This rifle drill is named in honor of Sergeant Major Ernest “Ernie” K Tabata.  Ernie was a role model, a war hero, and a pathfinder for the Special Forces Regiment.  You can read more about Ernie below.

The Tabata Rifle Drill is designed to push your target transitions.  This drill is best performed on our Rifle IQ Target.


The shooter stands at the 10-yard line, facing downrange, rifle at either 10 gun or low ready.  The shooter should have one round in the chamber with 5 rounds in the magazine loaded in the weapon.  The shooter should have a second magazine of 6+ rounds prepped for a reload.


At the buzzer the shooter will fire 1 round to the Yellow 1 Triangle, 1 round to the Blue 1 Square, 1 round to the Green 2 Circle, 1 round to the Blue 2 Triangle, 1 round to the Yellow B Triangle, 1 round to the Green A Circle.  The shooter then conducts a reload and fires 1 round to the Green A Circle, 1 round to the Yellow B Triangle, 1 round to the Blue 2 Triangle, 1 round to the Green 2 Circle, 1 round to the Blue 1 Square, 1 round to the Yellow 1 Triangle.

In other words, the shooter will fire 1 round to each of the shapes directly surrounding the center shape going counter-clockwise, then reload, then shoot all the same shapes going clockwise.  See target above for reference.


Your score is your total time.  Dock 1.5 seconds for each round that is missed.

Change it up:

You can change this drill by going closer or further away from the target.  In addition, try completing the drill by starting at the 15-yard line and moving to the 5-yard line while you shoot.

SGM Ernest K. Tabata

SGM Ernest K. Tabata

Sergeant Major Ernest “Ernie” Tabata will forever remain one of the most influential instructors I ever had.  I still remember him standing there, at the age of 69, in a real-tree body suite getting ready for a jump while I was going through the Special Forces Qualification Course.  He even made us do pushups when we didn’t calculate our time fuze properly except he would get down and do the pushups with us while wearing body armor.  Ernie was an instructor at the 18C, Special Forces Engineer Sergeant, MOS course, and remained on jump status into his 70s.  While there Ernie influenced hundreds, if not thousands, of future Green Berets.  He groomed young soldiers by leading from the front and teaching them the ways of the regiment.  Please take the time to read about this incredible Special Forces soldier.


Sergeant Major Ernest K. Tabata began his military career in June 1946 as a volunteer in the Hawaiian Territorial Guard. Two years later he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and completed the advanced combat engineer school at Fort Belvoir, Va. In June 1950, SGM Tabata found himself among the first American soldiers sent to South Korea to repel the invasion by the North. He was assigned to the 14th Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Following Korea, SGM Tabata returned to Hawaii and received an honorable discharge in September 1952. He re-enlisted in the Army in January 1955. SGM Tabata served the next six years as a paratrooper in the 82nd and 11th Airborne Divisions. In January 1961, SGM Tabata became a “triple volunteer” when he applied for duty with the U.S. Army Special Forces. After his Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, SGM Tabata volunteered for a clandestine mobile training team, named “White Star.” Led by then-Lieutenant Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons, the team arrived in the Kingdom of Laos in October 1961 and began training a Royal Lao Army battalion.

In August 1964, SGM Tabata received orders to the Republic of South Vietnam. There, he joined the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and trained the Montagnards. In January 1965, reassigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Okinawa, SGM Tabata served as a team sergeant on a HALO team. A few months later, SGM Tabata and his detachment went to Korea to prepare South Korea’s elite White Horse Division for combat prior to its departure for South Vietnam the following year. SGM Tabata returned to South Vietnam in November 1965, his third combat tour, for assignment to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, or MACV-SOG. Returning to Fort Devens, Mass., in August 1970, SGM Tabata served with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and with the 12th Engineer Battalion.

Upon his promotion to sergeant major, he served as the senior enlisted advisor to the assistant division commander, 8th Infantry Division, in Mainz, Germany. His return to Special Forces came in 1978, with an assignment to the 7th Special Forces Group. (Airborne) SGM Tabata retired in December 1981 after 30 years of active-duty service. In November 1984, he returned to the Special Forces Training Group as a civilian instructor. He currently teaches Special Forces engineers the skills of their specialty. He also provides demolition instruction to Special Forces warrant officers and still participates in static line parachute jumps as required in the course of his duties.

Note: This was written prior to Ernie’s death in 2015