Bill Drill:

  • Distance: 7 yards.
  • Target: Any silhouette target (USPSA or IDPA preferred).
  • Start Position: Holster preferred; otherwise a “ready” position.
  • Description: Six shots are fired as quickly as the shooter can achieve six hits on the target. The drill teaches sight tracking, proper visual reference, recoil management, and trigger manipulation.

I like this drill because it teaches how to send out an accurate, fast volume of fire. Also, it’s easier to knock out a perfect shot if you have time to think about each shot: Mistakes and poor form show up when you don’t have time to correct in-between shots.

Mozambique Drill (aka, The Failure to Stop Drill):

  • Distance: 10 yards.
  • Target: Any silhouette target.
  • Start Position: Holster preferred, otherwise a “ready” position.
  • Description: “Two to the body, one to the head; I’m alive and you’re dead.”

This is a classic drill that is still relevant today. It helps teach that sometimes the bad guy (or gal) doesn’t fall down after the first shot and that an accurate, decisive shot to the body’s mission control center (also known as the medulla oblongata) is needed to stop the threat.* It’s also a good drill to help you evaluate what’s going on with you and your surroundings as rounds are going downrange, because tunnel vision is a very real thing in a stress-filled situation.

F.A.S.T. (Fundamentals, Accuracy, and Speed Test):

  • Distance: 7 yards.
  • Target: Specific target (PDF).
  • Start Position: Hands at sides, gun holstered and concealed if possible; otherwise a “ready” position.
  • Description: Shooter loads gun with a total of two rounds. On start signal, shooter draws and fires two rounds at the small target; performs a slidelock reload; and fires four rounds at the circular target.

Created by renowned firearms trainer Todd Green, this drill is traditionally shot with a coat or shirt covering your gun; adjust as needed for the rules of your range. This is a deceptively easy drill. Shooting this with a decent time and full accuracy is a good test of your defensive marksmanship ability because it tests your draw and reload speed as well your ability to deliver a volume of fire and hit small targets on-demand.

Dot Torture:

  • Distance: 3 yards.
  • Target: Specific target (PDF).
  • Start Position: Varies.
  • Description: Start at 3 yards. You have to get all 50 hits to pass. Once you can shoot the whole drill without a single miss, either increase the distance or add time pressure. For instance, try to finish the entire drill in under five minutes while maintaining 100 percent accuracy.

I hate this drill. I love this drill. It looks easy until you try it: Three yards seems close until you realize that 100 percent accuracy is needed to pass and move the target back. After five years shooting this drill, I’m still stuck at five yards, but it has made me a much better shooter. This is the drill I most often recommend to people who want to get better at competition or be more confident in their defensive pistol skills, because it covers almost everything you need to know in just 50 rounds.

A handy tip if you try any of the drills with a built-in reload is to take along a shoebox or plastic container to catch your magazines as they fall out of your pistol so they don’t fall out of reach in front of the firing line. If your range bans rapid fire and/or drawing from a holster, some of these drills won’t work for you, but you can still work on “press-outs” from high ready, or practice table starts with an unloaded gun (something that comes in handy in both competition and in the real world).

Give these drills a shot (or 50) the next time you’re at the range and watch as your skills improve.