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Shoot Like an Operator: The CSAT Pistol Standards

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Always on the lookout for a new pistol drill, qualification, or standard, I was excited to run across the CSAT Pistol Standards! I have not trained with Paul Howe, but know of him through his books, The CSAT Way and Leadership and Training for the Fight (both of which are highly recommended). I also know that Howe was a Delta operator during the Battle of the Black Sea, the battle detailed in Blackhawk Down. That said, I am very interested in what Paul Howe thinks is important in a pistol qual.

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The CSAT Pistol Standards

The CSAT Pistol Standards are fairly straightforward. There are 10 stages and no repeated drills. A lot of skills are tested in these 10 stages, however, including multiple target engagements, reloads, SHO and WHO, low-probability shots, and long-distance shooting.

Shooting the CSAT standards requires two targets. The preferred target is the Combat Shooting & Tactics (CSAT) target. I didn’t have that on hand. Instead I printed a USPSA A-zone (opens to pdf) and pasted it to a IDPA silhouette. Normally I’m content to modify drills to be shot on an IDPA silhouette. In this instance, I wanted to stick with the spirit of Howe’s drill because he has some specific reasoning behind it (explained in the video).

The scoring zone is the head box and the vertical rectangle. Scoring is straightforward: it’s in the box or it isn’t. Any stage with rounds outside the scoring zone or shots over time are a no-go. All drills are fired from seven yards with the exception of the last one, which is fired at 25. Twenty-five rounds are required. Shooters must pass 8 of 10 stages to pass the drill.

Course of Fire

The course of fire is available on CSAT’s website, but I’ll recap it here anyway.

  • Stage 1: 7 yards, low ready, 1 shot, 1 second
  • Stage 2: 7 yards, draw, fire 1 shot, 1.7 seconds
  • Stage 3: 7 yards, low ready, fire 2 shots on1 target, 1.5 seconds
  • Stage 4: 7 yards, low ready, fire 5 body shots, 1 head shot, 3 seconds
  • Stage 5: 7 yards, 2 shots on T1, 2 shot son T2, 3 seconds
  • Stage 6: 7 yards, WHO low ready, fire 2 WHO, switch hands, fire 2 SHO, 5 seconds
  • Stage 7: 7 yards, empty chamber, on “click” tap, rack, fire 1, 3 seconds
  • Stage 8: 7 yards, low ready, fire 2, emergency reload, fire 2, 2 seconds
  • Stage 9: 7 yards, rifle on target, dry fire rifle, transition, 1 shot, 3.25 seconds
  • Stage 10: 25 yards, holstered, draw and fire 1 shot from kneeling, 3.25 seconds

Per the CSAT website, this is the CSAT instructor’s qual. The times aren’t outrageously tight, but it’s a challenging standard to be sure. This is one of my new favorite pistol standards. It’s easy to administer, limits movement between yard lines, and is low-round-count.

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