Basic “5 and 50” Practice Drill To Conserve Ammo and Lower Costs

Basic "5 and 50" Practice Drill To Conserve Ammo and Lower Costs
Basic "5 and 50" Practice Drill To Conserve Ammo and Lower Costs
Basic “5 and 50” Practice Drill To Conserve Ammo and Lower Costs

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.

Seven & Two-Hand
Seven & Two-Hand

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.                                              

Strong Hand
Strong Hand

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!

© 2013 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at
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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at Contact him at
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A great article Col. Findley as always. We all are having to conserve ammo now and your drill is a great way to maximize practice with what we have on hand. I think the only thing I can add is if the ammo supply doesn’t open up very soon I won’t be doing too much more shooting until it does. I refuse to pay the cut throat inflated prices being offered right now for the few ammo choices left. I realize Homeland Security is buying an extremely high amount which puzzles and disturbs me at the same time. Even many local police departments are running low.

I also realize many of us are panic buying which ain’t helping but I can’t blame people either. I know this much though . . . IF and when ammo becomes plentiful again and at a reasonable price I’m NEVER going to be caught short again! I thought I had enough. I was mistaken, but it won’t happen again. Let’s all hope this let’s up soon because this ain’t good folks!


Some are wondering if perhaps, just perhaps, this huge buying spree by Homeland isn’t a ploy to muffle shooting/collecting activity by denying us ammo at an even decent rate, or maybe not at all… I saw one box of .22 at Gander this week…one box, of 50 rounds for 5.60 that is outrageous. well, they can’t keep buying ammo forever.
market will see the need and fill the niche… that is what capitalism is all about.


Excellent message. Thank You


Thank you very much!


Great article, but i have a question – how would you adapt these drills to the local indoor range that doesn’t allow drawing from a holster while shooting in the lane? Perhaps go to a low-ready as opposed to re-holstering?

Colonel Ben

Hi MC. Proper shooting basics & practice are certainly necessary, but sadly some commercial indoor ranges have strict limitations on the type of training you do. (I prefer outdoor ranges.) You can dry fire practice with snap caps & unloaded gun at home, including drawing, reloading & movement. Also, you can do the drill from a low or high ready position. The high ready should be in the middle of your draw sequence, so you are practicing at least part of your draw techniques. I do IDPA competition shoots to practice my draw and refine fundamentals… inexpensive & fun! Also, you might want to talk to the indoor range RSO for his/her suggestions and shoot when few are there. SUCCESS!


Outstanding. Very helpful, thank you.




What distance are these drills?

Colonel Ben

Hi Shooter! See Stage 1 where I say start at 7 yards out. As your accuracy improves with your comfort level, move out in about 3 yard increments, eventually to about 20-25 yards.

Prepper Chronicles

It states 7 yards in the post.

Duane Eddy
Colonel Ben

Hello Friend! See Stage 1 where I say start at 7 yards out. As your accuracy improves with your comfort level, move out in about 3 yard increments, eventually to about 20-25 yards.
Col Ben

Adelbert Waldron

Great advice. We shoot tactical stages like this many times a year, but we do more malfunction drills.

Joel Stevenson

can’t wait to try it. been looking for a simple training option that uses less ammo. thanks

Dan Ardizzone

this what gun control means!!!

Laurence L. Anderson

If you think Mario`s story is astonishing,, last pay cheque
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and got a cheque for over $6613 part time on there mac. the guide available on
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I am NRA Pistol & Rifle certified instructor, Retired E8, and am now 75 and still shooting. At one time I coached the MN National Guard pistol team for four years. Shot all service in 1960. My suggestion for those wishing to stabilize the shooting platform for pistol, is to curl and hold 3 pound hand weights, moving slowly to build stamina, shoulder and flexor strength, coupled with a hand squeezer…. I highly commend the program outlined here, the 5 x 50 idea. Quality is everything, drawing from a holster and reloading, important… if a revolver is involved, try having someone put one round in the cylinder and hand it to the shooter, then watch across the front sights to see what happens with trigger squeeze. Great for wife, when she is just sure that “I am squeezing, and not jerking the trigger”… know the game? right

Good advice from the Col. !