The 10-10-10 Drill – A Beginner’s Yardstick

The 10-10-10 Drill is a classic shooting drill designed by Ken Hackathorn and championed by numerous prominent handgun instructors. I’ve been looking at drills that can be adaptable, test useful skills, and at this point in time, do not require a ton of ammo to accomplish. The ammo drought isn’t going to get better anytime soon, but you can’t stop training. What you can do is become more efficient in your practice. 

The 10-10-10 Drill is well suited for beginners and can be easily adapted for higher skill levels. Better yet, it requires very little ammo to complete. The 10-10-10 Drill is elementary. You need one B-8 Bullseye target, 10 rounds of ammunition, a 10-yard range, and a 10 second par time. Your goal is to get every round in the black in ten seconds or less. 

The 10-10-10 Drill – Experts and Beginners

New shooters will most certainly be challenged by the 10-10-10 Drill. A time limit creates pressure, and shooters have to exercise the fundamentals to be both fast and accurate. It checks all the essential boxes and is fun as a test. I’ve used the 10-10-10 Drill whenever I teach new shooters the basics. Before the day is over, we practice the 10-10-10 Drill with a 22LR target pistol. 

That is where the magic of the drill lies; it’s a good performance yardstick. Beginners have a clear goal set within a precise par time, with a distance and target. The basic variant of the drill can be used at an inside range in accordance with range rules. It’s safe, direct, and requires little equipment or specialized targets. 

What It Works 

The 10-10-10 Drill works your ability to shoot accurately and to shoot fast at the same time. Behind those macro skills are the micro-skills of sight tracking, recoil control, trigger control, and your ability to work under the pressure of a timer. These skills are essential and should be built and preserved. 

My Experience 

I haven’t done the 10-10-10 Drill in a long time, but when I was searching for low round count training, it was an obvious choice. The B-8 is making a bit of a comeback in the pistol realm as a target. It’s small, cheap, and challenging. They also make scoring very easy. If you are super cheap, you print them at work (AKA the GAT Office.) The B-8 has become popular enough that it’s become the subject of numerous memes. 

[Editor’s Note: The sheer audacity, Travis! I mean, I do the same thing but still]

Experienced pistoleros will most certainly see the 10-10-10 Drill and know it’s relatively easy for a more experienced shooter. I haven’t shot it in forever, and I went in dry and scored a 7 second par time with all ten in the black. It felt good and help break some rust off my skills. The black seems big until the SIG’s sights were covering it. At that point, as long as I didn’t see black, I was hitting it. My first run was the perfect definition of technically. Technically they are all, not only in the black, but in the ten ring. Technically. 

I could stay in that positive feedback loop and keep getting good scores. Or I could step outside my comfort zone and grow. 

Make it Harder 

The drill can be easily adapted to become more difficult, and shooters can use the same basic drill with practical additions to increase difficulty. You can add a draw stroke, a reload, or a dummy round as a malfunction clearance test and beyond. I ran the 10-10-10 Drill with a reload in the middle and from the draw and barely passed both runs. The reload took a couple of tries to pass, but once I passed it, I kept passing it. 

When I started researching different methods to make the drill harder, I found Greg Ellifritz’s way. It included a lateral movement, a draw from concealment, six shots with both hands, then two shots strong hand, and then two shots weak hand. I did not pass this iteration of the 10-10-10 Drill. 

Guess what? Now I have a standard to train to. I can improve and use the drill as a yardstick of my skill. The drill can follow you from beginner to amateur to experienced and to expert. It can be made harder and used as a measure of success. A drill this adaptable is an excellent tool to keep in the box. 

Make it Easier? 

If you can’t pass the 10-10-10 Drill at 10 yards, get closer. Don’t make it so easy you can pass it and feel good about yourself. If you can’t pass at 10 yards, move 1 yard further in and do that until you are passing every time. Then add a yard. If you can kill the B-8 at 7 yards every time, go to 8 yards, and when that gets easy, go to 9 yards. 

If you have to start at 5 yards, then start at 5 yards. It doesn’t matter where you start; it matters where you end. You’ll get to 10 yards eventually, but you’ll only get there if you keep testing yourself. 

Bang, Boom, Pow

The 10-10-10 Drill builds skill, is fun to shoot, and requires very little in the realm of logistics and ammo. Better yet, you can adapt it, make it easier or more challenging, and constantly build your skills. This little drill is well suited for all skill levels and can be done in an indoor drill. What’s not to love? 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.