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Holdover drills for optics

Holdover drills, which many shooters perform without realizing they're doing so, are simple exercises that increase the speed of your target engagement. They typically improve the shooter's ability to manipulate and employ the weapon by virtue of increasing the shooter's understanding of the scope. In this video from Trigger Time TV, Jim and Melissa Gilliland run through the whys and wherefores of holdover drills. If you aren't familiar with the Gillilands, Jim the founder of Shadow-6 Consulting. He is an accomplished shooter with an extremely impressive military pedigree and a big part of the effort; Melissa is a competitive shooter for both the Ashbury Precision Ordnance and Steiner long range competition teams (she is also a TacGirl).

I called both Jim and Melissa before writing this. I asked him for a quick rundown on the practical advantages of putting holdover drills into a shooter's training regimen, and asked her how they'd impacted her competition performance.

“Holdover drills are great,” Jim responded. “Hunters have been doing this a long time whether they realized their ballistics or not. You hear it all the time, ‘I laid the crosshairs right over its back and dropped it.' So it has a very practical hunting aspect, but from the tactical aspect it allows you to go from target to target quickly without coming off the scope. If you know what your weapon will do, you can transition from multiple targets at different ranges more quickly and be combat effective with the first round, without having to manipulate your system…”

Melissa advises, “Jim actually taught me those when I first started shooting competitively. I've been doing them for about a year. The holdover drills really do work, especially with time stressors. I like them because when you're in a competition, all the stages are timed. So if you have multiple targets within a minute and a half, for instance, that's when the holdovers come in because you don't have to change your dope. You just stay on your scope and use your reticle.”

If you're interested in hosting a Shadow-6 class, contact Jim via e-mail, James(at) You might also check out Team Triangle if you support female shooters and want to encourage more of them to get out on the range.

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