Self Defense Skills and Drills | The Dicken Drill

dicken drill
Self Defense Skills and Drills | The Dicken Drill

U.S.A.-( By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of Eli Dicken, who singlehandedly stopped an active shooter at the Greenwood Mall in Indiana. You’ve probably also seen some viral posts floating around about the so-called “Dicken Drill,” giving folks an opportunity to recreate what is currently understood as the events of that day.

Initially, I was planning on holding off on shooting the drill myself, waiting for more data to come forth about the Greenwood Mall shooting. However, I recently had the chance to shoot the drill, and have some opinions of my own to counter some of the discussions floating around online. With that being said, let’s check out the Dicken Drill.

Setting Up the Drill

The equipment requirements for firing the Dicken Drill are very simple. You’ll need a single silhouette target, ideally an IDPA torso, IALEFI-Q, or something similar. Place this target at 40 yards from your firing position. On your person, you’ll need a pistol, which will be worn concealed. Only one magazine is needed, loaded to 10 rounds total in the gun; reduced capacity guns will need a reload to achieve 10 rounds. Some way to measure time is also necessary to record your par time.

Scoring the Dicken Drill

There are two major ways of scoring the Dicken Drill. Both maintain the same distance, par time, rounds fired, and start from concealment but differ in the scoring method. Additionally, both are supposed to be shot cold, with no warm-up.

The first is what we’ve likely all seen through a viral meme. This is based on USPSA Hit Factor scoring and uses a USPSA torso to achieve its related score. Shooters use Hit Factor scoring, with Minor Power Factor, requiring 1.25 HF to pass the drill. A supported position is allowed, similar to the support that Eli allegedly used in his shooting, but that adds 3 seconds to your time calculation. For those who don’t understand Hit Factor, I suggest you check out THIS article for more information.

Dicken Drill
The typical, USPSA style, version of the Dicken Drill

When I shot the Dicken Drill at an IDPA match, we used a different method of scoring since Hit Factor doesn’t exist in IDPA. Instead, we simply had a hard par time of 15 seconds. Time was added for dropped shots in accordance with IDPA scoring zones; adding 1, 3, or 5 seconds for hits in the -1, -3, or completely off the paper. No barricade was offered for support, making it completely offhand shooting. Additionally, only the 8 best hits were counted, matching the hits that Eli made during the Greenwood Mall incident.

This method is my preference for simplicity. The IDPA torso and similar targets also provide a more realistic vital area for targeting.

Firing the Drill

There is only one stage with the Dicken Drill. Start with your hands relaxed at your side, cover garment concealing your pistol. On the beep, draw and fire ten rounds at the target within the 15 second par time. Once finished, retrieve your target and check your hits.

My Results on the Dicken Drill

I recently attended my first IDPA match in my new home. One of the four stages shot during the match was our version of the Dicken Drill. The biggest difference here was using IDPA scoring, but the distances, rounds fired, and par time remain the same. For this match I was using my Gen4 Glock 19 with a Steiner MPS mounted on a Forward Controls Design plate. The gun was carried concealed, AIWB, in a Tenicor Velo4, and loaded with Blazer Brass 115gr FMJ.

Dicken Drill
My results on the Dicken Drill from a recent IDPA match

From 40 yards, I fired all ten rounds in 10.64 seconds, landing all but one on the IDPA torso. Dropping seven rounds into the -1 scoring zone netted me a final time of 16.64 seconds. This performance landed me as the 10th best shooter on the stage out of 43 participants. This was roughly an average day for me, with hits a little lower than I’d like but not unreasonable. For reference, the top shooter on the stage made a raw time of 8.34, with a final score of 10.34, dropping two rounds into the -1 zone of the target.

Final Thoughts on the Dicken Drill

The Dicken Drill is a solid mix of fun and realism. Most shooters don’t have the opportunity nor the motivation to shoot at distances in excess of even 25 yards. It’s a great skill check to see if you can even stay on target at extended distances, let alone get effective fight-stopping hits. Additionally, Eli has done an excellent job at showing self-defense can happen outside of bad breath ranges.

It isn’t tactical training, nor is it realistic in the sense of a sanitized range versus a mixed threat environment you’d encounter in the real world, but neither are most other drills. Anything that gets shooters out there to improve their skills is a good thing. Have you tried your hand at the Dicken Drill? Let us know how you stack up in the comments.

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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Paul Harrell made a great point in one of his videos. We do not know whether Eli Dicken wants his name associated with this drill in any way. He may well want to put this experience behind him as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Unless and until he speaks, we should assume that he would prefer to not be associated with such drills – just calling it the “Greenwood drill” or “Greenwood Mall drill.”


I have to wonder how much movement there was from the bad guy and Dicken. Was Dicken moving forward? Did the bad guy move away or toward cover? Movement makes the shots that much more difficult.


Don’t know whether he started before Dicken ran out of bullets, but perp made an effort to run back into the restroom before collapsing. It is possible last shots struck perp in the back as he retreated. While antis likely would be appalled at shooting someone in the back, his effort to gain cover does not make him less of a threat. Only way such shots would be excessive would be if perp had dropped his rifle and was obviously otherwise unarmed. How clearly can anyone here tell whether someone has an appendix or ankle holster under concealment at 40… Read more »


I haven’t heard anything about the model. Only heard that it was a Glock. A 43x or 48 would be in line with mag capacity. Did Dickin reload?

As far as the “back shots” go, I’m perfectly fine with all 8 shots in the back. The bad guy was shooting innocents. I’d be perfectly fine with a contact shot to the back of the head.


the guy turning to run is just exactly the action you would expect of a coward shooting in a gunfree zone ,and the two fast “safe ” shots is a tactic I was taught to gain advantage in a shootout with un hardened adversary


When the dust is settled and we get to see the actual video and the crime scene measurements then we well know exactly what happen.

I have been shooting and instructing longer range handgun shooting for decades.

It is nice to see the utility of it coming out.


I thought Dicken started at 40 yards and then closed the distance still firing from what I read. Any clarification on this?


40 to 25 yards 75 feet with a pistol is still good while moving and so is target


The advantage of surprise is a beautiful thing when accompanied with violence of action. I would imagine that the good guy had an easy initial back or front shot because the bad guy wasn’t expecting resistance and was focused on its evil machinations. Land the first round on target and it tends to slow them down for follow up shots from the blood loss, even if they can’t feel they were shot yet from the cortisol dump. The killer was probably in the black after the first gunshot charged up its adrenaline and cortisol dumps. It was more than likely… Read more »


Remember this…WE are the weapon. The tool we choose is the determining factor as to how dangerous WE are. The gun control advocates want to vilify the tool. The tool is an inanimate object until I, the weapon, weaponize it. Many more people are killed each year by blows from hands and feet than rifles. Ever hear the song “Big John”? a crashing blow from a big right hand sent a Louisiana fellow to the promised land.


Often perpetrators are unprepared for pain, not expecting an immediate response. As John at Active Self Defense says, the FIBS factor can be your friend. Usually the first to score hits wins, even if first hit does not end the fight. F. I’ve Been Shot – often completely changes attackers attitude. Often it changes their form as they curl up from pain, or otherwise physically react to it. Seeing pictures of this perp, he looks like a pimply faced kid with no muscles. He likely has never experienced serious pain, and has never practiced significant physical exertions. My guess is… Read more »


I would really like to know where Mr. Dicken learned his firearm proficiency skills. A person just doesn’t wake up one morning as an expert shot like that. He should really consider opening his own firearm safety training center.


His Grandfather.


A 40 yard shot on a 36” target is not an expert shot. He more than likely grew up hunting, since it was his grandpa that made him handy with steel. Hunting teaches a person how to control fight, flight, or freeze adrenaline response, aka buck fever, without the brainwashing to of being a just following orders socialist government employment in the military or law enforcement.

Last edited 18 days ago by WeWereWarned

If he shot all 8 rounds into a 3″ circle at 40 yards, that would be an expert shot. I’d dare to say that Jerry Miculek would most likely be an expert shot at 40 yards on a 36″ target. AND hunting prairie dogs, ground hogs or ground squirrels would lack drastically when it comes to controlling fight, flight or freeze. Maybe hunting a mountain lion and finding out it has been hunting you. As for the socialist government employment in the military or law enforcement statement…RIGHT ON. We need the VOLUNTARY militias back!

Last edited 18 days ago by CourageousLion

There’s little comparison between hunting with a rifle or shotgun and hitting a moving target at distance with a carry gun, especially if it might shoot back. Most people can’t get 80% on paper (B-27 target) at 25 yards.