Shooting Skills Baseline Drills, Round 2: “The Test” and Dot Torture

Although there was some residual snow on the ground, a sunny and comparatively warm 50 degree Saturday drew me to the range to shoot a couple more drills to establish a baseline starting point for the year. I couldn’t shoot Karl Rehn’s 3-Seconds or Less drill because the movement required in the mud, so I shot Larry Vickers’s “The Test” and the infamous “Dot Torture.”

As with my first round of drills I shot American Eagle 124 grain FMJ ammunition in my Glock 17.

“The Test” is straightforward: 10 rounds from 10 yards in 10 seconds on an NRA B-8 target. In his YouTube video explanation, Hackathorn says he considers a passing score 90/100 while Vickers requires all shots in the black (9 ring or better) to pass.

I shot “The Test” 3 times from the “trigger finger index” ready position I practiced last week in Mike Seeklander’s dry fire program. As the three targets show, I got progressively WORSE with each iteration.

Round 1 I shot in 9.36 seconds, and passed by both Hackathorn’s (94/100) and Vickers’s standards (10/10 in the black, barely).

Round 2 I didn’t come up from ready with a good grip on the gun and threw my first shot way left into the 7 ring, which caused me to delay long enough in regrouping that I failed to complete The Test in under 10 seconds. I rushed to try to make up time at the end and flung a shot into the 8 and one into the 7. If I had made the 10 second limit, it would have been a pass by Hackathorn’s standard (90/100) and a fail by Vickers’s (7/10 in black). An informative failure.

Not totally sure what happened here other than taking my time to get a good sight picture at the start then trying to speed up my pace at the end and peppering the 7 and 8 ring on the bottom of the target. 8.83 seconds but failed by both Hackathorn’s (82/100) and Vickers’s (3/10 in black) standards.

And then Dot Torture. I actually enjoyed shooting this drill. It is challenging, both physically and mentally. At 3 yards, I shot 43/50 and where I dropped points was very informative for what I need to practice. I was surprised to only drop 1 on the one handed strong side target #5, but not surprised that I only nicked the one handed weak side target #8 one time out of five rounds. I put the WEAK in weak side for sure. I learned from my dry fire practice this week that my grip strength is poor, and this showed that it is particularly poor on my non-dominant side.

The mental aspect of this is revealed on targets 6 and 9/10. I just completely lost focus on target 6 twice, but after shooting so poorly on target 8, I re-doubled my focus on targets 9 and 10 and finished strong. Looking forward to shooting this again in a month or two.

According to Jeff Gonzalez of Trident Concepts (and surely others), even a monkey falls out of a tree once and a while. But these drills make clear that I have more than a few problematic monkeys to work on. Which is exactly the point of shooting these baseline drills.



  1. Awesome! So glad you’re putting in the work!

    Just a question re: “Round 2 I didn’t come up from ready with a good grip on the gun and threw my first shot way left into the 7 ring…”

    1-great self awareness about your grip.
    2-if I’m assuming you knew where the shot went because you looked over your sights to look where the hole appears after every shot – I’d suggest staying on the front sight before, during and after the shot. I tell my friends, “If you do everything right back here, the target will be fine out there.”

    It’s difficult to trust. It’s difficut to deny the need for immediately wanting to know where the POI was. It’s the “90% mental” part of shooting.

    That time it takes the bullet to travel 4.48″ is the ‘dwell time’ between ignition and exit — and poking your head up slightly to peer at the target during that time will throw your shot. We have enough human imperfections (fatigue, heart beat, breathing…) that have to be mitigated. Dont let the brain join the frailty party. 🙂

    A great article at Triangle Tactical named “The Distraction of Dry Fire” explored this recently.

    …and if I’ve assumed incorrectly– apologies!!


    • Very astute observation. I am guilty of peeking and thinking while shooting. I actually have always had a bad habit of looking over the sights to see where I am hitting. Need to work on that. My distance coach Steve Hendricks actually advised me to turn the laser off on my SIRT Pistol so I would look at the sights and not the target.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s one reason I don’t use a SIRT for my practice — too much focus on looking at the target, at where/what I’m hitting (right now). Great tool for the classroom tho, to teach a lot of things.

        What I’ve told students is to remember: the hole will be there. 5 seconds, 5 days, 5 years from now — the hole will be there. NO need to rush to see it. 🙂

        Anyways, this is all good stuff. Sure we want to clean things right out the gate, but this is honest assessment of where you are and what to work on. Really, you’re shooting much better than you probably think you are — many cannot shoot these drills to this level.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. sells an infrared module to replace the stock SIRT laser. sells a whole system (new SIRT outfitted with IR, targets that pick up IR).

    If your system is a camera projecting targets on the wall while the laptop records hits, a new webcam capable of ‘seeing’ IR would be needed.

    A piece of tape over your SIRT would be cheaper!

    All cool & very fun but uneccessary.

    A dot on the wall is great for noticing movement of the muzzle during trigger-press. Like Mike from Next Level Training says, “Dots- good. Dashes- bad.”


  3. David,

    I applaud you for posting your results… I used to love Dot Torture and still appreciate the concentration aspect required by the drill, but Mike Pannone explained its weakness in a recent class. Essentially, to paraphrase, accuracy at 3 yards does not equal accuracy at distance. I use the drill less now than I used to, but still agree that it is a fun challenge. For another challenging close range drill, try the Consistency Drill from Guerrilla Approach!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this input, John. Each drill I have shot has revealed weaknesses to work on – Dot Torture especially issues shooting one handed. Fortunately in my Seeklander IDPA Mastery Series “class” this week I am working on one handed shooting so we’ll see if his ideas help. I think I saw the Consistency Drill on Greg Ellifritz’s page. NO THANKS! Lol.


  4. At my range the targets must be at least 25′ from the firing line. I took the Dot Torture target to FedEx copying and increased the diameter of the bulls from 2 inch diameter to 2 7/8 inch. That’s tougher, and if you have a shot timer you can set a par time to beat for most of the stages.


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