I’ve written for the Snub Noir blog several times in the past on low round count, high value, drills. Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, in an article about Pocket Carry a few weeks back brought a new course of fire to my attention, and I’ve been shooting it just about every range session.

The drill is from Switzerland and is a proficiency examination for concealed carry licensees there. Apparently intended to be agnostic to firearm type, revolvers and semi-autos can both play, it is a simple and straight forward exercise that speaks to.

  • A solid, repeatable, master grip
  • Proper draw from concealment
  • Good front sight focus
  • Trigger control
  • All under not unrealistic time constraints

The Drill

The course of fire is quite simple and is intended to be fired 100% from concealment. I augment it by adding a sidestep upon draw, which the original exercise does not call for. I believe there is value in moving our bodies off the axis of attack, particularly as the distance to target decreases, and I practice what I preach. I also vary the position of my hands at the start of each stage to spice it up a bit.

Originally set down in meters, the shooter can use yards instead but will end up being closer to the target than intended. I round up to the next higher yard to keep it fair to the original design.  You will want to use a shot timer to be sure you stay within the par times.

  • At 7 meters (8 yards for me), on go signal, draw and fire two shots free style to center mass in four seconds, safely reholster then repeat twice more timing each run individually.
  • At 5 meters (6 yards for me), on go signal, draw and fire two shots free style to center mass in three and a half seconds, safely reholster then repeat twice more timing each run individually.
  • At 3 meters (4 yards for me), on go signal, draw and fire two shots free style to center mass in three seconds, safely reholster then repeat twice more timing each run individually.

The Target and Scoring

On his blog post Claude shows a facsimile of the approved target from Switzerland with an IDPA target overlayed. It’s probably safe to assume that no one on this side of the Atlantic is producing the Swiss target. In a couple of dimensions, the Swiss target is more forgiving, and on balance the IDPA makes an acceptable substitute. To score, all strikes in -0 and -1 areas count as hits, and 14 hits are required to achieve a pass. Strikes anywhere outside -1 are a miss.

Shooting the Drill

On this week’s range trip, I opted to use my Ruger SP-101. It is a factory double action only with a spurless hammer. I’ve fitted an XS Big Dot front sight to it, and a Hogue Monogrip. The squarish factory stock conceals well, but I find it doesn’t sit well in my hand. The Hogue unit, styled after round butt Combats and with a gentle palm swell on both sides, is light years better for me on this gun. For the holster I used a Silver Dollar Pancake from the good folks at Simply Rugged.

Starting at 8 yards I fired three clean strings, all shots within the -0, with times of 2.91, 2.85 and 2.90 seconds against the par of 4 seconds. All three strings included a sidestep while drawing. It is worth noting that the Big Dot sight, held proud in the rear notch as it is supposed to be and with a dead on hold, covers a considerable part of the -0 zone at that distance. This puts a premium for me on a hard front sight focus and rolling the trigger smoothly to keep that big sight where it belongs

Moving up to 6 yards I again went clean and all within the -0, with times of 2.26, 2.45 and 2.35 seconds against the par of 3.5 seconds. Again, each string was with a side step.

Then it was up to 4 yards. I was trying to step up my pace a bit against the 3 second par. The first two strings I posted all hits in -0 with times of 2.01 and 1.85 seconds, again with a sidestep each time. On the final string I was feeling pretty confident and when the timer went off, I didn’t fully clear my cover garment, a fleece wind cheater, and wound up with what could be best described as a marginal grip. That grip got me a hit in the -1 zone for my trouble, but I was able to get a good sight picture on the second shot and buried it in the -0. The time for that flubbed run was 2.42 seconds.

Since both -0 and -1 count as hits, my raw score was 18 hits on 18 shots. Given the times, even with the one flubbed draw, well within par I have to count this effort as successful.  I finished up the session firing single head shots from 3 yards starting from a compressed ready. The qualification course I run my Protective Pistol students through concludes with two single head shots from a compressed ready at 3 yards with a 1.5 second par time for each shot. My high time was .92, low was .84 and I averaged .87 across the seven shots.

So What Did We Learn?

Getting a cover garment clear should be as automatic as the turning of the earth, until you don’t do it. I was pleased that I was able to stay with it and complete the string despite that adversity. The reminder that nothing is fool proof is valuable, and you can bet I will spend an extra few minutes in dry work later this week.

This drill is not particularly difficult. With a modern, striker fired, compact or larger semi-auto I suspect it would be easy for a shooter with a moderate set of skills to get their hits well within par. Where the brilliance lives on this is for the revolver shooter, and those using pocket autos. With the types of guns that we Noir shooters use, short sight radiuses, stiff triggers and the recoil from stubby, airweight frames this becomes a much sterner test of competence. For next week’s session I plan to shoot it with a 442 and from pocket carry, as Claude’s blog post suggests.

That said, the drill is eminently satisfying. Before shooting it today I had a couple of frustrating runs on more complex tasks. Firing this course, which calls on fundamental skills, became something of a tonic. Finishing a session on an upbeat with a positive outcome is never a bad thing, so it was 18 rounds very well spent.