U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Recently, I wrote a piece explaining a course of fire known as the Dicken Drill. This is a rough approximation of the shooting which stopped the killer at the Greenwood, Indiana, mall just a few weeks ago. This incident was followed by a wave of people recreating Eli Dicken’s actions, uploading pictures and videos of their attempts at the Dicken Drill to see how they stack up to the man himself.
In the days following this drill going viral, I’ve been seeing folks online chastising those shooting the Dicken Drill. Reasons range from us not actually knowing the specifics of the shooting to allowances for misses, and even hate for people suddenly being interested in shooting at ranges past 3/5/7/25/etc yards. Some of these criticisms are valid; others, not so much, in my opinion.
(Un)acceptable Misses in the Dicken Drill
I think the biggest issue I take with most versions of the Dicken Drill is the acceptance of two misses since Eli made two misses himself. We are accountable for every round that leaves our firearm, even if its use is righteous. Folks are scoffing at the two misses because they hit nothing of importance by pure luck. If those two rounds hit innocent bystanders, whether directly or after passing through walls, I feel that many wouldn’t find this to be as big of a win as it is portrayed, and we likely wouldn’t be developing drills based on the incident.
This isn’t to disparage Eli Dicken, he did excellent work that day and is undoubtedly a hero. However, we should be striving to perform better, and misses do not align with that goal. Unintentional hits are still hits, and we are morally and legally liable. Saving the day, only to be held responsible for the injury or death of innocents based on our actions is still a negative outcome. Hold yourself to a higher standard, as you likely will not rise to the occasion but default to the level of your training.
Unknowns from the Greenwood Shooting
The public at large is still waiting on a full debriefing of the Greenwood mall shooting. We haven’t seen photos or videos released of the shooting. At best, I’ve seen a simple line drawing posted by Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives, which was later removed from his post on the incident. Some are skeptical of the distances involved, offering 40 feet as more realistic than the 40 yards claimed by most. Others are unsure of the actual response times of Eli, some hung up on the model of firearm he used, and more.
A clear explanation of the events of the day is something we should all be seeking out. A better understanding will help us critique the negatives and praise the positives of everyone’s actions that day. A lot of people are speaking in no uncertain terms about things they haven’t gotten concrete evidence of, and that can lead to misinformation and misunderstanding that last for years. Take everything with a grain of salt until further information is released.
Sudden Interest in Distance Shooting
One of the more unusual responses I’ve seen from some in the training industry is the vitriol directed at the general shooting population suddenly posting pictures and videos of their results on the Dicken Drill. These people are spewing hatred, claiming that those posting videos have purely been shooting at close range, claiming self-defense is impossible past XYZ distance, and other stereotypes. Of course, there are people who believe fallacies like the “333 rule” and other silliness, but the vast majority of shooters I see attempting the Dicken Drill are not those people.
Even if this was the case, wouldn’t the Dicken Drill be a net positive for the community? We all come from somewhere, and if this is the incident to get you training at further distances, or tighter par times, then that’s fantastic. We all need to sharpen our skills, preparing for not only commonalities in defensive encounters, but also outlier events such as what Eli Dicken encountered on that fateful day.
Concluding Thoughts on Dicken Drill Criticisms
We should be seeking more information about the realities of the Greenwood shooting. People should be more accountable for the rounds they send down range in training, accepting no missed shots. As part of that, we should be continually pushing ourselves to grow as shooters, and in other aspects of defense.
What we shouldn’t be doing is belittling folks for attempting, nor sharing their attempts at the Dicken Drill. It’s possible to critique the unknowns and shortcomings of this drill, and the Greenwood shooting without denigrating those participating in the drill. It goes without saying that shooting this drill isn’t a tactical scenario, nor is it indicative of the mixed threat environment you’d find in public. The same can be said about shooting Bill Drills, The Test, or any other static range drill, or even most competitive shootings stages. It’s a skills check; something to measure performance based upon a real-world event, much like a Failure Drill.
It’s our job to welcome people into the fold, however they arrived here. One day they may be fighting for our rights, or for their lives, and it’s us experienced shooters who they’ll rely on to get them to where they need to be. If their first experience with the knowledgeable community is one of hate, they may turn to those more welcoming, and potentially less favorable to our rights or legitimate skill building. Remember, you likely in their shoes once; help them get to where you are now.
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.