Written by: Greg Ellifritz
The Tactical Professor describes a great shooting drill you can use to establish baseline competency and track improvement over time. I like drills like this that provide a measurable standard that you can track over time.
The drill requires 50 rounds (five sequences of 10 shots each) and is shot on any silhouette target. All stages begin from the low ready position, so the drill can be shot at even the most restrictive indoor range.
Here are the specifications (from Claude’s blog):
Place target at three (3) yards
Start loaded with five (5) rounds only.
The starting position is Low Ready. This means the pistol is aimed at the floor below the target. For double action pistols, you will decock after each Step.
Sequence 1 (10 rounds)
1) Start with handgun held in both hands, aimed at the floor below the target. Spare magazine loaded with 5 rounds or speedloader with 5 rounds or 5 loose rounds on the bench.
2) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 1 shot at the center of target. Followthrough for one second, then return to low ready. Decock, if appropriate.
3) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 2 shots at the center of target. Followthrough for one second, then return to low ready. Decock.
4) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 3 shots at the center of target. After two shots, the pistol will be out of ammunition. Reload it and fire the third shot. Followthrough for one second, then return to low ready. Decock.
5) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 4 shots at the center of target. After the shots, the pistol will be out of ammunition. Hopefully, the slide has locked back if it’s an autoloader.
6) Place your pistol down on the bench.
7) Bring your target back and mark all the hits, preferably with tape but a marker will do.
8) Write on the target how many hits you made in the body scoring area. I prefer to not count the outer scoring area as I mentioned in Why I hate the -3 zone. Use this format, (3) X/10, X being the number of hits. For this drill, do not count any hits in the head, they are actually misses.
Sequence 2 (10 rounds)
1) Send the target out to 5 yards.
2) Repeat Sequence 1 but with the target at 5 yards instead of 3 yards.
3) When you write on the target how many hits you made in the scoring area, it will be (5) X/10. The number in parenthesis is the distance in yards.
Sequence 3 (10 rounds)
1) Send the target out to 7 yards.
2) Repeat Sequence 1 with the target at 7 yards.
3) Write on the target how many hits you made at 7 yards. (7) X/10
Sequence 4 (10 rounds)
1) Send the target out to 10 yards.
2) Repeat Sequence 1 with the target at 10 yards.
3) Write on the target how many hits you made at 10 yards. (10) X/10
Sequence 5 (10 rounds)
1) Send the target out to 15 yards.
2) Repeat Sequence 1 with the target at 15 yards.
3) Write on the target how many hits you made at 15 yards. (15) X/10
In summary, you will be repeating the first stage (shot at 3 yards) procedures at the 5, 7, 10, and 15 yard markers.
Besides being a drill that’s good for benchmarking your performance, it is also an excellent drill for quantifying the measurable difference in practical accuracy and “shootability” between different handguns. Many people choose their carry guns based on subjective qualities such as “how the gun feels” or “how comfortable it is to shoot.” That is unacceptable. You should be carrying the gun that you shoot best, not the gun that “feels” best. Run this same drill with several different guns and see which one you can actually shoot the best. That’s the gun you should be carrying (assuming you can conceal it.)
I recently tried the drill with several of my different carry guns. I wanted to determine which of my backup guns I should be carrying more often. I regularly switch between a S&W 342 snub, a Colt Cobra snub, a S&W Model 12 snub, a S&W model 351 .22 magnum snub, and a .380 acp Glock 42. I like all of these guns and wanted to see exactly which one I shot the best. I used Claude’s test to find the answer.
Shooting Claude’s test using a full silhouette wouldn’t tell me much. I was confident that I could put every round from each of the guns into the proper area of the target and thus shoot a perfect score with each weapon. For my test, I made it a little more difficult and used a B-8 replacement bullseye as a target. That target is about the size of an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of copy paper and has a black “bullseye” that measures 5.25″ in diameter.
I tracked both the number of hits on the target and the number of hits in the black area on Calude’s drill for each of the five weapons.
S&W 342 .38 spl.
16 in black
Colt Cobra .38 spl.
19 in black
S&W Model 12 (2″) .38 spl.
35 in black
S&W Model 351 .22 magnum
33 in black
Glock 42 .380 acp
47 in black
Using this test, I found the gun that I liked to carry the most (the S&W 342) was the gun that I shot worst with! I expected to do well with the Model 12 as I carry it nearly every day at work for a backup gun and shoot it more frequently than the others. What really surprised me was the results from the .22 magnum and the Glock .380. Both performed far better than what I expected.
I’ve now decided to carry the model 12 full time as a backup gun on police patrol (because of greater reliability for ankle carry than the autopistol) and the Glock 42 in any situation where I feel the need to carry a backup weapon while off duty. The 342 is going back in the safe!
Give this drill a try in order to evaluate your skills. If you need to make a decision between a couple different carry guns, use this drill to decide what you shoot best. I think you’ll be surprised by the results.