Dicken Drill: Proving Long Range Matters

The tale of Elisjsha Dicken stopping the Greenwood Mall active killer is set to go down as the kind of lore where men are ten feet tall and bulletproof. As for the killer, he was a 20-year-old with what appears to have been a deeply troubled past. In the aftermath of what was a stellar example of successful defensive gun use, a new drill has been making its way around, and we’re here to make it official.

The FBI responding to the Greenwood Mall active killer situation.
The FBI responding to the Greenwood Mall active killer situation. (Photo credit: IndyStar)

What happened at Greenwood Mall?

At approximately 4:55 PM local time, the would-be active killer went to the Greenwood Mall in Greenwood, Indiana, intending to carry out a massacre. The 20-year-old man was seen on camera taking a straight path to a restroom, where he remained for just over one hour. Theories abound regarding why he spent so much time in the restroom with the logical conclusion being that he was mentally preparing himself for the killing rampage he’d planned.

The active killer had armed himself with a Sig Sauer M400, a Smith and Wesson M&P 15, and a Glock 33. Authorities later reported he had around 100 rounds of spare ammunition on him for those guns as well. It was 5:56:48 PM when he left the restroom, intent on murdering people. The seconds in that time stamp, which were noted by law enforcement when viewing the video, are important.

A law enforcement officer talks to media in the aftermath of the Greenwood Mall incident
A law enforcement officer talks to the media in the aftermath of the Greenwood Mall incident. (Photo credit: WTHR.com)

5:56:48 PM: Armed active killer exits restroom at Greenwood Mall and begins shooting.

5:57:03 PM: Eli Dicken, who spotted the killer, drew his concealed handgun—reported to be a Glock—and fired 10 shots, ending the threat.

Time elapsed: 15 seconds.

Tragically, in those 15 seconds, the killer murdered three people and injured others. Among the dead were 56-year-old Pedro Pineda and his 37-year-old wife Rosa, and 30-year-old Victor Gomez. There were also people wounded, including a 22-year-old woman who was shot in the leg and a 12-year-old girl who was struck in the back by a bullet fragment.

Despite the loss of life that did take place, this attempted mass murder turned into an extraordinary example of defensive gun use done right.

photoshop rendering of Eli Dicken's point of view and distance to the active killer at Greenwood Mall
A gun guy on Facebook created this image to give an approximate idea of what 40 yards looks like. That red “X” signifies where the killer was in relation to Dicken, distance-wise. (Photo credit: Facebook, anonymous)

Who is Eli Dicken?

This understandably spurred a lot of interest in Eli Dicken. So, who is Eli Dicken? He’s a 22-year-old from Seymour, Indiana, who happened to be not only in the right place at the right time—or the wrong time, depending on how you look at it—but armed, capable, and willing.

Eli Dicken
Eli Dicken, pictured, is the 22-year-old man who successfully stopped an active killer in Greenwood, Indiana. (Photo credit: WRTV)

A lot of speculation and rumors circulated before the agreed-upon facts were solidified by law enforcement. The result was the statement that Dicken had spotted the killer from around 50 yards and closed the distance to 40 yards, where he drew his Glock and fired ten shots. He seems to have braced against a column, and reports state that he directed people to exit behind him as he advanced and fired. According to the medical examiner, eight of those ten shots struck the killer, and the two that did not hit him didn’t strike any innocent bystanders.

Eli Dicken's lifetime carry permit
Eli Dicken’s lifetime carry permit was issued in 2021. (Photo credit: Guy Relford, attorney at law)

Was Eli Dicken’s handgun legal? Was he legally carrying?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mainstream media and social media commentators immediately launched into various diatribes about the legalities of Dicken having a gun. Their claims ranged from saying he was carrying illegally to saying he was just another guy with a gun and therefore compounded the issue rather than helping it. Sadly, many people said his having a gun just proved the country has a gun problem. The fact that Dicken saved countless lives was largely ignored by those people.

Here’s an excerpt from the Greenwood Mall’s website regarding their apparently wished-for code of conduct:

While visiting this mall, the following general activities will not be accepted:

  • Violations of the law
  • Any activity that threatens the safety of our guests, tenants and/or employees
  • Any activity that threatens the well-being of the property
  • Any activity that disrupts our pleasant, family-oriented shopping environment
  • Any activity inconsistent with the general purpose of the property, which is shopping, dining, visiting theaters or offices for business purposes
  • Any activity that would disrupt the legitimate business of the property and its tenants

Examples of specific activities that are prohibited include but are not limited to:

  • Disruptive profanity, vulgar or threatening language
  • Unnecessarily blocking walkways, roadways or storefronts
  • Running, horseplay or disorderly conduct of any nature
  • Excessive loitering
  • Operating unauthorized recreational and/or personal transportation devices in the shopping center
  • No firearms or illegal weapons

Worth a mention is also the fact that the Greenwood Mall did issue a statement in the aftermath of the shooting that said:

We grieve for the victims of yesterday’s horrific tragedy in Greenwood. Violence has no place in this or any other community. We are grateful for the strong response of the first responders, including the heroic actions of the Good Samaritan who stopped the suspect.

GREENWOOD PARK MALL REPRESENTATIVE

It is unknown whether or not the Greenwood Mall actually had the appropriate signage posted prohibiting firearms carry. Some digging suggests the mall did not and does not have such signage. As a matter of fact, a lot of places that say they’d prefer people didn’t carry guns don’t have it posted in a legally binding or prohibitive manner. Was it against their “code of conduct” to have a firearm? Yes. Did that make it illegal for Dicken to have his gun there? Generally speaking, no, not really.

Indiana governor Eric Holcomb permitless carry quote
The news in Indiana when the governor signed permitless carry. (Photo credit: Fox 59)

In 2021, Indiana passed a law allowing permitless carry. The law went into effect July 1, 2022, meaning a concealed carry permit was not required to carry a firearm anymore in the state of Indiana for almost two weeks before the active killer scenario at the mall. Because of that law, Dicken wasn’t legally required to have a permit to carry his lawfully owned gun. However, he did.

Attorney Guy Relford, who represents Dicken, released an image of the man’s concealed carry permit. On August 4, 2021, Dicken obtained a lifetime carry permit from the state. That means he really had his bases covered for carrying a gun for defensive purposes.

Bottom line: Dicken was legally carrying his Glock under both permitless carry and the weeks-prior expired requirement for having a concealed carry permit. He is not a restricted citizen and was lawfully in possession of the firearm.

What’s the Dicken Drill?

The Dicken Drill is the answer to years of hearing that long-range handgun work doesn’t matter. There are certainly those of us in the gun community who feel it is smart to spend time firing at a wide range of distances, including longer distances, with handguns. And when we say “longer distances,” we do mean 50 yards, 75 yards, 100 yards. How will you ever know what your gun—and you—can and cannot do without trying? And how do you ever intend to be ready to defend yourself if you can only function at close range?

Set-Up for the Dicken Drill

Dicken Drill Targets, IPSC and B27
The IPSC target (left), pictured here from Birchwood Casey, is a good option for the Dicken Drill. (Photo: Birchwood Casey) A B27 target (right), made by Birchwood Casey. The scoring rings are slightly differently placed than on an IPSC target, but this is another option for the Dicken Drill. (Photo: Birchwood Casey)
  • Hang an IPSC or B27 target down-range, at least 50 yards out.
  • Avoid using a target delineated by bright colors, but stick with flat, even colors.
  • For added realism, hang targets from a moving target wire or mount to an electronic, wheeled stand.
  • Doing the drill in shoot house, rather than outdoors, is encouraged for realism
  • Shooter’s gun must be holstered and concealed, not carried openly.
  • Use of shoot/no-shoot targets encouraged for added realism of bystanders.
  • Object that can be braced against while standing, meaning it must be tall enough, located at the 40 yard line.
Glock 19
Word is Eli Dicken had a Glock, but we don’t yet know which model. The G19 is a possibility. (Photo credit: Boresight Solutions)

The Dicken Drill

  • The drill must be shot cold
  • Shooter at the firing line, 50 yards from the target, gun holstered and concealed
  • 30 seconds of jumping jacks
  • At the beep, the shooter advances to the 40-yard line, drawing and bracing against the object staged at that line. The shooter remains standing while bracing.
  • Must advance from 50 yards to 40 yards and fire first shot within 10 seconds
  • Fire ten shots from 40 yards, center mass
  • All shots must be fired within 15 seconds once the firing string begins
  • Shots must fall within the 8 ring of a B27 or the C zone of an IPSC target to count. Shots bisecting lines for those zones count as hits.
  • 80% hit rate to pass, 100% success rate for a perfect score risking zero innocent bystanders. Scoring such as: 8 hits, 2 bystanders risked or 9 hits, 1 bystander risked.

Doing the Dicken Drill in a shoot house using UTMs, airsoft, or other training rounds is a great idea to create an active killer scenario that requires quick thinking and boosts adrenaline more effectively. In those scenarios, the shooter would face an armed opponent. If their opponent scores a hit on them before they strike the “active killer,” they fail. If their opponent scores hits on actors posing as innocent bystanders, penalties can be applied.

A press release for law enforcement stating the correct timeline for Eli Dicken stopping the active killer at the Greenwood Mall.
A press release for law enforcement stating the correct timeline for Eli Dicken stopping the active killer at the Greenwood Mall. (Photo credit: Facebook)

Is the Dicken Drill realistic?

There’s no such thing as a 100% realistic drill because real life is unpredictable. Then there’s the fact you cannot predict your reaction to a situation until it happens, and there is a significant difference between real-life attacks and training scenarios. Sure, your adrenaline spikes in training, but not like when your life is truly at risk.

That doesn’t negate the value of long-range training or of the Dicken Drill itself. It would be nice if this settled, once and for all, the idea that gunfights take place at close range. You cannot choose or control how a fight for your life will take place. The bad guys do that, and all you can do is react in self-defense. Spend time training in more ways than the easiest, most limited methods.

And by all means, do the Dicken Drill. Post your results in the comments section.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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