At the Range With the GA: The Quad-5 Drill

Posted on February 17, 2011 by


If you’ve been shooting for any amount of time, eventually at some point you’ll get bored just putting holes in paper. Basic target practice is essential for reinforcing the fundamentals of marksmanship, but for those of you who are practicing with defensive purposes in mind, you need to up the ante a little bit.

There are a couple of different ways to do this. One is to introduce the pressure time constraints into the picture. Another would be to introduce other forms of pressure into the mix: accuracy requirements, etc. All of these things force you at some level to perform under pressure. 50 rounds spent doing helpful drills that hone your skills and show you where you need to improve are worth far more than 500 rounds spent punching holes in paper bullseyes.

A really great place to start is the Quad-5 drill. This drill is both simple and fun, and serves as a basic approximation of defensive handgun skills. It’s also a great drill to use to determine if the handgun/caliber combination that you’ve chosen for personal defense works well for you.

Credit where credit is due: I first learned of the Quad-5 drill from The Old Fuff at The High Road. Not sure if he is the one who originated it or if it goes farther back than that.

The Drill

Set up a target (this author prefers a silhouette target) at 5 yards (15 feet). Starting at the low ready position, extend the handgun and fire 5 rounds as quickly as possible, with 5 seconds being the maximum allowed time. The goal of the drill is to get all 5 rounds placed not only on your target, but within 5 inches of each other. Because the parameters of the drill all involve the number 5, it’s called the Quad-5 drill.

The Value

This drill is a good test of both your ability to shoot under pressure (a time crunch), as well as how effectively you are able to employ the fundamentals of marksmanship (grip, trigger control, follow-through) when you are in a situation where you do not have the luxury of shooting slowly.

Keep in mind, no one drill is enough to qualify you as ready for a nasty social situation. But they are useful tools in our toolboxes.

IMHO: It’s just me, but I personally wouldn’t carry a handgun for defensive purposes if I couldn’t pass the Quad-5 drill with it.


The most helpful aspect of the Quad-5 drill is that it is a good way to gauge whether or not the equipment you have selected is a good fit for you. Don’t think about the drill as pass/fail – think about it as a way to diagnose the things you may need to work on.

  • Longer than 5 Seconds – If you took longer than 5 seconds, but your shots are hitting within the allowed 5-inch space, then it’s time to pick up the pace. Try to gradually decrease the time between each shot. And remember – slow hits are better than fast misses.
  • Some other things that can contribute to slower shots: If your handgun has more recoil than you can realistically handle, it can make fast follow-up shots difficult. Also, if a gun’s sights are small or difficult to see, it may make it impossible to reacquired them quickly.
  • Wider than 5 Inches – If your shots are going wide, it’s usually a good indication that you’re shooting too fast. Again, slow hits are better than fast misses. Two other likely culprits are poor trigger control and a flinch. The former can be corrected by lots and lots of dry-firing. If you’ve got the latter, you need to step down to something with less recoil for a little while.
Quad-5 Drill

The author's personal best with the S&W M642 - Average time for shot strings was 4.3 seconds. Load used was BB's Heavy 158gr. LHP +P.