Drill Zero Variations

At the start of 2016, I posted an article about practicing every day including a Dryfire Report you could print out, plus a link to a video about Drill Zero.  Drill Zero is a short dryfire exercise that is easy to do every day that takes little equipment, little room, and gives you practice at several fundamentals that are central to shooting well.

The problem with any one particular drill, of course, is the fact that it simply can’t help you practice THAT many skills all at once.  While Drill Zero can help you with some of the skills that are incredibly important, it is still a good idea to get some additional practice in—but sometimes you still just don’t have much time.

So:  Here are three variations on Drill Zero that you can periodically add to your normal practice schedule.  They don’t take longer than a standard Drill Zero (at least, not by much), and you can rotate them into your practice periodically to expand the set of skills that you practice on a daily basis.

For the first two variations, you will need this target: 5_2in_Dots

(You can use it for the third variation also, if you like.)

Variation 1 adds some target selection and specificity, variation 2 adds a second transition and sight picture, and variation three adds some gun-handling practice to your marksmanship practice.

To summarize:

VARIATION 1: Put the 5-dot target up on the wall that you use for Drill Zero.  Instead of transitioning to the wall, transition to a specific dot for each rep, and keep the sights in alignment on the dot (which will be large considering how close you are) as you work the trigger.  You can use the same dot for any given day of repetitions, but I personally prefer to use a different dot for each rep, which means for any set of 10 (each of freestyle, SHO, and WHO) I go through all five dots twice.

This variation will do two things:

  1. Check to see if you are snapping your eyes to the target and then driving the gun–if you can’t see the dot clearly before the gun/sights appear in your vision, you aren’t snapping your eyes fast enough.
  2. It will also force you to move to specific aiming points on the wall.  This is important, because while Drill Zero does some good things, it also allows you to pick whatever spot on the wall is most comfortable to you, and you don’t have to actually control where the gun moves.  Using the 5-dots target forces you to move to specific positions, but still allows you to keep your focus and concentration on the front sight, which is a major part of Drill Zero.

VARIATION 2: With the 5-dot target on the wall, perform Drill Zero as normal by transitioning to a specific dot.  When you do that, take up the slack and prep the trigger strongly, then pause on the dot without pressing the trigger.  When the gun is solid and non-moving, snap your eyes and drive the gun to a second dot and complete the trigger pull on the second dot without misaligning the sights.

This variation:

  1. Allows you to check your trigger prep.  Is your finger placed properly?  Do you have an appropriate amount of prep?  Not enough?  How often do you prep too much?
  2. Gives you an extra transition, one that is very short.  As such, you should be able to complete that trigger pull extremely quickly.  This practice will help you practice keeping your front/rear sights in alignment during transitions, and get better at finishing the trigger pull immediately upon getting the sights on target.

VARIATION 3: This variation adds a completely new aspect to Drill Zero–specifically, some gun-handling skills.  (In general, this shows the difference between marksmanship skills like sight alignment/sight picture/trigger control, and gun handling skills like draws, loads, and reloads.) For variation three, you’ll be performing the last half of a reload.  Now:  One thing not mentioned in the video is that you can practice it from a speed reload perspective, or instead start with the slide locked back and perform a slidelock reload.  You could also start with a dead trigger and perform the reload and rack the slide prior to the trigger pull on target.

This variation:

  1. Forces you to use your brain for a non-marksmanship purpose prior to pulling the trigger so makes it obvious right away if a) you are performing the marksmanship part correctly, and b) if you are practiced enough to switch gears quickly.
  2. And then it gives you practice on switching gears.  Whether in competition or self-defense, you need to be sufficiently skilled so that you can switch between marksmanship actions and other actions without losing effectiveness or speed.  Forcing yourself to switch back and forth is good practice.  (And practicing reloads more never hurts, either.)


Again–these variations do NOT take the place of Drill Zero.  However, every once in awhile throwing in one of these variations (or adding a couple of extra reps of a variation in addition to your Drill Zero practice) will add another layer of skill-building without adding huge additional amounts of time or requiring more in the way of equipment.

Dryfire practice can make you better.  If you have the time to do 30 minutes to an hour of dryfire every day, then EXCELLENT.  Increase your skills in dryfire, test them out in live fire, and you are going to get much better very quickly.

If you don’t have an extra 30 minutes or hour every single day (like most of us)–you can still perform Drill Zero and its variations, and get better.

Every day, get a little better.

2 thoughts on “Drill Zero Variations

  1. Pingback: 2016 Resolution I: Practicing Drill Zero | Precision Response Training

  2. Pingback: 2017: How are you going to get better this year? | Precision Response Training

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