Contact Drills (R)

The Rifle Drills course is an on-line curricula consists of 15 short instructional modules with quizzes.

The predecessor to the Rifle Drills Course is the Handgun Drills course which we encourage everyone to start with. By building on the foundation of the Handgun Drills course you will more quickly learn what works for you should you be afforded the luxury of enough time to retrieve your long gun.

In this Rifle Drills course, we will provide you with the study materials needed to begin mastering stress resistant gun handling techniques for the rifle. This course will introduce you to drills that you should practice at home (dry) and on the range (live).

The drill modules should be completed in order, after which the student can revisit any module at any time to refresh their memory. Students who complete all 15 modules and pass the quizzes will be awarded a certificate that can be posted to their profile page.

INSTRUCTIONS: Watch the video, read the narrative, review the still photos then take the quiz at the bottom. When done move on to the next module indicated at the bottom.

DURATION: 30 Minutes


RIFLE DRILLS - 07 CONTACT DRILLS Everything we have covered up to this point has dealt with getting your rifle safely deployed and onto target so you could successfully engage your adversary during a lethal force encounter. What we are going to cover next is what we call contact drills, and these contact drills have two primary functions that are designed to save your life after the excitement of the initial contact in a lethal force encounter. 

By utilizing these contact drills, you will be pulsing (forcing OODA loops) into your environment, while combat breathing (thereby breaking the psychological tunnel vision that normally accompanies a lethal force encounter), and therefore assuring you are situationally aware of your current circumstances and ready for further hostilities.

Why do I say "further hostilities?" Because at this stage in the encounter (once you have shot during a gunfight) there are only two things you can be certain of.

1. You know you are in a fight.
2. You know you have had your turn.

That's all you really know for sure.

Can you be certain that all the fighting for the day is over? No, obviously not.

In short, consider these contact drills a series of actions you would initiate in order to better prepare yourself for the fight you don't know is yet ongoing or continuing to develop around you.

Having stated the above, there are three questions that you need to ask yourself and find the answers to immediately after the first part of the fight (the initial shooting) is over. The three questions are:

1. What is the situation in my immediate vicinity? This is a compound question which needs answers. You want to know things like: Are there any more bad guys I need to deal with; where are my teammates/loved ones, and; where is the nearest next possible cover/concealment if I need it?

2. Have I affected the change I set out to cause? That is, is the adversary that I have just shot truly out of the fight?

3. Is there anyone at any distance who still posses a threat to me?

By answering the above questions in a timely manner, you can take the current situation in its totality in order to figure out what really has changed in your current circumstance, and where the bad guys, loved ones, and teammates are at this time. By gathering this vital information, you are gaining better situational awareness and thereby able to make more timely and well informed decisions on your own behalf.

To answer these above questions we give you the tool of the contact drills.

Let me state clearly up front that we are introducing these drills in their static ordered form. In real life, you will be moving and shooting, or shooting then moving. Due to the situation, you may not need to conduct each step, or you may decide to conduct them in different orders or for different periods of time. The situation will dictate if, when, and to what extent you will use them. As we have discussed numerous times in the Strategic, Tactics, and this Drill Manual; all techniques must be modified to enhance your survivability, they are not meant to be strict rules that can't be bent, modified, or even broken if the situation requires it.

To start with, you need to be pointed (with an unloaded firearm) in at your target in (a safe direction), as if you have been shooting.

01 You Have Shot - You will have been shooting, therefore your finger must be on the trigger.

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From the moment you have stopped the threat, your finger should go straight off the trigger, back on to its tactile reference point as you follow your adversary down and begin moving to cover.

02 Finger Straight - Once you have eliminated the threat, your finger must go straight and back to its tactile reference point.

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At this point, let me say that I realize that in real life, you will not be static, and you will be moving as much as is beneficial to you. This means that you will probably moving towards cover/concealment as soon as you figure out that you have eliminated your threat (or perhaps you were shooting on the move and you will continue moving). Regardless of the circumstance, once you are safely behind cover/concealment you should return to the ready position. How you get to cover (meaning that we don't care if you run at the high ready or some other technique) is of secondary concern to us, as long as you do so safely (not covering any innocent bystanders with your muzzle).

For the static position, as you follow your adversary down you will bringing the rifle into the ready position (muzzle below the individual you just shot, and out of your face enough not to crowed your field of view), where you will be conducting your quick check and starting your combat breathing.

Again, I realize that in real life you may not follow the adversary down with your muzzle (perhaps you got the head shot you were aiming for), or you may be turning to run for cover in a one handed high ready position as you conduct your quick check. But again, for the sake of simplicity (and the fact that we need to learn to crawl before we can walk...) we are explaining the bits and pieces of the drill in their static form, so please bear with me and stick it out.

03 Back to the Ready - Back to the familiar ready position.

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Staying in place for the static position that we are training right now, once you are at the ready you will immediately conduct a quick check.


Once you have come to the ready position you will want to gain orientation. That is to say you will want a snapshot of your immediate situation and surroundings to orient yourself to what is now happening around you. To gather this information you will quickly pulse by looking (not just shake your head) around you. Keeping your rifle oriented in a safe direction, conduct the quick check in the same manner you would as you would stopping at a four way intersection that you intend on running through without fully coming to a complete stop. Typically this is about the time you should begin your combat breathing by starting a long and deep four count in-breath.

04 Quickly Check - Gain valuable orientation in your Quick Check by pulsing (forcing an OODA loop).

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Once you have looked over one shoulder, and while continuing to control your muzzle, look over the other shoulder. What we are striving for is quickly look around you in a 360 degree circle getting a fast primary search.

Make sure you see your environment and take in the information. Shaking your head quickly will do you no good, look with the intent of seeing where friendlies have gone, where potential adversaries may be lurking, and where your next cover/concealment may be. Which direction you look first (over your right shoulder or left) will be completely up to you and your situation. This quick check should last you about as long as it takes for you to complete your first four-count in-breath of your combat breathing cycle.

05 Both Directions - Get a good 360 degree scan of your immediate surroundings with this preliminary scan.

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Once you have a good snapshot of your immediate surroundings, the next question you will want to answer is "Is this person really out of the fight?" In order to answer that question you will want to conduct a down check.

To conduct the down check and confirm whether or not the bad guy is truly out of the fight, elevate your muzzle to a point just below where you dropped your adversary - with your finger off the trigger.

If you were doing this in the real world, you would safely peak around the cover/concealment you are behind to get the confirmation you need, then quickly tuck back in behind cover after the check.

How long should this check take? It could be an instantaneous recognition (no movement and a growing puddle of blood), or it could take a few seconds. There is no set time that this must be done, just don't rush it. However, we encourage you to give your downed adversary a four count (which just so happens to coincide with the four-count "hold" of your combat breathing technique).

As you progress in training you will move to cover (if you have not yet done so) and out of the area where you had your initial contact (or "off the 'X'" as it is referred to).

While this down check and combat breathing may seem superfluous to you at this time, you will see this technique pay off big dividends during your Reality Based Training (RBT) scenarios where the adrenalin is high. If you can master your emotions in the RBT scenarios and control your breathing there, you will be light years ahead of the average gun owner.

06 Down Check - Is the adversary you just shot really out of the fight?

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Once you have confirmed your adversary is truly out of the fight, return to the ready position as you once again move behind cover. Once you feel you have a general layout of your situation, know your immediate surroundings, are relatively secure and you know the adversaries disposition, you will want to know if there is anyone at any distance who still poses a threat to you or your loved ones.


To gain a fuller appreciation of your overall situation you need to conduct a methodical secondary scan of your surroundings. To do this, you need to conduct a full spherical scan. As its name implies, this scan should encompass a 360 sphere around you. Your secondary and more thorough scan will encompass all that you are able to see, both high and low, in effect giving you a full 360 degree visual sphere around you for as far as you can see.

Controlling your muzzle, continue to incorporate your combat breathing into the full scan as well. Us as many four-count in and out controlled deep breaths as necessary to finish scanning your environment. Try to control your breathing (four count) as you continue to pulse over a every broadening and increasing search area, until you are in control of your SNS again. As you control your SNS your normal vision will begin to come back to you.

08 360 Degree Scan - Conduct a slower, more deliberate secondary scan.

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During this secondary scan, remember to look along both the vertical and horizontal axis, in order to get a good spherical scan.

09 High and Low Also - A good secondary full scan will let you see everything you can, both high and low.

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Once you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your surroundings are safe, would you reengage your rifles safety.

10 Once you are Safe - Only put the rifle back on safe if you feel reasonably certain the fighting is over.

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I fully realize that most of the time you will be working on a square range, and that once you have engaged your paper target, you don't feel particularly threatened. The potential for abuse of the situation in the training environment can be significant, leading to what is often referred to as a range mentality, and the range mentality is something that we want to avoid like the plague because it will lead to bad habits that become training scars.

To over come this rage mentality and prevent ourselves from becoming training scared, we need to practice a lot of vivid visualization. What I mean by that is; instead of just tossing your head around wildly going through the motions, pretending you are actually looking for things - because if you aren't putting real effort into it, you aren't getting any benefit from your training. Therefore you need to vividly imagine that you are actually looking around in a new and hostile environment for a person(s) trying to sneak up on you in order to - club, stab, or shoot you.

I highly suggest that instead of looking for your shot group on the target, see (vividly, in your minds eye) the adversary drop, and then respond correctly by either following him down or shooting a failure to stop drill.

Instead of looking at your neighbors target for his shot group, imagine that they are innocents that you must look past to see potential threats.

In short, put some imagination and effort into your own training. See in your minds eye what it is that you expect to see while out on the street. Is it easy? No, it's not, but if you take this advice, it can help you save your life.

Finally, remember that these contact drills are designed to save your life form the fight you did not know was coming. Don't cheat yourself by not doing them or doing them halfheartedly. In order to have them at your disposal for the real fight and the adrenalin dump after the fight, you will need to ingrain them in all of your training; live fire, dry practice, and RBT. Remember that we will fight the way we are trained. So if you go through any of this halfheartedly, you will only receive marginal benefits from your training, which is something that you probably don't want to bet your life on (nor should you).