Drill of the Week – Smoke and Hope


Smoke and Hope Overview

Smoke and Hope is a very fast Steel Challenge stage that can quickly turn into a disaster if you get over confident. The large targets can be misleading and rushing the stage will result in shots going into Never-Neverland. The point of this weeks drill will be target focused shooting. Keep in mind I said target focus not no focus. To shoot this drill quickly and effectively you will have to keep your eyes moving and the gun following. The focal point for targets 1, 2, 4, and 5 is the target itself. Your sights will be a blur in your peripheral, but they will still be there. When you get to target 5 you will have to make a deliberate effort to put on the brakes and shift your focus back to the sights to make the shot.

Inagural Steel Challenge06

Types of Focus

Brian Enos defined 5 types of focus regarding shooting in his book Practical Shooting, Beyond Fundamentals. The following quotes come from page 65 of the a fore mentioned book.

  • Type 1 – “Single target at close range, extreme high speed shooting.”
  • Type 2 – “Multiple targets at close range, extreme high speed shooting.”
  • Type 3 – “‘Standard’ practical shooting: medium range, multiple targets; speed limited by the difficulty of the targets and the size of their scoring surfaces.”
  • Type 4 – “Multiple, difficult, closely spaced targets (plates or bowling pins); precise high speed shots; shooting speed as high as possible.”
  • Type 5  – “Very difficult shots; prone or long range or anytime a shot is considered extremely difficult. Accuracy more important that speed.”

Type 1 shooting is essentially point shooting. You might not see the sights themselves or really even focus on the target, but you are focused on your body in relation to the target. Type 2 you are focused on the target and your sights are just in the peripheral. This works well for large targets that are close. Most of the time we shoot using type 3 focus. This is were we focus on the front sight in relation to the target. You might not have a perfect sight picture ever shot but you will have an acceptable sight picture. Type 4 in my opinion is really just a more cautious version of type 3. Your sight picture will just refined enough to avoid no shoots or call tight shots with a lot of hard cover. Finally type 5 is a very clean sight picture where you are so focused on the front sight and fundamentals of breathing and trigger control that you look the shot off. In other words you are so focused that your body reacts almost automatically by pulling the trigger when all the other conditions are met.

Smoke and Hope

What you will need

  • 4 18″ x 24″ Rectangle targets (Cardboard cutouts work great for those of us that don’t have steel targets)
  • 1 12″ Stop Plate (paper plates or cardboard cut outs work for this as well)
  • Target Pasters or Paint
  • Shot Timer

Smoke and Hope

The start position for Smoke and Hope is standing in the shooters box facing downrange, wrists above shoulders, gun loaded and holstered. Warm up with a few draws just to get the cobwebs out. Try your first 5 runs with a type 3 focus through out the entire drill. Next try a type 2 focus and put the breaks on with type 3 for the stop plate and compare times. Remember to keep your eyes moving and follow with the gun. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself with the trigger so be sure you get the sights in your peripheral before you break the shot. You should be very aware of where you are aiming and how your body is indexed.

Another easy thing to work on with this drill is your shooting stance/position. For a wide array like this I like to get a wide stance. I actually point each foot to the outside of the array and then bend at the knees when needed. This way I don’t have to fight my body by turning in such a drastic angle that I get off balanced. You should be able to position yourself to easily swing to any target in the array without shifting your feet and without feeling awkward or off balance.

The targets can be shot in any order as long as you shoot the stop plate last. Right now I prefer 5, 4, 1, 2, 3. Experiment with different orders and see what you like.


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