Pistol Shooting Drills: The Dickens Drill

Eli Dickens, namesake of the Dicken Drill.
January 23, 2023  
Categories: Learnin'

The Dickens Drill (actually Dicken) is one of the newer pistol shooting drills. It is based on a recent active shooter situation in which a bystander neutralized a threat through an outstanding display of shooting skills under pressure.

On July 17, 2022, at 4:54 p.m., an active shooter entered Greenwood Mall in Indiana and moved immediately to the bathroom. A little over an hour later, at 5:56 p.m., the then-unknown man left the bathroom and opened fire, murdering three people. Another young man who was lawfully carrying a firearm under Indiana’s brand-new permitless carry law, Elisjsha Dicken, was also at the mall with his girlfriend, Shay Golden. Dicken was approximately 50 yards away when he saw the killer emerge from the bathroom. According to police reports, Eli engaged the active shooter by closing in and firing 10 rounds from forty yards away.

Impressive Under Pressure

Dicken successfully stopped the threat, handling the situation very well, waving people behind him and moving strategically to close in on the killer. As soon as he recognized the threat, he told Shay to “get down and stay down.” Not to mention, Shay, a nursing student, took action as well, giving an injured woman a tourniquet made out of her jacket.

A good guy with a gun saving lives started debates in the mainstream media, where they immediately began trying to claim he wasn’t legally carrying his gun. For most people, Dicken’s heroism was already enough. However, one more crucial detail made it even more impressive. After it was originally released that it took Dicken two minutes to stop the active shooter, it was made clear later that it took only fifteen seconds.

Media release from Chief James Ison of Greenwood.

Greenwood released a statement that they misspoke. It turned out that Eli stopped the active killer in fifteen seconds. [Photo Credit: Facebook]

Not only is Dicken a hero, but he’s a hero with some impressive accuracy under stress. Even those who are experienced would have trouble hitting a moving, unpredictable target with eighty percent accuracy from 40 yards under that kind of stress. Not a lot of shooters even bother with long-range handgun work. This feat sparked a new trend in the gun world — the Dicken Drill.

Eli Dickens pictured, leaning casually and dressed in a button-up shirt.

Eli Dicken, age 22, with a concealed skill as a great shot. [Photo Credit: unknown, provided by Guy Relford]

Pistol Shooting Drills: The Dicken Drill

In the Dicken Drill, you set up a man-sized target such as the B27, and start at 50 yards. When the beeper goes off, you draw and move to 40 yards, firing 10 rounds in 15 seconds. However, it’s not just about hitting the paper. You have to hit a good scoring zone. For a B27 target, this is within the nine ring or better. If you make eight out of the 10 shots in a good scoring zone, you pass. According to autopsy reports, Eli hit the killer with eight of his 10 fired shots.

Note: there are some who have mocked the “Eli Drill”, not because of what it demonstrates, but because it’s something they can feel superior about. “Anyone serious about this would have been training this way all time,” I’ve read, mostly on social media. That’s an ignorant statement on several levels. First, even if this is no more than a reminder, why wouldn’t you folks welcome it? Second, if it never occurred to them before, wouldn’t the sudden interest be a Good Thing? Third, why be a dick? Here someone does something good, and other shooters want to emulate him, and you guys want to mock them for it because they’re not as informed, proficient, or forward-thinking. C’mon. Asshole.Editor 

Step by Step:

  • B27 or IPSC target set 50 yards from the firing line.
  • 30 seconds of jumping jacks (gun holstered).
  • At the beep, draw and move to 40 yards; prepare to “go to guns”.
  • 15 second string of fire: 10 shots in 15 seconds (penalty for going over time).
  • 80% minimum to pass, meaning eight of 10 shots in the 9 ring or better. 
  • May shoot supported against an upright object, but must remain standing.
  • Must shoot the drill cold.
  • Must draw from concealment.
  • Use moving target for added realism.
  • Set up with shoot/no-shoot targets to simulate innocent bystanders, none of which can be shot.
  • Do the drill in a shoot house with simunitions/UTMs/airsoft to face another shooter rather than a paper target. If the “attacker” scores a hit, you fail.

A B27 target pictured showing the 9-ring which is the goal of the Dicken Drill.

If you want to consider your shot accurate to the Dickend Drill, you better make it within the nine ring. [Photo Credit: Qualification Targets]

This drill might be compared to other pistol shooting drills, including the Mozambique Drill. In this drill, the shooter draws from the holster at five yards, shoots the chest twice, and then the head once without a pause. The par time should be three seconds. The intention is to make a controlled transition from a hammer pairs center mass to a single headshot.

Training vs. Real Life

Even though the Dicken Drill is a hard feat and impressive to pass, it’s also important to remember other factors during these scenarios. Shooting straight out at 40 yards doesn’t account for everything else Eli had to go through. Training can never truly replicate an actual active shooter or self-defense scenario. Between managing adrenaline, fear, bystanders, an unpredictable threat, and a potentially unfamiliar environment, it’s simply impossible to recreate.

Mister Revolver attempts the Dicken Drill on the range.

Mister Revolver on YouTube giving the Dicken Drill a try. [Photo Credit: Mister Revolver]

How could you improve this drill? Add adrenaline. Try including 30 seconds of jumping jacks or wind sprints. Do your jumping jacks on the firing line, and then immediately begin moving and draw at the beep. Although Eli was standing, there is speculation that he may have leaned on a column or moved as he shot. Try different positions such as supported shooting against a makeshift column or another object as he may have done. This drill would be even better with a moving target if you have access to one. That’s also a good way to work on speed, accuracy, and (if you have someone calling out choices between alternative targets), target recognition. 

Either way, even with the additional effort to make a drill more realistic, there is no comparison possible to being in that scenario for real. It is pertinent that we understand how impressive his reaction was, and simplifying it to a basic drill doesn’t match up to what happened. We should also note that Eli doesn’t have a background in law enforcement or the military and has no known formal training. Instead, his grandfather, who also had no formal training, taught Dicken. Eli’s actions were heroic and impressive at that.

Have you tried the Dicken Drill? Do you utilize any other pistol shooting drills for out past 25 yards? If so, comment on them, or whatever your standards are. We like putting eyes on as many different sources of (good/practical) training information as possible.

Get banged on the regular, sign up for the newsletter!

Grace Ainsworth

Grace Ainsworth

About the Author

Grace is a freelancer of many talents: writer, artist, designer, and photographer. Maybe also smart-aleck and gunslinger, we're not entirely sure. We'll know better after she's been with us a while!


  1. J. H.

    Hey M Holland, I’m not disputing the information you posted I was just curious as to where you saw it. I would like to read up on it. Thanks

  2. Bemused Berserker

    Very good points. This is also one of those cases where a 3D target would be much more appropriate. The problem with a flat target is it does not simulate shooting obliquely or perpendicular very well.
    Your chance of making a shot in a situation like this, doesn’t mean they’ll always be facing you. You may find yourself shooting from an angle, or in profile. Too many drills do not emphasize that possible reality enough.

  3. M Holland

    We know that he did not fire all 10 rounds from 40 yards, so why not make the drill more representative of what actually happened. We know that he only fired 4 rounds from 40 yard, braced off of something for support, then moved to 20 yards and fired 4 more rounds from cover, then moved to about 7 yards and fired the final two rounds.

    I don’t want to take anything away from this young man, he stood up and delivered when he didn’t have to. But, at least make the drill realistic to what happened if you are going to name it after him.

Submit a Comment

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Popular Articles

PSA Uppers, Lowers, Optics and More! 4th of July.
Celebrate July. Buy more, save more. Up to 30% off. Forloh.
Lone Wolf DAWN. Parts for Sig Sauer P365 30% off.

Gun.deals: back Breach-Bang-Clear

Find what’s in stock, and where, and compare prices. 

⚠️ Some hyperlinks in this article may contain affiliate links. If you use them to make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. It’s just one way to Back the Bang. #backthebang 

Get Patched In

Wretched Minion Patch