The ‘Wizard Drill’ and the J Frame

Ken Hackathorn created a very simple skill evaluation drill that he calls the ‘Wizard Drill.’ It only requires five rounds of ammo and can be shot on any range that allows work from the holster

Take an IDPA or IPSC (USPSA) target and place a 4 inch circle centered in the head of the target. You will shoot 4 strings of fire at 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards. Each string of fire has a time limit of 2.5 seconds with 2.7 allowable because of the length of the buzzer’s beep. The drill is shot from a concealed holster. If you use a pocket holster, you may start with the gun in your pocket and your hand on the gun. Otherwise, hands normal at sides, not touching the gun until the buzzer.

Set your timer at 2.5 seconds. Shoot each string as follows:

  1. Shot at 3 yards. On the timer signal, draw and fire one head shot, Dominant hand only.
  2. Shot at 5 yards. On the timer signal, draw and fire one head shot with both hands.
  3. Shot at 7 yards. On the timer signal, draw and fire one head shot with both hands.
  4. Shot at 10 yards. On the timer signal, draw and fire two (2) body shots.

When you are done, you should have three head shots and two body hits. Missing the target for any shot is a fail. Hits in the 4 inch head circle or cutting the line are considered zero points down, outside the circle but inside the head perforation are down one point. Drop 2 points or less and meet the time limit for each string and you pass the test. More than 2 points dropped or exceeding the time limit on any string means you fail.

Wizard 3 edit 2

The times in the above picture were:

  • Hand in pocket – 1.47, 1.60, 1.67, 2.50
  • Concealed OWB hip holster – 1.73, 1.97, 2.06, 2.70
  • Hands at sides with gun in pocket – 2.45, 2.39, 2.82, 3.81 (No Go)

This is a challenging drill for most shooters, even using a service sized pistol. With a pocket pistol, it becomes very difficult. But it can be done with a J Frame. Although you may hear the term “arm’s length gun” applied to J Frames, that’s only true if you’re not competent with them. Another use of the drill is to see how different holsters can affect your time and accuracy.

When shooting this drill at indoor ranges where drawing from a holster is not permitted, you can shoot from Low Ready. However, the time limit goes down to two seconds in that case.

J Frames are no more nor less accurate within a range of 10 yards than any other handgun. The gun’s capability depends on the shooter’s ability to see the sights and press the trigger smoothly.

6 responses

  1. I often use a similar drill with a 9mm Springfield 4″ XD (3 drills per loaded 15 round magazine). I am convinced that it has helped me with firing from a drawstroke … and I consider it as challenging as this article describes for a revolver.

  2. Hello, Claude. I am a relatively new subscriber, and I am enjoying the content – especially the focus on dry fire practice.

    I have bought and sold 2 S&W 642 revolvers because it hurt to shoot after a couple of cylinders. It was mostly the kick, but also the checkered cylinder release was rubbing my thumb joint raw during the recoil. I was using a thumbs-down grip. Additionally, the sights were pretty crummy (steel ramp).

    I would like to make the J frame work because it is one of the easier options for carrying concealed (pocket carry) when in dress pants and a button-down shirt. What J frame do you recommend? Also, do you do any trigger work since the trigger is heavier than a standard semi-auto or do you keep it stock?

    1. For most people, the 642 is a good choice of J Frames. If the recoil continues to bother you, you can go to a steel frame like a 60, 640, or 649 but they’re noticeably heavier in a pocket.

      With respect to sights, see my article on Personal Defense Network called “Improving Your Snub’s Sights.”

      Something you might find makes it easier to shoot with is Nexcare Absolutely Waterproof tape. I keep a roll in my range bag for when I teach classes or give private lessons. At the first sign of an abrasion or hot spot on the hand, put a wrap of the tape around it. It helps.

      https://www.nexcare.com/3M/en_US/nexcare/products/catalog/~/Nexcare-Absolute-Waterproof-Tape/?N=4326+3294529207+3294631805&rt=rud

      1. Thanks, Claude!

  3. If the J-Frame kicks too much, look at your load choice. Forget +P and go lighter standard pressure load and bullets.

    You can even go with 148 grain target wadcutters for awhile.

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