Do you get the most of your XD at the range?

  1. Editor
    With the current price of ammo and the ever-pressing need to get everything accomplished in our world, range time can be both expensive and hard to find. Taking this in mind, I developed an easy, 1-hour, 50-round session that I try to stick to in an effort to get the most from my XD experience.

    Why I practice

    I am an everyday carrier. My four current personal platforms vary from day to day and occasion to occasion but I do have a pair of XD series handguns that cycle through this rotation. They include an older, full-sized classic XD, and a smaller and more modern XD-S 3.3. Both are in 9mm, my personal round of choice. Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with .45ACP or .40S&W, just prefer 9mm parabellum for most of the handguns in the safe for my own list of reasons.

    The warm up

    Since I have four guns in the rotation and want to maintain muscle memory in all of them, I go weekly to a local range, with a different firearm each Friday afternoon from the quartet until I have cycled through them. Now some of the guns I may carry twice in a month, others may get to go on a road trip a dozen time, but they all are shot at least once every thirty days. The two XD's are different enough in size that they do most of the heavy lifting while the other two guns, a longslide 1911 and a Smith J-frame, are for other occasions including, in the case of the J, that of a backup gun.

    Besides the range time, I take an hour or so with each gun at least once a month and practice safe, unloaded dry-fire with snap caps to work on my trigger control, sight picture, and presentation. This costs nothing but my time and helps me get in and out of the range with decent results.

    The course of fire

    (Let the fun begin!)

    Taking my XD's to the range, I like to run a modified law enforcement course of fire that I have pieced together from dozens of courses and events that I have shot. It runs something like this. All stages are shot from the holster, from concealment, with proper range safety rules and equipment (eyes and ears) in place.

    At the 3-yard line, with your offhand across the chest, draw and fire 1 shot with your strong hand only in a bent elbow position without using sights. This simulates that all-important close-quarters combat nightmare. I drill this until I can get the round off center mass within two seconds. Note-- when practicing this, do it dry enough times that your finger position and trigger discipline is top notch. Do not let that booger hook creep into the trigger guard until you are up on target. Your leg will thank you. I repeat this drill until I have fired a total of (six rounds), then fall back

    At the 5-yard line, using both hands, draw, press out, and fire three center mass shots in a three-second, point-shooting exercise. Repeat this until you have (six rounds) out at this stage.

    At the 7-yard line, using both hands, draw, press out, fire two shots to the center mass and stand fast, observing the target. Then, fire a deliberate shot to the head of the target. This is a body armor drill preparing you for the possibility that your bad guy is wearing armor, or is under the influence of something such as PCP or Bath Salts and isn't going down. Practice this twice until you have fired a total of (six rounds) at this stage. Note that this is not a 'triple tap' or a 'Mozambique drill' but a deliberate pause in a gun action where you immediately notice your rounds are not having the desired affect and taking action to deliver ones that will.

    Starting with just three rounds loaded, at the 7-yard line, using both hands, draw, and press out, fire three aimed shots center mass. Then, drop your empty mag, keep your weapon and your eyes pointed downrange at the target, bring up a fresh mag from your pouch, index it into the magwell, slam it home, rack the slide, transfer the XD to the offhand only, and fire three more rounds. Ideally, you should be able to carry this off in ten seconds or less. Once you have this down, do the same drill again, but at the last portion fire from the strong side only until you have fired a total of (12 rounds) at this stage. Note that if you haven't trained at home with empty magazines and snap caps to perform these emergency reloads by feel, you should before you do this with live ammo.

    At this point, you have fired 30 rounds and practiced a number of really good drills. If you want and are on a budget, you can conserve your ammo now. I like to go a little further than this.

    At the 15 yard line, using both hands, draw, press out, fire three aimed rounds center mass. Then, safely and with your finger off the trigger (and if your range allows it) take a knee. Then realign with your target and fire another three aimed rounds center mass. This drill should take no longer than ten seconds.

    Next, perform this same drill with your strong hand only with a flashlight in your offhand. In the end you should have fired (12 rounds) at the 15-yard stage.

    (Do you ever anticipate using a flash lite with your XD? Well do you train that way?)

    At the 25-yard line, you are reaching out to the maximum practical range for a gunfight. This is that slim scenario of an engagement that is taking place outdoors or down a long drive way. However, this should still be practiced. As such, if you are training with a handgun at 75-feet. Hopefully in the real world you will have the benefit of cover and or concealment. With this being said, use a barricade such as a 55-gallon drum, spare target stand, or similar to affect your shot. Draw, get behind that cover and pie out to where as little of your body as possible is poking out to get shot at, and fire four aimed rounds from a standing position. Then take a knee or combat crouch safely with your finger off the trigger, realign with your target, and deliver two more aimed shots. Finally, go prone, remaining behind cover as much as possible, and get those last two shots off for a total of (8 rounds) fired at this stage.

    In all you have shot left hand only, right hand only, worked on head shots, point shooting, CQB shooting, long range, kneeling, prone, shooting from a barricade, emergency reloads, tactical flashlight use overall marksmanship in just 50-rounds.


    Of course, your mileage may vary and your range may not allow all of the above, but you get the idea. Also note, this is just what I personally drill, and is not the gospel of the book of gun.

    The cool down

    Once I check the gun to make sure I have no brass or ammo, I secure it, leave the range, and head back to the house. From parking the jeep to go inside the range, to driving away, I'm in and out in well under an hour. Then comes the close-inspection, cleaning, function-check, and reload process in the quiet of my own home.

    Moreover, on next Friday, I will rinse, lather, and repeat.

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