Given the high cost and low availability of ammo and the increased shipping costs recently, here is a focused practice drill I use to conserve ammo and lower my shooting costs by using only 50 rounds, while improving my shooting skills. Rather than just throw lead down range, I use a specific drill to practice and focus on key fundamentals and techniques, like proper grip, sight alignment, and trigger control. This simple Basic “5 and 50” Practice Drill includes a total of 50 rounds fired, in five separate stages with ten rounds per stage, focusing on shooting fundamentals. If your magazine or firearm holds less than ten cartridges, just load it to full capacity. Accuracy, rather than speed, is your primary goal the first time through all five stages. Another goal is to minimize body, arm, hand, and sight movement as you precisely press the trigger. This simple drill will help reinforce your accuracy, trigger control, consistency in grip and trigger control skills from shot to shot and improve the basics of sight picture with sights on target, while safely and properly drawing. The “5 and 50” Drill is good for any shooter at any level, since you can always improve your shooting of tighter groups or increase your speed of draw and accuracy, after you master the drill fundamentals and want more challenge.
Stage 1: Seven & Two-Hand
Set your inexpensive 9″ paper-plate target at seven yards and use a two-hand hold to slowly shoot your first magazine or cylinder. Grip the firearm very firmly, focus on the front sight, and take your time for a smooth, consistent, straight-back deliberate trigger press. Remember, take your time because accuracy, rather than speed, is your goal the first time through all the stages. Shoot all 10 rounds.
Stage 2: Strong Hand
Reload your firearm and repeat what you did in the first stage, only this time fire all ten rounds using your strong/dominant hand only. Again, take your time and focus on trigger control and solid shooting fundamentals. Four keys to success when shooting one-handed are to ensure (1) you have a solid, firm grip on the firearm, (2) your grasp is high on the backstrap of the firearm, (3) your wrist is locked, and (4) your alignment is straight from your wrist to the radius of your strong-hand forearm.
Stage 3: Support Hand
Again, reload your firearm and shoot the 10 rounds of this next stage using your support/off hand only. Just as with your strong hand only, a strong grip is important when shooting with only one hand, your support hand. Lock your wrist to steady the firearm and minimize movement for better accuracy. Focus intently on your front sight and be sure your trigger press is smooth, consistent, not stop-and-go, straight back, and deliberate.
Stage 4: Smooth, Safe, & Slow Draw
This stage involves proper presentation and holster fundamentals. With your firearm loaded and holstered, smoothly DRAW, present the gun properly, and engage the target. Keep your trigger finger straight along side of your holster, so a curved finger does not slide into the trigger guard while drawing. SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS. Fire two shots and then slowly, safely, and deliberately re-holster. Take your time and never hurry to re-holster. GO SLOW. Repeat the drill until the firearm is empty.
Stage 5: Three & Three Reload
Load three magazines to hold only three rounds each or fill only 3 chambers of your revolver. If shooting a semi-auto pistol, insert one of the partially-loaded mags into the firearm. Safely draw and shoot the target until the firearm is empty and then properly RELOAD. Repeat the drill three more times or until the firearm is empty, so you are proficient at smoothly reloading. Reloading is more challenging and requires more dexterous skills for a revolver, but speed-loaders or speed-strips can help. Practice and then practice some more.
By safely focusing on specific and deliberate fundamentals and techniques in these five basic stages, you can improve your skill level and do so at a reasonable cost, given the limited supply of ammo. SUCCESS!