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DOTM: Step Back/Fadeback

September 15, 2018

You will notice that this drill has 2 different names.  That is because there are 2 of the top tier firearms instructors that do their own variations of this drill, Chris Cerino and Dave Spaulding.  I have no doubt that a class with either of these 2 would leave me in information overload for the next 6-12 months.

So any way the drill.

I like to run this drill using a paper plate with a 1” sticker.  The sticker gives me my aiming point and a paper plate is typically 10”-12” in diameter.


We will start at 3 yards.  Draw and fire 3 rounds at your own pace.  I’m taking it easy on you guys this month with an untimed drill and even better this is one that you can shoot at an indoor range minus the draw.


Wow that was easy and a 3 shot group doesn’t get much better than that right?  Nope you should know better than that by now.  Repeat the 3 shoots at 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 25 yards.  If you want to keep going after 25 yards be my guest.

Wow that paper plate looks a lot smaller at 25 yards than it did up at 3 doesn’t it?



So what is the purpose of this drill?  It is simply an aid to help diagnose any issues in the shooting system: gun, sights/optic, ammo, shooter, sight picture.  What do I mean?  Well let’s look at my final target.



What I am looking for?

The answer is easy: Patterns in my groups.  1 shot is not a pattern, its luck.  2 shots are not a pattern they are coincidence.  3+ shots are a pattern and provide the data we need to assess and correct our systems.

Notice that my up down for the most part isn’t bad, about 2” +/-  groupings but I am consistently pushing shots to the left with roughly a 6-7” spread.

I am right handed so this is a very common issue with right handed people pushing shots to the left.  I also have a bad habit of breaking my wrist which typically throws the shot low, in this case I might have done that 1 time but for the most part I was good. 

What do I need to do to correct it?

There are a couple easy answers.

First I can put more pressure with my support hand that will actually push the barrel back to the right correcting it.  While this is not easy it can be done with enough practice.


Put less of my trigger finger through the trigger guard. Again this is something I need to practice slowly. To get it right.  The speed will come.


The reason we start up close and move back should be obvious.  We can get away with a lot up close, at 3 yards I can put all 3 rounds in the paper plate shooting from the #2 draw position, actually most people can.   Back it out to 25 yard and the errors compound.

Can you do better?  

Thanks to Dave Clark and the guys at Xring custom for letting me use the range.