We Found Him! The True Story Behind the “Izzy” DS Target

    In June of last year, we published a short post on the odd story behind the current Diplomatic Security Service’s qualification target known as the DSQ-1A, or colloquially as an “Izzy” target. The long and short of it was that the figure holding an AKMS in the post was a former DS Firearms Instructor whose image was made into a target. However, we got some details wrong in the initial post. One of the rumors was that it started out as an office joke or prank, some colleagues having fun and making a paper target of their buddy. Somehow higher-ups saw this and actually thought that this was actually a decent target for the service. The true story as it turns out is very far from this one. In fact, the “Izzy” target was very much a calculated process. It was picked from a number of potential target ideas.

    From what can only be described as the “magic” of TFB, word of our original posting made its way around the internet and actually got to the man behind “Izzy”. His name is James Hollmann and worked at one of the DS firing ranges in the late 1980s. Through the grapevine, he recently got in touch with us and shared us these photographs of himself posing as an Izzy target, an earlier photograph of himself with an Izzy that he had just shot up (essentially shooting an image of himself), in addition to a plaque that is a testament to his service to the Department of State.

    From his own words (edited for clarity)-

     There were 4 of us working at the Main DS range back (firearms
    and explosive training) around 1988-89. Bill Penn was the boss. There was
    Ed Blakely, Rick Thomas and of course me. I’m not sure who brought it up
    first but we weren’t happy with the cartoon character target we were using
    for qualifications. We wanted to have something that looked more lifelike.

    Bill took pictures of us all in different poses with different guns. He
    liked the picture that is now the IZZY target the best [that was of myself] and made a drawing of it that was 5’5” tall and had it printed at a local print shop. No
    storage issued, they were printed up on demand. They used brown ink as you
    can see in the picture I sent you.

    The scoring lines were added so you couldn’t see them from any distance so you would have to aim at the vital area of Izzy rather than trying to aim at a circle rather than a target. The legs were printed on the back side of the target. That way we could
    glue the entire figure, head to toe, to cardboard and cut out the excess
    cardboard resulting in a cutout of an armed man. We left a tab of cardboard
    above the head to clamp into our target system.

    IZZY was made 5’5” tall like I said, specifically so his feet wouldn’t drag on the range floor. During night fires we had an outline of an armed man to shoot at (back lit)
    rather than a rectangular target. We also stapled the cut-outs to firing
    strips and place them standing up in different concealed places in combat
    courses you would move through. There was no joke involved, the whole
    project was taken up with the desire for a human looking target.

    Eventually I moved on to another agency, Bill retired, and Ed took over
    the shop and had the targets put into the GSA catalog. That’s when they
    started using the black ink and two pieces. DSQ-1A was the torso, DSQ-1B
    was the legs. That’s how the IZZY target came to be. I have been recognized
    a few times as the target, but it usually begins with me getting the “evil
    eye” from somebody who has shot IZZY a lot but doesn’t quite know where
    they know me from. You should also know that people always ask me if I get
    paid any royalties for the target. The answer is no. I was on salary when
    we made the target so I received my pay. Once the image went into the GSA
    catalog it was open to everyone.

    The rifle IZZY holds is an old, confiscated, folding stock AK-47.

    There are a number of pieces that we can take from this story, now that we know the whole truth. The first is that in the field of instructing, there is always room for improvisation to work with the materials at hand. There is no reason to accept the status quo as it is. I think in many fields of firearms training and even instruction there is a tendency to be dormant and continue the ways of old. This is why sports such as 3-Gun or PRS are taking off because the younger generation is refusing to accept what was available and wants to push the limits. The second point here is realism. Many of the points that James talks about are necessary requirements to ensuring that students are constantly being prepared for a realistic firearms application in their future careers. In the case of Izzy, it is preparing young DS agents for service abroad.

    Then of course, what happens on the Government’s dime… well, belongs to the Government.


    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]