Test Your Defensive Handgun Skills With Just NINE Bullets

Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Development Course out in Texas and picked up a really neat drill that I want to share with you today.

It only takes nine rounds of ammo and it tests just about every defensive handgun skill you might possibly need.

To quote Tom Givens, the designer of the drill, it tests “movement off the line of force, rapid presentation from concealment, accurate placement of multiple fast shots, a malfunction remedy and an empty gun reload, all under time pressure. It only requires nine rounds, one target and a timer or stopwatch to test/measure all of these skills.”

I was really impressed with the drill when I was introduced to it but then forgot to record the details (there was not a lot of downtime in that class). Luckily, I ran into it again online, so I want to share it with you now.

Tom Givens himself posted an entire description of the drill in his (excellent) Rangemaster newsletter. I’m reposting it for you below.

THE 3M TEST: Marksmanship, Movement, Manipulations

SETUP

Distance: 5 yards

Target: RM-Q (scored 5/3), 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.

SCORING

Pass/Fail Scoring: The shooter fails if he/she:

  • 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 and 12 seconds for instructors.

Comstock Count Scoring: Total points possible = 45 points

Points divided by time = index
Index multiplied by 30 = score

Example: 42 points, fired in 12.15 seconds

42 ÷ 12.15 = 3.46 (index)
3.46 x 30 = 103.8 (score)

Par Score = 100

Any score over 100 (par) is very good work. Anything over 125 is extremely high skill.

DESCRIPTION

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.

Set up one silhouette target at 5 yards. For our purposes, we will use an RM-Q (scored 5/3), a VSRT (scored 5/4/3) or an IDPA target (scored 5/3/0) for the Comstock count version. For pass/fail scoring, only the highest-value hit zone counts.

Shooter starts with their handgun loaded with six live rounds (one in the chamber, five in the magazine), plus one dummy round in the magazine. The dummy should not be the top round or 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.

The 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 three additional shots.

The shooter must move on the draw, move on the malfunction and move on the reload. There is a 10-point penalty for any shot that misses the target on Comstock scoring. For pass/fail scoring, any round outside the highest value zone is a failure.

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

This drill is not intended to be shot over and over, trying to get an impressive score. I use this drill as a skill check, shot totally cold at the beginning of a practice session. If you can pass this — or score above 125 on Comstock — on demand, you are probably an adequate defensive shooter.

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Chris Campbell

Written By Caleb Lee

Caleb Lee is the No. 1 best-selling author of Concealed Carry 101 and founder of PreparedGunOwners.com. He's a first-degree black belt in taekwondo, an NRA-certified instructor, a certified Concealed Carry Academy instructor and a graduate of the Rangemaster firearms instructor course.