Rapid Fire Pistol Basics

4 shooters practicing rapid fire air pistol

Download the printable PDF 

The rapid fire pistol disciplines are lots of fun and very challenging: rapid fire with 5 targets, duel with 3 seconds to shoot and 7 between shots, standard with 5 shots in 10 seconds in the same target… I tried them out at first just to have a taste and now I’m getting knee deep. Precision air pistol is still my first and main love, but I have found that practicing and training different shooting disciplines end up helping each other out.

Thanks to rapid fire shooting I’ve improved my grip and trigger decisiveness. I’ve even managed to qualify for the national standard air pistol championship!

25m precision and rapid fire targets

My first lessons on rapid fire came from the air pistol director of my club, and from my friend and member of the national team Denis. From Denis session is where most of my knowledge comes from, expanded with a note from my former trainer, books, online reads, and my own experience.

  • Feet are a bit wider apart than in precision shooting. This helps with managing the recoil and also to raise the gun from 45 degrees.
  • Your grip has to be firmer than in precision shooting, this is a more dynamic discipline.
  • Train the movements first, without caring about time. Once you feel comfortable with them then you will start training withing the allotted times.
  • Wrist lock and trigger release make all the difference. Make sure that you don’t unlock the wrist between shots and don’t jerk the trigger.
  • Your upper torso is locked, you move the whole of it not your arm. You have to pivot on your hip.
  • Stop on your target and shoot. Never shoot while moving.
  • After your last target keep the movement as if you where to shoot an extra imaginary target.
  • Use a chronometer in the competitions and training for the one minute set-up time. You will internalize it a bit, but it is important to have the reference and not be caught off guard. At 55 seconds point to the target and hold it until the light turns red or the referee shouts ‘Attention’, then slowly lower the gun to 45 degrees and check that my lock and grip are good, always with your eyes on the target.
  • Get help from somebody or use a mirror to learn where your 45 degree is. Memorize the sensations so you always know where you are. Some people prefer to have their arm lower, it is up to you, but always memorize the sensations of the position.
  • When you are at 45 degrees, reach the break wall of the second stage of your trigger (no slack to catch up to later).
  • Raise your weapon in a controlled manner as fast as you can always looking at the target. As the pistol comes into view slow down until you reach your firing area and change focus to the sights. Don’t lower your eyes to look at the gun, it will slow you down.
  • If the target is the same as in precision shooting, don’t change your aiming, keep it under 6 o’clock. In the other cases, like when using the rapid fire five targets, aim your gun to the center. You will need to keep track of the clicks needed and in which direction to make sure that this transition is easy and error less.
  • Your sights should be aligned when you reach your aiming area (with a little bit of practice they will be!). You will develop a very strong memory of the feeling of your whole arm and hand.
  • Get used to shooting smoothly every time. It is easier to do when you are practicing without time.
  • Develop a shooting rhythm.
  • In multiple shot rapid fire disciplines, the first shot is the hardest and most important one, so give it more time than the rest. It is important to keep the sensation and memory of a good shot for the rest. Give it about 3 seconds.

I have not yet figured out which breathing is best for me (hold breath before raising or breath while raising).

To internalize and train the timing I use two Android apps Pistol Timer and 25m Pistol Timer. I may just listen to them while commuting or use them instead of a target to dry fire. I’ve also found an old phone I don’t use anymore that I want to use on top of a real target, but I have not gotten to test it yet (we have electronic targets with green and red lights for 25m at the range, we are missing the lights in the air stand electronic targets).

Is there anything you recommend or do differently?

Download the printable PDF

Long Distance Remote Training Has Not Worked for Me So Far

So far remote training has not really worked for me. I’ve had the chance to meet a great coach and to work with him in person once, but with the arrival of the new baby I have been unable to take a plane to bridge the 1800 km that separate us. It is like a long distance relationship, not easy to maintain.

I’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed having biweekly training plans like this one, but communication is not easy. Instant messaging and email are asynchronous by nature: it can take very long to have a full conversation. Things that could be solved in a minute or less in person take forever by text exchange and don’t always get solved.

You have to remember to take videos and pictures in every training, but these are usually from a single point of view. If you focus too much on the video recording you end up being too distracted for training. The whole set up can get too complicated. When you meet in person the trainer positions himself wherever he wants and can get a lot of information really quick.

So I’ve spoken with the coach and stopped our ongoing training. Whenever I travel back to Spain, I will meet him to train. He’s been very open and supportive troughout training and still is. I know I have an open door to ask questions and talk to him if needed.

What I’ve done now is relaunch my search for a local trainer or at least someone that is not too far away. I may have found a couple solutions at 1h and 3h drives and I’m really looking forward for a few sessions to see if there’s a good training match.

Have you been able to make remote coaching work? How?

Pistol Shooting Training Diary / Journal / Log (Free Download)


Download the pistol shooting journal/log/diary (printable PDF and Word)

I’ve been keeping my shooting stats from the first day I started shooting. Soon after, when I started to feel the addiction growing, I also started keeping a diary following the wise advise of Jean-Luc (my club’s air shooting director) and what I read in With Winning in Mind.

At the beginning I was just writting notes in a column of the spreadsheet I was using to track my stats, but it was hard to write on my mobile phone. Then I started writing a paper diary which allowed me to write more freely and to read more easily, but it was lacking structure. I downloaded a bunch of shooting journals from around the web and tried them, but they tended to be too cumbersome for me at the time.

When I decided to write my own pistol shooting diary I wanted it to:

  • Fit in one page
  • Have a simple structure with just a few sections that could encompass all that I thought mattered.

These are the sections I ended up including:


It contains the administrative data, like name of the shooter (I’ve written my name in my document to have it always printed), if it is a training session or a competition, date… I keep track of when I start and end the session. I track how motivated I am. So far it has always been high except one day when I was really tired and I had not slept well in a while.

After I’m done wiht a competition I write three stress assesments for the beginning, middle and end (eg: 6/5/5). During training sessions I only write one stress assessment at the begining.


I always have at least one goal per session. If I reach it I add a check mark to the right of it. If I don’t reach a goal, I don’t make any marks.


Whatever I think may have an influence in the session. If there’s pain anywhere I write it here, and also medication, tiredness (I’ve just had a second baby, sleep is random at best), food, long drives…


All the exercises I do including warming up at the beginning of the session and stretching at the end. I write the number of repetitions/shots or time first, then the type of exercise. For times I use ‘ for minutes (eg: 10’ warm up means I’ve warmed up for 10 minutes). For reps/shots I use an x (eg: 15 x Dry fire white target means I’ve done 15 dry fire shots using an all white target).

Problems and solutions

Every single problem that I may encounter I write down and follow it with a possible solution (even if it is just ‘research’). The focus is on seeing issues as problems that can be fixed and that you are going to address, not as personal failings.


Always include something positive about the training session in the journal.

Success Analysis

What happens with the solutions you’ve tried to problems you’ve found. If not successful, what are you going to try next?

If you need to write more, you always have the back of the page.


You can download and print this shooting journal in two formats: Word and PDF.

If you just want to print it I recommend you use the PDF shooting journal. If you want to edit it and add your own modificaions I recommend the Word shooting diary.

Download the pistol shooting journal/log/diary (printable PDF and Word)