Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – What to do about it

I would suggest this.

Start with a test like the Texas CHL. Work until you can clean it on-demand. Then make it a little harder by drawing from concealment, but otherwise change nothing about the test. When you can clean that on-demand, use a better target like an ISPC or IDPA target, Rangemaster RM-Q2, IALEFI-Q, QIT-99, etc.. Work to clean it on-demand.

Move up to the “3 Seconds or Less” drill. Work to clean it on demand.

After this, you’ll start to move beyond minimum competency. Skills like slide-lock (emergency/speed) reloads, malfunction clearing, shooting at distances out to 25 yards, etc. are going to come into play and are well-worth your time to learn and study. Courses like the FBI Qualification, the Rangemaster Level V, are good for this. But if you want something simpler, I’d say the Farnam Drill is probably one of the most compact tests out there. When you start to get into this level of things, you’ll find lots of drills out there you can use as testing and assessment, so you’ll be able to find what you need.

Note: that doesn’t necessarily mean to shoot these drill as your practice. Rather, shoot the drill and see how you do (test, assess). See what you do well, see what you need to work on. When you identify what you need to work on, your practice time (both live fire and dry fire) should work on the fundamentals necessary to help that. Formulate a plan and a program to help you achieve the goal of cleaning the drill. Work on those skills for a while, then come back and shoot the drill again. Keep notes on your progress.

Keep in mind the Paul Ford “70% of your worst day”. Look at how you’re performing “at your worst” and think about how much worse that will really be. Use that as a guide to establish where you really need your skills to be.

So many things push to a higher standard, and that’s good. The problem with always pushing for higher standards, to have the most uber-tacticool or difficult challenging drill/test/standard is it starts to make you wonder where the baseline is. Everyone’s out to push things high, so how does that look to someone just starting out? Does it make it seem like an unachievable goal? That if it’s going to take me 5 years of dedicated work to get there, how does that help me deal with the death threats I’m currently receiving from my crazy ex-spouse? Or if some standards are setting the bar too low, are people getting a false sense of accomplishment and ability that could wind up doing them more harm than good should they need to call on those skills?

You don’t need to be a Rob Leatham in order to protect yourself. But you likely need to be better than you think you are.

The point I’m trying to make is to not make this the standard to train to , but rather I’m out to bust false senses of ability. I think it’s wise to know what minimum competency is, and to not consider “minimum” to mean either some really low-level that’s essentially equated to “skill-less” or to mean once you’ve met the minimum that’s satisfactory and you can stop your journey. It’s none of those things. It’s merely a way to come to some sort of realistic terms of where your skills and ability lie. When your life is at stake, you need honest assessment. Ego or pretense could get you killed. But sometimes it’s neither of those; it’s simply that you don’t know what you don’t know, so here’s an opportunity to learn.

(I’d like to thank Karl Rehn, Tom Hogel, and Tom Givens for their input, mentorship, and contribution to this effort).

(This post is part of a multi-part series. For now, you can find other published parts of the series by looking at the “minimum competency” tag or category).

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