In the interest of presenting a skills test that can be done simply on most ranges with a minimum of resources, we wanted to share the ISG pistol skills course. Each block is an isolation of a specific, relevant skill, as well as give an objective, diagnostic measure to show you where to practice and what effect your practice is having on your performance.
We’ve also got a printable scorecard/course of fire available on the Patreon, if you’re interested in supporting the ISG community.
Course of Fire
It is a par time course, so the lower the score, the better the score.
- Shooter will approach distance line in a fighting stance/high fence, or relaxed, neutral posture. If stage denotes concealed, start with hands at or above shoulder level*.
- A shot timer is to be utilized, set to random interval, and standard range commands will be used. Proctor will verify “shooter ready?” and upon shooter acknowledgement, proctor will activate the shot timer. Upon the buzzer, the shooter will draw, or point in, and fire the prescribed number of rounds at the prescribed distance.
- This is a pass/fail course, there is no zone scoring. If you hit, you hit. if you miss, correct it.
- There are NO MISSES ALLOWED. You will fire until you hit. Each miss adds a +2 second penalty to the final score. Precision first, speed second. If you exhaust your supply of ammunition, the course is failed.
- The course is to be shot cold, under 2nd line/sustainment, if it is official. In the future, there will be weight standards but for now, an acceptable weight is between 15-30% of the shooter’s body weight, to maintain mobility. Unofficial courses can be shot with just first line, however;
- This course is shot from concealment only. This is not a test of duty gear.
- If you’re doing it for a recorded qualification, a video recording in long form (the entire event) is necessary. It’s highly encouraged to shoot this qualification with each pistol you carry. Not only will it give you objective information about which you’re the most proficient with, it will give you a baseline for improvement.
- The qualification can and should be shot in low/no light. The qualification times do not change. If shooting a night qualification, just denote this on the shooter score card.
The part time in the “par” column is the total amount of time allotted for the iterations. So, if a par time of 4 is allotted for a string with 2 iterations, you can have any combination of times at add up to 4 seconds or less. Each stage should be recorded as it’s shot using the provided scorecard (or any other note taking), so the shooter sees exactly where their strong and weak points are.
Plain language, this course of fire is designed to test a battery of skills that are common to fighting, at distances that represent the most common occurrences. So, stage by stage, here’s the reasoning for why these specific iterations were selected.
Stage 1: 2 rounds, from concealment, at 25 yards. Single iteration. This stage tests proficiency at an intermediate range, and forces the shooter to draw, fire, reacquire a target, and fire a second round under time pressure. 25 yards is generally considered to be the extent of most pistol ranges available, as well as an acceptable intermediate range for a skills test.
Stage 2: 1 round, from concealment, at 15 yards. Two iterations. This stage is designed to audit stability of single-handed shooting at intermediate range. Given our emphasis on moving around protectees, fighting through injury, or using an off hand device, this stage will demonstrate proficiency, stability, and ability to perform under time pressure. It also strongly emphasizes single handed stability alone the entirety of the presentation through the recoil cycle.
Stage 3: 1 round, reload, one round, from low ready, at 7 yards. Two iterations. The 1R1 is a contentious drill, because it lacks any real world context. Our purpose for using it is requiring the shooter to acquire a sight picture, make a hit, and then break firing stance to perform a technical task, then return to sight picture, and controlled trigger press. Done twice, this drill audits consistency.
Stage 4: 1 round, reload, one round, from low ready, at 7 yards, single hand only. Two iterations. Like stage 3, this audits the rote shooting ability and consistency, but shifts the focus to the task of manipulating the handgun with one hand only. The natural combination of stages 2 and 3, this is a challenging stage that ensures consistency, competence, and familiarity with single handed shooting and manipulation.
Stage 5: 5 rounds, single target, from low ready, at 7 yards, freestyle. Single iteration. Testing the shooter’s ability to quickly fire a string of rounds into a single target at close range, this stage is a raw test of control. It will provide an overview of the shooter’s ability to manage recoil, reacquire sights, and implement solid trigger control.
Stage 6: 3 rounds from concealment at target 3 yards away. This combines several elements from the above iterations; quickly access your sidearm from concealment, quick, good hits at ranges just outside of clinch range, recoil management, and consistency in unsighted/flash sight picture. This one is a very non-contextual drill that helps decide where the shooter is in relation to their tactics.
But why not…(insert drill here)
There will almost certainly be someone who asks “well, if it’s a skills test, why not…?”
Chances are, they’re asking a fair question. So let’s start with the ones we think will be the most common:
Support side only
Why aren’t we running support side only during the qual? The answer is that it’s something that should be trained upon, but it represents such an outlier of an outlier than beyond demonstrating proficiency in normal training, we didn’t think it merited a spot on a qualification. In short, definitely do work support side only problems, and work them into more complex tasks/drills, but our opinion is that it’s FAR more important to show good tactical judgment (such as getting to cover) than it is to be real fast on the range with support side drills.
This is the one I think people will really hone in on. Beyond malfunctions in modern, duty grade auto-loaders being exceedingly rare, the process of reloading is functionally very similar. In short, like support side only, we absolutely want to see everyone doing various malfunction drills, but fixing them isn’t different enough from reloading that, in a controlled environment like a qualification, it makes a huge difference. We want to see spontaneity when it comes to reloads, so our shooters can’t train to memorize when they’ll happen. We want them to train to fix them with as little prior warning as possible.
Similar for the standards on the ISG skill audit for physical ability, we wanted to provide a metric that would demonstrate your level of competency with a handgun that could be used as a part of the broader assessment. The following are some examples of the course being fired with various pistols, but various ISG Team members, and will be updated periodically.