Swift | Silent | Deadly

I Made a Shooting Drill: The Ten Second Standards

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I made a shooting drill! I am calling it the Ten Second Standards. These “standards” are the personal tasks I strive to able to perform, on-demand, with my EDC pistol. It only requires one target and ten rounds, is revolver-friendly, and the entire COF can be shot in two minutes or less. There are a million other shooting drills out there, but I believe this one brings something to the table…even if it’s just a novel drill to shoot.

Dislaimer: I think this is a new drill. Though elements are borrowed from other drills (the cumulative time similar to that used in the Wilson 5×5 Skills Test, for instance), I believe most of this drill is original. If it is not, please let me know!

The Ten Second Standards: COF, Setup, Scoring

Ten rounds, in ten seconds, at a fairly big target. Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not exactly easy, but it is doable. If you are interested, the rationale behind the drill is explained below. For now, I will cut to the chase and post the COF, setup, and scoring:

Acceptable Targets:

  • IDPA Target, -0 zone ONLY
  • USPSA Target, A-zone ONLY
  • IALEFI Q/Rangemaster Q, 8″ circle/4″ head circle ONLY

Course of Fire

  • 25 yards, 2 body shots
  • 15 yards, 1 head shot
  • 10 yards, failure drill (2 body/1 head)
  • 5 yards, 4 body

Other Information:

  • This is a Pass/Fail standard
  • Must be shot cold with your ACTUAL carry or duty gun/holster setup
  • All stages begin with a draw from concealment or retention for uniformed LEO
  • Par: Shoot all drills in a total time of 10 seconds; no stage pars, use this time as you see fit
  • Passing criteria: 10 hits in 10 seconds or under.

In the video below you can see me shoot a cold, clean run on the Ten Second Standards.

The Rationale

There are a million shooting drills out there. Why write another one? Because none of them captured the skills I want to be able to accomplish with my EDC handgun. The skills in the Ten Second Standards are, in my opinion, relevant to the Citizen concealed carry permit holders. I’m not saying you need to be able to pass all of these. These are, however, the standards that I strive to maintain.

Overall, this drill places focus on delivering anatomically-relevant hits, within compressed time standards. Allow me to address both of these criteria.

Anatomically-relevant hits means striking the body in a place that will do enough damage to force the attacker to stop. We can’t rely on marginal hits to make the attacker decide to stop. Criminals do not think like you and me. They do not have the same long-term planning. They do not have the same logic or make the same value judgments that you and I make. It is possible they have been shot before. Criminals may be high, drunk, or mentally ill. Even if they process pain, they may not care at all about their own life. If someone is trying to kill you, you have to make them stop.

Compressed time standards are used in this drill because shots also have to “arrive on time to make a difference†.” If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a shooting, deadly force is already in play. The bad guy has presented a credible threat of death or serious injury. The longer it takes you to neutralize the threat, the greater your odds of getting hurt or killed become. Shots must be made as quickly as possible, without sacrificing accuracy.


This drill is difficult. I imagine it getting some criticism for difficulty beyond typically concealed carry engagements. To be honest, I cannot pass it all the time, and I certainly can’t pass it cold on every attempt. In some way it is aspirational to me – this is the standard I strive to maintain. The difficulty of this drill is part of its rationale, as well. Difficulty beyond what you will typically encounter provides some benefits.

Insulation from Skill Degradation

Skills degrade under extreme stress. If you train to the particulars (the “averages”, i.e. 7 yards, or 3 rounds/3 yards/3 seconds) of what you are likely to encounter, and your skill degrades, it may be unequal to the task. If you train to well above and beyond what you are likely to encounter and your skill degrades, you still have plenty of skill to work with.

Indication of Automaticity

Automaticity is what we casually refer to as “muscle memory.” Passing this drill is likely difficult without some automataticity. As John Hearne points out in his lecture, “Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why,” automaticity is a huge factor in winning fights. It frees the brain up to focus on the problem, and allows pre-programmed motor programs to take care of the mechanical aspects of employing the gun. See P.27 of Drills, Qualifications, Standards, and Tests for a picture of Hearne’s automaticity chart.


Confidence is a big factor in winning a fight for your life. Passing difficult drills is a huge factor in building confidence. Hell, I’ve failed this one so many times that shooting it clean, cold gives me an extra boost of confidence when I leave the range. Additionally, if you only train at the seven yard line, then find yourself making an outlier shot at 14 yards, is your skill sufficient? Alternatively, if you know you can make accurate shots at 25 and all you find yourself needing to do is deliver an accurate shot at 10 yards, guess what? It’s going to be an easy day.

Indicator of Where I Need Work

This drill contains a little bit of everything, from taking long-range shots at the 25 and a precision head-shot at the 15, to a very rapid-fire string at the 5. This variety can show you where you need to focus some training time. Am I taking 5 seconds to get shots off at the 25? I need to work on long-distance shooting. Dropping head shots? I need to work on accuracy. Dropping rounds at the 5? I need to improve my recoil management. Coming in over time overall? I may need to work on speeding up my presentation.

On-Demand Performance

Shooting a drill cold is still pretty artificial. You have the whole drive to the range to think about it. You pull your gun out and switch ammo, and set up your target. Protective equipment goes on your head. You have ample mental – if not physical – preparedness. In a gunfight you are unlikely to have more than a few seconds’ time to prepare. Good situational awareness will increase this time (and even better, allow you to simply AVOID!), but there is little we can do on the range to get a similar experience to pulling a gun in public. So, we get as close as we possibly can, by shooting the drill cold.

It is not mean to be shot over and over – it is meant as a test of skill and an indicator of where work is needed. It is also meant to be shot with what you actually carry. This means your carry gun, in your carry holster. Ideally it would be shot with carry ammo, but I know this incurs much more cost than shooting it with ball. Regardless, it will let you know where you stand with the gun you walk out of your house wearing every day. It means little to shoot this with your full-size “range gun.” Shoot it with carry/duty gear.

Closing Thoughts

This is just my set of standards. You might like it, you might not. I think it does a lot of work in 10 rounds. Give it a try. If you like it, let me know! If you hate it, also let me know!

Tom Givens? John Mosby? I know for a fact I did not coin this phrase, but for the life of me, I can’t remember who did.

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