The author shoots the DTI Course on the realistic size MD-CT steel target from Law Enforcement Targets. Note the target’s shape and size in relation to the body. Photos Dave Spaulding
Veteran firearms instructor John Farnam developed the DTI Dance to challenge the students in his courses. Photos Dave Spaulding
The author takes a crack at the DTI Dance.Photos Dave Spaulding
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Every firearms instructor I know is always looking for range drills that build street-worthy, fundamental skills. While there are a number of these drills available, many require spending an inappropriate amount of time with one student, which proves difficult if an instructor has 15 or 20 shooters waiting their turn. And although many of these drills are fun, they aren't street-relevant. As instructors, we're in the business of training, not entertaining.
Recently, I came across a drill designed by master firearms instructor John Farnam of Defense Training International or DTI (www.defense-training.com) that I think is both economical and efficient. It also strongly anchors several important fundamentals of combative pistolcraft.
I first met John at one of his DTI courses in 1982 and consider him to be one of the great thinkers in the training business. While I may not always agree with him, I listen closely to what he says and think long and hard about it.
The DTI Dance
What John originally called his DTI Qualification Course has evolved into what is now referred to as the DTI Dance. Once you try the drill and accomplish all tasks during its short time span, you'll understand the reason for the name. Here's what the original drill entails:
- The target: An 8''x12'' rectangle placed 10 yards from the shooter.
- Scoring: The shooter must hit the target 100 percent of the time. There s no percentage pass here; it s all or nothing.
- Procedure: The shooter must have a loaded semi-automatic pistol, either concealed or snapped in standard duty gear. The gun s chamber is loaded, and the magazine holds four live rounds and a single dummy round (not the first or last in the magazine), resulting in five live rounds. A second magazine is in a pouch on the belt and has at least three rounds so the gun doesn t go to slide-lock at the end of the drill.
On command, the shooter draws and fires five rounds, clearing the malfunction as it occurs. The slide locks open, at which time the shooter speed-loads and fires an additional two rounds. With all hits, the par time is 18 seconds for students and 12 seconds for instructors with all hits. Any miss is a complete failure, so shoot accurately.
On the Range
I know some of you will look at the times and think you re slow, but understand that when any skill is stacked with another, times for both will decrease considerably. Example: I have no trouble drawing and firing a single round from a concealed holster with a hit in 1.25 seconds. At the same time, I can produce shot-to-shot speed loads in 1.3-1.4 seconds with regularity. However, when I draw and shoot two rounds, reload and shoot two rounds, the draw slows to 1.5 and the reload slows to 1.6-1.7 seconds.
Attempt the drill without prior practice, and you ll begin to see that the breakdown listed above is actually a challenge. I practice this drill cold every time I go to the range. Shooting the drill after an afternoon of practice isn t a good indicator of street performance, and I doubt you ll get into a gun fight on the way home from the range (though stranger things have happened).
When I run this drill, I use the 8'', semi-square, steel MD-CT target from Law Enforcement Targets. This challenging steel target is similar in size to the high chest region of the human torso, so it s a realistic gauge of shooting skill.
Advanced DTI Dance
John has developed an advanced version of the drill that incorporates the life saving skill of movement. A moving combatant proves harder to hit than a stationary combatant, so practicing shooting fundamentals while moving is an excellent idea. I ve been thinking about incorporating a moving target, such as LE Target s DSSP swinging steel plate, into this drill to kick it up a notch. We will see.
I ll let John explain the updated drill in his own words:
Facing an 8"x8" target (paper or steel) at 8 meters, the student assumes the interview stance. The student, with a holstered and concealed auto-loading pistol (you can substitute a duty rig here), has live rounds chambered and four additional live rounds in the magazine. One placebo (dummy) round is mixed in with the four. Its position within the magazine is unknown to the shooter. The shooter will have at least one additional magazine, fully charged, with which to reload.
The first command is start moving. The student moves laterally left and right until the next command. The student must look backward at least once before the next command is given, which is a single blast from a whistle. The student draws their pistol and faces the target. They must draw while moving laterally and have no finger on the trigger or inside the trigger guard until the next command.
The next command is a beep from an electronic timer. The student must move laterally first and then start shooting. When the shooter encounters the placebo round, they must move laterally as they perform a tap-rack-resume correctly. When the pistol goes to slide lock or the student otherwise determines they are out of ammunition, they must reload correctly, while moving laterally. After reloading, the student must fire two more shots.
The test consists of a total of seven rounds. All seven shots must hit with no safety or procedural errors in 22 seconds or less. This is tougher than it sounds. There s a lot going on here in a relatively short period of time. So, I suggest you work on the original drill prior to taking on the updated version. These DTI drills accomplish a great deal of real-world practice and expend little time or ammo. With a single dummy round for each student, an entire line of shooters can complete the drill, one at a time, in a matter of minutes. Practice ammo is becoming hard to acquire and increasingly expensive, so drills like the DTI Dance offer great practice, exceptional skill building and efficient training.
DTI DANCE BREAKDOWN
Draw and hit first shot:
Student: 3.75 seconds
Instructor: 2.75 sec.
Student: 1.5 sec.
Instructor: .75 sec.
Student: 3.5 sec.
Instructor: 2.75 sec.
Reload and fire two shots:
Student: 4.75 sec.
Instructor: 3.5 sec.
Law Enforcement Targets