There’s a discussion over at M4Carbine.net about the F.A.S.T. drill and it seemed like a good idea to address a few points.
The first is the use of the F.A.S.T. as a practice drill as opposed to a test. Personally, I think the F.A.S.T. is a lousy drill to practice. It has too many disparate skills (low% draw, reload, high% splits) to get serious focus on any one thing enough to improve it efficiently. For example, if the thing keeping you from getting the score you want is missed head shots, practice drawing to a low% target more often. Don’t waste time and ammo by going through the rest of the F.A.S.T. over and over again. If you’ve got 100 rounds you could either do fifty 2-shot draws or sixteen F.A.S.T.s … which one is going to help you get better at the low% draw?
Second is the common comment about the order in which the targets are engaged. Some people really dislike the idea of shooting the “head” before shooting the “body.” If it bothers you, turn the target upside down. The test isn’t about hitting the head before the body. The test measures your ability to draw to a low% shot (particularly if you have a double action first shot, which is what I was carrying when I developed the F.A.S.T. in 2003), make a followup on that low% shot which requires more discipline and control than a blind split on a big wide open target, then perform a slidelock reload, then fire a string of full speed shots at a high% target which, among other things, checks to see if you reacquired your grip properly after the reload. It’s not a “head” and a “body,” it’s a low% target and a high% target. (though the fact that most people, myself included, do refer to them as head & body might justify the criticism, in all fairness)
The F.A.S.T. was developed to be a very quick, simple way to evaluate a shooter’s fundamentals. It only takes six shots, about ten seconds, and gives me as an instructor a chance to see a student’s draw, grip, visual control, trigger manipulation, reload, and recoil management. It also lets me monitor their ability to draw, handle, and reholster the gun safely. Obviously I’m biased, but I think it does a good job at evaluating those things. There are a ton of other skills it doesn’t even address — one handed shooting, stoppage clearances, low-light, etc. — and it’s never been intended as the sole arbiter of someone’s shooting ability, fighting ability, credit score, or high school popularity.
So if you want a better F.A.S.T. score, don’t shoot the F.A.S.T. over and over again. Work on the skills that make up the test. And if you don’t like the F.A.S.T., don’t shoot it. I promise not to take it personally.
Train hard & stay safe! ToddG