The 9-In-9 Skill Drill | Skills and Drills [2023]

9-In-9 Skill Drill Featured Image

Since moving to Utah in 2022, I’ve been able to shoot more frequently, and with more freedoms. With this, I’ve been able to experiment with new shooting drills. One that I’ve been enjoying lately is Dave Spaulding’s 9-In-9 Skill Drill.

What is the 9-In-9 Skill Drill?

I first learned about this drill from Ken Hackathorn via Wilson Combat’s YouTube channel, but the 9-In-9 is a Dave Spaulding creation. It’s a simple drill, but it packs in some great reps for building skill.

Our target for this drill is the simple 3″x5″ index card. With Hackathorn’s method, we attach the index card to a larger target, such as an 8″ circle. Once we have the index card posted, we mark two shooting positions, each one 5 yards away from the target, and 5 yards away from each other. Essentially, we’re making an equilateral triangle, with the points being the target, shooting position 1, and shooting position two.

The 9-In-9 is a 9 round drill. We begin the drill with the gun loaded to at least 9 rounds, and with it holstered. On timer beep, we draw our pistol, and fire 3 rounds into the index card. Once 3 rounds are fired, we move to position 2, and fire 3 more rounds. Once the second string has been fired, we return to position 1, and fire 3 more rounds.

Par time is 9 seconds, but Ken uses the “old guy” par of 12 seconds. Any shots on the index cards are clean, and anything off the index card, but in the 8″ circle add 1 second to your time. Shots off the 8″ would add 3 seconds, but I would just call that a failure at that point, as an 8″ circle is massive at 5 yards.

This drill should be shot cold, or relatively cold. It isn’t about running it until it is perfect, it’s about being able to perform on demand.

Here’s a recent 9-In-9 I shot in December of 2022:

What’s the TL;DR for the drill?

The Quick Rundown


It’s a simple drill, but a quick-read template would be helpful for pulling up at the range.

  • Target: 3″x5″ index card, and 8″ circle
  • Distance: 5 yards
  • Movement: lateral movement of 5 yards, then 5 additional yards
  • Round Count & Strings of fire: 9 rounds total. 3 strings of fire, 3 rounds each
  • Par Time: 9 Seconds
  • Course of Fire: Shooter begins with firearm holstered. On beep, shooter draws pistol, and fires 3 rounds into index card. Shooter then moves 5 yards to second shooting position, and fires 3 rounds. Shooter then returns to the starting position, and fires 3 more rounds.

What makes the 9-In-9 a good drill?

What Skills Does the 9-In-9 Stress?

The 9-In-9 is a simple drill, but it stresses the following skills:

  • A good drawstroke & presentation
  • Accurate shooting, with a tight accuracy standard
  • Movement, and shooting after moving
  • Putting the shooter under a realistic time constraint

The 9-In-9 works the above skills quite well, and with a low round count. Not many drills can hit the aforementioned skills in 9 rounds, but this one can.

Perfecting the drawstroke, and having a proper presentation takes a lot of time, and repetitions. Getting a rep in here is very much excellent.

Of course, we’ve got to be accurate with our shooting. With our target being a 3″x5″ index card, our room for error is pretty tight. Taking the time to hit is important, but then we’ve got to rush when we move.

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Integrating movement, even just 10 yards of running, is great. This drill tells you to get off of the point, and haul ass to the next shooting position.

The par time is tight, but that just reinforces the need to move quickly.

What I Like About the 9-In-9 Skill Drill

I love low round count drills. Since COVID hit back in 2020, ammo has been extremely expensive, so I’ve come to appreciate the lower round count drills. The 9-In-9 allows us to work on a bunch of important skills, but with a lower round count. On top of integrating in a draw and tight shooting, it also adds in movement. Not a ton of drills have movement, and I appreciate that this drill does, but still asks the shooter to be very accurate. In my opinion, too many drills get loose with the accuracy standard when they integrate in movement, so I like that this one does not.

Overall, I think that the 9-In-9 Skill Drill is a great one to integrate into your repertoire. I shoot it in nearly every range session, and it is well worth the 9 rounds of ammo.

Other Shooting Drills & Additional Info

Check out our other shooting drills  >>>here<<<.

For specific drills that I enjoy, check out “The Test” and the “FAST“. These two drills are also fairly low round count, but work your skills quite well.

Here’s another 9-In-9 that I shot:

Thanks to Rylee for taking the photos of me that were used in this article. It’s been exhilarating to see you improve and grow as a shooter. 


About Paul Whaley 198 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a Resident Evil game or listening to Warren Zevon.

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