Pistol Basics: The 3×5 Drill


Above: Shooting my Beretta 92FS Inox with a particularly good seven yard group on an index card that was part of the 3×5 Card Drill.

The 3×5 Card Drill is something I first came across at Pistol-Training.com many years ago. This is a very simple drill that with no time limit or real score that involves shooting a group at index cards on the 3, 5, 7, 10, and 15 yard lines. The official description at Pistol-Training asks that shooters fire a six round group at each index card. However, I always preferred shooting a five round group in order to be able to shoot this drill twice with the standard box of 50 pistol rounds. In the case of TDA pistols, I fired three double action shots and only two in single action. The description also mentions only moving on to the next distance if you group all previous shots in the corresponding index card, but I like to shoot the drill at each successive distance to help get used to shooting at smaller targets further away. I also liked to score it my own way in a similar style to IDPA (down  0, down 1, down 2 and so on).

Because this drill does not require starting from a holster, a large amount of ammunition, crazy reloads or a shot timer, I found it ideal as a new shooter who had limited time and money. In those days my access to a “competition” or “training” style pistol bay was limited and I shot pistols mostly at indoor ranges. Therefore, the 3×5 Card Drill became staple of my early days. Ironically, it is probably one of the most convenient drills to run on a lane at an indoor range, since you can tape five index cards to a piece of paper or target and just move the pulley after shooting the previous group. Shooting this drill at a public indoor range also will not attract any negative attention to get you kicked out. Since the drill uses only a handful of rounds each time, using ban-state compliant low capacity magazines is also not a problem.

The best aspect of the 3×5 Card Drill is that it is a self-paced and self-directed drill and can therefore be extremely beneficial to new shooters. Moreover, it is a good way to get exposure to taking slightly longer distance shots at relatively small 3×5-inch index cards—not impossible to hit but easy to miss if you don’t clamp down on your handgun fundamentals. If you’re a new shooter or rusty in your fundamentals, go get some cheap index cards and some masking tape and give the 3×5 Card Drill a try at your indoor range! Remember, shooting it my way with a box of 50 rounds gives you two full runs.

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