I first came across Pat McNamara’s Blaze X at least a handful of years ago when Pat Mac was still posting drills on YouTube on a regular basis. Blaze X combines a fair bit of movement with task complexity and a fair bit of one-handed shooting. Almost 50% of the rounds fired (assuming first round hits) are fired one-handed. It requires a good mix of skills, and to do well at it, the ability to think and shoot at the same time.
Normally we think of shooting drills as shooting drills, but really this is more than just a shooting drill. Just like how Tom Given’s Casino Drill is more than just a shooting drill. These types of drills are as much about keeping the brain engaged with tasks not directly related to the shooting, like where to move next, switching the gun from one hand to the other, and following a specific pattern. All without thinking about having to align sights and press the trigger well enough to get a good hit.
TMACS Inc. Blaze X Pistol Drill Setup
The basics of the drill are as follows. You will need 5 cones (or some other way to mark locations on the ground), a steel target (preferably not larger than a B/C steel target), and at least 9 rounds of ammunition (more is probably better). Make a 7yd by 7yd square with 4 of the cones, with the front row of cones 10 yards from the target. Place the 5th cone in the center of the square. This should make the center cone just under 5 yards from each corner.
The start position for the drill is the shooting position in the center of the square, with the handgun holstered. On the start signal, draw the handgun and shooting freestyle (both hands) hit the steel target with one round. Once the steel has been hit (not just shot at), move to one of the corners. The movement pattern is shooter’s choice. The corners on the right are shot right hand only. The corners on the left are shot left hand only. The center position is always shot freestyle.
Once at the chosen corner, engage the target as appropriate and get one hit. Move back to the center and engage the target freestyle before moving to another corner. Rinse and repeat, until you have engaged the target from all corners, moving through the center point and re-engaging the target between each corner. Once you have engaged the target from the last remaining corner, go back to the center point and engage the target one last time. The drill starts and ends at the center point.
At a minimum, there should be 9 rounds fired, and 5 of them should be fired from the center point.
It can sound really complicated, but when you see it, it will all make sense.
The score is the amount of time it takes to complete the drill. Misses are penalized because the makeup shot takes time. It is just built in. Shooting the drill this way, though, requires the use of a steel target to have the auditory cue to know when the target is hit.
An alternative way to shoot this drill would be to fire 1 round at each corner and every time we pass through the center on something like an IDPA target and then add time penalties based on the quality of the hits, just like they do in IDPA.
If I shoot the drill in 20 seconds, hit the -0 with 6 rounds, and put two rounds in the -1 zone, add 2 seconds to my raw time for a scored time of 22 seconds.
Another option would be to shoot the drill on a B-8, firing 1 round per corner and as we pass through the center point. Then divide the points scored on the B-8 by the amount of time that it took to complete the drill. This would give us a “points per second” score.
These alternative methods of shooting the drill would allow us to adjust the difficulty level up or down a bit and also frees us from having to use a steel target. Even though the drill could not be considered exactly the same drill, it retains many of the primary learning points and reduces the logistical hurdles.
If you give this one a try, drop your time in the comments.