The New 250 Drill Skills Check

Even time-tested curricula from the nation’s oldest defensive-shooting academy can change.

posted on April 6, 2022
250 Drill

Evolution can be defined as any process of growth or development. Applying this to a training doctrine, we have seen a continual evolution of the Modern Technique since Jeff Cooper came down from the mountain and introduced it to the world through the training program at a place now referred to simply as Gunsite.

While my analogy is a bit tongue in cheek, the comparison of Cooper to Moses isn’t a bad one. Both were prophets who changed their world—in Cooper’s case the universe of firearms training—and profoundly influenced future events.

You might be surprised to learn the Modern Technique has seen continual evolution from its inception. This has been accomplished through a process of critical review and testing by the instructor staff. Changes in doctrine are included only after consensus is reached, usually at a rangemaster’s conference.

This year, among other changes, the 250 School Drill was modified. The 250 Defensive Pistol class is the core doctrinal class at Gunsite and is the primary model for most of the academy’s classes. It has changed over the years, but the School Drill times have remained. It’s a drill that tests many of the principles in the 250 class and is one of the “final exams” tested and scored on the last day of class.

At its inception in Cooper’s day, the School Drill was scored on stationary targets and timed with stop watches and whistles. Later, programmable turning targets were added, and later still, those target systems were replaced. The initial times in the School Drill start at 1.5 seconds, often with a bit of slop, if you will, in the stopwatch days. The first generation of turners, when programmed for 1.5 seconds ran a little too fast, and the current turners are quick, the computer having decided to go from turn, to face and turn away in an exact 1.5 seconds, meaning, the target actually faces the student for only about a second.

The solution to having the targets face the students for 1.5 seconds is to program the computer for 2 seconds. Now, before anyone accuses us of abandoning doctrine or diluting the training, we’re simply trying to give the students a time more consistent with the intent of the drill (and if my memory is correct, more like the way Cooper used to run a stopwatch and whistle). If you are timing this yourself, I think you can go with 2 seconds, or 1.5, depending upon your timing equipment. We also added two shots to the drill, fired at 15 yards.

Here’s the Drill
All shots are fired from the holster on an Option target.

3 yards Single shot to the head. Repeat. 2 seconds, two shots total.

3 yards Two shots to the body. 2 seconds, two shots total.

7 yards Two shots to the body. 2 seconds, two shots total

10 yards Two shots to the body. 2.5 seconds, two shots total.

15 yards Two shots to the body, standing. Two shots to the body, kneeling 7 seconds, four shots total.

Total 12 shots

The target is scored five to two, with shots inside the scoring lines receiving five points and shots outside, but on the target, receiving two points. Twelve shots total; 60 points are possible.

It’s a simple drill—or is it?


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Colonel Rex Applegate

For me, one of the many bonuses of this gunwriter business has been the opportunity to meet and become friends with a number of the firearm enthusiasts of an earlier generation; legendary figures such as Frank Hamer Jr., Bill Jordan, Bill Toney, Col Walter Walsh and the subject of this column: COL Rex Applegate.


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