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The following is my adaptation of a skills test I read about some years ago in a gun magazine.  I believe that the test was originally from Insights Training Center in Washington state, or adapted from that school.  I wrote it down in a notebook long ago and I took this article from my notes, or I would credit the original source in more absolute terms.  I make no claim that I thought of any of this, but it does seem a very simple yet useful test to assess one's self-defense skills with a handgun

Why a skills test?  Why not?  The police qualify frequently to insure their skills haven't deteriorated--should the armed citizen do any less?  I believe that anyone who carries or even keeps a gun at home for the purpose of self-defense owes it to himself and those around him to be skilled in its use.  Okay, that part is obvious to anyone who takes the subject of handgun seriously enough to be reading this article.  But consider a second purpose.  As we age and our bodies change, our skills are likely to change as well.  Is your eyesight changing?  Are your reaction times changing?  Administering this simple test to one's self periodically is a great way to find out if our skills have degraded.  And it is not just age that changes us.  Simply going from an action shooting sports competitor to a weekend plinker will affect our abilities--our smoothness, our accuracy, and our speed.

I see many upsides to taking this test, and no downside.  One can give himself the test and no one else need be present.  Give it to speak.


Handgun Skills Test


Concealable holster
Spare magazine or speedloader & a pouch or carrier for same
55 rounds of ammunition (full power ammo is recommended)
Shot timer (must be able to time splits)
Targets-8.5"x11" plain white typing paper
Three target stands and backers

Place targets on the three separate target stands at seven yards

Any shot on the 8.5x11 target paper is a hit, any shot off the paper is a miss and constitutes failure of that run.

There are six drills.  Each drill is performed five times.  Three runs out of five with passing scores constitutes a passing score for that drill.  All drills must be passed to receive a passing score for the entire test. 

Concealment is at the prerogative of the shooter, except for Drills #5 and #6 where concealment is mandatory.

DRILL #1   READY POSITION (one target used)

Start with gun at ready position (high or low)
Fire one round at the beep
Passing is 1.0 second

DRILL #2  SHOT TO SHOT SPEED   (one target used)

Start with the gun aimed in 
Fire two rounds on one target
Passing is .50 seconds or less (time between shots or "splits")

DRILL #3  TRAVERSING TARGETS  (two targets used)

Start with gun aimed in
Fire one round at each of two targets
Passing is .50 second split

DRILL #4  THE RELOAD  (one target used)

Start with one round in the gun, chambered
Fire one round, reload to full capacity, fire one more round
Passing is 3.0 second split

DRILL #5  DRAW FROM CONCEALMENT (one target used)

Start with holstered gun concealed
At beep, draw and fire one round
Passing is 2.0 seconds


Start with holstered gun concealed
At beep, draw and fire one round in each of three targets
Passing is 3.0 seconds

Don't worry if you aren't up to the task on some of those times. Just record your times anyway--that way you can still gauge your progress and also have a goal.

I remind you that those times were taken from the final "graduation" qualification course from a tactical shooting school.  Students attempting it would have just come off being immersed in shooting for a number of days.  Trying these cold makes a big difference.

copyright 2004 by the author, all rights reserved.

Uploaded: 5/17/2006