CSAT Standards

Paul Howe has a set of Pistol Instructor Standards.


The drills below drills are designed with three purposes in mind:

  1. A measurable standard to maintain.
  2. An efficient stair-stepped workout program that covers all the bases.
  3. To test the individual shooter at various times to show areas needing improvement.

Only score shots in the center box and head of the CSAT target. If an enemy turns sideways, that will be all the shooter has to engage, resulting in a worse case scenario.

1. Ready 1 shot 1 target 7 yards 1 SEC
2. Holster 1 shot 1 target 7 yards 1.7 SEC
3. Ready 2 shots 1 target 7 yards 1.5 SEC
4. Ready 5/1 shots 1 target 7 yards 3 SEC
5. Ready 4 shots 2x target 7 yards 3 SEC
6. Ready 4 shots 2x weak/2x strong (1 target) 5 SEC
7. Ready 1 shot Malfunction drill (1 target) 3 SEC
8. Ready 4 shots 2 Reload 2 (1 target) 5 SEC
9. Rifle up 1 shot Dry fire/transition 3.25 SEC
10. Holster 1 shot Kneeling (1 target) 25 yards 3.25 SEC

Total: 25 Rounds


-All stations shot at 7 yards except #10.

It’s a reasonable standards course. However, the description of the course leaves out some important details. If you’ve taken Paul’s classes, I’m sure all is known, but for those of us that haven’t (yet) studied with Paul, we’re left scratching our heads a bit.

With reader Shawn’s help, because Shawn attended Paul’s Pistol Operator course, I’ve gained some clarification. So here’s a rewrite of Paul’s standards with hopefully a bit more explanatory detail. Thanx for the help, Shawn!


Shot on a CSAT target. Note, this target is IPSC-like, but CSAT is 23″ wide and IPSC is 18″, which is going to affect scale; plus the IPSC has a smaller head A-Zone. I’m sure you could use an IDPA target in a pinch, but that’s not quite the same either. I reckon if you don’t have the CSAT target, shoot on the IPSC target and only count A-Zone hits… it’ll be more difficult.

You need 2 targets. No specification of how they are set up, but given what Shawn told me (you just shot the target of the guy next to you), I reckon setting them at the same height about a yard apart is reasonable.

Shoot with your normal gear, whatever that is. So if you’re just a private citizen carrying concealed, shoot with that setup. If a LEO, shoot with your duty gear, etc.. Shawn mentioned there was an adjustment for retention holsters but couldn’t remember the specifics. You will need 2 magazines, due to the reload string.

Scoring is a simple “hit or miss” manner. Either you did the string under time and hit the proper zone, or you didn’t. Pass/fail on each string, and an instructor-level shooter must pass at least 8 of the 10.

25 rounds total.

“Ready” means from the “high compressed ready” (position 3 of the draw). However, Shawn notes Howe isn’t super-picky about this because gear (e.g. armor, chest rig) may have different requirements.

All strings start from the standing position, except #10.

All strings are shot at a distance of 7 yards, except #10.

All strings are shot from the ready position, unless otherwise noted.

All strings are fired onto a single target, except for #5.

String 1
1 shot (body)
1.0 seconds

String 2
From holster
1 shot (body)
1.7 seconds

String 3
2 shots (body)
1.5 seconds

String 4
5 shots body, 1 head (6 shots total)
3.0 seconds

String 5
2 shots (body) on target #1, then 2 shots (body) on target #2 (4 shots total)
3.0 seconds

String 6
2 shots weak-hand-only, transition gun to other hand, 2 shots strong-hand-only (4 shots total)
5.0 seconds

String 7
Start with an empty chamber, and a full magazine inserted
Press out, press trigger (click!), tap/rack, 1 shot (body)
3.0 seconds

String 8
Start with 1 in the chamber, 1 in the magazine; full reload in mag pouch.
2 shots (body), speed reload from slide-lock, 2 shots (body)
5.0 seconds

String 9
Start with rifle shouldered/ready
1 dry shot from rifle, transition to pistol, 1 shot (body)
3.25 seconds

String 10
25 yards
From holster
Start standing
Kneel and fire 1 shot (body)
3.25 seconds

And that’s how it seems the standards are to be, from my read on Paul’s site plus some help from Shawn.

If I have it wrong, I do want to be corrected.

I wrote this up because I think it’s a good set of standards, just not presented 100% clearly. When I first read it I wasn’t 100% sure of all the details, and when Karl, Tom, and I shot it this past weekend we weren’t 100% sure on a couple parts either. I had a similar experience with the Rangemaster Level V Handgun Qualification Course, and I think it’s worthwhile for good standards/courses to be presented clearly, correctly, and in a manner that ensures everyone can and does shoot it the same… else it’s not really a standard, is it?

2 thoughts on “CSAT Standards

  1. Great write-up, John.

    I learned a great deal from the CSAT class I attended. Paul has a very smooth-running operation and a very refined teaching style. He is an intense, yet soft-spoken man who can teach you and make you smile at the same time.

    For your readers who may not be aware, Paul Howe participated in the Battle of Mogadishu, which was later recounted in Mark Bowden’s excellent book “Blackhawk Down”, as well as the movie of the same name.

    Paul has also written a couple of books outlining his training methodology. A good summation of his manner is printed on a sign at the turn-off to his range. The sign has an arrow pointing to the ground and simply says “Leave Your Ego Here.”

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