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Square Range Drills for OODA Cycle Acceleration: The PRA 1-5 Drill

July 7, 2013

Whether you are a police officer, a soldier performing COIN operations in Afghanistan, an armed citizen in every day carry self-defense, protecting your retreat property against armed incursion by cannibalistic San Franciscans, or are an insurgent trying to effectively counter the security forces of a totalitarian regime, you HAVE to discriminate your targets. Killing the neighbor’s kid, because he was in your pasture, sneaking over to talk your daughter into a hayloft visit is a non-starter. Killing the local commander’s 8-year old daughter, because she was next to her daddy, and you missed a shot, will not win friends and influence people amongst the local populace.

One of the drawbacks to the way a lot of guys teach/train for discrimination shooting is that it stays pretty predictable. “Shoot the guy with the guns.” “Shoot the white IPSC targets and not the brown ones.” The problem is, while there can be some discernment built in to this, there’s no ongoing conscious decision-making and thinking going on, as there will be in an actual encounter.

Target discrimination is much more than just “shoot/no shoot,” although it quite often gets dumbed down to that level in shooting courses. It’s also a matter of understanding basic geometry and physics.Think about the rule of “know what is downrange. Know what is between you and your target, to either side of your target, and beyond your target.” A solid hit to the hips is great…unless it over-penetrates his pelvic cavity and punches into a kid’s head six feet behind him…Realistic combat shooting is not a simple binary decision-making process. You have to train to streamline the rest of the OODA cycle in order to speed up your binary matrix aspects.

In an actual fight, there are always going to be changing factors shifting around within the battle space, requiring your OODA Cycle to accelerate if you want to be successful. Just seeing the right target is not enough. You also have to orient to how that target affects your decision-making process, based on the METT-TC conditions. Do you have a clean shot, or do you need to move to change angles, in order to get a clean shot that doesn’t involve punching holes in good guys? Are you capable of looking at multiple targets, and not only deciding which ones are threats, but which one is the most dangerous threat at any given time?

Effective force-on-force training with Simunitions or Airsoft-type replica weapons when planned and executed properly is inarguably the most efficient way to accomplish this, but there are drills that can help accelerate the process.

One great drill I use to develop this ability is a modification of the SOT/SFAUC PRA Drill. PRA stands for Perception, Recognition, and Acquisition. You have to PERCEIVE that there is a potential target there, and then RECOGNIZE whether it is in fact a threat or not, and what it’s order of merit is within all the other targets. While this drill is not, and can never be as effective as realistic force-on-force training, this is a great step towards building the abilities necessary to accelerate your OODA Cycle to make your FoF training effective. It’s one of the best methods I’ve found for accomplishing this on the square-range.

While this version of this drill is conceptually based on the PRA drills from the Schoolhouse, my variation is based on two different drills I picked up from two different, well-known firearms trainers, both with notable Army Special Operations backgrounds. The 1-5 portion of the drill, I unabashedly stole from SGM Kyle Lamb, US Army (ret), the well-known proprietor of Viking Tactics (VTAC) in North Carolina. The other, more decision-making aspect of the drill I robbed from Pat MacNamara. I don’t actually remember what he calls the drill, but I’ve used the name PRA 1-5.


Conditions: Shooter is equipped in fighting load. Weapon is loaded with one 15-round magazine. Weapon is held at the patrol ready, safety selector switch in the “SAFE” position. A number of identical targets (I prefer plain IPSC silhouettes for this specific drill) are arrayed downrange at varying ranges and lateral spacing, from 10 meters to 100 meters away (or more), and up to 10 meters side-to-side. Each target is identified with a number, readily visible from the firing line. Next to the firing point, is a table with a stack of cards on it, each with three numbers, corresponding to the target numbers, in random order.

Shooter may use any desirable position to effect accurate fire on the designated targets. Shooter may move from one position to another, within the limitations of range safety, to allow for an effective shooting position.

Standards: Shooters may only engage the card-designated targets downrange. No non-specified targets can be engaged by any round, before or after it strikes the designated target. All targets should have the requisite number of holes, according to it’s position in the shooting order. All shots must be in the A-Zone.

Performance Steps

1. On the command to commence, the shooter will flip over the top card, call out the numbers of his targets, and move to the firing line in a rapid manner.

2. Shooter will scan the targets downrange to locate all three of his identified targets. Shooter will engage the first target specified with one round.

3. Shooter will engage the second target with two rounds, and the third target with three rounds.

4. Shooter will re-engage the second target with four rounds, then the first target with five rounds.

5. The shooter will move the safety selector switch from “FIRE” to “SAFE,” and perform a valid, 360-degree assessment (not a “scan and assess.” Actually look and see what is going on around you.)

Notes: One modification I like to make to this drill is to place targets in overlapping positions so the shooter is forced to move, between targets, in order to avoid shooting through no-shoot targets. I’ve found this FORCES the shooter to pay attention to what they are doing and think more.

Time standards can be set, but recognition should be made that any changes to the target array from one iteration to the next will impact the execution speed. Transitions will be closer or further, and the movements required to acquire targets safely will mitigate the accuracy of time standards.

Instead of a single 15-round magazine, two downloaded magazines can be used instead, forcing a magazine change within the drill. I feel this detracts from the focus of the drill however.

The point of this drill is to focus on target identification and acquisition, with the mitigation of non-hostiles intermingled with hostiles, as occurs in the real-world battle space. It also forces you to break the bad habit of “double taps,” by forcing you to shoot multiple shot strings.

John Mosby
SFOB Rifleman’s Ridge


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  1. Why am I going back to targets I’ve already killed?…seems to easy to game, maybe have someone call the shots?

  2. Winston Smith permalink

    I think that the coming nastiness will be a level that the families of the oppressors will be targeted almost as the oppressors themselves. And as reprehensible as that is, it IS an effective method of knocking the fence sitters out of the conflict.

    • Everyone joining the side opposed to yours is certainly ONE way to ensure no fence sitters. It’s not the way conducive to your success however.

  3. Excellent article with many good insights and tips. I am a big fan of Simunitions, as they are the closest thing you can get to force-on-force for drills. Thanks for writing this.

    • I’m a fan of Sims guns too. Unfortunately, that’s not in my budget anytime soon, unless there’s an independently wealthy reader out there who wants to sponsor future classes…..

  4. Reblogged this on disturbeddeputy and commented:

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