Drill of the Week: Triple Nickel

3-Aug-08 – 03:00 by ToddG

This drill comes to us from a friend at a major federal law enforcement agency.

For the drill, you will need five FBI “Q” targets, such as the one pictured at left. The “Q” target (and countless variants) are available at many online target supplies such as The Target Shop. You can use a different style of target if necessary, but the time standard is based on using this specific target. If you use something else, just be aware that your goal will need to change accordingly.

Set the five targets up in a straight line from left to right, at least one yard between each target.

Range is five yards.

Using a shot timer, draw from concealment on the buzzer and fire two rounds on each target. You must perform a reload at some point between the first target and the last. You can reload whenever you want (between any two targets) as long as it happens between the first shot and the last, and you can use any type of reload (slidelock, speed, retention) you wish.

The agency scores any shot fully within the bottle as a hit. Shots on the line that extend past the border of the bottle are counted as misses.

Personnel in the agency who can consistently shoot this drill with no misses in under five seconds are given a special challenge coin as a reward. At last count, less than 1% of them had earned the coin.

If five seconds seems daunting (and it should!), just give the drill a try and see how well you do. Then next time at the range see if you can beat your previous best time. Let us know how you do!

Training with firearms is an inherently dangerous activity. Be sure to follow all safety protocols when using firearms or practicing these drills. These drills are provided for information purposes only. Use at your own risk.

  1. 17 Responses to “Drill of the Week: Triple Nickel”

  2. Perhaps I’m simply very ignorant, but what is the point of the reload in this drill?

    By Orwell on Aug 3, 2008

  3. As with most drills that require a reload, it’s just there to test, measure, and/or practice a reload. It also keeps the standard capacity-neutral for an agency that issues both a 12+1 and an 8+1 pistol.

    By ToddG on Aug 3, 2008

  4. and it forces you to become proficient in reloads.

    By rob on Aug 3, 2008

  5. I have considered the responses to my question and while I understand the replies, I don’t really understand why one would want to do this in a drill. If I have a pistol with 15 rounds (and I do), what tactical – fighting reason is there to change magazines in the middle of shooting 10 rounds? To equalize guns? For practice? That makes it a game. If it’s a game, OK I get it, but I don’t want to play it.

    By Orwell on Aug 6, 2008

  6. Dir Sir,

    I am coin holder number 7 and I agree with you to a point. No reason to stop in the middle of a gun fight and reload the gun. We do that when there is a lull in the fight or the slide locks back empty. However, when you get into a real gun fight with a Trip Nic coin holder and if we both go to slide lock and we are still fighting your lull in the fight may end up being much longer than ours because we have practiced, under stress (5 sec), at nausea, a smooth efficient reload of our firearm and a quick reacquisition of our targets. This is done all while drawing from concealment and placing very accurate shots on FIVE targets. Not one or two….five. Fast and accurate with efficient weapons handling. The time is the stress. The multiple accurate shots is the stress. The reload is the stress. Sounds like an outstanding test….course….motivation to train….what ever it is to the shooter. But you are right, it is not real life. Nothing will mimic real life. However this course along with the challenge coin that comes with the three successful verified attempts motivates guys to train and aspire to achieve. If nothing else, that is worth it. Train fast, train accurate, and train to be smooth and efficient. A game? No. Trust me when I tell you, I did not create this course of fire but I was there when it was and I trained hard to achieve the coin. The creator is a very accomplished, real world gunslinger. There are few that hold the coin and most that do are also very accomplished combat and/or competition shooters. One holds a world IPSC record and another is a retired SFOD-D SGM. So here is the challenge to you, don’t just read the blog and comment on it until you give it a try. It’s hard to do, train towards it and then achieve. It’s a great feeling. And a correction to the article ANYTHING touching the line counts as a miss. By the way, I love this web site. I just found it by googling the trip nic course of fire. I also have a picture of the front of the challenge coin if anyone is interested.

    By Great Bison on Aug 6, 2008

  7. Thank you for another perspective. And, yes, I’d like to see a picture of the coin. Congratulations for having won it.

    By Orwell on Aug 7, 2008

  8. I would like to submit a picture of the trip nic coin, but I can’t figure out how to email anyone on here? Is there an administrator e-mail available some where?

    By Great Bison on Aug 7, 2008

  9. To all who question the reasoning behind the triple nickel:
    As my esteemed colleague #7 pointed out it exposes your weakest link. You maybe good on the draw and double tapping but your reloads are bad or vice versa. I have broken it down to this time line. You need approximately a 1.25 second draw no more than .25 second splits between shots, with a perfect 1 second reload then you have the “triple nickel”.
    If you are a serious shooter and not a keyboard commando this drill is as addictive as crack cocaine.


    By Coin Holder #15 on Aug 8, 2008

  10. Those that can “do,” usually remain silent. Those that cannot, usually talk.

    P.S. Edge to edge target distance is 1.5 feet; per the 3N Facilitator Guide.

    By #3 on Aug 9, 2008

  11. Ok, go easy guys. We were just having a discussion on the merits of the reload. Everyone is entitled to there opinion. However, not everyone is entitled to the coin. I would like to have those that are interested in the course, shoot it and have fun doing it but learn and practice as well. Nothing more, nothing less.

    By Great Bison on Aug 9, 2008

  12. Folks — This is a test, not a practice drill. It isn’t meant to simulate a real fight, it’s meant to test certain specific skills as quickly and efficiently as possible. In this case, it’s the draw, reload, target acquisition, and splits. The agency that uses this test is well known throughout the Federal government for having some of the best combat/force-on-force training available. I’ve been able to watch some of that training and there is no question these agents are being prepared to fight under very hostile conditions, not just to shoot fancy. Shooting is part of fighting with a gun, but fighting is not just shooting.

    By ToddG on Aug 12, 2008

  13. Not unlike any drill, it’s a drill to evaluate one’s efficiency in motion. The ability to react to visual/audible stimulus (like in a fight), quickly draw and place the front sight on the point of aim in an efficient manner with a round firing as soon as practical (to save ones’ life). Then smooth target transition and efficient trigger manipulation (a primary fundamental)combined with an all important reload; of which everyone nay-says until they have to do one under stress! 5 seconds is not a scientific time frame; however puts the emphasis on efficiency, confidence in abilities, and the course definitely separates those who have it, and those who don’t.
    By the way; additional setup instruction-the targets should be standard height, and a minimum of 18 inches apart.
    Remember to have tissues on hand…..

    Gunslinger #1

    By Gunslinger on Aug 16, 2008

  14. Very nice number one.

    By Great Bison on Aug 17, 2008

  15. This group of guys take their job very seriously. Know some of them and proud to have served with some of them.

    Orwell, no game here. This is a matter of pride and skill among men who are always looking to become better, faster, meaner and sharper. They do this to keep us all safer.

    Let’s just say they are mostly barrel-suckers and who take a lot of pride in doing work most think is glamorous. They know the reality and quietly carry on. Their saddest shooters are still among the best in federal law enforcement. All things being relative – these guys are relatively awesome and protect us all day long. May they all be safe!

    By Lurker on Aug 10, 2009

  16. I know some of the coin holders and have shot this COF more than a few times. My best was 5.43 and I’ve only been shooting competitively for a little over a year now. This COF has a way of humbling you very quickly. Being able to shoot it consistently should be a goal for any LEO, CCW holder or competitive handgunner. As #15 said, it is addicting. I’m currently in the last stages of the application process for this agency and if I get selected will be working hard to become a coin holder

    By Hopeful #58 on Sep 4, 2009

  17. Well, I finally gave this drill a try. We set it up during last week’s AFHF in North Carolina. It was interesting doing a demo for the class on a drill I’ve never actually shot before!

    We used IDPA targets (counted the -0 and -1 zones in the body ONLY as hits). The targets were canted either 15 degrees right or left more or less at random due to the target stands being a little too wide.

    I started the drill with 8 rounds in the gun so I’d have to do a slidelock reload (and so I wouldn’t forget the reload :cool:).

    I only shot it once. Scored a 4.66, clean, from underneath an untucked polo shirt. While I’m confident I could shave a little off that time once I got used to shooting the drill regularly, the fact is that there isn’t much to “game” … Your draw is your draw, your reload is your reload, and given the generous target size at short range, you’re either controlling the pistol’s recoil well enough to break fast splits or you’re not.

    By ToddG on Sep 30, 2009

  18. I did not know of the Triple Nickel until I saw Todd do it at the NC class. Then we all took a turn and it was not easy, especially with an audience. I managed a 5.6 or 5.8 (can’t remember) with one shot out of the -0 circle. Todd said that if I had remembered that a reload was coming, I could have done much better!

    By BreakingThrough on Oct 1, 2009

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