The Importance of the Dicken Drill

dicken drill
The Importance of the Dicken Drill

U.S.A.-( 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.

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

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.

dicken drill
Excluding fliers, this is a sub-two-inch group at 25 yards. Double that for four inches at fifty yards, and the Dicken Drill is in the bag. Even including the pulled rounds, that’s just slightly larger than a traditional 8-inch chest ring. When was the last time you worked medium to long-range pistol shots?

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.

dicken drill
The author assists a shooter with her most recent purchase. Helping grow the 2A, one person at a time

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.

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

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Henry Bowman

All video/photo evidence from the mall is being suppressed because the government and Karens Demanding Action doesn’t support the gun control false narrative!
Sad thing is, RINO Indiana is silent on this issue.


Only reason Indiana has “ConCarry” is the natives were angry at their RINO delegation’s 1/6 betrayal, voting for The Big Steal. “ConCarry” is the go-to meat RINOs toss to make Gun Hobbits feel safe in The Shire. That’s how both Senate seats & WH were stolen in Arizona. AZCDL lobbies, but is derelict on elections.

Henry Bowman

True; this was a sop. Indiana’s RINOs refused to let ConCarry pass even though the majority of Hoosiers wanted it. I moved from Indiana because it is the land of Judas Pence.


Better get busy, Henry. I’m winning the downvote war!

Henry Bowman

I suppose you’re too triggering to the bootlickers and Leftists in here! I doff my hat to you!

Trigger Launcher.png

As a former resident of the area, I have visited the Greenwood Park Mall many times and can attest to the fact that the food court there is quite large and a 50+ yard shot across it is EASILY possible. Especially, if you consider the possibility that he was in the 10+ yard hallway adjacent to the court and advanced from the hallway all the way across it AND the food court towards the shooter.

Matt in Oklahoma

I shoot well past these marks regularly however you need to check you facts on the actual distance


Not saying that misses are not a liability.

But if one worries to much about missing one will never shoot.

I hear many say I’ll only shoot, if I know I am going to make the perfect shot.

Both ideas can have bad end results.

Train to get as good as you can.


Duane your statement 100%!!!! I was taught at an early age, to respect the game that you are hunting, enough to kill it cleanly. And as such, I spend a lot of time on the range prior to going into the field. I’ve been fortune enough to not shoot any big-game animal more than once to harvest it. However, the defensive shooting situation is a different ballgame. While hunting, I usually have a 20″-24″ barreled rifle with a dialed in scope and something to rest it on while firing. I usually am not under stress, allowing me to breathe and… Read more »


I think point was to train for every shot hitting.

Considering backstop is important. In an indoor mall interior walls are typically concealment, while exterior walls tend to be concrete and should stop handgun rounds. Taking shot at an upward angle means a miss is unlikely to hit anyone before hitting concrete, though if there are floors above angle must be limited. Conversely shooting at downward angle, misses will strike floor resulting in spall or ricochet but far safer than level shot. Better to be trained to point you can know every round will hit.

Jim March

We don’t know if Eli solved the entire problem and got all 10 rounds off by 15 seconds into the time period when the goblin’s first shot went off, or if Eli’s first shot happened 15 seconds after the goblin’s first shot. I SUSPECT THE LATTER. We know from interviews with his girlfriend’s family that he took some amount of time to get her either ducked or behind cover. This is completely understandable. Let’s assume this took 5 seconds. We also have reports that he moved to a braced, barricaded firing position, apparently behind some kind of column before shooting… Read more »


Why do you have hard time buying ten shots in seven seconds? Quarter second splits are fairly normal for rapid fire, though longer range calls for taking a little more time. For experienced and skilled shooter, half second splits would be slow – so 4.5 seconds from first to tenth sounds slow. Rest of your time assumptions seem reasonable in some ways. However my understanding is that shooter hit four people (three deceased and one injured, plus girl injured falling while running away). Incident started when goblin shot first victim. Hard to believe that even the most skilled shooter would… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Finnky

~”big issue with most Dicken Drills is accepting 2 misses. We’re accountable for every round even if righteous. Folks scoff at 2 misses since they hit no one by pure luck“ That’s the biggest crock I’ve seen here in a while outside ATF puff pieces. There are no valid criticisms. He stepped up in many ways, carried in a “gun free” zone, risked life & liberty to save lives, made 8 of 10 at a distance in combat, and you pontificate it wasn’t perfect. It clearly wasn’t pure luck. Had he pretended it was a legal drill & not shot… Read more »

Last edited 19 days ago by Russn8r

Agreed. He was literally in combat. Worrying over a miss when no one is visible behind the shooter would have made him incapable of any action. We do need to train and remain proficient, but even Audie Murphy didn’t place all his shots.


If you’re focused on the 2 misses from an non-LEO, non-military shooter, in terms of disparaging a range drill in his name, but not focused on the studies of average shots missed by law enforcement per encounter, where national average for ‘hit ratio’ typically hovers around 20-30%, when evaluating other shooting drills advertised by those same ‘professionals’…then, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.


I was thinking while I read the article that I would have been delighted if 10% of the hundreds of officers I trained had been able todo this well under these conditions.


im sorry but what this this drill?


I will stick to what I do: for close-in, the Mozambique… and for 25 or 50 yards, ten kill zone hits in under 10 seconds. Extra points if under 7 seconds.