One of the classes I offer, my Advanced Handgun Road Course, focuses on measuring student performance and comparing it to known baselines. I use a sequence of 18 different drills, ranging from 25 yard group shooting and B8-centric exercises like the 5 Yard Round Up and The Test, to USPSA/IDPA standards like the IDPA 5×5 classifier, Four Aces, the Bill Drill, and more complex tests like the 3M (Farnam) and Casino (Rangemaster).
John Hearne developed a chart linking shooter performance on widely used standard drills to assess how automatic a shooter’s handgun skills are. He and I and others have had discussions about the relative difficulty of the drills he used. I didn’t run all the drills that John used in his chart in my class, but I ran several of them and can compare class results with his estimates, and link performance on some other drills not used in his chart.
The majority of students in the class had abilities in the USPSA C class range, which spans from 40%-60% of the skill required to shoot 100% Grand Master scores on classifier stages.
The Bill Drill involves drawing and shooting 6 shots at 7 yards. We used a USPSA target but used IDPA scoring (+1 sec for a C hit, +3 seconds for a D hit). This was because John’s data is all time based and not hit factor based.
Student raw times ranged from 2.85-4.03 seconds, with penalties pushing a few students over the 5 second mark, but basically all of them fell within John’s 2nd category “Performance suggests some automaticity”.
IDPA 5×5 Classifier
The IDPA classifier is 4 strings shot at 10 yards, described in more detail in this video.
During the class, I ran each string with all shooters firing and a fixed par time.
Draw and fire 5: 5 seconds
Draw and fire, strong hand only: 8 seconds
Draw and fire 5, reload, fire 5 more: 11 seconds
Draw and fire 4 body, 1 head: 6 seconds
This is a total of 30 seconds, which is (depending on division), somewhere in the Marksman/Sharpshooter range, which is the lower end of John’s 2nd tier.
All the students were able to complete the strings under the par times, but due to penalties, their scores ranged from 31-41 seconds. Relative to John’s chart, they underperformed, perhaps indicating that the IDPA classifications need to be slid to the right, with a clean Sharpshooter run moving to the boundary between tiers 2 and 3.
Todd Green’s Fundamentals of Accuracy and Speed Test, often just called the FAST, is a simple 6 round drill: draw and fire 2 precision shots into a 3″x5″ rectangle, reload and fire 4 faster shots into an 8″ circle, all at 7 yards.
On the Hearne chart, FAST scores between 7-10 seconds place students in the 2nd tier. Student scores from class (raw times plus time penalties) ranged from 6.51-13.49, with raw times all below 10 seconds.
The Rangemaster Casino drill is a 21 round, 7 yard test that includes drawing, reloading, counting and shooting targets in the correct order. Tom’s video explaning the drill was shot at our A-Zone Range.
Based on Hearne’s chart, times of 22-27 seconds would be expected, based on the other student data. We ran the drill twice during class, once with everyone shooting and a 21 second par time, and a second time with individual timing. For both runs, time was added for shots outside the numbered shapes and procedurals. Student scores ranged from 19-32 seconds, with most in the 22-27 second range.
This same group of students, who were fairly close in skill level, scored as follows on other drills:
The Test (10 yards, 10 seconds, 10 shots, B8 target): 87-100 points
The Test 5 yards (5 yards, 5 seconds, 10 shots, B8 target): 87-100 points
Five Yard Roundup (5 yards, multiple strings): 57-98 points
Three Seconds or Less (3 and 7 yards): 16-19 points (out of 20)
Wizard Drill (Hackathorn, 2.5 sec par strings): 100%
Four Aces (draw, 2, reload, 2 at 7 yards): 3.39-7.05 seconds
15 yard Bill Drill: 5.37-9.84 seconds (raw plus time penalties)
Placing these other drills on the Hearne chart
A modified version of Hearne’s chart with the other drills placed on the relative difficulty scale.
John Daub has written and taught extensively on concepts of Minimum Competency. Obviously there’s lots of room between minimum competency and maximum human performance. If you use the Hearne chart and set a life goal of keeping your skills inside the “performance sufficient to strongly suggest automaticity”, these drill goals make a good set of standards to aspire to or maintain.
The Test – 90 points
5 Yard RoundUp – 90 points
Three Seconds or Less – 18 points
Wizard Drill – clean, no overtime shots
Casino Drill – 21 seconds no penalties
Four Aces – 5 seconds all A’s
15 yard Bill Drill – 6 seconds all A’s
F.A.S.T. – 7 seconds
7 yard Bill Drill – 3 seconds all A’s
El Presidente – 10 seconds all A’s
FBI Bullseye – 250 points
Failure Drill – 2.0 seconds all A’s
Essentially the goal is IDPA Expert or the boundary between USPSA B and C class.
In most cases, it’s draw and reload times that result in the biggest gains on these drills past the sufficient skill level, as most drills are low round count strings where draw time can be as much as half of the total string time.
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