Journey to USPSA Regionals: Establishing Training Regimen

Welcome to “Journey to USPSA Regionals”. This is my personal journal related to my training and competition activities on my journey to train-up in order to compete at a USPSA regional. In this article, we discuss my initial training regimen that I am establishing.


After taking a few coaching sessions, I started to regularly train in both dry firing and range shooting. As I started this journey, I began to wonder “what-of-what” should I do and how often I should “do” it. After my day of clearing up the range, I ended up with a nice set of blisters on each hand.  Needless to say, the first morning of completing my dry fire training was not a pleasant experience.

The Ultimate “Target”

I took a week off from training…Actually two. During the first week off, I began to wonder if I was correctly going about my training. During that week, I ran across an old Special Operations quote that answered my question…

When you are under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training… Always train well!

So true! Thus, I realized my training needed to move more towards a goal focused training regimen. This led me to take the second week off to think and ponder about what that training regimen would initially be and the goals I wanted to accomplish. I, also, took advantage of this “down time” to work out some gear hiccups.


A goal focused training regimen must have goals, and my first step was to determine what these goals would be for my training. At this point in my shooting, I am still working principally on some basics. I identified these key goals for my focus:

  • Glock Platform Shooting Comfort
  • Grip – specifically:
    • finalizing my grip comfort, given my large hands
    • focusing on refining my grip in order to maximize the accuracy and speed of my follow-up shots
    • obtaining my initial grip from the draw
  • Trigger Management – specifically:
    • ingrain my finger placement so it happens perfectly at speed – every time
    • reset my trigger with each shot automatically
    • minimizing sight movement with trigger break
    • cycling trigger at full speed
  • Time Sponges:
    • reloads
    • draw
    • jams, etc.
  • Accuracy:
    • 25 yards and under
    • 2nd shot accuracy
  • Visual Transitions
  • Speed:
    • draw to A ring
    • draw to A ring multiples < 2 secs
    • string speed

Key Training Tools

A lot of goals, right? Initially I would say yes – but, in reality, most of these were cross-issue concerns. In training one I am training many of the others simultaneously. Otherwise, I would not normally take on such a lofty set of goals.

I broke out my regimen into “non-shooting” and “shooting” training. Non-shooting training consists of drills where the bullets do not “fly” (also known as dry firing, though all drills are not dry firing). Shooting training consists of range time drills where the bullets will be leaving the gun. I decided to conduct my non-shooting training on a daily basis – to ingrain my skills, I need to be doing these drills daily. For shooting training, I defined a 5-day rotation, with the expectation that I would shoot at least 3 times each week (preferably at the range). Therefore, the full 5-day rotation would be worked 2.5 times a month.


My non-shooting rotation is as follows:

  • Day 1
    • draw to shooting position x 25 (15 slow, 10 at speed)
    • 10 yard draw to dry fire x 25 (15 slow, 10 at speed)
    • trigger reset drill (dry fire) x 25
  • Day 2
    • static hold wobble drill with laser 30 secs x 25
    • timed dry fire reset drill x 50 (determine base time)
    • timed 10 yard draw to dry fire (1 sec and under goal, starting 1.2 secs, video here)
  • Day 3
    • reload drill x 25
    • jam drill x 25
    • mag fall out drill x 25
  • Day 4
    • pencil drill x 25
    • SIRT pistol draw to 3 hits @ 10 yards x 25
    • timed reload drill x 25 (determine base time)
  • Day 5
    • timed draw to dry fire, reload drill, dry fire x 25
    • timed draw to dry fire, clear jam drill, dry fire x 25
    • timed draw to dry fire, mag drop drill, dry fire x 25


SIRT Pistol Helps Measure Accuracy

My five-day rotation was broken down into:

  • Accuracy (slow fire)
  • Speed
  • Accuracy with some speed
  • Target transition
  • Trigger reset/control

My goal:  keep each shooting day to 100 rounds or under so that a 5-day rotation was 500 (or less) rounds.

Accuracy Drills
  • Reference Line Drill – This drill starts at the 5 yard line as the reference line. As the goals for each reference line are achieved, the shooter moves the reference line back 5 yards until they are shooting at 50 yards. The shooter shoots 5-shot slow fire strings (no time limit). The goal is to have each 5-shot string hit in the 10 ring of a 25 yard NRA target. When the shooter can hit 10, 5-shot groups consecutively in the 10 ring, they can move back to a new reference line – training starts anew at the new reference line. Records are kept for each drill in order to chart and mark progress.
  • Figure Eight Drill – At about 6 yards, point in at your target, then take all of the “slop and slack” out of the trigger. Intentionally move the front sight 6 to 8 inches in a figure eight over the bullseye. Now, as you come across the bullseye, break your shot and reset your trigger to shoot again, continuing to do this for five to six shots. You will find that you are much more accurate than you may think. By managing the trigger well, it allows for quite a bit of motion while still maintaining good accuracy.
  • Single Hole Drill – At 4 yards, attempt to put every bullet in the same hole. Start with a goal of 3 straight shot strings:  once achieved across these 3 strings (3×3), move to 4×4, 5×5, 6×6… with the goal being to shoot 10×10.

Use Combinations Of Your Gear

Speed Drills
  • Bill Drill – From a hands-up draw, draw and put 6 rounds in an A ring in 3 secs. When that can be achieved 5x in a row, then drop the time by .1 sec until you are at 2 secs.
  • First Shot Drill – Draw from hands-down or surrender position. The goal is to get your 1st shot in the A ring in 2 secs or under. Once that can consistently be achieved 5 times, then move the time standard down .1 sec. When you can consistently do this under 1 sec, then move to shooting a 3×5 card sized head shot with the same drill.
Accuracy With Some Speed Drills
  • F.A.S.T Drill – Use a  3×5 card on the head area, 8″ paper plate center of mass (or F.A.S.T drill target). From a 7 yard line, draw and put 2 shots in the head area, reload and put 4 in the target.  The target time is under 5 seconds on 2 or more consecutive iterations.
  • The Dots – Use a 6 dot target (see url). At 7 yards, draw and put 6 rounds in a single dot in 5 secs. Anything at 5.3 secs and below is “in”. Repeat for each dot. The goal is to get 36×36.
Target Transition Drills

Timer Is Required

  • Accelerator Drill – Set up targets at 7, 15, 25 yards down range and about a yard laterally apart. Draw and engage each target with 2 rounds, reload and repeat. The goal is to do so under 6 secs, with solid A ring success.
  • Blake Drill – Essentially, this is a “Bill Drill” across 3 targets spaced 1 yard apart at 7 yards away. You will be shooting 2 rounds in each target and the target time is under 2 secs.
Trigger Reset/Control Drills
  • Reset Drill – Take aim at a precise aiming point on the target and (while using all elements of proper marksmanship) fire a single round; however, do not immediately release the trigger to reset it. Instead, hold down the trigger, re-establish your sight picture and then slowly release the trigger until it resets. When the trigger resets, immediately squeeze it again to fire another shot. Again, hold the trigger down, sight, release and immediately squeeze again– do all of this without disturbing your sight picture on reset.
  • Ball and Dummy Drill – This drill requires a partner. Here, a partner takes the gun and turns around away from your field of view and loads the gun with either a dummy round or with a live round. The gun is holstered, drawn and then fired. Start at the 5 yard line, as you can demonstrate 20 rounds in the A ring with none out, then move back to the 7 yard line. Subsequently, move to the 10, 15, 20 yard lines.
  • Single Shot Drill – This drill is similar to the “Ball And Dummy Drill” and this exercise works on eliminating shot anticipation. This drill can be practiced without any assistance, making it easy to manage. Load one round into the weapon and then remove the magazine. Point in and fire the round on target, then settle in for a second shot and press the trigger. Watch your front sight intently for signs of dipping – this drill is equally effective as a tool for self-diagnosis.

    Keep A Journal And Records

Final Thoughts

I have a lot of training ahead of me. As I identify what drills are working or new ones that work better, I will be updating this article (or adding a new one). Right now, this is my starting point.

Know that improvement requires aggression. If you shoot a drill perfectly every time, then the drill is no longer effecting change. You will need to either change a variable towards a more aggressive goal (time, distance, accuracy…) or you will need to change the drill.

In addition to laying out this baseline, I will be working on optimizing the “bang for the buck” in terms of rounds/time spent and value returned.

As always, should you readers have any other suggestions, please feel free to post your comments. Also, look out for updates as I refine this training regimen.

Read the other Journey to USPSA articles:

My Best Worst Day of Shooting
Rebuilding the Core Basics

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