Self-Defense Skills & Drills: The Test

Self Defense Skills & Drills The Test
Self-Defense Skills & Drills The Test

U.S.A.-( There are tons of drills available online. It seems like nearly every day a new one is invented, with many becoming overly complex, expensive, or unrealistic. While some of these complicated drills can be fun, they aren’t always the most friendly for newer shooters or those with restrictive ranges. Luckily, there is still hope for those looking for something a little less tactical. The Test is a classic drill that most shooters should be able to run without earning the consternation of overbearing range safety officers. What exactly goes into shooting The Test?

Setting Up the Drill

The Test is a straightforward drill to set up. You’ll need a single B-8 Repair Center bullseye, your pistol, ten rounds of ammunition, and a target. Place your B-8 target at ten yards, then load ten rounds into a single magazine. This drill is typically fired from low ready, so no holsters are necessary here. A shot timer will be critical, as one of the criteria for passing The Test is staying under the par time.

Scoring The Test

There are a few methods to score The Test, with Larry Vickers and Ken Hackathorn each having their own styles. We’ll detail both here.

Vickers Scoring

The Larry Vickers scoring method is straightforward but less common. Score your hits as you see them, but add one second to your time for every hit landing in the white. For hits falling entirely off the paper, add three seconds while subtracting ten points. The X and ten ring are worth ten points, nine ring is nine points, eight is eight points and a one-second penalty, etc. Passing here is coming in under the par time to include your penalties.

The Test
I shot this Test in early December 2022 using my Glock 19 and Trijicon SRO. This was a 94/100 in 9.30 seconds

If using a pistol with reduced capacity, you can draw from the holster to roughly make up for time saved by shooting fewer rounds. Accuracy is critical here, as a passing score could end up sinking you with rounds landing in the white of the B-8.

Hackathorn Scoring

Ken Hackathorn’s method of scoring is how I typically see The Test run and is my preference by a wide margin. Once again, the X and ten ring are worth ten points, the nine ring is nine points, the eight is eight points, so on and so forth. A passing score requires 90 points and a time of 10 seconds or less. There are no penalties for hits in the white, but clean misses subtract a full ten points from your score. Rounds breaking the line between scoring rings count toward the higher value. If your pistol holds less than ten rounds, reduce the par time by one second and the max score by ten points for each round you lose. An example would be an eight-second par time and a max score of 80 for a 1911 holding eight rounds.

Ten rounds, ten yards, ten seconds. It’s easy to see why some have come to call this the “10-10-10”.

Firing the Drill

Starting from low ready, ensure that your magazine is loaded and you have a round in the chamber. If your pistol features a manual safety, keep it activated, or decock a double action pistol, just as you’d carry it. On the beep, raise your pistol and fire all ten rounds into the B-8 Repair Center. Once the gun is empty, holster it or set the pistol aside, then go check your target for scoring.

My Results on The Test

The Test was one of the first formal drills I started shooting more than five years ago. In this time I’ve shot it dozens, if not hundreds of times with varying results across a wide variety of handguns. In preparation for this piece, I headed to the range to get some updated scores. All scores shown in this article are using the Hackathorn scoring method.

A friend stayed with my family over Thanksgiving weekend, and we spent a day in the desert shooting each other’s guns, and having some friendly competitions. For my first drill of the day, I used his H&K VP70 on The Test. The terrible shooting experience of this gun is legendary, but I didn’t seem to be as susceptible as some. After one magazine for familiarization, I nailed a 92/100 in 8.16 with the plastic craptastic, surpassing all of our expectations.

The Test
I shot this Test using a friend’s VP70. I netted a 92/100 in 8.16 seconds. Pretty pleased for my second magazine through the gun

Wanting to see how a new shooter performs, my wife tried her hand at the Test a few weeks later. For this she used her Glock 48 with a Holosun 407K, her typical carry gun. This attempt was cold, her first shots of the day and her first ever attempt at The Test. Having only started shooting less than two years ago, she’s a competent marksman, but a relative newbie compared to some. Despite this, her performance was still solid.

The Test
This was my wife’s first attempt at The Test. Using her Glock 48 and Holosun 407K, she landed an 89/100 in 12.50 seconds.

Shooting cold, she shot a solid 89/100 in 12.50 seconds. A fail of The Test, but far surpassing her expectations. After this, we threw up another target for another rep. On this second target she made a 94/100 in 11.34 seconds, well within passing for accuracy, and just barely exceeding the par time.

Final Thoughts on The Test

The Test is a fantastic drill that deserves a spot in everyone’s regular rotation. With a low round count, single distance, single target, slower pace, and no requirement for a holster, The Test is a stellar fit for most indoor and outdoor ranges. Even those draconian facilities which restrict the use of silhouettes won’t bat an eye at the classic B-8 Repair Center. Offering a thinker’s cadence, with a balance of speed and accuracy, passing The Test is the mark of a competent shooter. Simply looking at the legendary names who rep this drill (Vickers, Hackathorn, Bolke, etc) should be a clear sign of its importance. Even newer shooters can try their hand, focusing more on accuracy rather than speed, then slowly decreasing their par times as scores improve.

Have you ever shot The Test? For those of you who have, did you pass? Let us know 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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Knute Knute

“After one magazine for familiarization, I nailed a 92/100 in 8.16 with the plastic craptastic, surpassing all of our expectations.”

Yet again, tooting his own horn as loudly as he can. Always a red flag warning of the dedicated Narcissist. Don’t look into calm water, Mr. Reedy. You’ll be trapped by your own reflection! 🙂


Ope … He doesn’t like me using cross draw either !

Knute Knute

He’s a dyed-in-the-wool Narcissist. Narcissus was an old Greek legend about a guy so stuck on himself that when he once passed a calm pool of water and saw how perfect he was, he got stuck there, staring at himself until he died! What a perfect name for one’s that brook no possibility that they could be less than perfect. And constant bragging like Reedy does in every article is the tip-off. They think so much of themselves that there’s no room for anybody or anything else. They cannot help themselves. One would think that after being caught at it… Read more »


Knute … Nailed it ! or him rather.


I recall reading and enjoying that little tête-à-tête. I consider you won that debate soundly.


I never open carry because I believe a bad guy will shoot an open carrier first if he sees the guys is armed. I’d rather the bad guy was the one who was surprised.


Bill … Has always been my point .


Ope… No sir I prefer not to advertise . Especially because I carry regardless of signage .


Ope.. You too and Merry Christmas and STAY WARM !


Ope … Those few words about situational awareness is the most important advice ever given !

Last edited 1 month ago by Oldvet

he is a braggard, i here this shit from guys all the time how great they are and everyone is an expert and the course is not practical for defensive shooting. unless the perp is 30 ft away and firing at you. if you shoot someone from 30 ft away the DA is going to nail your ass to the wall

Desert Rat

I wonder how he justifies his position considering the young fellow at the mall who nailed the mass shooter 8/10 at 40 yds with a Glock 19. That from a guy who had no police or military training. I would rate him a 10 on any drill and in a real situation.


Any recommendations for a quality and easy to use, with large display, eyes are getting older, shot timer? There’s a ton on the market. Thanks.




What distance is the target at?