1918 Protection Pistol Course of Fire

Another find from my Historical Handgun research team. This is an article from the US Revolver Association’s 1918 newsletter. It describes their concept of a defensive pistol event that includes drawing from a holster. Carrying a small revolver in pants or coat pocket was the default carry method of that era, particularly for city dwellers, but for safety reasons (read the article) drawing a larger gun from open carry was chosen for competition. This idea still survives today, as competitors in USPSA and IDPA matches tend to work from open carry style holsters using larger guns most of the time.

The target used for this was the USRA’s Standard American Target, which appears to have survived as the NRA B-8. The B-16 has smaller scoring rings than the B-8. This article from the NRA’s Shooting Sports magazine has a great explanation of the history of different bullseye targets.


More on the history of the US Revolver Association can be found at this link


Basic rules for the various types of matches that the USRA conducted can be found here

The “Burning Powder” book is available from Amazon as an e-book

A comparison of the NRA target sizes is here


According to Wesson’s “Burning Powder” book, the 50 yard “standard american target” dimensions are:

10 Ring—3.39 inches 9 Ring—5.54 inches 8 Ring—8.00 inches 7 Ring—11.00 inches 6 Ring—14.80 inches 5 Ring—19.68 inches 4 Ring—26.83 inches

Wesson, Douglas. Burning Powder . Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.

This is the same as the modern B-8


The 20 yard Standard American Target dimensions are

10 ring 1.12, 9 ring 1.88, 8 ring 2.72, 7 ring 3.73, 6 ring 5.04, 5 ring 6.72, 4 ring 8.84

The modern B-16 dimensions are close to the old 20 yard standard american target from Wesson’s book and the USRA rules:


I went to the range and shot the Protection Match” using my modern Glock 48 with Holosun 507, and again with my vintage 1954 K-38 Combat Masterpiece. In reality even the 1954 revolver was too “modern” for this course of fire.

In putting this blog post together I discovered that I should have used a B-8 at 20 yards, or a B-16 at 10 yards, instead of the B-16 at 20 yards.

The only impact of that change is to increase my score by a few points.

The other concession I made to modern times was using two hands to shoot the K-38, vs the traditional one handed techniques favored by pistol shooters of that era. According to the USRA rules from Burning Powder, all firing was to be done using one hand.

Final Thoughts

The key takeaway from the 1918 Protection Match is that the idea of using bullseye targets for higher speed defensive pistol drills that included drawing from a holster, is not a new idea. The 10 yards, 10 seconds, 10 shots B-8 shooting drill has its origins dating back to 1918 or possibly earlier.