Self-Defense Skills and Drills, The Casino Drill

Casino Drill
Self-Defense Skills and Drills, The Casino Drill

U.S.A.-( Often times the drills and courses of fire we use for training and practice have us stuck shooting silhouettes and bullseyes. While these certainly have significant training value, it can get a bit monotonous. Every now and then it’s nice to change things up a little bit, both visually as well as practically. One of my favorite ways to do this is with the Casino Drill.

For years I’d seen this target hanging at the local range, and knew some ways to attack it, but didn’t know the origins. That all changed when I took the first Rangemaster Instructor Development Course in 2019. Tom Givens is the originator of the Casino Drill and gives an excellent explanation in his classes as to how valuable this drill can be. In short, it allows us to train a variety of useful skills that may be required in a defensive encounter. It’s also pretty fun to shoot, making it an excellent option for those typically not interested in competition or training. So what exactly is the Casino Drill?

Setting up the Drill

Setting up the Casino Drill is pretty simple. You need your pistol in either a concealment or duty holster, and the DT-2A target is placed at five yards. You’ll load seven rounds into three magazines for a total of 21 rounds, with one loaded into your pistol with a round chambered. Those using reduced-capacity guns such as revolvers or pocket pistols will need to incorporate additional reloads to make the round count. A shot timer is an important piece of equipment here to ensure that you get your raw time, as this is a scored and timed drill.

Scoring the Casino Drill

The par time on the Casino Drill is 21 seconds, anything over that is a failure of the drill. Rounds landing outside of the colored shapes add one second each to your total time. Shooting any of the shapes out of sequence adds one second to your total time for each instance. Firing too many or too few rounds into each shape also adds one second per instance to your total time. Ideally, you get all of your hits perfectly, while also staying under par.

Casino Drill
A shoot-off on the Casino Drill from my Rangemaster Instructor Development Course

When shooting solo, under par and clean are the goal for a passing score. In a competitive environment, it is typically the final times that judge the winner, though throwing all accuracy out the window isn’t an excellent method of making time.

Firing the Drill

Start with your gun holstered, with a round in the chamber, and your hands relaxed at your side. On the beep, draw and fire the drill. The sequence is deceptively simple. The round counts coincide with the number on the target; number one gets one round, two gets two, so on and so forth, until you complete the drill. With seven-round magazines, you will have to reload twice, with slide lock reloads being mandatory as part of the Casino Drill.

Be sure to count your rounds fired, as there will be reloads within the same target on more than one occasion during the Casino Drill. Many shooters get caught up during the reloads, resulting in penalties for rounds fired out of sequence.

My Results on the Casino Drill

To date, I’ve fired the Casino Drill twice. Both instances were in classes, during the initial Rangemaster Instructor Course in 2019, and the Rangemaster Master Instructor Course in 2022. My first attempt resulted in a raw time of 18.11 plus a one-second penalty for a total of 19.11 seconds. This earned me 5th place in a class of 19 shooters, using a Glock 17 with a Trijicon RMR shot from AIWB concealment. Our top score completed his run in only 15.68 seconds.

Casino Drill
The DT-2A target used in the Casino Drill from Action Target

During the Master Instructor Course, I made slight improvements to my scores. My raw time here was 16.73, with a final time of 17.73 for a slight miss. This was shot using a Glock 19 with a Holosun 509T, also shot from AIWB concealment. This time around, our top shooter landed a 12.24 total time including his own one second penalty, for a very impressive run.

Final Thoughts on the Casino Drill

The Casino Drill is one that I rarely hear spoken to outside of Rangemaster circles, but I think is very valuable. It isn’t something I shoot often, but deserves a place in everyone’s roster of drills and skills tests. It works on target identification and transitions, maintaining speed with a solid level of accuracy, reload mechanics and more. Additionally, forcing multiple reloads adds task complexity, substantially increasing the challenge from just a straight shoot through each target.

Have you shot the Casino Drill before? If so, how did you stack up against myself and the other shooters listed here? If you haven’t, you can pick up the DT-2A target through Action Target and try it yourself.

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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In ancient days, my team and I used to use this as a training drill when we did IADs (Immediate Action Drills) on the live fire ranges at Bragg and Lewis. We used CAR 15s, AKs and M4s later on. (Depended on mission we were prepping for) Slightly bigger targets and we moved in pairs, towards our objective, each pair having targets set up their lane. 5 overall we made ours slightly larger than the pistol targets shown. We would do 3 second rushes, targets were placed at roughly 25 meter marks. Did not use a time interval, each team… Read more »

Knute Knute

“My first attempt resulted in a raw time of 18.11 plus a one-second penalty for a total of 19.11 seconds. This earned me 5th place in a class of 19 shooters”
Tooting one’s own horn, rather loudly. Another good example of Reedy’s suffering from Narcissism. Perhaps some day he might get better. Hopefully, before he gets trapped staring at his reflection for eternity.


Many defensive shooting skills can easily be acquired without expending scarce ammo and financial resources. Because unlike combat actions, game hunting and select law enforcement happenstances, defensive shooters are not required to be crack shots. Due to the fact that distant targets are not reasonable threats in the first place. And that defensive shootings are almost exclusively close quarter interactions. A technique easily mastered with a squirt gun on a refrigerator.

Last edited 2 months ago by Ledesma

As you said “more challenging shots” at close range may be necessary. One place I practice runs a course on which better shooters run slightly over 200s while I run more like 450-600s (so pretty much terrible). This course encompasses something like 40 targets with most requiring two hits – however one target must be hit 15 times – twice. One target which requires a single hit is a small head over the shoulder of a more standard torso/head target which is an innocent. Hitting this innocent is 150s penalty – so extremely critical to make the shot. Shooting this… Read more »