Drill of the Week: Switch Hitting

25-May-08 – 00:06 by ToddG

Don’t forget the pistol-training.com Design a Drill of the Week contest!

A few weeks ago, we did some one-handed shooting for the Drill of the Week.  Response from readers was good, and there aren’t many people who don’t need to work on their one-handed shooting so we figured it was time to run another drill.  

You’ll need two 3×5 cards, one on the left and one on the right.  Start at a distance of three yards.

Set your shot timer to a PAR time of 10 seconds.

Start with the pistol at the ready in your strong hand only.  When the buzzer goes off, engage the right target.  Shoot until you score a hit.  Then carefully transfer the pistol to your other hand and engage the left target weak hand only until you score a hit.  Keeping switching back and forth until the buzzer sounds your time is up.

Remember, you stay on the target until you score a hit.  You only switch hands and targets when you make a hit.  If possible, have a shooting partner watch and call out your hits.

It’s extremely important that you transfer the gun from hand to hand carefully.  Keep all of your fingers out of the trigger guard until the pistol is properly in hand and pointed at the target.  Don’t move the gun until you have a proper one-handed combat grip.  It’s too easy to drop the pistol or point the gun in an unsafe direction during this drill unless you pay attention and remember to keep safety your #1 priority. The Switch Hitting drill isn’t about the transfer, it’s about getting hits shooting strong and weak hand only. The move from hand to hand is just done to add stress and keep you on the move from start to finish.

edited to add:  As Rick Peters points out in the Comments section, if by chance you do drop your pistol it is imperative that you must not try to catch it as it falls.  Most modern handguns are drop safe, but if you grab at one suddenly you’re very likely to hook the trigger and cause a discharge with no control over where the gun is pointed.   If you drop your gun, just let it fall to the ground and then pick it back up carefully, being mindful of both the trigger and the muzzle.  Thanks very much to Rick for reminding us all of that important lesson!

Run the drill until you are comfortably getting at least two hits per target in the 10 second par time.  Then put up two new targets at 5yd and run it again.  Remember to reload before you start the second string so you don’t run out of ammunition in the middle of the timed drill.  Once you’re getting two per target at five, move to seven.  Keep adding two to three yards per run until you’re no longer getting the necessary hits.  At that point, put up two new targets and take ten slow, deliberate shots at each target (right hand only on the right, left hand only on the left).  Then try the timed drill again at that distance.

Next week we’ll speed things up, so make sure you get your one-handed marksmanship dialed in before then.


Training with firearms is an inherently dangerous activity. Be sure to follow all safety protocols when using firearms or practicing these drills. These drills are provided for information purposes only. Use at your own risk. 

  1. 4 Responses to “Drill of the Week: Switch Hitting”

  2. We did this drill in a training class and it was fun and frustrating at the same time.

    The thing that I would add is if one starts to drop the gun during the hand to hand transfer, *let it fall*, and not try to catch it.

    By Rick Peters on May 25, 2008

  3. Rick — absolutely excellent point. Original post edited to reflect your suggestion. Thanks and stay safe!

    By ToddG on May 25, 2008

  4. T,

    Remember the Super Dave video I sent you the link for? He brings the pistol into his chest, ie a retention position before he transfers it to the other hand and then punches out again. Is this something you advocate?

    I wish the audio on that was clear, I’d like to hear more of what he had to say. Splitting atoms!

    By JLM on May 27, 2008

  5. JLM — I bring the gun in about half way back to my chest. Primarily this is for control, as I’m less likely to fumble or make an error than with my arms outstretched. It also allows me to practice a good press out each time. But again, remember that the transition from hand to hand isn’t part of the technique to be practiced. It’s an administrative step in between shots.

    By ToddG on May 27, 2008

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