The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Agility and Core Training to Build Your Shooting Skills

The exercises and content expressed in this column are for illustrative purposes only. Consult your physician before trying any physical activity or nutritional plan. RECOIL and its contributors are not responsible for any harm or injuries sustained while attempting these techniques.

Combat skills like shooting on the run aren’t just a fun way to play video games, they also have applications in the real world. When you want to take your shooting to the next level, you need to start being accurate on the move. Real-life scenarios don’t always provide you with suitable cover. Competitions often require accuracy while transitioning between obstacles or moving throughout a course of fire. And, of course, the military trains to shoot on the move. So, how can you build this valuable skill? Let’s start with athleticism.

Well-placed shots from various positions are paramount in shooting. Prone, kneeling, and standing all provide their own advantages and disadvantages, and they certainly should be practiced. This is where you’ll spend the majority of your training time to build your fundamentals in handling a firearm.

Once you’ve reached a good level of proficiency shooting from a stationary position, you may want to begin to incorporate movement in your training. For most, there’s not a lot of time outside of the occasional range visit to get practice, so working on this skill without the use of a loaded gun or a range is a huge bonus. In the next two sections, we’ll discuss some physical training to support shooting on the move.

Shooting while moving can be tough. It requires an ability to move, sometimes quickly, while navigating obstacles and terrain, and quickly changing directions while maintaining your sights on a target. This is where agility comes into play. While this isn’t the NFL combine, you still need to have control over your center of gravity while you change directions. The better you can do this, the easier it’ll be to make accurate hits down range.

There are numerous ways to add agility training to an exercise program. Cone drills, cutting drills, and combination drills often direct you to move in several directions sequentially. We’ll take the concepts of agility training and tailor them for shooting.

We have two drills to help you: one for linear movement (forward and backward) and one for lateral movement (side to side). The goal in each of them is to move as quickly as possible. First, get good with the movement. Once you’re comfortable, try adding your practice firearm and completing the two exercises slowly while keeping your sights on-target. Once it becomes easy, you can progress each exercise one of three ways: make the target smaller, further away, or simply move quicker through the exercises. You can also practice transitioning between shooting positions — begin with your gun on target, start the movement while pulling your gun back to a safe position, then end the movement while bringing the gun to bear on your next target. This is made easier with a laser training pistol, but any unloaded gun will work.

The Exercises

Sprint Backpedal Sprint
While moving directly toward or straight back from an opponent may not be ideal in a tactical situation, you should still be able to perform it effectively.

> Begin standing roughly 20 feet away from your target.
> Sprint forward for 15 feet.
> Quickly change direction and backpedal 15 feet.
> Finally, sprint forward again for the last 15 feet.
> Repeat three to five times.

sprint backpedal sprint


Lateral Run, Cut, Run
Moving laterally while maintaining sights on-target improve your ability to disassociate upper and lower body. The lower body propels you while the upper body moves independently, allowing you to better acquire targets on the move.

> Begin facing your target at roughly 15 feet away.
> Push off with your outside foot, then bring it across your body to begin the drill.
> Move laterally as quickly as possible for 15 feet.
> Quickly cut, cross your outside leg over the inside one, and begin moving back toward the starting point.
> Complete two to three times beginning from each direction.

lateral run

Control Yourself
Core control and stability is very important when building your ability to shoot on the move. You need to be able to accurately engage targets while there’s quite a bit of motion happening below the waist. The goal is to keep your upper body stable while the lower body propels you in multiple directions. What lies between the upper and lower body? You guessed it: the core or abdominal region. When we train the core, we want to get as strong as possible at resisting movement. We don’t want to create movement with exercises like crunches or twists because they destroy your spine over time.

To build you a rock-solid core capable of handling directional changes or just keeping your sights in the right place, we’ll cover all of our bases. Complete one exercise to resist forward forces, one for lateral forces, and one for rotational forces. Together, these three will give you a great foundation from which to build.

The Exercises

Mountain Climber
While it’s commonly a conditioning exercise, this is fantastic for shooters. Shooting on the move requires a very stable upper body, while being able to move via the lower body at quicker speeds. With this exercise, we train stability in your upper body, create motion in the lower body, and require your core to hold everything together.

> Begin in a push-up position with a gliding disc, paper plate, towel, or anything that reduces friction under each foot
> Alternately bring one knee up toward your chest without allowing your upper body or back to move at all. You should maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
> Start off slowly, gradually increasing the speed at which you’re moving your knees.
> Complete three sets of 30 seconds.

mountain climber exercise

Slow Walking Suitcase Carry
The suitcase carry is ideal for shooters because we work the core in the upright position. Plus, like the mountain climber, we’re working on moving through the lower body and stabilizing in the upper body.

> Start by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at your side.
> While staying tall, slowly walk forward bringing your knee up with each step.
> Walk for 20 to 60 seconds, then switch sides.
> Complete three sets on each side.

suitcase carry


Band Alphabet
This exercise is one of the best exercises a shooter can do — it should definitely be a regular rotation in everyone’s training programs. You can work on various shooting stances (isosceles, kneeling, etc.) while training your core to be stable with your arms moving. This can also be used as a way to build endurance and some strength in your shoulders and arms.

> Place a band around a sturdy object at about shoulder height.
> Step away from the object until the desired amount of tension is in the band.
> Stand in your preferred shooting position or with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and knees soft.
> Hold a band out in front of you at arm’s length.
> Brace like someone is about to punch you in the stomach.
> While keeping everything from the shoulders-down completely still, draw the letters of the alphabet with straight elbows.
> Complete three sets on each side.

band alphabet

Building your foundation of shooting in stationary positions is the right way to start, but at some point, you’ll want to take your skills to the next level. Shooting on the move is the next progression. Start with these initial exercises, then slowly build on them and add in more firearms-specific drills.

About the Author
Ryne Gioviano is the owner of Achieve Personal Training & Lifestyle Design located in Aurora, IL. He earned his master’s degree in exercise physiology and is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. You can find more information at or reach him on Twitter at @rgioviano.

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