The Forty-Five Drill

There are a variety of shooting tests you can conduct to measure your skill level. Police agencies use all sorts of qualification courses requiring from as few as six rounds to more than 60 at ranges as close as one yard to as distant as 50. The targets used vary a great deal too. Some have scoring rings and others are just blank silhouettes. What’s interesting is that many agencies only require officers to hit the target something like 80% of the time. This leads you to wonder where the other 20% of the shots fired went or might be expected to go in an actual shooting.

One of my favorite skill evaluation tests is what I call the “Forty-Five”. No, it has nothing to do with the 45 Auto, the 1911 or the small vinyl records for those of you old enough to remember them. But, it is a cool name for the drill and one that you can easily remember. This drill will work for men or women, police or civilians and with five-shot revolvers, sub-compact autos, Dirty Harry style revolvers and even, the gun gods forbid; Glocks.

This skill check has four elements of five which is how it got the name “Forty-Five”. You stand five yards from the target, fire five shots in to a five inch circle in less than five seconds. You start the drill with your hands at your side and with your handgun in whatever concealed carry holster you normally wear. You should also run this drill with full-power loads, not light recoiling practice loads or wimp loads like the cowboy action shooters use.

This is a GO / NO GO exercise. If you miss or go over the time limit you fail. If you can do the drill repeatedly, on demand, under time with no misses, you should be able to pass any shooting requirement required to obtain a concealed carry license and, believe it or not, you’ll probably be able to out shoot a good number of police officers.

For shooters that train on their own because they cannot afford professional instruction or for those who are helping a family member or friend learn defensive pistol skills, successful completion of this drill is a good benchmark. For training purposes, concentrate on getting your hits first then work on speed. If you are having trouble finding a five-inch circle target, make your own by using a wide felt tip marker to draw around a computer CD on whatever type target you like to shoot at.

This article was originally published in the Skills Check Column of the March 2010 issue of Shooting Illustrated magazine. To see a video demo of this drill click HERE


About gunwriter

Born and raised in the West Virginia hills, Richard literally grew up in the woods. He has chased coon hounds until daylight, waited out whitetails perched high in an oak, canoed the New River and hunted from the Montana Mountains to the Green Hills of Africa. During service in the Army and later as a municipal police officer and Special Agent with the railroad police, Richard obtained numerous certifications in small arms instruction. He has trained military personnel, law enforcement officers and civilians in the application of firearms for defensive, competitive and recreational use. Richard won the West Virginia Governor’s Twenty Award for law enforcement, the West Virginia National Guard State Pistol Competition and earned his Distinguished Medal with pistol. Badge turned in, Richard is now a contributing editor for several magazines. He was the compiling author of the book, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter and conceptualized and contributed to Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle. Richard also contributed a chapter to the John Velke book, The True Story of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. Richard has patents on a riflescope reticle and a revolutionary bullet testing media. A hillbilly at heart, Richard lives on Shadowland - his shooting range in West Virginia - with the most understanding wife in the world, their three kids and a very protective ridgeback hound.
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2 Responses to The Forty-Five Drill

  1. RG says:

    Thanks Richard! What a simple yet effective drill. I’m going to use it.


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