Goal setting for CCW focused shooters

Yesterday I talked about the importance of goal setting when measuring performance, and I approached the subject entirely from a competition shooting standpoint. Now while we’re big advocates of competition shooting here at Gun Nuts, I also accept that there are some shooters who simply aren’t interested in matches, but still want to get better. For the ccw-focused shooter, what are good ways to set goals and measure performance?

Again, we want to focus on an objective standard, and for that I like to use the FAST Test, created by my late friend Todd Green. To set this drill up, all you need is a 3×5 index card and an 8 inch circle. You can use an index card and a paper plate, or tape an index card to the head box of an IDPA target. You could also download this target and print it on an 8.5×14 sheet of paper. Anyway, back to the post – the FAST consists of six shots, all fired from concealment. Here’s the course of fire:

  • Start with two rounds in the gun, draw and fire two shots to the 3×5 card
  • slidelock reload, fire four more shots at the 8 inch circle.

Anything under 7 seconds is considered and Advanced score, and under 5 seconds is pretty awesome. The current official record is held by some guy named Sevigny, who I hear is pretty good at shooting.

Now that you’ve been thoroughly demoralized by watching Dave smoke that drill, we can talk about goal setting for it. Let’s say your goal is to get consistent times under 6.00, which is a pretty reasonable goal for an average shooter. Let’s break that down: you’ll need to draw and get both head shots under 2.50, get your reload under 2.50, and then have three 0.30 splits for the remaining shots. That would put you at 5.90 for the drill.

I don’t recommend practicing the actual FAST too often though – when talking to Todd about the drill, he pointed out that it’s better to practice the individual parts of the drill, and then at the beginning and the end of your practice sessions try and put it all together. Here’s what a good practice session would look like that for that.

  • Two shots to a 3×5 card, no par to set a baseline 10 reps
  • Repeat, trying to get your baseline every time, 10 reps
  • Subtract 0.25 from your baseline, 10 reps
  • Subtract another 0.25 from your previous time, 10 reps
  • Go back to your baseline/goal time for 10 more reps

After that, I’d switch to 1-reload-4 drills on the head/body.

For the 1r4 drills, you’ll start with the gun out of the holster, aimed in on the 3×5 card. At the beep, fire one shot to slidelock, reload and fire four to the body. This drill gives you the chance to work on your slidelock reload and trigger control with the four rounds to the body.

  • 5 reps no par time (25 rounds)
  • 5 reps at baseline time (25 rounds)
  • 5 reps at 0.50 less than baseline (25 rounds)
  • 5 reps back at baseline/goal time

The point with reduced par training is to push your speed to a point where you’re making mistakes, then slow it back down to make your baseline/goal time. Eventually, you want your baseline times to decrease to the faster times that you’re using to push yourself. So if your initial baseline for 1r4 is 3.70 seconds, you’ll want to get it down to 3.2, then down under 3, etc.

It’s how you get better. There are plenty of other excellent drills that you can use to evaluate your skills as well, I just happen to like the FAST because it’s simple to set up, and tests a fairly wide combination of relevant defensive shooting skills.


  1. Great article. The FAST drill is a true modern classic drill/test. You might also want to highlight some of the timeless, classic drills/tests from Vickers and Hackathorn, like The Test (10-10-10), The Wizard, Hack standards and others. They are timeless and are rooted in defensive pistol use, from concealment, not for gamer competition only perspective (though they will also make you a better comp shooter). I would also recommend, trying idpa, several times, without the photog/tac vest (shoot me first vest) and with your actual ccw concealment under a t shirt or polo or real world apparel vest or jacket. If you carry iwb or aiwb, shoot the match that way. If you carry your spare ammo in the pocket, go that way. You’ll get a better idea how that edc carry system will work. Just some thoughts from a 20 year armed professional and 30 year ccw license carrier.

  2. Prioritized goals for those who carry deadly weapons. Avoid the following errors:

    Shooting yourself
    Shooting someone you shouldn’t have, either intentionally or unintentionally
    Getting needlessly arrested
    Getting shot by police officers responding to a call for help
    Leaving guns where unauthorized persons can access them, resulting in tragedies
    Frightening innocent people around you
    Endangering innocent people needlessly

    1. Yeah, but writing about that isn’t really great content on a blog that focuses primarily on shooting performance.

    2. Could you expound on the “Frightening innocent people?” I am not being an idiot but truly trying to figure this part out so I don’t do it.

      1. Pulling your gun for any reason other than the immediate defence of someone’s life.

  3. Maybe this is obvious, but when setting a baseline for practicing the FAST drill, do you shoot those initial ten (and then five) reps and then average the initial ten (and then five) to get your baseline?

  4. What is the normal distance your shooters are shooting the drill at? Didn’t see it in article, maybe I”m blind….

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