The Tueller Drill is considered an important drill for people who carry a concealed handgun. But what is it and why is it important?
As an instructor, I personally believe the Tueller Drill to be one of the most important for people to learn. It is probably one of the most fun to do, but in my opinion, it can also be the most humbling experience in training. Not many people can do it, but you can master it with practice and patience. It’s really designed to show you how real life scenarios will go down.
We have all heard that statistically most Law Enforcement gunfights generally take place in close quarters, roughly seven yards (21 feet) or closer.
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That is why a lot of instructors and people will train at the seven yard distance. In 1983, Salt Lake City Police Department Sergeant Dennis Tueller wondered how quickly an attacker with intent to do harm and armed with a knife could cover 21 feet. By timing volunteers, he was able to determine that it only takes 1.5 seconds for the attacker to cover the distance.
That’s not a lot of time. He published his results in Swat Magazine in 1983 under the title How close is too close?
People who are armed with a gun are usually faced with a simple dilemma. When am I allowed to shoot? To far away and you could be charged with murder. Too close and you could be dead. Where is that fine line between shoot/no shoot?
Obviously, the farther away an attacker is, the more time you have to get your gun out to protect yourself. With the results that Sergeant Tueller found, most people have determined that 21 feet is too close. Your mileage will vary.
If someone is trying to do you harm, there is no time that is too soon to be ready to protect yourself.
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However, the Tueller Principle was determined that within 21 feet is where most attacks will come from, leaving you hardly anytime to react. This was just a way to determine a “Danger Zone,” but is not set in stone.
The goal of the Tueller Drill is very basic. At the sound of the buzzer, draw your gun from concealment and get the first shot off, all in 1.5 seconds.
Sounds simple right? Trust me, it’s not.
Keep in mind, when you are running the drill on the range, even though you are purposely setting up for the drill and know that the buzzer is coming, it is still very difficult to get that first shot off in time.
When you are in real life, odds are it will take even more time.
The Tueller Drill can be set up and run in a number of different ways.
- Have a runner and a shooter stand back to back. On the go command, the runner sprints away from the shooter as fast as he can. The shooter draws and fires one shot at a target 21 feet away. The shooter is successful if the runner did not cover 21 feet.
- Another way is to position the runner 21 feet behind the shooter. On the go command, the runner sprints towards the shooter with the intent to tap the shooter on the back. The shooter must draw and fire one shot at a target 21 feet away. The shooter is successful if he is able to get the shot off before being tapped from behind. This can add more stress to the shooter since they don’t know when the tap is coming.
- If you have a SIRT Pistol or other inert training gun, a full contact drill could be run. Have an attacker start 21 feet away from the shooter. On the go command, the attacker runs at the shooter and the shooter must draw and “shoot” the running attacker before they get to them and touch them. Another variation of this is to have a target that can move at the shooter and do the same thing, only live fire since it’s a target.
- If you are lucky enough to have a local gun range with a programmable target carrier system and allows draw from the holster, you can run the drill yourself. Program a delayed random start time, a return to zero from 21 feet and a turn to face at the beginning. When the target turns and advances, draw and fire.
- If you can draw from the holster at your range, use a shot timer. Your goal is to draw and fire at a target 21 feet away in under 1.5 seconds.
Keep in mind, this is a very demanding and humbling drill. The first time you fail and are declared “dead,” it really hits home how unprepared you may be, and how quickly your life could be snuffed out.
But, do not let that dissuade you from learning from the experience. The biggest lesson is that distance is your friend. Distance creates more space for the attacker to cover and space helps create more time for the defender to respond with force.
When you find yourself in that position, it’s wise to start moving backwards as you draw. This will open the distance and allow you more time to defend.
Someone intent on doing you harm can and will do everything in their power to harm you. No matter what distance. Being able to recognize it, mitigate it or avoid it just give you more points in your favor. Situational Awareness is key to this.
Chances are pretty good you will have to fight in close quarters to deploy your firearm into the fight. Be prepared for that. Also be prepared to fight to keep control of your gun once it’s been introduced.
I personally believe everyone who carries a gun for self defense needs to run the Tueller Drill at least once in training. There is much to be learned from the experience, and sometimes being humbled is not a bad thing.
Try the Tueller Drill in your training, if you are able to. Or have you had a chance to try it before? Let us know how it worked for you in the comments below.