slow and smooth and build up to speed. Remember: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. If you’re smooth and efficient at the start, you’ll eventually be smooth, efficient and fast.

When you hit the range every week or so, get your eye in with a few rounds, then finish a box using just this drill. Everything else applies: use a shot timer, observe good gun safety, and build up to speed.

Once again, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. It’s also safer. You don’t want to wind up in an internet video, do you?

Seek a bit of professional instruction, if you’re able to. A good instructor should be able to fine-tune your mechanics to further reduce your time. If you can get your shot time down to 1.5 seconds or less, you’re doing very well.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit