My Top Five Mantis Blackbeard Drills

Ammo prices suck right now and have seemingly sucked for the last year and a half. They don’t seem to be getting any better, but luckily, we have alternatives. Well, we have dry fire, and we have the Mantis Blackbeard, a drop in an AR-style bolt that automatically resets your rifle’s trigger. This changes the dry fire game entirely, allowing you to ‘dry-fire’ semi-automatically. I’ve been using the Blackbeard extensively, and here, I’ve gathered my five favorite Blackbeard drills.

Ammo Free Blackbeard Drills

The Mantis Blackbeard works by replacing your bolt and charging handle with this big red machine. That machine catches and then resets your hammer. It can cycle fast enough to reset the trigger ten times in one second, so even bubbas with the sacred third pin can use the Blackbeard. While the bolt cycles your hammer, it also fires a laser with every trigger pull. It makes dry fire more effective and allows you to train for more than pure accuracy.

Mantis Blackbeard Dry fire training
Look at that laser! It makes training safe and efficient.

Thus, to get the most out of it, you need to focus on speed and accuracy. Let’s not forget movement, oh, or multiple target engagement. Well, hell, aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s take a peek at the five best Blackbeard drills you can do ammo-free.

Obviously, keep in mind that without ammo, you don’t have recoil. It’s not a perfect stand-in for live-fire training, but it’s the closest you can get without a bang.

5. VTAC 1-5

Kyle Lamb, Delta Operator, firearms instructor, and all-around badass, designed this drill. Viking Tactics is his company, and thus VTAC gets slapped on the drill. You’ll need three targets, a timer, and a timer. Since this is a dry fire drill app, you can use a phone shot app with a random timer for the beep. No gunfire means no shots to detect, so scoring under a particular par time is the way to go.

VTAC 1-5 drill
Three targets are needed for the VTAC 1-5 drill.

Set up the targets about a yard apart if possible. At the go beep, fire one round on target one, two rounds on target two, three on three, now transition back to target two and fire four rounds, and end the drill by firing five rounds on target one.

VTAC 1-5 drill using the Mantis Blackbeard
The VTAC 1-5 drill works cadence, repeated shots, and target transitions.

A good time is under five seconds.

In terms of training, this is one of the Blackbeard drills that allows you to practice target transitions and cadence building. To get fast, you can’t waste time on the transitions, and you can ride that trigger hard and fast. If you can score under 3.5 seconds, you’re going pretty fast. Don’t sacrifice a good stance or fundamentals for the sake of speed, either.

4. Failure to Stop

The famed Failure to Stop drill is also called the Mozambique drill. It’s one of the few firearms drills derived from an actual shooting. Google it if you want a history lesson. Marines train extensively in the Failure to Stop drill, and it’s a core part of the close-range fundamentals.

Failure to Stop drill using Mantis Blackbeard
Two quick shots to the chest…

This drill is very simple. Set up a man-sized target or reduced-sized target for super close range indoors training. At the beep of a timer, fire a double-tap to the chest of the target, then slow down and take a well-placed shot to the head of the target.

Failure to Stop drill using Mantis Blackbeard
Failure to Stop drill using Mantis Blackbeard

This drill can be done in under 2 seconds.

What you really need to focus on is that final shot. A lot of people fly through it and just try to get a good time. The purpose of the drill is to place a well-aimed headshot on the target. You want that shot placed right between the eyes of the target. It’s called a well-aimed shot for a reason.

3. Box Drill

The Failure to Stop drill evolved into the Box Drill. Ever see the movie Collateral? The one where Tom Cruise peels back the caps of two thugs in an alley? That’s essentially a box drill. Set up two targets a yard apart if possible and stand back seven to ten yards if possible. If you’re indoors, you might want to use a closer range with smaller targets.

Box drill
Some targets are all you need for most of these drills.

On the timer’s beep, engage either target with two shots to the chest, then transition to the next target and fire two shots to the chest of the target. On the second target, transition to the head and fire a well-placed shot. Then transition the first target and fire a final shot to the target’s head.

Remember those headshots and make them count. They should be accurate and fight finishers. At this range, the drill should be done in under five seconds. Adding in multiple positions, cover, and longer ranges makes it a good bit tougher to accomplish.

2. High, Low, Lower

The High, Low, Lower drill brings movement and multiple positions to your drills. This is a very simple drill that requires a single target and can be done at really any range. This drill works like a ladder. You start in the standing position and fire two shots, transition to the kneeling and fire two shots, finally, you climb into the prone and fire two shots.

High, Low, Lower drill using the Mantis Blackbeard
Start in the standing.

Then, you work your way back up into the kneeling and then the standing. This drill works your ability to quickly change positions and get into a variety of positions. It sounds easy, but trying to move quickly between positions while establishing a solid base and then getting shots on target.

High, Low, Lower drill with Mantis Blackbeard, kneeling position
The kneeling.

The High, Low, Lower drill is a great challenge that puts some movement into your Blackbeard drills. Being competent in a variety of positions is invaluable, and being able to transition through those positions is a necessity. Do it a few times, get nice and warmed up, and you’ll see how challenging it can be.

High, Low, Lower drill using the Mantis Blackbeard - prone position
End in the prone, then repeat.

1. Shooting and Moving Multi-Directional Live Fire Drill

The Shooting and Moving Multi-Directional Live Fire Drill comes from Marine, tactical firearms instructor, and pro shooter Mike Seeklander. Specifically from a book called Your Defensive Rifle Training Program that is most certainly worth a read. It’s full of great information and gives you one of my favorite drills with the Mantis Blackbeard.

The Mantis Blackbeard makes dry fire training much more efficient.
The Mantis Blackbeard makes dry fire training much more efficient.

For this drill, you’ll need a target and two somethings to move around. These can be kitchen chairs, bar stools, trash cans, or whatever. They should be set a few yards apart. You just need enough room to move between them. Set a target up against a wall and get ready to move.

Shooting and Moving Multi-Directional drill with Mantis Blackbeard
This drill encompasses every angle possible and is a fun one with the Blackbeard.

You’ll move between the two somethings in a figure-eight pattern. While moving in this figure-eight pattern, you’ll engage the target. I’d use a small target to make it challenging. This drill forces you into a variety of movement patterns that challenge you to shoot moving forward, backward, and laterally. If it feels easy, move faster or get an even smaller target!

Blackbeard Drills — Light it Up

I won’t lie. I get slack in my dry fire with long guns. It’s just boring. The Mantis Blackbeard takes the boring and kicks it out the door. It beats it down and curb-stomps it. The Blackbeard allows you to make your dry fire fun and brings an entirely new challenge and thrill to your dry fire shooting.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor. is the world's Okayest firearm instructor, and a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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