When we were developing the “Three Seconds or Less” test, one of the concerns was making each of the strings of the test roughly equal in difficulty. We enlisted the help of a couple of very fast shooters, K. Clark (multi-time winner of the Rangemaster Tactical Conference shooting match), and national champion Ben Stoeger, to shoot each string of the test so we could set the upper boundary of speed for each string. We captured video of Clark’s runs, compiled together in this video. (The video was originally shot in Feb 2018, and it sat on my hard drive until the COVID-caused shutdown gave me free time to dive into the archives and catch up on some stalled projects.)
Analysis & Discussion
Clark shot the drill using a Glock 34 drawn from a concealed appendix carry holster. Stoeger shot the drill using his normal USPSA Production competition gear.
One aspect of this test that is different from many standard tests is that some strings start from a ready position, and others start at “position 1” of the draw, after the cover garment has been cleared. This was done to avoid over-weighting the skill of clearing the cover garment.
String 1: 3 yards, step left, draw and fire 3 shots. Clark’s time: 1.29, Stoeger’s time: 1.21. Assuming these are “120%” times a GM standard would be around 1.50 seconds, with 3.00 seconds at 50%. So far, so good.
String 2: 3 yards, ready position, one head shot. Clark’s time: 0.76. When Stoeger ran it we changed the drill to two head shots from ready. His time was 1.06. In the end, we changed the start position to position 1 of the draw, to add a little more work to be done and balance this string against the others.
String 3: 3 yards, step right, draw and fire 3 shots. Clark’s time: 1.52, Stoeger’s time: 1.32. Similar to string #1 although both slowed down stepping right. Clark also shot a miss on his first shot on this string.
String 4: 2 yards, two rounds as you retreat. Clark’s time: 1.05, Stoeger’s time: 0.97. Were we to make more changes in the test, modifying the start position to “hands at sides” might raise the difficulty level of this string.
String 5: 7 yards, gun at slide lock, load, rack, shoot. Clark’s time: 1.51. Stoeger’s time, 1.10. My observation of students shooting the test over the past few years is that quick reloads and quick malfunction clearing skills often lag behind draw speed. In a typical class this is where we begin to have students fail to make the par time and/or start dropping points.
String 6: 7 yards, ready position, one head shot. Clark’s time: 0.86, Stoeger’s time, 1.04. We changed this string to include two head shots in the final version of the test.
String 7: 7 yards, facing left, position 1 of the draw (hand on gun), turn, draw shoot 3. Clark’s time: 2.07, Stoeger’s time: 1.31 Turning draws are common in USPSA matches, but much less common in defensive pistol classes. This string might benefit from a change reducing the round count to 2 shots instead of 3, although we have plenty of students in DPS-2 and DPS-3 that are able to get all 3 hits on this string.
String 8: 7 yards, facing target, position 1 of the draw. Draw and fire 2, strong hand only. Clark’s time: 1.86. Stoeger’s time: 1.57. Changing this start position to “ready” from holstered might provide more balance in the difficulty level of this string.
String 9: 7 yards, gun in support (non dominant) hand, aimed at target. 2 shots. Clark’s time: 1.64. Stoeger’s time: 1.35 Speed is usually not the challenge on this string for students; trigger manipulation is.
Clark shot 18 of 20 on the HCT-1A target; Stoeger shot 20/20.
While the HCT target design is good, we ended up designing our own target with additional features, to use for the final version of the test. The design of that target is discussed at length in our book Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol Training (download a sample chapter and/or order the book here)
Adding one additional string that simulates a malfunction is still something we may add to the test, or incorporate into an add-on test that has 10/15/25 yard shooting in it. We didn’t have Stoeger shoot the malfunction test but you can see Clark’s run on two versions of that drill in the video.
Many thanks to K Clark and Ben Stoeger for letting us use them as pacesetters. The scores we recorded were their first runs on the drill, and neither had seen the course of fire in advance.