A simple fact of life is that most skills are perishable, and this is especially true for firearms skills. Training is where you learn skills, and practice is how you retain those skills. Regardless of whether you are training or practicing you need to able to toss lead downrange and for many of us, you may be stuck with an indoor shooting range.
The Limitations with an Indoor Shooting Range
Even when an outdoor range is available the weather may be uncooperative for that hour you get for lunch to go to the range. Perhaps the outdoor range is as strict as an indoor shooting range. Whatever the reason is you have to keep sharp, be it the only option you have locally, or the fact that winter is approximately nine months long this year.
Indoor gun ranges place many limitations on a shooter. Most will include limitations on the speed between shots fired. The vast majority of indoor shooting ranges will not allow you to draw from the holster either. Another significant limitation is the size of the shooting booth. Your lane will offer you minimal room to place a single target, much less multiple targets.
Working Within Those Limitations
Just because you are limited doesn’t mean you can’t train effectively. Training inside a set of limitations takes some imagination and a little bit of know how. These five drills I’m listing today are all designed to work with an indoor gun range and within the limitations of most gun ranges. Our drills aren’t the end-all, be-all list. Make sure you sign up and check our forum where you can share ideas and chat with our experts.
Before you can work within the limitations of your range you need to know the limitations and consult their rules. Range rules differ from range to range so become familiar with those rules. It is necessary that you follow the rules regardless of the training you attempt to do.
The five drills we have here should be friendly for the vast majority of indoor gun ranges, but as the shooter, the onus is on you to ensure you are following the rules and the effective training triad.
As always, you need to approach your training with a goal in mind. Most indoor shooting ranges charge by the hour and let's not forget your time is also precious. Approach the range with a particular goal in mind. When you go to the range you do not need to utilize all five of these drills, instead focus on a specific area on each range trip.
This could be precision shots, off hand shooting, reloading, or anything other specific skill. As always exercise the fundamentals for every shot you take. Our first drill is built on the fundamentals, so let’s dive into indoor gun range training.
Drill #1: The Check List
The “Check List” drill is the easiest drill you can do, and it's one of the most valuable out there. It places a ton of focus on the fundamentals of firing a handgun. The target can be anything, and you don’t need a specific number of rounds, or magazines.
That’s what great about this drill. It’s simple. Beyond that, it also serves as an excellent warm-up for further range day training. The “Check List” is an actual list, the list of fundamentals necessary to make an accurate shot and to control your weapon.
You’ll need a 3×5 card where you can write the underlying fundamentals. This includes:
Do I have a Proper Grip?
- Is it as high as possible?
- Are both thumbs pointed forward?
- The Dominant hand applying pressure to the front and rear of the grip
- The Support hand applies pressure to the sides of the gun
Am I maintaining proper front sight focus?
Front sight focus is critical in accurate and consistent shooting. If you target looks like you are patterning a shotgun, you likely don't have good front sight focus. Check out our in-depth article on proper sight alignment to really dial this in.
Am I pulling the trigger straight to the rear without shifting my grip?
Another detriment to accuracy is improper grip and trigger pull. Some advocate for a slow, consistent trigger pull which will be more comfortable, but let’s be real for a minute. Do you think you’ll be pulling that trigger slow in a fight? With training, you start slow and add speed. You can pull the trigger fast and smooth.
After every shot fired am I reacquiring my front sight?
Shooters tend to develop a habit to shoot and then look to see where they hit. With a handgun, you want to reacquire the front sight as quickly as possible and maintain sight picture. If you use your firearm in a defensive situation, you may have to fire more than one shot, and you want the habit of reacquiring the front sight after every single shot.
Shooting the Drill
The drill is simple. Fire one shot and grade yourselves via the checklist. Be honest with yourself, and you’ll grow as a shooter. The “Check List” is a drill you evolve into. You go from firing one shot and grading to firing two shots and grading, and so on.
It’s great for a slow day at the indoor gun range to evaluate yourself. This drill creates the building blocks you’ll need to develop advanced skills in firearms handling.
Drill #2: Indoor Dot Torture
Dot torture is one of my favorite all-time drills. It’s effective, trains multiple skills, and allows you to get a good amount of training in just 50 rounds of ammo. Dot Torture is shot from relatively close range, and these features make it a great indoor gun range drill.
There is one issue though… you have to draw from the holster for several portions of the drill. Drawing is typically not kosher at an indoor shooting range. To solve this, we can modify the drill to erase drawing from the curriculum and replace it with other skills.
If you want something simple just replacing drawing your gun with the low ready, it’ll work, but I feel there are better ways to maximize your training. I like to include reload and failure drills into DOT torture.
I call this Indoor DOT Torture, and you can change it up a little here and there if you’d like to accommodate your training needs.
Dot 1 – Start with the slide locked to the rear, empty magazine inserted. Execute a reload and engage the dot five times slow fire. Save the brass.
Dot 2 – Using the brass for the previous drill you are going to set up a malfunction drill. The brass will sit between the barrel and the slide as if it was a failure to eject. Load magazines with one round. Fix the malfunction and fire the shot. Execute 5X.
Dot 3 and 4 – Start with an empty gun with the slide locked to the rear, empty magazine in place. Load a magazine with two rounds in a mag pouch. Execute a reload and engage dots 3 and 4 with a single shot. Execute 4x.
Dot 5 – Low Ready five shots with just the strong hand.
Dots 6 and 7 – Load a magazine of 4 rounds. Load it into the weapon but do not rack the weapon. Execute a tap, rack, bang and engage with two shots on 6 and 2 shots on 7. Execute 4x.
Dot 8 – Low Ready five shots with just the weak hand.
Dots 9 and 10. – Load two magazines with 1 round. Induce a malfunction with a piece of brass and then load one magazine, place the other in a mag pouch. Defeat the malfunction, fire one shot on 9, speed reload and fire one shot on 10. Execute 3x.
Indoor Dot Torture eliminates the need to draw and shoot, and the modifications slow down the rate of fire quite a bit. This will most likely keep the drill useable in the most strict indoor gun ranges.
If you guys make modifications to this drill for indoor use, please let us know in the forums and if we can make it better, we will.
Drill #3: The iHack
The Hackathorn 3-second headshot standards is a very popular drill designed by world-famous firearm’s instructor Ken Hackathorn. This drill does require a lot of space, and this space is not indoor range friendly.
The iHack is an indoor range version that shrinks both the distance between targets and the targets themselves. You use a specific target that’s free and printable. This target gives you six 2-inch circles spaced evenly apart.
You’ll only need nine rounds to complete the drill, and the target will only be 5 yards from you. However, you have 3 seconds to complete each three round string. So plan on having a shot timer, or downloading one onto your phone.
Set the par time to three seconds on your timer. You start from the ready position and the first line of dots. The drill is broken up into three different strings of fire.
- Fire one shot into each dot going from left to right.
- Fire one shot into each target from right to left.
- Fire one shot on each target, starting with the middle target, and then shooting both side targets in any order.
The iHack is a short, but very challenging drill. A passing score is 7 out of 9, with any shots that fall outside of the 3 second par time as misses. This is a brilliant drill for practicing shot placement and precision shooting, combined with a little speed.
It’s challenging and will test you, and that’s the main reason I enjoy it so much. Let’s not forget it’s perfect for an indoor shooting range.
Drill #4: Switch Hitting
Switch-hitting is a drill designed by the late Todd Green. The drill is designed to be simple and to work your ability to hit a target with one hand. The drill utilizes two 3×5 index cards as targets, but any small target will work.
The targets are placed a foot apart and are three yards from you. Set a shot timer with a par time of ten seconds. Starting position is the ready position but in the strong hand only.
On the buzzer engage the target on your dominant hand side, for most this will be the right target. Fire one shot and then carefully pass the gun to the left or non-dominant hand. Fire a single shot at the left-hand target.
Then pass the gun back to the right hand and repeat the drill until the timer buzzes again. The goal is to place two shots on each target in those ten seconds if you find this easy, back the target to 5 yards and try it out.
It stresses a skill many of us are weak on, and that’s single hand, precision shooting. It’s challenging, but easy to do in an indoor shooting range.
Drill #5: The Pistol Pyramid
The Pistol Pyramid is a drill I’ve been working on for a while now that incorporates a custom target in the form of a pyramid. In total, the target is 15 blocks and can be used in a variety of ways and in a variety of drills.
The Blocks are empty, but the shooter can fill them in with numbers, shapes or colors. The target is the core of the Pistol Pyramid. The main drill I suggest for indoor gun range use is a shoot the numbers drill.
Use random numbers from 1 to 5 in each block of the Pyramid. You have to use all the numbers. The drill here is to shoot the numbers in sequential order.
So you shoot all the 1s first, then all the 2s, and so on. This forces you to track both horizontally and vertically, as well as think before you shoot. One way I like to spice up the drill is to shoot odd numbers once and even numbers twice.
Again this keeps you thinking the whole time. Additionally, you can use the target like Dot torture and assign your own mini drill to each block, or row of blocks.
The target is an excellent base for coming up with your own drills.
I’d love to see some of these drills so if you create your own let us know in the forums. You can get the pistol Pyramid Numbered target for training, as well as a blank version to allow you to customize the Pyramid to your use, by clicking here.
There is rarely an excuse not to train, there can be reasons, but excuses are close to worthless. An indoor gun range with strict rules is a challenge, but we can overcome a challenge and obey the rules at the same time.
These indoor shooting range drills will help sharpen your skill, reinforce the basics of good shooting, and of course are all fun to do. If you fine folks have any questions or other great drills, leave a comment below!