Reload training: eliminating wasted movement

When you’re shooting Single Stack, reloading is the name of the game. Pretty much every stage is going to have at least 2 reloads, which means you’re going to be spending a lot of time reloading. Reading Ben Stoeger’s practical pistol book clued me in on changing the way I reload ever so slightly by dropping the gun down slightly lower than I had before instead of having it up directly in my eyeline/workspace.

By keeping the gun lower, I’m moving my hands and arms less, and eliminating some of the wasted motion in my reload. There is still a little bit of wasted motion, which primarily comes when I drop my strong side shoulder just a little bit to get at the magazine quicker. I shouldn’t need to do this, because I don’t have any biological obstructions between my hand and my magazine pouch, so I should just be able to go straight to the pouch with my weak hand.

To help combat this, I recently got the idea to start recording my dry fire practice sessions and reviewing the video. You can see what I’m talking about in this incredibly poorly lit video of me working on reloads.

During the 1.2 second par time reloads where I’m facing the camera, I can see the shoulder dip right as I lower the gun and go for the magazine pouch. Thanks to the video, I can now go back in training and work on just moving my arms and trying to minimize movement of the torso during the reload. The training plan to do that actually takes me off the clock for practice. Essentially, I train the technique without the timer so that I can cut a mental groove without putting myself under pressure. Lots of reps to get familiar with the motions, then put myself on the timer to test and validate my results.

In the video, I’m right on the edge of making a 1 second reload. You can tell I’m just a little bit behind the curve, right around a 1.15 or so. Watching the video from all three angles shows me that I’m losing time in two critical places – getting the magazine out of the pouch, and getting the magazine into the gun. My “hitch” right at the magwell comes from wanting to not bobble the reload, which is all well and good, but I need to be able to visually verify the magazine’s position and get it in quicker. It’s part eye-speed and part hand speed.

Getting the magazine out of the pouch is all hand speed, and that’s something I can work on with the Burkett Reload drill, which doesn’t involve dropping or inserting the magazine into the gun itself. I’ll probably add Burkett reloads to my practice sessions going forward.

I’m also going to keep filming my dry fire practice sessions, but next time I’ll use a better camera and lighting.


  1. My reload is something I am constantly working on so this was extremely relevant to my training. Some good stuff here. Thanks for the article and video!

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