Can You Shoot the String?


We have all seen the trick shots from the likes of Bob Munden and other masters of their craft. How did they achieve these skills? They spent time and energy focused on what they wanted to achieve. When it comes to shooting for most of us, we want to achieve a better hit ratio in that sweet small ring on the target.

Although there are many targets that can help and you can see where your hits and misses are, they can make you try to adjust on the fly and cause more frustration. There is a drill we integrated into my agency’s training with new and old shooters that shows exactly how accurate modern pistols are in the hands of someone with a basic skill level.

Running the Shoot the String Drill can enhance your overall handgun accuracy performance regardless of the pistol or circumstances.

Let me introduce the Shoot the String Drill.

Trust the Gun/Work the Fundamentals

Are you up for the challenge? If so, shooting a piece of string no thicker than a quarter inch or even a sixteenth of an inch is a great test for you, and more doable than you might think.

Shoot the String drill results
The author shows where bullets hit the paracord in the drill. The more strikes you have, the better your performance.

To do this you need to focus on a few things. Sight alignment, sight picture and smooth trigger press are the fundamentals here, all of which are basic skills we should be working on from day one. If you can exercise these three fundamentals of shooting, then you are going to hit the string at close distances and even longer ones.

Striking the string during a shooting drill
When your bullet hits the cordage, the string will jump making hits obvious.

I have done this with a red dot mounted on my Springfield XD-M Elite in the video, and I have also done it with the standard sights from the factory.  My ammo for the day was Atlanta Arms 115-gr. JHP, and as you can see in the video I get both hits and misses — but I jokingly blamed the misses on the wind that day out in the desert.

What You Need

You can run the Shoot the String Drill either indoors or out. All you need is a way to hang the string. This can be target stands, tree branches if you’re outdoors, or the overhead target rack in an indoor range. Whatever you do, tie a good knot. As you can see in my video, if you don’t the knot will give way.

Man demonstrating string shooting drill results
Shooting the string drill requires a pistol, ammunition, a pair of stakes and a string to hang as a target. As you improve, use thinner cordage.

Start at 3 yards to make it easy on yourself. Get one or two of those good hits and decide where to move next. You will know if the hit is good because you will get a positive flip of the string and not just a swing. Also, the string will often fray and have a black grease mark on it from the good hits. Once you are comfortable, move back and really test your skills. 

How does this benefit you? Well, let’s just face it … if you can do this, you get bragging rights and a huge confidence booster. You will see that your skills and practice are paying off. In one case, we actually needed a slight adjustment in the rear sight on a student’s gun in a class I was running. After that adjustment it was clear the student had the fundamentals to cut the string in half after a few rounds.


This Shoot the String Drill does have a place and time for implementation, however. You need to have a good grasp of those fundamentals. If you are struggling to hit a bullseye target at 7 yards, I would say work a little more on the fundamentals before attempting this drill. But once you get to this you will see just how accurate your pistol and you are.

Springfield Armory pistol used in string drill
For this article, the author used the exceptionally good Atlanta Arms Elite ammo in his Springfield XD-M Elite pistol.

My advice if you try this is, do no more than 10 rounds at a time. And if you hit it the first time, pack up and leave on a good note — don’t chase the record the first day.

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