DRILL OF THE MONTH BETH ALCAZAR THE ‘3x5 CHALLENGE’AIM SMALL, MISS SMALL STUDY UPIndex cards aren’t just for annotating your research papers. You can use these humble tools of the research library in your training to great effect.All throughout high school and college, you wouldn’t find me or any of my classmates without a stack of 3x5 cards at the ready. I guess back in those days, we used index cards — whether lined, unlined, white, neon or pastel — religiously for doing research, taking notes, writing papers and studying for tests. (Flashcards, anyone?) But who knew that years after graduation, I would still have a stack of those notorious little cards with me at all times? Why? Well, for shooting practice, of course. If you want to challenge yourself (or your shooting buddies), grab some 3x5 index cards and get ready for a very simple drill that requires you to use all of the fundamentals and apply all of your skills for accurate hits. Numerous variations exist, so I have no clue to whom I can attribute this drill. You could also technically consider this a version of the “Aim Small, Miss Small Drill.” And while you could certainly add some more spice to your own challenge (such as starting from the holster or using a shot timer), here are some basic steps to follow to get started.For the “3x5 Challenge,” staple or tape a 3x5 index card to a larger target backer and set up the target at 3 yards. Shoot three rounds into the card. The goal is to get all three hits. (I’ll let you define “hits,” but if all that’s on that card are a few spots where the bullets gnawed at the edge, I’d say you didn’t meet the goal.) If you get all three hits, move back 2 more yards and repeat with three more shots at each distance. At further distances, all shots need to hit the card, but at closer distances, challenge yourself to get those bullet holes touching one another. And remember that you can’t get sloppy with marksmanship standards when you have only a 3x5 card as your target area. Proper sight alignment is definitely a must for this activity, but a smooth, consistent trigger press will be key.The goal of this activity is to go as far back as you can until you can no longer hit the 3x5 card with all three shots. Once you miss, you can try again, end the drill or, if you are really a glutton for punishment, start all over at 3 yards.Be sure to note the furthest distance you were able to get three hits, as this will be a baseline of performance, from which you can determine your maximum distance for consistency and accuracy. You can then practice at that distance and extend it or be satisfied with your ability to hit a tiny little card at whatever distance was your final “passing grade.” If you want to make the “3x5 Challenge” a bit more challenging, attach three cards to the target backer and perform the drill at each distance strong-hand-only and weak-hand-only. Keep going as long as you are successful with at least one of these grip methods. But be sure to keep track of where you had to drop off and which grip you were using.