“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen…”
-Ray Bradbury

There may not be a more fun way to end a practice session.

Me and Tawn Argeris came up with this drill. It is Showdown.

WARNING: Showdown should not be attempted if you are not completely confident in drawing and firing at warp-drive.

The drill simulates the “snatch the pebble from my hand” test in the movie Kung Fu. The shot is executed in a state of 100% abandon—there is no control whatsoever. This is the spirit of Showdown.

Showdown requires two (or more) shooters and is shot in a man-against-man format. There is one winner, and all the rest are losers.

The target is the head box (or the politically correct upper B-zone) of a USPSA target at 3 yds. If you do not have USPSA targets, the head box is a 6” x 6” cardboard square—the B-zone—with a 2” x 4” rectangle, placed 1” below the top of the target, with the letter “A” in the middle of the A-zone.

Showdown: Start position is hands hanging naturally at your sides. At the buzzer, draw and fire one shot, as quickly as possible, into the head box of the target. After one shot, it’s the other shooter’s turn.

Before beginning, each shooter must establish a par time. Once established, the only way the shooter’s par time can change is by mutual agreement of all involved. 

Use the following guidelines to establish each par time. You must draw and fire as quickly as possible; there should be no observable (by anyone) aiming. At your absolute fastest possible speed, draw and blast a shot at the head box (hoping to hit the letter A). Repeat the drill and note the time when you actually hit the head box about 50% of the time. Only hits in the head box score. The average time to hit the head box, 50% of the time, is your par time. 

Both shooters have to agree on a shooter’s par time before it is established. Since each shooter has to agree, this keeps it honest. 

For example, I can hit the head box about half the time if the shot fires at about 0.75 of a second. Tawn’s par time is 0.65. (He’s lightning fast.) Those are our par times.

Once par times are established, for the first bout, flip for who shoots first; thereafter the winner from the previous bout shoots first—to apply the pressure. Each shooter draws and fires one shot. To “score,” you have to hit the head box, on or under your par time. 

Before shooting, decide on an odd number of bouts that will determine the day’s winner.

Showdown scoring examples, which cover every possible scenario, are listed at the bottom.

Showdown spawned Last Shot of the Day. (LSOTD.)

LSOTD can be done solo, but you must declare out loud that this is absolutely the last shot you will fire on that day’s practice session. (It helps if it is actually your last round.) 🙂 

If you are not alone, you still must declare that this is your LSOTD. If you hit your par, as a reminder of how awesome and formidable you are, keep the target. (Just tear off the head.) My best LSOTD, which almost center-punched the triangle of the A, was 0.68 seconds.

That was extra fun, because I was done practicing and had taken all my gear off, when I found one round in my range bag. I put my holster back on and practiced draws for a few minutes before letting ‘er rip. 

The draw and the firing of the shot merged into one event. I can still remember it now as an out-of-body experience. At the buzzer, “I” went inside the barrel. As the pistol was moving from the holster to the target, all I remember seeing was the brown of the target from inside barrel as it swept up the target toward the head box. The shot fired itself, nearly center-punching the A.


Shooter 1 hits the head box, but the time is over his par time, so he does not score. Shooter 2 scores. (Hits the head box on or under his par time.) Shooter 2 is the winner.

Neither shooter scores; since both are losers, shoot the drill again.

Both shooter’s score. Shooter 1 shoots a B, and Shooter 2 shoots an A. Shooter 2 is the winner because he has the higher score. 

Both shooters score with A zone hits, but neither shot touches the letter A. The shot that is closest to the triangle formed by the upper part of the letter A is the winner.

Both shooters shoot B’s. The shot closest to the scoring line of the A-box wins. 

Both shots touch the triangle of the letter A. The shot closet to the center of the triangle is the winner.

Have fun with Showdown and LSOTD—they are A-blast.

I’ll post a new topic each Friday afternoon, in one of two categories. One will be on shooting, and the other will be on living. Or: how I learned to live from what I learned by competing.

Thanks for coming in.