From our pal Sunshine Shooter

This is not a terribly hard standard to meet, but there’s a reason for this. I’ve seen lots of footage of people defending themselves using remarkably little technically difficult shots. There are stories every week of a little old lady somewhere who drives off a home intruder with some J-frame she hasn’t shot more than twice in her life. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should be content with merely knowing how to pull the trigger. You should be able to perform to at least a certain minimum skill level on demand, and that’s what I’m shooting for with this (pun intended). So, here’s the test:


One USPSA/IPSC target setup at 7 yards. Gear required is one pistol carried as you normally do when out running errands or going out to dinner, a movie, the zoo, whatever. This standard should be attempted cold if possible, before any sort of warm-up. If you dominate the first level easily, I have added an advanced level as well. Being a modern person, you are likely to be out in public with a spouse, pet, child, etc. Being able to make life-saving shots one-handed is not something to ignore.

First Level:

  • Two handed
  • From concealment
  • draw & fire 3 rounds
  • all rounds must hit the A or B zones
  • 2.0 second par time

Advanced Level:

  • One handed
  • From Concealment
  • Draw & fire 3 rounds
  • all rounds must hit the A or B zones
  • 2.5 second par time


Why I Chose What I Did

As stated above, this shouldn’t be a terribly hard standard to make. Most self-defense shooting in the US are not tests of skill, but very much are tests of mindset and situational awareness. That being said, there is a certain amount of skill that will be required. Lets get into why I put what I did into the standard.

Choosing to make all strings of fire from concealment is simple. That’s how we actually carry guns in public, so that’s how we should test ourselves. Doing this from a comp or duty rig is not representative and doesn’t count.

Why make one string of fire one-handed? Because some of us have young kids or a spouse. I want to bring that reality into the standard. I may get caught holding my wife or trying to control a toddler. Life won’t always give us a chance to free our hands before they need to be filled.

The USPSA/IPSC target was chosen because its what I personally have easy access to, but more importantly it is pretty close to modeling physiologically effective hits on a person. If a shooter doesn’t have access to this specific target, something else can be used in its place as long as it closely replicates either the shape and size of the A-zone or an anatomically accurate chest and head. Reduced sized targets are allowed at closer distances, as long as the distance and size scale (1/2 size targets at half distance, etc).

I chose only 3 rounds per string of fire because of the importance of the first shot. Getting good rounds on target fast is the best way to win a gunfight, not necessarily the amount of them. I made the strings 3-rounds (instead of just one) to emphasize grip. A poor grip can get the first round where it’s supposed to go, but the following rounds will go awry.

I chose the distance of 7 yards because that’s a good distance to shoot (haha). My daily driver is 4.8 yards long, so if I can do this standard on demand cold, then I can afford to lose about 20% of my performance and still engage a threat at the entire length of my car. The Teuller drill is 7 yards as well, and the old adage of “3 shots, 3 yards, 3 seconds” is more than satisfied.

I added a half-second onto the one-handed string of fire because clearing a cover garment one-handed just takes longer, as does making good hits one-handed. I still believe that it’s a spicy test, even with the added time.

Why I Left Out What I Did

I intentionally left out a reload because non-cops won’t be reloading in a self-defense encounter. If you disagree, find an instance of a non-cop making relevant shots after a reload. I’ve never heard of it, and I know lots of others have looked for just such an instance with no luck. I believe the importance of the reload is greatly overstated for CCW.

I intentionally made the strings of fire low for a reason. Partly because ammo costs money, but mostly because of the extreme importance of the first shot and the lowering importance of every subsequent round.


This standard shouldn’t be terribly difficult to achieve. Like I mentioned before, most self-defense shootings don’t require a lot of technical skill, and anyone who is competitive at actual shooting competitions has more than enough skill to win a gunfight. Just because you can meet this standard, don’t think you’re as good as you can ever get. By the same token, if you can’t meet the first level standard then you really should focus on this before buying more gear.

Most indoor ranges have the targets I’ve described, and if not then they are the most available and standardized targets in the US. It shouldn’t be difficult to set this test up and see how you perform.

Get out and shoot, and be honest with yourself. We’ll see you next week.



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