Shoot like Bass Reeves: The Dot Torture test

Bass Reeves is the Gold Standard for African American Shooters. As the first Black lawman west of the mississippi, he arrested 3,000 outlaws and shot and killed 14 outlaws over the course of his three decade long career.
Bass Reeves is the Gold Standard for African-American Shooters. As the first Black lawman west of the Mississippi, he arrested 3,000 outlaws and shot and killed 14 outlaws over the course of his three decade long career.

To build great accuracy fundamentals, focus on the process. Not the results. Results are ego driven, mastering the process builds character. Ego is the enemy of success.

Samuel Hayes, Caliber Training Group

This is a test. It covers the basics of draw and fire, moving from one target to another and shooting with the strong or weak hand and reloading. It does so on one sheet of paper that you can print out at home.

Dot Torture runs through the fundamentals in less than fifty bullets, and it with a little tweaking, you can run it at your range, even if they frown on draw and fire.

It’s self-explanatory. Each dot has a different set of instructions.

  • Dot one: Shoot it five times. Be slow and deliberate.
  • Dot two: Draw and fire, 5 times.
  • Dots three and four: Draw and fire 3 once, and then 4. Repeat four times.
  • Dot five: Draw and shoot it five time with the strong hand.
  • Dot six and seven: Draw and double-tap six, then seven.
  •  Dot eight: From ready, shoot it five times with the weak hand.
  • Dots nine and ten: Draw and then fire once on nine, reload and then 10. Repeat three times.

The goal is to move from drill to drill as smoothly as possible. Speed is secondary. That is an important distinction. I’ve run Dot torture three times in the past two weeks. The first was just for practice, the second for speed and ego. Only on the third time did I slow down and focus on each, individual shot, did I begin to shoot well.

At first it’s best to run through Dot Torture with a friend or, in my case, instructor Sam Hayes. They can prompt you on your next task, rather having to stop and read between each drill. The other alternative is to memorize it. That might take a few shooting sessions, but this is a long-term thing.

Think of it as a regular progress report. You’ll be revisiting it periodically.

Sam's Dot torture is on the left, mine on the right. Notice, he only had two bullets that strayed from the border of the dots. My target fell apart during the fifth and sixth drills.
My target fell apart during the fifth and sixth drills.

My takeaway?

  • I’m decent when I slow down. I’ve got a flinch. When I rush, I have a habit of shooting consistently, three inches below aim. At one point, though, I spent a few minutes dry firing until I could at least feel what a smooth trigger pull felt like. It paid off.
  • After I confessed to how terrible I was shooting with my left hand, Sam had me run through a couple of single hand drills. Draw, shoot a center dot with both hands, the right dot with the right hand, then the left with the left hand. I managed to hit run the drill in less than four seconds.
Sam Hayes' dot torture drill. Two bullets had the nerve to stray from the dots.
Sam Hayes’ dot torture drill. Two bullets had the nerve to stray from the dots.
  • I also rand a strong hand draw and fire drill where I put two bullets in the dot in two seconds.
  • If you can’t practice from draw and fire (At my local range, only law enforcement can do it.) you can still practice from low ready. You might be leaving out the first step of the draw stroke, but you can connect the dots during dry fire practice.

Leave a Reply