A few months back, while perusing KR Training’s class schedule, I got really excited about seeing their Top 10 Drills class listed for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a class I haven’t taken and every KR Training class I’ve attended thus far has been top notch in terms of both fun and learning. The next reason is that the class description, which can be summarized as two to three hours of doing nothing but shooting drills for score, is right up my alley. So I signed up, talked a couple of shooting buddies into signing up, took the class, and here we are.
The class was led by Karl Rehn with the assistance of John Daub. As expected from the class description, there was no lecture. It was all range time following the class safety briefing. The whole experience felt very familiar, but at the time I couldn’t put my finger on it. There was some deja vu to it and it was during the car ride home that I recalled the pace, the drills, and the scoring was awfully similar to a fair portion of the range work that took place during the Advanced Handgun class early summer last year. I realized why it felt so familiar after getting home and rereading what I had written about the Advanced Handgun class – the Top 10 Drills coursework is part of that class. While there was some overlap in the drills, there were some different drills this time around which I will cover in this post.
But before that, let’s go over the gear I used:
- Gun: Heckler & Koch VP9 with a Trijicon RMR outfitted with Jerkman Custom Grips
- Holster: G-Code Incog Eclipse IWB holster
- Mag pouches: Concealment Solutions Venom Single Magazine Carrier x2
- Belt: Concealment Solutions 1.5″ Python Gun Belt (Horsehide)
- Ammo: CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 124gr FMJ (round count for the course was roughly 300 rounds, plus another 150 for the three optional bonus drills after class)
The drills we shot deviated a tiny bit from the top 10 drills mentioned in chapter 28 of the Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training book (2023 Edition), authored by Karl Rehn and John Daub. Nevertheless, the drills, which started off with the easiest and increased in difficulty, were fun. In fact, I’d argue that this was the funnest class I’ve taken from KR Training next to the Advanced Handgun class. Granted there was much less learning and development in the Top 10 Drills class, but it seems obvious to me that this class was more about measurement with the opportunity to identify areas of improvement.
The first drill was the NRA Basic Pistol Qualification. This consists of shooting 5 shots into a 4” circle at five yards without a time limit. We ran this drill twice. Goal is was 10 hits which I was able to meet.
We shot a Modified Eastridge Drill next. This drill consists of six different strings of fire for a total of 15 rounds on an IDPA target. The strings of fire were:
- 1 head shot from ready at 15 yards
- 2 body shots from ready at 15 yards
- 3 body shots from ready at 10 yards
- 2 body shots, 1 head shot from read at 7 yards
- 3 body shots, 1 head shot from ready at 5 yards
- 2 body shots strong hand only from ready at 5 yards
There were three modifications to this drill. First, we used a par time of four seconds for each string instead of the prescribed 2.5 seconds which is intended for advanced shooters. The next modification was reducing the distance of the first string from 25 to 15 yards. The last modification involved the use of more forgiving scoring. Rather than only scoring the hits in the A-zone, hits in the A-zone counted as 5 points, C-zone hits as 4, and D-zone hits as 2. The difficulty of the drill can be adjusted by reducing the par time, starting from the holster, or concealed carry. I haven’t attempted the unmodified version of the drill, but I suspect it’s pretty spicy. The goal for this drill was to shoot it clean with 75 points and that’s what I did.
The good ole Bill Drill was next. A drill I am very familiar with given it’s the one drill I’ve struggled with the most out of the four drills Gabe White uses for his Technical Skills Tests in his Pistol Shooting Solutions course (which I’m quite fond of). The drill involves drawing and firing six shots to the body at an IDPA target at 7 yards using IDPA penalties. We ran the drill twice. The first time as a class with a par time of 5 seconds. The second time was shot individually for a timed score. Karl was generous with his scoring as he counted C-zone hits without penalty. With that generous scoring, I met the par time on the first run and walked away with a 3.45 second time on the second run. The time one second run would have been good enough for a dark pin run in Gabe White’s tests. However, using Gabe White’s scoring that run wouldn’t have counted as a pin run at all. I’ve got to work on that.
Next on the list was the F.A.S.T. drill. This drill, which was designed by the late Todd Green, tests fundamentals, accuracy, and speed. Hence the name. While it does have its own specially designed target, which is downloadable for free, we used the IDPA style target we had been using along with the standard scoring rules which treats hits outside the head box as a miss with a 2 second penalty and hits outside the body’s inner circle as a miss with 1 second penalty. The goal is to complete the drill in under 10 seconds which consists of drawing, firing two shots to the head, performing a slide lock reload, and firing four rounds to the body. Doing all that under seven seconds is quite challenging. Just like the bill drill we ran the F.A.S.T. drill twice. The first time as a group with a part time of 10 seconds which I managed to shoot clean. The second time was shot individually on the clock which I managed a time of 7.67 seconds with a 1 second penalty for a total of 8.67 seconds.
The fifth drill of the class was Tom Given’s version of the 3M Test. The “3M” stands for marksmanship, movement, and manipulations. It’s listed as the 7th drill of the top 10 drills in the first edition of Rehn and Daub’s book, but I found no mention of it in the 2023 edition (granted, I’ve only skimmed through the book and haven’t finished reading it cover to cover). I found this drill to be a bit more difficult than most of the drills that followed due to movement and manipulations it required which tripped up many of the students. Preparation for this drill requires that the pistol be loaded with six live rounds and one dummy round that is the first or the last round in the magazine and one spare magazine with at least four rounds. The drill starts holstered with the hands in an interview stance. Interview stance, from what I’ve gathered, is a stance commonly used by law enforcement when talking, or interviewing, a person with the weak side foot slightly forward and hands touching each other positioned just below the sternum (where one might hold a notepad and a writing utensil). On the signal, the shooter side steps while drawing the pistol and fires at an IDPA target until the gun malfunctions, then the malfunction is cleared while the shooter side steps again and resumes firing at the same target until the gun is empty, lastly the shooter reloads while also side stepping and places three more shots to the body and one to the head. The score is the total time plus the typical IDPA penalties with a goal time of 15 seconds or a stretch goal of 12 seconds. Like the prior two drills, we shot this drill twice. The first as a group using a par time of 15 seconds which I was unable to complete due to immediately going for the reload rather than clearing the malfunction. The second time was scored for time individually where I managed to complete in 9.48 seconds plus a 1 second penalty for a total of 10.48 seconds.
Two runs of a 5x5x5 drill came up next. This drill consists of drawing and firing five rounds into a NRA B8 target five yards away with a time limit of five seconds. It is scored by adding the points marked on the rings of the B8 target. I’m not sure why we ran these drills from the ready which decreased the difficulty of the drill. Each run had a possible 50 points. I ran them both clean. A par time of 3 seconds makes this drill very challenging especially if started from concealment.
The next drill was “The Test”, which is also known as the 10x10x10, and felt like a natural progression of the previous drill. From the ready, fire 10 rounds at a B8 target that is 10 yards away with a time limit of 10 seconds. Starting from concealment increases the difficulty. Out of the possible 100 points, I managed to pick up 95.
Coming in as the 8th drill of the class was KR Training’s very own Three Seconds or Less. This is a graded test designed by KR Training which is intended to define a baseline minimum level of competency with a defensive pistol. It’s not a difficult test to shoot clean, but it does require the application of sound marksmanship fundamentals that all concealed carriers would benefit from having. As such, a passing grade is required to successfully complete the Defensive Pistol Skills 2 and Defensive Pistol Skills 3 courses which are both required in order to complete the Defensive Pistol Skills Program. The drill consists of four strings of fire from the three yard line and five strings of fire from the seven yard line using 20 rounds and a KRT-2 target. It tests the shooter’s ability to put acceptable hits on target quickly (with two hands, strong hand only, and weak hand only), perform basic movement, and manipulations. The complete course of fire and corresponding target are available on the KR Training website. Out of the twenty points possible, I dropped one when shooting with one hand only.
The ninth of the top 10 drills was John Daub’s Minimum Competency Assessment. This a relatively new course of fire that places a heavy emphasis on being able to perform competently with the gear one carries in the manner they carry it as needed in a typical self-defense encounter. There is a lot of thought and consideration, not to mention a lot of research and testing (that I unknowingly participated in while pursuing my Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin), into everything detail that makes up this assessment from target selection, scoring methodology, starting positions, distances to targets, and so on. All of that is well documented in Rehn and Daub’s book, Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training book (2023 Edition). The course of fire has 14 strings of fire all consisting of a low number of shots with fairly aggressive par times at distances varying from three to 10 yards for a grand total of 25 rounds. Out of 25 points possible with a goal of 23, I managed to rack up 24.
Last but not least was the 16x16x16 drill with a twist. As the name implies, it consists of shooting 16 rounds at 16 feet within 16 seconds on a KRT-1 target. But that’s not exactly what we did. Instead we fired 16 rounds at 5 yards with a time limit of 24 seconds and we started from the ready instead of the holster. Setting up this drill requires dividing the 16 rounds between two magazines. We did that, but it was suggested that the division happen randomly and include a dummy round as well. I had one of my shooting buddies set up my magazines for me and I did the same for him. Normally one would shoot the number of shots indicated by each shape on the target and reload when necessary to complete the drill. That means 1 shot into the shapes with a number 1 in their label, 2 shots into shapes with a number 2, and 3 shots into shapes with a 3. There is a triangle with an A, that one gets 3 shots. There is also a “B” triangle that gets 1 round. The introduction of the dummy round means we would also need to clear a malfunction when needed in order to complete the drill. Penalties of 1 second are awarded for misses and putting a different number of rounds than is indicated on a given shape. Additionally, the shapes varied in size which meant the shooter had to adjust their shot cadence according to the difficulty of the shot. In my opinion, this drill puts the shooter’s cognitive ability to the test. Having to fire the number of correct shots while correctly identifying the stoppage and performing the correct manipulation to correct it and resume where they left off all under time and peer pressure (this drill was shot individually for a timed score) isn’t a walk in the park by any means. I managed to pull off a final score of 18.29 seconds which included a 1 second penalty incurred by the very first shot I rushed to fire which was well under the 24 second goal but north of the 16 second stretch goal.
The class officially wrapped up after the 10th drill. However, the students were given the opportunity to stay after class and shoot three more drills two students would be facing in the upcoming Rangemaster Instructor Development Course they would be attending in a couple of weeks. I won’t go into those drills here since I’ve covered them before, but I will share that I was happy to shoot a perfect score on the Rangemaster Instructor Qualification course of fire and put up a Casino Drill personal best. Of course, there was a lot less pressure this time around given an instructor certification and a challenge coin weren’t actually on the line.
As I mentioned more than once, this course was a load of fun. It was fast paced and challenging. It will likely be one of those courses that I will try to book every single time it shows up on the schedule because it really was that much fun and can also service a periodic check to see how my skills are holding up. I would say that this course is well suited for folks that already have received a fair amount of professional instruction or have some competition experience under their belt. If that’s you, then keep an eye on KR Training’s class schedule for a future class.