Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.
As much as I enjoy guns and shooting, it seems I never practice as much as I should. That is not to say I don’t practice shooting as in “go to the range and pull the trigger”, but rather that I don’t practice shooting as in “Set quantifiable goals and rigid parameters and compare against them”. Oh, I do that with rifle, sure…but not often with handgun…and since the handgun is the firearm I tend to have around me the most, I really should get out and practice more with it.
So, whats the drill to practice with handgun? The IPSC guys will give you all sorts of scenarios with cool names like “Three To Go”, “When In Doubt”, etc, etc. I want something a bit simpler but still retaining a good bit of practicality and offering a method for gauging improvement. It would also be nice if it was simple to setup, didn’t require elaborate targets, and didn’t look obviously ‘tactical’.
Mel Tappan, in both “Tappan On Survival” and “Survival Guns”, mentions a drill he called the SCT.
“A good benchmark…is what my friend Jeff Cooper calls the SCT or Standard Controllability Test. It involves drawing your pistol from wherever you normally carry it –holster, pocket, waistband or handbag – and firing five full power combat rounds within five seconds into a 10” circle at 25 yards. This is not the ultimate test of pistol mastery, but if you can do it six times out of ten, the chances are better than excellent that if an armed assailant ever threatens your life, he has unwittingly committed suicide.”
The SCT is again mentioned in “Tappan On Survival”:
“…let me suggest a simple, but revealing test. Find a safe place to shoot without too many curious onlookers and bring a friend with you. Set up a silhouette target or simply a twenty-four-inch wide by thirty-six-inch long sheet of wrapping paper at a measured twenty-five yards. Then with your friend timing you and blowing a start and stop signal on a loud whistle at five-second intervals, draw your pistol of choice (in a serious caliber) and fire five shots at the center of the target mass, within the allotted five seconds. Reload and repeat. If all of your shots can be contained within a ten-inch circle four times out of five, your survival index is probably adequate. If not, you need training.”
A few interesting things about this exercise. The most noteworthy is that the pistol is drawn from where you normally carry it. While IPSC is a lot of fun it seems unlikey a lot of folks carry those high-speed, low-drag holster rigs in their day-to-day activities. Having to factor the fumble-for-your-gun into your time should prove revealing.
Another changeup from most shooting exercises is the use of full-power ammo. Many competitions have a minimum requirement that the ammunition must meet in terms of power, but many competitors don’t go past that minimum. In other words, they use ammo just powerful enough to meet the requirements…anything more powerful slows down recovery time. Real-world usage, its assumed, will have the shooter using full-power defensive-grade ammo.
A ten inch circle is a pretty generous target at first blush. Since Im cheap and prefer taking the easy way out on many things I’ll be using paper plates as targets. They’re already close to the right diameter and a quick tap with the staple gun and we’ll be ready to shoot. Fortunately, I have a competition shooting timer so a buddy with a stopwatch will be unnecessary.
My goal will be pretty simple. Start at five yards in, draw, fire five rounds in less than five seconds, and if they’re all on the plate move back another five yards. The goal will be to find out at what distance accuracy or speed fall out of the established ranges. Once at that distance the goal will be, obviously, to improve to the point that everything is on target within the allotted time. Should be enlightening. Of course, theres room for variations such as weak-hand shooting, one hand shooting, shooting from various positions, etc. but overall I think this drill may have some merit.
I’ll also have to investigate a variation of it for carbine work. Rifle sights aren’t nearly as coarse as pistol sights so perhaps the time element may need to be changed. Be fun to try it and find out.
If anyone else is going to the range soon, I invite you to grab a couple paper plates (or similar size targets) and take a swing at it. Lemme know how it goes.