The Triple Nickel Shooting Drill

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To shoot as if your life depended on it, you need to sweat a lot in practice. Every time you go to a safe range and practice set drills for this, you increase your chances of walking away alive if you ever do get in an encounter. Perhaps the hardest shooting drill around for a combat handgunner is the Triple Nickel.

What is it?

Designed by the US Department of Homeland Security's National Firearms and Tactical Training Unit (NFTTU), the Triple Nickel is formatted as a skills assessment drill for combat handgun proficiency for agents in the field. In it, you have to have a duty handgun with two magazines, ten rounds of ammunition, your duty or carry holster, five targets, and stands.

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On a safe range set up the targets five yards from your line of fire, get your eye and ear pro and load your magazines. For the drill you need to pull from concealment so be sure you have an over shirt, vest, or jacket.

The course puts two rounds into each of the five targets. BUT there are a few catches:

  • They must be in the five ring. The course used the then- standard DHS-ICE Tran Star-II or FBI QIT targets, but in practice, most modern target silhouettes will work. ICE now uses the 'Ronald Regan' looking ICE-QT targets. Anyway, all ten shots have to be in the five rings.
  • You have to perform a magazine exchange sometime after the first target and before the last.
  • You have to accomplish it in *under* five seconds flat.

That's ten shots into the bowling pin of five targets, in five seconds, from five yards, from concealment, with a magazine exchange. That's the Triple Nick!



The drill as done by Bedrock. My best times are...um...slightly longer...

How to master it

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(The coin....)

As famous Finnish sniper Simo Hayha once said when asked how he took out 700 Soviet soldiers in 100 days during the Winter War, 'Practice.' The worst thing to work on first is your speed. Just like anything that involves muscle memory and midbrain activity, start off slow and work on it a few hundred times to get smooth. Dry fire it until your finger aches and you have worn a groove in your targets just from your steely glare before you ever fire your first shot. This will help you orient your spare magazine and have it ready to index properly into the magazine well.

When you get to the point that you can pull, press out, align on your targets 1 through 5 clicking off your ten trigger squeezes with your magazine exchange pulled off in less than five seconds, then start trying it with a loaded gun. Keep safe and remember to have that finger out of the trigger well until clear of the holster and ready to fire.

If you can do it, are military or law enforcement, and can shoot it three times in front of Triple Nickel coin holders, you can get a coin of your own. The drill is so hard that only about 90 coins have ever been given.

Why is it useful

This drill has a lot of good stuff to it. It helps train to rapidly engage targets at bad breath distances. In 2011, the NYPD, the largest police force in the country, reported that 53% of their officer-involved shootings took place at ranges of less than 6 yards. This is where fast and accurate point shooting comes in.

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While referencing sights and being able to hit targets out to 15 and 25 yards with a handgun is required, the ability to come out of the holster and get these close in hits, on multiple targets, possibly even needing to reload under stress, it priceless. Therefore, whether you can get the coin or not, this is a drill to add to your personal toolbox.

See you on the range. I'll be the guy frustrated in front of five targets.

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