Self Defense Skills and Drills: Dot Torture

Dot Torture
Self Defense Skills and Drills: Dot Torture

U.S.A.-( Dot Torture is one of the most prolific drills in the shooting community. A few years back, it was all you saw people posting targets and times for when showing off their shooting. Testing a variety of skills, with ample room for customization, it’s easy to see why people love Dot Torture. Despite its popularity, it was never something I participated in. In total, I think I’ve shot Dot Torture twice in my entire life. With my last attempt several years ago, I was curious to see how I’d stack up now.

Setting Up Dot Torture

Coming in at 50 rounds across seven stages, Dot Torture is more of a course of fire than a drill. That being said, setup is pretty straightforward. You’ll need a Dot Torture target, which can be printed on a single 8.5×11 sheet of paper. Directions are listed on the target, which will help you forgetful types. I recommend printing a second target, or saving a version on your phone. That way you don’t have to continuously walk back and forth between stages to check what to do next.

Shooters have their pick of distance, with 3, 5, and 7 yards being the most common. If you’re really good, you can continue to push the distances out further than those, but I recommend setting a baseline at 3 yards. There is no par time for Dot Torture, but incorporating a timer can certainly be a benefit. That way you can start off the “beep”, and record your progress as time goes on.

Dot Torture
One of my more recent attempts at Dot Torture

Shooters will need at least two magazines, as one stage incorporates a reload. The most you’ll fire on a single stage is 16 rounds, firing four rounds across four reps. If your magazines hold at least five rounds, you’ll be fine. This means that revolver owners aren’t left out in the cold for this one. You also need a holster for some stages if your range allows that. If drawing is prohibited, simply start from low ready or a similar position.

Scoring Dot Torture

Dot Torture is a pure accuracy drill. There are no bonus points for speed or for stacking your rounds one atop another. Simply keep everything inside the circles and you pass. There are no penalties for shooting from low ready, so don’t stress if your range doesn’t allow for that. Line breaks count towards your score, helping those on the bleeding edge of making hits. Again, those looking for more of a challenge can incorporate par times, increasing distances, and more. Focus on the fundamentals, and you’ll be fine.

Firing the Drill

Follow the directions on the target and you’ll be good to go. For those who would inevitably ask, here’s the course of fire:

  • Dot 1: Draw, fire 5 rounds
  • Dot 2: Draw, fire 1 round, repeating for a total of 5 runs. 5 Rounds on this stage
  • Dots 3 & 4: Draw, fire 1 round on Dot 3, then 1 round on Dot 4. Repeat 4 times. 8 Rounds on this stage
  • Dot 5: Draw, fire 5 rounds, strong hand only
  • Dots 6 & 7: Draw, fire 2 rounds on Dot 6. then 2 rounds on Dot 7. Repeat 4 times. 16 Rounds on this stage
  • Dot 8: Starting at low ready, fire 5 rounds weak hand only
  • Dots 9 & 10: Draw, fire 1 round on Dot 9, reload, then fire 1 round on Dot 10. Repeat 3 times. 6 Rounds on this stage. Reload can be with slide forward or locked open.

My Results

My first recent run through Dot Torture was in November of 2021. Unfortunately, I was having an off day, and the results speak for themselves. This isn’t an excuse, as bad guys and paper targets don’t care about good and bad days. In total, I dropped 5 rounds despite shooting at only 3 yards. I’ll attribute one slight miss to the target beginning to blow backwards, but the other 4 are all on me. No par times were used this time around. I shot from AIWB concealment, using a PHLster Pro holster for my Glock 19 with a Holosun 509T on top. Reloads came from the front pocket, simple man style.

Dot Torture
My most recent Dot Torture attempt netted me a 49/50 at three yards

More recently, I fired Dot Torture in early March 2022. Once again I shot at three yards for comparison, using the same Glock updated with a KKM barrel and compensator, carried in a Dark Star Gear Orion. I hadn’t been to the range in a few weeks, but was decently warmed up, spending the initial part of this range session breaking in the new barrel and comp. During this run I managed to drop only a single round, bringing home a score of 49/50, my best to date.

Final Thoughts on Dot Torture

As someone who never shoots Dot Torture, this is a solid course of fire. It tests several critical skills, including target transitions, single-handed shooting, and more. If you only fired Dot Torture every time you went to the range, changing distances and par times, you’d get a pretty solid workout for yourself. If you’re not capable of keeping everything inside the circles, mirroring the skills on another target could be a good stepping stone.

Have you tried this drill? If not, give Dot Torture a try the next time you hit the range, and see how you do. You can find a printable target >>HERE<<

About Dan Reedy

Dan is an Air Force veteran, avid shooter, and dog dad. With a passion for teaching, he holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has trained with Darryl Bolke, Mike Pannone, Craig Douglas, among several other instructors, amassing over 400 hours of professional instruction thus far. In his spare time you’ll find him teaching handgun, shotgun, and less lethal classes.

Dan’s work has been published by Primer Peak, and The Kommando Blog, and he has been featured as a guest on Primary & Secondary.Dan Reedy headshot

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My favorite workout

Deplorable Bill

Sounds fun. I would still ad a time limit just to add some stress into it but it is still good, fun practice. I like the idea for keeping things relevant to revolvers because they are good carry tools.

Arm up and carry on