If you have access to an outdoor range, you should never, ever complain about “not knowing what to shoot” on any given day. The reason for this that thanks to the modern shooting sports and the internet, there exists a huge library of pistol shooting drills and tests that you can use to practice the fundamentals of marksmanship. I’m talking about classifiers.
USPSA, IDPA, and even ICORE post their classifiers online, giving any shooter access to a huge database of stages and courses of fire.
Let’s say you want to set up a practice session where you’re working on sight tracking and movement – you could set up ICORE Classifier CS-025, which has movement between three different shooting positions, and targets at 3, 7, and 21 yards. My practice session for that classifier would be simple – I’d set it up and shoot it basically cold, then record my time/score for the run.
Next, I’d look at the individual skills the classifier tests: Sight tracking for the six shots, movement in and out of boxes, and reloads on the move. Break the classifier down into segments and practice those individually, then start putting it all back together piece by piece. Once I’ve done that, I’ll set up the full classifier again and shoot it for score. I want to compare my practice/trained score to the cold score and see if/where I improved.
There are two reasons to shoot classifiers for practice. The most obvious reason is to grandbag your way to a higher classification for whatever reason. The second reason that’s often glossed over is classifiers are a ready made COF that when shot repeatedly will help you improve your fundamental marksmanship skills. A persona example comes from when I was training for my 5-Gun Master card. I wanted the title, because at the time I was training a lot and I knew it would enhance my resume. So I shot lots and lots of IDPA classifiers, and eventually earned the title of 5-Gun Master. Along the way, I just so happened to get better at shooting, because I was constantly practicing the fundamentals of marksmanship.
If you’re a shooter looking for a solid way to practice, but don’t know how or what to shoot, check out the free databases of classifiers we’ve listed above. Then think about joining one of the listed organizations and taking the next step in your shooting skills.