Drills and Spills — Warrior Industries


  In my article Time I spoke on how time gets used and ways to make its use more efficient. For this article, I am going to discuss some drills and some shortcomings in some current training philosophy’s.


Coaches and trainers have long used drills to isolate skills and build training plans. Great coaches will tie those drills together to reach an end state of being prepared for any eventuality. In the context of shooting, a lot of these drills are offered on social media and are frankly run out of context. There are trainers that simply pile these drills together and offer training that has no end state or even a goal beyond tossing a few bucks into the wallet of the instructor. If you go to a class for a true professional instructor, the “why” is laid out as well as where we are going to get to by the end of the class or drill. Many times, drills are selected for what I call “Cadre Magic Tricks.” These are simply drills that the instructor likes and have perfected. While these types of drills have merit as demos, they must tie into the training plan.

Drills for isolated skills must be run before you can get into more complex tasks. The simple drill I ran in time was extremely limited in scope and effect. If you didn’t read it (AUTHORS NOTE Read it!) it was a simple shot from the low or high ready in one second. What was learned was how fast to move the rifle and when. That’s all. End. Nothing more was gained from it in isolation. I could have run the drill longer and possibly gotten faster but I knew the result of the drill and the effort would have been wasted. In recent conversation, Aaron Barruga of Guerrilla Approach brought up an interesting point.

“Exercises like 1-5 and 22422 are great at working multiple mechanics, and their high volume of fire make them addictive, but some shooters rush into these exercises without measuring their performance.”

I’ve shot these exercises quite a few times and I agree. VTAC 1-5 and HSP 22422, are great exercises, and great examples of drills that are abused and thrusted out of context. This is hardly a critique of Lamb and Haley, but an assessment of other instructors that randomly pile drills on top of each other with no rhyme or reason.


“Hijacking standing NPA”

The Shot Process flows like this. Stability, aim, control. You build a position, aim, then make the weapon fire. Novice instructor’s application of the drills above have you engaging multiple targets from an established position. You have already built a good static position and engage accordingly.  If you look deeper at the training philosophy you will see that these drills are a base and quickly have you doing the same drill from movement or with added factors. While a good fast run looks awesome on social media, work on this drill beyond its scope is a waste of effort and can be detrimental to your development. If you have done any research on two way ranges, there are some general truths that come to light. Someone was moving, someone was the aggressor and the defender was reacting. I can think of only a few situations where someone could stand static and run fast shots on multiple targets at close range. Unfortunately, those are from the perspective of a murderer like the incidents in Orlando, Dallas and San Bernardino.  On the other hand, I can see having to get a good draw while moving toward cover and engaging multiple threats who are also moving in a defensive shoot or law enforcement situation. In military context, we may be the attacker but the movement will still be there. If you do need to stop, you must move through the shot process of building a position, aiming and controlling your trigger. To avoid the hijack, after some runs getting to know the drill start from across the range sprint to the firing line and run the drill. Then work on reducing the overall time for that drill. Once that has been worked on work on continuing to move while running the shooting. This is a progression of the base drill that will take you closer to a real-world application. In the video for the 22422 drill, Travis Haley runs the drill a few times then begins movement and explains the “blow the water” aspects.

That is the effect that all trainers should be moving you toward. You may not be training for real world but maybe for competition. The same thing still applies as most stages have some sort of movement to a position and require fast accurate hits. I will say right now that I can run a sub 4 second 1-5 drill. That helped me very little at a major steel match in which I took a sound beating from people who had never heard of the 1-5 or even ran it. They could move through the stage apply their shot process with such efficiency that my mongo technique was woefully inadequate. They beat me on time, accuracy and fired half the rounds that I fired.

There is more to a training plan that simply writing down a bunch of drills and moving through them. Just like the fitness industry uses programming to get a result that is much more specific than “getting in shape” a professional trainer will take you somewhere. There are isolated skills that need to be trained prior to complex drills but the goal should be to get to those complex skillsets. As you build your own personal training plan, you should apply this same process. Ask yourself where you are and where you want to be. Use feedback from the target and the clock to get an honest assessment and use these same metrics to evaluate progress. There are also many video apps that allow you to record and play back the video at slower speeds that are useful for diagnoses.

Train SMART!

Ash Hess

PS I want to thank FMJ Armory  and DHR Firearms Training for hosting the classes I have been involved in recently


  1. Jan C Straubinger on November 30, 2016 at 7:10 PM

    ” I took a sound beating from people who had never heard of the 1-5 or even ran it. They could move through the stage apply their shot process with such efficiency that my mongo technique was woefully inadequate. They beat me on time, accuracy and fired half the rounds that I fired.. ”
    So what conclusion do you draw from this statement? Does it influence the training process for some people ?

    • Ash Hess on November 30, 2016 at 7:20 PM

      Train smarter, harder, and not to get sucked into the drill but the “why” of the drill.

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