Condition: Yellow - responsible preparation, and fun, for an unpredictable world

Category Archives

63 Articles

Shooting Drill: The Federal Air Marshal Pistol Qualification

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments
Shooting Drill: The Federal Air Marshal Pistol Qualification

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to use the range facilities at your disposal in the most productive ways possible. At my indoor range, for instance, I cannot draw from a holster and the narrow shooting lanes prohibit all but the smallest body dynamics. So there I work on mag-exchange drills, hand drills, and plain ol target practice.

When I get to my local outdoor practical range there is very little I cannot do, but I have a hard time settling on specific drills to work. Despite the fact that I’m a competitive shooter, I only ever use my concealed carry holster and pistols when working on pistol drills there (Since my daily carry setup is concealed, that’s how I train.). Even so, I find my pistol drills lack a bit of structure and I’ve not made of habit of measuring my results against any standard; personal or objective. I’ve decided to change that.

After today’s excellent discussion with the owner and one of his instructors at my local practical range, I’ll be using various military and law enforcement qualification courses of fire as training drills. The first one I’ll be using as a drill is the Federal Air Marshal Pistol Qualification.

The Federal Air Marshal Pistol Qualification

The drill is executed at 7 yards using the FBI UIT-CB target. Each string (except #3) is performed twice, using a competition shot timer to issue start signals and to log the string times (and, if you’re really keeping track of things: the time between multiple shots).

Drill – each is performed twice From Par Time
One round concealed holster 1.65 seconds
Double tap low ready 1.35 seconds
Rhythm: fire 6 rounds at one target (1x only) low ready 3.00 seconds
On shot, speed reload, one shot low ready 3.25 seconds
One round each at 2 targets three yards apart low ready 1.65 seconds
Pivot 180°: One round each at 3 targets three yards apart – 1x turn left, 1x turn right concealed holster 3.50 seconds
One round, slide locks back, drop to one knee, reload, fire one round low ready 4.00 seconds

By recording my hits/misses and times, I’ll be able to find my trouble spots and track progress against an objective pressure standard.


If you’d like to train with this drill and keep track of your performance, here are a couple things you might like:

Here’s someone running the drill:

Weekend Workout 2: Five By Three

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

This week’s practical-range drill is run from concealment, featuring and aerobic workout and multiple small targets from three different distances: 7 yards, 17 yards, and 25 yards.

The Drill: Five by Three

  • Targets: Three 8-inch steel plates (or paper equivalent), placed 3 yards apart
  • Course of Fire: 25-yard range needed. 3 shots from each position – run from concealment – will include speed reloads between positions
  • Par Time: 26 seconds.

3 x 5 drill by andy rutledge

Important Notes

Use a shot timer and measure your time. The par time is 26 seconds, but aim to improve on each run.

You can see from the drill schematic that you will be moving both away from and toward the targets. Pay particular attention to your muzzle discipline while moving away from the targets—keep your muzzle pointed at the berm (behind you)!

Note also that you will need either a double magazine holder or two magazine pouches or a single mag pouch with the #3 magazine in your pocket (OR both extra mags in your pockets – not recommended).

The Drill

Set up three 8″ steel plates on stands—or three equivalent paper targets—three yards apart at 25 yards downrange. Place a barrel or some other conspicuous marker at 7 yards away from the targets and another at 17 yards away from the targets. Your main/furthest firing line should be at 25 yards away from the targets.

  1. Load 3 magazines: 3 rounds, 6 rounds, and 6 rounds respectively.
  2. Put the 3-round mag in your gun and chamber a round. Re-holster your pistol in your concealed holster. Place the other magazines in your mag pouch(es) and/or in your pocket(s). Your pistol and magazines should all be concealed.
  3. Start at the targets. Queue your shot timer. At the beep, sprint to position 1 (7 yards from the targets), turn, draw from concealment and fire 1 round at each target. Your gun should lock open, empty.
  4. Drop your magazine, turn and sprint to position 2 (17 yards from the targets) while you retrieve your next magazine.
  5. When you reach position 2, turn and reload and fire 1 shot at each target.
  6. Turn and sprint to position 3 (the 25-yard line). Be sure to keep your muzzle pointed at the berm behind you!
  7. At the 25-yard line, turn and fire 1 shot at each of the targets. Your slide will lock back as you run empty.
  8. Drop your mag and sprint back to position 2 as you retrieve your last magazine.
  9. Reload and fire 1 shot at each of the targets from position 2.
  10. Sprint to position 1 and fire 1 shot at each of the targets.

Note and record your time. Retrieve your dropped magazines.

Final Notes

Do at least 10 repeats on this drill. The drill will give you a good aerobic workout and test your ability to engage in precision shooting while your heart rate is up and while you have the pressure of the clock.

This is a precision drill, with the target areas being only 8″ in diameter. This is an effective target area for incapacitation and it is the maximum you should ever train to hit no matter your drill. Smaller targets are a good motivation for you to focus when aiming & shooting. Always opt for the smaller target in training.

The par time I’ve set here is 26 seconds, but aim to get below 20 seconds with 100% hit rate. If you compare this to a real-life situation where you’re required to save your own life from 3 armed assailants, note that you have the rest of your life to make accurate hits. Take all the time you require, but know that your life hangs in the balance.

Keep training hard. Training works. Responsibility is a thing™.

Weekend Workout 1: Double Triangle

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

Every weekend I’m at the practical range for one or two days working on technical accuracy and/or gun handling drills for pistol and carbine. For pistol, which is what I’ll talk about here, these drills usually involve multi-target drills, barricade drills, weak-hand / strong-hand shoot/reload drills, various mag-exchange drills, high-heart-rate-accuracy drills…or a combination of some or all of those. All are run from concealment.

I train 100% from concealment because that’s the only way I’ll ever deploy my pistol against any real threat. The result of my 2015 training has been 65+ practical-drill training sessions of no less than 200 rounds. Each training session averages 30-60 live-fire draws from concealment and 40-80 magazine exchanges from concealment. I tend to keep my magazine loads minimal for drills so as to maximize opportunities for mag exchange reps.

When I get an entire bay to myself I like to run multi-distance drills. I thought I’d start sharing some of my training drills so here’s the one I ran today, where I got in 10 repetitions. I call it Double Triangle.


andy rutledge's double-triangle drill


Double Triangle

It’s a drill for medium-range engagement. This drill allows you to practice:

  • sprinting to a position then steadying your platform for accurate shots
  • medium-range accuracy
  • magazine exchanges
  • muzzle discipline
  • managing accuracy as your heart rate climbs

Done right, your heart rate should be pretty damn high for the last couple of positions’ shots.

For this drill you need a 25-yard bay and quite a bit of room side to side. You’ll put 2 hits on target (steel–so you can hear your hits/misses) each from six positions. Makeup any misses immediately and exchange magazines as needed. The total required hits is 12 and you’ll have 14 rounds total loaded, so you can’t miss more than twice in the drill. If you run dry or are otherwise unable to put 2 hits on target from each position, that run is a FAIL. I find it’s best if you use steel so that you can hear your hits.

Place one barrel at 18 yards in the middle and two barrels at 7 yards, each 8-12 yards left and right of the target. You will shoot from the 25 yard line and from behind each of the barrels.

Magazine loadout is: 4 rounds in the pistol (1 chambered + 3), and 5 rounds each in 2 mags on your belt or in your pocket.

Use a shot timer. At the beep, sprint to position 1. NOTE: beginners should draw from concealment at the beep and then sprint to position 1. Those experienced at live-fire drills from concealment should sprint to position 1 and then draw from concealment. Put 2 hits on target, then sprint to the next position, etc…

BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR MUZZLE POINTED DOWNRANGE AT ALL TIMES. Be especially careful of your muzzle when running from the 18-yard position back to the 25-yard position. Also KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF OF THE TRIGGER EXCEPT WHEN YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON TARGET.

Do 6 – 10 reps for your workout.

Add one second for each hit outside of the “A” zone.

Par Time:
30 seconds (or better)


  1. Require left hand only for positions 1 & 2 and right hand only for positions 4 & 5
  2. Add more difficulty by requiring 1-handed magazine exchanges
  3. Add barricades and make it a cover drill

Give it a try!