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Thread: "Standard" Pistol Training/Testing Distances: Origins?

  1. #21
    Site Supporter That Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Rangemaster View Post
    As for the “Prez”, Cooper specified 10 yards, with a yard edge to edge between targets. It was initially a graduation “exercise” for Central American security personnel.
    I believe that is incorrect. As you say, the El Presidente was a drill developed outside the USA - so why would yards be the chosen unit of measurement?

    I also recall reading, but unfortunately cannot cite a source (stupid real life and it's stupid lack of a search function...), that the distance between targets was originally three meters. Which, if you try it, changes the drill quite a lot. I'll try to look through the books I have that are written by Cooper if I can remember and find the time later, hopefully I can find where I read this.

    As it turns out, we have discussed this drill before: Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks the original drill was at 10 meters with the targets 3 meters apart.

  2. #22
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    Madison, Wisconsin
    Dennis Tueller's influential article "How Close is Too Close" was published in SWAT Magazine in March of 1983.

    The FBI began their formal training program in the 1930s and the Police Pistol Combat (or Practical Pistol Course) was based on what the FBI was doing.

    The FBI runs a training course for police managers (usually lieutenants and above) called the FBI National Academy that has been fairly influential over the years in exposing people from outside the Bureau to the FBI way of doing things. Local offices of the FBI used to be heavily involved in training other agencies, and I went to a FBI taught firearms instructor class locally in 1987 (still revolver based at that time) and FBI taught SWAT classes in 1983 and 1994.

    Most police handgun qualification courses to this day are structured in a way similar to the PPC although the 50 and 60 yard stages of the original course have often been eliminated and replaced with strings of fire at 3 yards.

  3. #23
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    Madison, Wisconsin
    Jeff Cooper wrote about the "El Presidente" Drill in the January/February 1979 issue of American Handgunner Magazine. I think the drill is ten or more years older than that.

    There are many variations of the drill. I think the original had the targets at ten meters with three meters between targets. The more common variation (as used as a USPSA classifier and as a string of fire in the IDPA classifier match) has the targets at ten yards with one yard between targets.

    An excellent historical resource is Cooper on Handguns, particularly the 1974 edition with the red cover (which is longer) although the 1979 edition (with the black cover) is of interest too. I'm surprised nobody has reprinted the original.

    If you look on eBay and are patient, you can pick up a fairly clean copy of the 1974 edition of Cooper on Handguns for about $50.
    Last edited by Jeff22; 05-14-2019 at 12:32 AM.

  4. #24
    I am away from my library, so the gentlemen here are correct, as my memory is not quite what it used to be. I reverted to the USPSA cof. So with meters instead of yards, and with targets separated by 3 meters, it becomes a bit more challenging.
    I have a copy of that softcover Cooper book, and it’s a gem. One of the other stages is the “Mexican Defense”, if I recall the politically incorrect name, and it’s interesting for its movement, etc. I appreciate the correction as I took a brief walk down memory lane.
    Mr. Givens pretty much has the definitive answer to the 7 yard history; cemented in history at Quantico.

  5. #25
    We're all mad here. Clark Jackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Givens View Post
    I have done a lot of research into this over the years, and I stand by the assertion that 7 yards was selected, first by the FBI then widely copied, as a simulation of the width of a large room. I was on the road the last few days, but now I’m back in my personal reference library.

    I have the US War Department’s 1913 issue (hard cover book) “Small Arms Firing Manual”. For the Mounted Pistol Course (Cavalry) the distances specified are 8-15 yards, 10 yards, and 5-15 yards. For the Infantry and Field Artillery troops, the specified distances for training and qualification are 15,25, 50 and 75 yards. For the Organized Militia (forerunner of the National Guard) the specified distances were 15,25 and 50 yards. So, the 7 yard line did not originate with the military.

    In J. Henry Fitzgerald’s 1930 book, he recommends the New York State Police Pistol Qualification Course, “which has been in use for several years”. The specified distances are 10 feet, 12 yards, and 25 yards.

    I have photos of the original FBI pistol ranges at Quantico. (The original ranges were replaced a few years ago.) The firing lanes are concrete, to avoid the mud so common at Quantico. The paved firing lines are at 7, 15 and 25 yards.

    In his 1960 book, Combat Shooting for Police, Inspector Paul Weston, NYCPD, has this to say:
    “Hip shooting is meant for what might be termed ‘room sized’ situations. It is effective within the confines of a small store, a narrow hallway, any room, or when what appears to be a harmless traffic violator piles out of his car and starts a gun moving in the direction of the approaching policeman."

    In determining the distance at which directed fire from the hip should be practiced, the Federal Bureau of Investigation settled upon seven (7) yards for this phase of their fine Practical Pistol Course. That’s twenty-one feet. Pace off any room, store, or hallway, and learn just how far- or rather how close- seven yards seems to be.”

    In the book, An Introduction to Modern Police Firearms, by Roberts and Bristow, published in 1969, mention is made that the FBI’s PPC changed from its original 60 round version to a 50 round version in 1949. The course description lists the first stage as being fired at 7 yards.

    So, photographic record and numerous sources cite the FBI as the origin of the 7 yard distance, way back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, fifty years before Tueller’s work. I think Weston’s explanation of “room range” is probably pretty much it.
    Boom! You're the man, @Tom Givens. This is why I'm on Thank you.
    Last edited by Clark Jackson; 05-14-2019 at 09:30 PM.
    "The first quality that is needed is audacity." -Winston Churchill

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Jackson View Post
    Boom! You're the man, @Tom Givens. This is why I'm on Thank you.
    I second this thought, and these thanks to @Tom Givens.

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