Controlled Pairs, Double Taps, or 6-Shot Rhythm?

by Jeffrey Denning

Editor’s Note: The views in this article are the author’s own and don’t necessarily represent those of Action Target, Inc.

The phrase “The shot heard around the world” refers to the single gunshot that began the battle of Lexington and Concord of the American Revolutionary War. In historic times, rifles could only shoot one round at a time. As time progressed, John Moses Browning and other inspired gunsmiths drastically changed the weapons in modern gun fighting by designing firearms capable of semi- and fully-automatic shooting. Today however, most shooters and firearms trainers continue shooting only two rounds at a time.

This type of culture asks the questions: Why and how did this phenomenon occur, and secondly, why pause in the middle of a gun fight? How is it that we’ve arrived at this point? Does it matter? This two-shot-only practice has been around for decades.

We’ve programmed ourselves to let the majority of our multiple shot drills be only controlled pairs or double taps-hammers accelerated pairs. Why? Examining the history of this trend is not as important as outlining the pros and cons and what we should do to improve, right?

So here it goes.

The usual tactical axiom states, “One hit is better than ten misses.” Which means, two shots are better than one, but why not three, four, or five shots?

Innovative Training Solution AutoPopperMany people have survived getting shot multiple times. The cliché “one shot, one kill” should be discarded from the war-fighter lexicon. This is especially the case for gun rounds, but also true with most every caliber of long gun used for close-quarters engagements.

So, how can we change our thinking and training?

Utilizing Action Target’s innovative Pepper Popper target is a great place to start. This target allows a shooter to shoot three, four, or even five shots as quickly as possible before the target falls. Adjusting the tension allows you to make the most of every shot as you train. Since most engagements are close in range, place this target within the distance Action Target recommends to ensure a realistic handgun training scenario.

For long guns training, try the new RTS Self-Healing Reactive Target . It is important to keep your shots fast, your groups tight, and have good balance with an aggressive stance as you fire three, four, or more shots at a time. Training with the RTS Self-Healing Reactive Target is a fun experience that mimics how many rounds you should take in real-world lethal encounters.

Action Target Hold PlusOne of the most enjoyable drills for me personally is a six-shot rhythm drill with my handgun. I use paper targets on my AT Hold target stands, and attempt really tight shot groups as rapidly as I can. Usually, I practice from 5-7 yards.

When using iron sights, try to get a flash-sight picture—where the front sight isn’t in perfect alignment, but slightly bobbles around in the rear sight. If you’re close enough to the target and have a smooth trigger, you’ll hit your target. Also, when you’re doing these drills, shoot as fast as you can.

We have come a long way since the ancient wars of the past. We must remember that if we want to win—keep shooting. The briefest remedy to survive and win any gunfight is to shoot faster and more accurately than the threat(s).

Until next time, continue to hone your skills and keep adding to your tactical toolbox.

About Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey Denning is a former SWAT team leader, security contractor, undercover Federal Air Marshal, and Iraqi War Vet. He is the founder of Warrior SOS and writes tactical articles for

0 thoughts on “Controlled Pairs, Double Taps, or 6-Shot Rhythm?

  1. Good article. Your drill methods in shooting as fast as you can for 6 shots is excellent training for controlled pairs, trios, ect. Exactly what we train here. The mind trains the eye to see what works. Perfect distance to hone controlled shooting skills.

  2. My own personal belief is that the reason for 2 rd engagements is to account for ammo. When planning training you must estimate the amount of ammunition that you require for the number of shooters trained. It has evolved into the mindset of 2 shot drills. I also believe this is a poor training technique and agree that the use of reactive targets that train a shooter to engage the threat until it is no longer one. Another common training flaw is the “failure Drill” or “mozabmique drill’ if you truly believe that you can hit that tiny little target on top of the shoulders after you have put 2 holes in their chest…. you overestimate your ability.

  3. Nice article. Unfortunately most range and gun shop talk is still wrapped around 1 shot 1 kill. Usually the guys with a 1911…

  4. Agree completely. As a carry pemrit and combat firearm instructor, I teach my students that the hyper-intense environment of a lethal threat encounter makes multiple shots the only way to go.

    By the time you have “assesed the situation” after only one or two shots, YOU could be shot multiple times. More than a few suspects, having been shot only once or twice, were still able to return fire, even when not hopped up on drugs, which can make things even worse.

    Good advice.

  5. The points raised in the article are valid, but some are dated, since by the 1990s the majority of the private sector schools (Thunder Ranch, InSights Training and many others) had already progressed from dogmatically teaching “shoot 2” to shooting a variable number of rounds. The only people that still shoot 2 every time are IPSC and IDPA competitors, or so I thought.

    Similarly, in the 1990s, Brian Enos published his book Practical Shooting introduced trainers and competitors to the “see what you need to see” concept, which took all the various terms Gunsite had used to describe seeing less and going faster as the targets get bigger and closer into a phrase that captured the entire spectrum of speed and accuracy from point shooting to bullseye – which is why most private sector schools dropped the old Gunsite terms and started teaching that concept using Enos’ language.

    His book also discussed the Bill Drill, which is called the ‘six shot rhythm drill’ in this article. Those shooters coming from the IPSC/IDPA and private sector training community probably know it best by that name. Enos’ book has a good section explaining all the ways this excellent drill can improve fundamentals, and teach how to “see what you need to see” if you run it at different distances, such as 3, 7, 10, 15, 25, and 50 yards.

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