Drill Stories & Insights

Enjoy the stories and training insights behind the drill from the creators themselves. And anything else they want to say.
15 to the 3rd Drill by Dave Spaulding, Handgun Combatives (Feb 2017)

“While it may seem like a small thing, the drill is/was a matter of many years work to it in place. You see, what I teach in Handgun Combatives is a result of decades of research, training and personal experience…I have faced life threatening situations and I understand what they really are. My lessons plans are not just something I threw together because they look cool or are fun to do. Each drill reinforces skill set(s) that I feel are essential for pistol combat while maintaining as much simplicity and lack of motion as possible. Today (at least it seems to me) many drills are created because they are fun or the instructor in question is good (thus looking good in front of the class) at them under the auspices of they “reinforce proper fundamentals” which can be said about most anything regarding a gun. Pick it up, work the trigger, and shoot oranges at twenty feet and someone will claim “the visual feedback of the exploding oranges reinforces proper fundamentals!” Yeah…ok…sure…

What I call the ESSENTIALS are certainly important, but I do not focus on them beyond their station in the overall scheme of things. What I do in Handgun Combatives is build skill sets that will allow the student to “adapt and apply” the skills needed to prevail in armed conflict. You see, I have long understood the secret to winning a gunfight is not how smooth you work the trigger, how fast your splits are, how quick you draw or how fast your reload is, it’s being able to read the situation for what it is and adapt and apply the needed skills to overcome your attacker. Shooting fundamentals are easy to teach…and fun to do… fighting skills are difficult. It’s like a pyramid, you have to build and place each skill block next to and on top of the one just mastered, but if you neglect any of them (remove them from the process) the pyramid will crumble. The essentials (fundamentals) are the foundation, but the first block is a combative mindset…something most ignore. Without it all to follow is a waste.

15 to the 3rd reinforces several of these required skills. It is used in both my Advanced Combative Pistol course where the whole course is dedicated to movement…not just “MOVE!” as screamed by many instructors, but how to move forward, rearward and laterally and how to stop quickly prepared to shoot accurately. In my Close Proximity Pistol class it is used to clear non-hostiles in the battle space to engage an active threat. Without the instruction required to do it well, the drill is just another drill on the internet…something people shoot because they want to feel good about themselves, but do not want to seek out and pay for proper training. The internet has not really been a “friend” to fight preparation…and training is just that…preparation for the most serious moments of your life.”

3M Test by Bill Wilson, Wilson Combat (Feb 2017)

The 3M Test

  • Marksmanship/Movement/Manipulations
  • Pass/Fail or Modified for Comstock Count Scoring

For many years, Larry Nichols was the Rangemaster of the Burbank, California, police department. He devised the original, simpler version of this drill. He showed it to John Farnam probably 30 years ago, and John modified it to fit his curriculum. John showed his version to me 20 years ago, and I made changes to fit my curriculum. This is the version we currently use.

This drill tests movement off the line of force, a rapid presentation from concealment, accurate placement of multiple fast shots, a malfunction remedy, a precise head shot, and an empty gun reload, all under time pressure. It only requires 10 rounds, one target, and a timer or stopwatch to test/measure all of these skills.

Drill Instructions Below

One silhouette target, at 5 yards. For our purposes, we will use an RFTS-Q, scored 5/3 or a VSRT, scored 5,4,3 or an IDPA target, scored 5/3/0 for the Comstock Count version. If pass/fail scoring, only the highest value hit zone counts.

Shooter starts with handgun loaded with 6 live rounds (1 in chamber, 5 in magazine) and one dummy round in the magazine. Dummy is not the top round nor the bottom round in the magazine. Someone else should load the magazine so the shooter does not know where in the magazine the dummy round lies.

Shooter starts holstered, hands in interview stance. On signal, side step, draw, and fire until a malfunction occurs. On the malfunction, side step, fix it, and continue to fire. When the gun runs empty, side step, perform an emergency reload, and fire 3 additional shots to the chest, then 1 shot to the head.

Shooter must  move on the draw, move on the malfunction, and move on the reload.  There will be a ten point penalty for any shot that misses the target, on Comstock. If pass/fail, any round outside the highest value zone is a failure.

Comstock Count Scoring:

  • Possible score = 45 points. Points divided by time = Index. Index X 30 = Score.
  • Example:  42 points, fired in 12.15 seconds = 3.46
  • 3.46 X 30= 103.8     Score = 103.8
  • Par Score = 100
  • Anything over 100 is very good work. Anything over 125 is extremely high skill.

On Pass/Fail scoring, shooter fails if he-

  •   Does not move on the draw, the malfunction, and the reload
  •   Does not tap the magazine before running the slide on the malfunction
  •   Places a single hit outside the highest scoring zone on the target.
  •   Time limit is 15 seconds for a Combative Pistol student, 12 seconds for instructors.


Casino Drill by Bill Wilson, Wilson Combat (Feb 2017)

The Rangemaster “Casino Drill”

In an actual defensive shooting, there will be skills involved besides shooting skills. The shooter will be tasked with target identification, target discrimination and target assessment, and these will all be changing and evolving continually throughout the incident. To help the shooter become accustomed to processing information at the same time he is running the motor program for shooting, we developed the “Casino Drill”.

Drill Instructions Below

  • DT-2A target, available from Action Targets (see photo)
  • Three magazines
  • 21 rds of ammunition

This drill tests a rapid presentation from the concealed holster; fast, accurate shooting on multiple targets; two empty gun reloads on the clock; target identification ; and keeping up with changing circumstances; all under time pressure. Fired at 5 yards, starting with the pistol in the holster, concealed or in a secured police duty rig.

Shooter begins with 7 rds loaded in the handgun, handgun holstered concealed. Shooter will have two spare magazines, loaded with 7 rds each.

On signal, the shooter will draw and engage target #1 with 1 round, target #2 with 2 rds, target #3 with 3 rounds, target #4 with 4 rds, target #5 with 5 rds, and target #6 with 6 rds.  Twice, the shooter will have to reload an empty gun and remember to finish up the required shots on the target before moving on to the next one.

Par time for this drill is 21 seconds, with ALL hits inside the numbered targets, and no procedural errors (right number of shots on each target, targets shot in numerical sequence).

7,7,7 rounds  total is 21  hence the name “The Casino Drill”.

To run this as a scored competition, fastest total time wins. Add one second for EACH shot that misses a numbered target and one second for each procedural error.

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