Skills Check: Dave's Drill

You don’t need multiple days of training or to send hundreds of rounds downrange to assess your marksmanship skills and gear.

posted on December 21, 2021
Dave Spaulding

Seemingly simple on the surface, Dave Spaulding’s suggested drill highlights where one should focus their practice.

Former police officer, SWAT team member, firearm trainer and author Dave Spaulding is one of the good guys. He is retiring from teaching on the road, where his Handgun Combatives training program has been in high demand for many years, but there remains a wealth of information in his written works and on his website.

Here’s the Drill
Here is a practice drill he recommends. I like it for its simplicity and economy, proving yet again that complicated drills and high round counts aren’t necessarily needed to gauge and build skill:

1 round One shot  from ready in 1 second
1 round One shot from the holster in 2 seconds
2 rounds One shot, emergency reload, one shot in 3 seconds
4 rounds Four shots from ready in 2 seconds
Total Eight rounds

Spaulding shoots this at 20 feet on a 6x9-inch, chest-cavity overlay you can download for free off his website. He recommends you shoot it twice as a better measure of skill.

This is a demanding drill, especially the reload portion, which I recommend you work from a ready position. And, while you may want to shoot it with your favorite range or competition pistol, I think you should shoot it with your concealed-carry pistol, holster and ammunition.

To be successful, you need to draw quickly, grip the pistol firmly, look at the sights, control the trigger and follow-through, skills we emphasize at Gunsite every week. You might want to add taking a step to the side and remember to holster slowly and carefully.

Since someone is bound to ask, when we speak about gripping the pistol what I’m referring to is obtaining a firing grip in the holster, adding the support hand and gripping the pistol in a way that prevents it from moving in the hand during firing. Look through the rear sight and move your focus from the target to the front sight as you press the trigger straight to the rear without anticipating the shot by tightening the grip, then follow-through by getting back on the front sight, rather than lifting the eyes off the sights and looking for the bullet hole.

By the way, this drill is pass/fail, as all shots must hit the target. If you can pull it off, I will assume your skill level and gear are good to go. If you can’t, I suggest you do a lot of dry practice and take a hard look at your equipment choices.


Hydra Weaponry Hydra 10
Hydra Weaponry Hydra 10

First Look: Hydra Weapons Hydra 10 Rifle

Available in either 16-inch or 18-inch versions.

Nothing New

A good idea is a good idea, no matter when it happens.

First Look: Hornady RAPiD Safe AR Gunlocker

Keep your tactical long guns nearby and secure.

Drills for the B-8 Target

Is the venerable B-8 the best target for defensive pistol training?

I Carry: FN America Five-seveN 5.7 mm Pistol in an ANR Design Holster

In this week's episode of "I Carry," we have an FN America Five-seveN 5.7x28 mm pistol carried in an ANR Design Standard Outside the Waistband holster and new FN GUNR and DFNS 5.7x28 mm ammunition.

First Look: Real Avid Armorer's Hammer

Available either by itself or with a punch set.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.