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Basic skills training with your Springer is more than just working on paper targets. To help train shoot/ no-shoot, magazine exchanges, target transition and other tasks to shooters, I like to run a series of drills with a series of five freestanding steel plates. Here's how they go.

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The plates

Paper targets have the place but I have a special part of my soul that loves the sound that lead makes on steel when flying in excess of 800fps. That auditory 'ting' of a good, solid hit on metal can be heard even through the best of earpro, giving instant feedback to both the shooter and those observing. The plates we use at the range are homemade with I-stand bases that extend up to a single post with an 8.5x11-inch flat, set to a slight forward angle to help break up rounds and negate ricochet chances. These plates are painted white with a rattle can every few range days to help observe hits and wobble just a bit when hit but do not fall down.

I like to stagger the plates as seen above in groups of two singles and three musketeers, but this can be changed up into any grouping you prefer.

If you are good with metal, you can make your own on the cheap with some angle iron, metal sheeting, and some rods. If you aren't, you can always modify this to use cardboard stapled to 2x2s set in some quickcrete inside a pickle bucket. You don't get the 'ting' but you still can set up a string of easy targets on the quick and cheap.

For safety, stay at least 7 yards (21 feet) outboard of the target and of course wear your eye and earpro as well as any ballistic vest if you have one (especially if you typically wear one anyway such as in LE or security) to help ensure protection against ricochets.

Work the mag

These plates are great to both access and train target transition under stress while performing magazine exchanges. What I like to do is have my shooters start with their XD holstered with one mag loaded with five rounds, and two spare rounds loaded with 2 and 3 rounds respectively.

At the command of fire, draw, rack the slide to chamber a round (for those who don't carry ready to roll), engage each target left to right with one round and one round only. At the end of that string, drop the mag, immediately transition to one of the other downloaded mags, and engage single targets working back right to left, until cycling through all mags. In the end, ideally, each plate has been 'tinged' twice, and there are three empty mags on the ground. Ideally, this should be accomplished in less than 20 seconds.

If not, then keep working on it until you can. Slow it way down to get the feel of the drill, then keep working on it until you get good. Hint- spending a good thirty minutes practicing switching out empty mags smoothly can help more than anything else.

A trick that helps is to keep your mags indexed in their pouch the same way as they come up and into the magazine well. Besides this, if you use your index finger to align the top lip of the mag with the bottom of the well, you can keep your eyes forward on the threat and not on your gun.


The above scenario gives you a firm handle on fast transitions and mag exchanges, but on the flip side has you engage five out of five possible targets. To work past this, once the shooter has a solid grasp on mags and picking up targets, then comes the fun of designating targets as clear or not.

This can be done simply as telling the shooter to engage targets 1, 3, and 5 only and can be verified by a fresh coat of paint on plates 2 and 4. You can change this around as much as you can like, paint the plates different colors (red for bad guys, yellow or white for good guys or neutrals), and so forth.

You can even call the plates as you go.

In the end, stay safe, and get some practice in.
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