Why You Need to Practice the “Bill Drill” More Often

Why You Need to Practice the  “Bill Drill” More Often

Why You Need to Practice the “Bill Drill” More Often

The “Bill Drill” created by Bill Wilson is one of the most well known handgun drills. Even so, far too many people have never done this drill before or don’t spend enough time practicing it.

This is probably because it’s such a simple drill. You aren’t shooting and moving, you aren’t shooting steel, and you’re not doing anything “super tactical.” With that being said, the Bill Drill is one of the most practical drills you can ever do that may save your life one day in a self-defense situation.

The target that you use for the drill is a standard International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) target. Only hits in the “A” zone count for this drill. The “A” zone on an IPSC target measures 6 x 11 inches. What this means is that instead of going out and buying an IPSC target you can make an “A” zone target yourself. What I do is take a regular white sheet of paper and measure 6 x 11 and then cut the target out and staple it to my cardboard backer.

You shoot the drill from the 7-yard line and the goal is to fire six shots as quickly as possible while getting all six shots in the “A” zone.

Don’t let the simplicity of this drill fool you. This drill teaches you to develop a smooth trigger pull because if you jerk your trigger you’re not going to get all 6 shots on the target. It teaches you how to manage recoil and also how to track your sights.

The reason to practice this drill often is because in a real life situation, where deadly force is justified, you’ll likely end up doing this drill. What I mean is, you’ll likely end up drawing your gun lightning fast and firing multiple shots as quickly as you can. Thankfully, I’ve never had to fire my gun in a self-defense situation, but I can tell you from very intense training scenarios that this is what you’ll do.

And, of course, in practice if you’re not able to fire off quick and accurate shots, then there’s little chance you’ll be able to do it when it really counts.

If you’ve never practiced the Bill Drill before or haven’t done it in a while, you need to start off slowly. The first time you do the drill take as much time as you need to ensure all six rounds end up in the “A” zone. If it takes you 10 seconds to do this then so be it because now you have a starting point.

After practicing more, your goal should be to get it down to 9 seconds, then 8 seconds, then 7 seconds and so on.

Once you’ve mastered this drill to a time that you’re comfortable with it’s still a good idea to practice this drill at least once a month, if not more. Because again, if your life is on the line you’ll be doing exactly what this drill teaches.

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  • Vanns40

    When I taught beginning shooters, that is the only way I taught them from the very first shot they took. The only difference I made was I started them at 15′ and when they had a group I kept moving it 5′ further until we reached 50′. Then I drew a cross on the 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of white paper and had them start all over at 15′, shooting quadrants until they reached 40′.

    At that point they were better than 98% of the shooters at the range who were generally just blasting away at a silhouette target at 15′. A ream of 500 sheets of copy paper also costs a heck of a lot less than regulation targets! 🙂

    • Increasing distance is another way I like to increase difficulty as well plus I have a couple different styles and sizes of plates. I have IDPA regulation plates, Shooting tree’s, hanging I happen to like anything you have to knock down it helps demonstrate why they should be shooting a 45 (glock 21 preferably but to each his own). When you are shooting 9mm or a 40 sometimes you clip the edge or don’t get a solid centered hit and the plate will spin or turn 90 degrees but stays up, the 45 clips a plate and it will with 99.99% certainty spin of the platform or just get knocked the hell over. If a student decides yeah 45 is the thing for me I tell keep your 9mm or 40 because should the shit hit the fan there is a hell of a lot more ammo for those in the world. When do the back up and shoot drill where you rock to the hip I do use silhouette targets and use them for most of the malfunction clearing, magazine change drills (a student will probably use at most 3 targets in a day often less keeping fresh cardboard behind them keeps targets useable longer as well as some black cloth gaffers tape to patch through out the day makes it cheap).
      Sight picture is gone over in the classroom along with other basics that don’t need range time necessarily but on the range you watch your class and see who is having trouble and if they are why? Take a extra second with them to the side while your fellow instructor keeps teaching and observing the rest of class. I don’t want anybody training anything period in a way not consistent with what you would really do in combat. I come from a father who was partners in a tactical firearms training business that did civilian, LEO, and SWAT training. 14 years old I was helping teaching and was at every Simunitions class the aggressor or one of two aggressors often holding a rubber knife with some pink training ink on the blade so if I got someone who didn’t keep distance they couldn’t argue it. I joined the Marine Corp out of high school made Force Recon (MCB Lejeune NC – 2nd MARDIV / 2nd Recon Bn / FORECON / DRP) and was my DRP’s leader through three tours in Afghanistan. The point of all that is what you ask?
      I have seen the result of training holding still it builds muscle memories that in the moment the metal hits the meat get you killed and if you have people you like around you can get them killed to or make a whole unit ineffective when casualties are to great. If you train dynamically when life does give you time to line up a shot it will be a piece of cake, but don’t ever assume life is going to let you stand there in a isosceles stance shoulders squared and line up a shot or take six fast at a target. Work in mechanics with drilling and theres alot more then I list above my class will do, and the attention a student gets is based on where he is having trouble. And before I let anyone pay the reservation fee for their spot I want to talk to them in person (with rare exception when they are coming a great distance but with skype and a webcam I can find out everything I need to know about potential student still) find out what kind of gear they have, pistol/rifle/shotgun/carbine they use, number of mags, let them know how much ammo a class requires they bring. Sometimes I run in to someone that I want to spend a couple hours with before the class so that they don’t slow down the course for other students and that is done in the amount need for me to be comfortable with said person being able to keep up, which has a couple times meant a day or a little more at the range with someone spread out over some weekdays after they’re done with work that evening.
      I take it seriously because I like humans, humans in one piece with no holes unless of course they a humans who like to hurt other humans and in that case those types are best when perforated.

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      • Vanns40

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  • James Van Valkenburg

    We use to call this the “rapid fire drill”. Six or 7 shoots fired rapidly into the X or 9 areas of a person shaped target. Those areas are also about the size of a bowling pin, excellent practice.

  • The Bill drill is pointless teach proper grip and stance (mechanics) and follow lesson plans below.
    Unrealistic
    pistol training, teaching someone to stand in place and shoot is
    foolish. In the real world your threat will more then likely be closing
    distance with you or making you sidestep to cover (if they are keeping
    distance and not advancing and you can stand or stay behind same cover
    you should be going to get your rifle). Want to make this better set up
    plates every plate you knock down change cover or position (for example
    doing these at random or as instructor calls out: standing to kneeling
    to high cover[corner], sidestep, mid height cover[plastic drum], single
    hand shot, prone, weak side cover shot, etc, etc). Do it timed in a
    class to motivate students to improve and only allow so many misses by
    setting up 15 plates and loading only ten rounds in two mags. Advanced
    classes and training 18-20 plates only 20 rounds. Remember in real life
    no one is going to threaten you stand their and allow you six shots from
    a stationary position, don’t build muscle memory drilling for a
    situation you will never face it will only serve to get you dead. And
    always incorporate a exercise that practices drawing and shooting for
    speed and accuracy while backpedaling and same thing with pistol only
    drawn to side should a attacker be that close (work that stationary then
    backpedaling). Remember the average human can close 7 yards or 21 feet
    in a second, a aggressor with a knife could even after being shot fall
    and deal a fatal blow, backpedaling and maintaining distance will save
    you life. When drilling backward movement a instructor should be behind
    and off to the side to keep muzzle from aim back at firing line and
    students should a students stumble (work up to speed).

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      • amyrwhitaker

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  • TRAIN LIKE IT’S REAL

    • Mark

      If you are as good as you think you are, then you should know that teaching people to shoot, and continued training for anyone, should incorporate more than 1 way. Do you dry practice? Do you do anything other than shoot on the move? If someone just blasts away and moves and shoots all the time, how do you expect to work on the basics of sight alignment, sight picture and trigger control? I bet you are a great shot and probably a motivational instructor, but your way is not necessarily the best, and certainly not the only to train (thank God). Basics should be brushed up on continually. Bad habits are easy to develop when you rush, these can be combated with alternating high speed training with basic marksmanship drills like a one ragged hole drill.
      Just my 2 cents.
      Semper Fi.
      Mark

      • Basics are important Marine I agree read my above response to the other comments. I work basics through out the class as needed but I take a tactical approach to everything if it doesn’t serve to save your ass I am not to keen on taking time from the whole class. THats why if you read comments above I just don’t let someone sign up for a level 1 tactics class for handgun/carbine/shotgun/long rifle whatever! Plenty of good videos, books, and other sources are available to anyone to understand sight picture, trigger & muzzle control I feel guilty taking the time of a whole class to teach that. But if someone is not up to snuff on basics and needs help with those things before entering a tactics class a evening or two of safety and basics then a half day at the range one on one will bring anyone who is willing to listen to a adequate skill level to sign up. I provide that kind one on one preparatory instruction for $250 and I will discount your Level 1 class fee to help out. But there are a number of different types of drills I run, and Level 2+3 Handgun classes simunitions training is used.
        Bad Habits are kept in check by having competent aware instructors that pay attention to students and their targets catching problems right when they happen and taking a student aside for one on one time if they need it. This is why you cant teach multiple people alone, my rule is one instructor for every five students plus the head instructor. Bad habits in students means bad instructors genereally speaking.
        Semper Fi back at ya Mark
        Was in 7 years got out in 2007
        3 tours in Stan
        Chuck
        2nd MARDIV / 2nd Recon Bn / FORECON / DRP Team Leader
        MCB Lejeune, NC

  • Bruce A. Frank

    There appears to be a significant difference of opinion, cburns4vta. You speak of proper grip and proper stance training as if a shooter has gotten to this rapid fire point without ever picking up a firearm before.

    The intent of putting 6 rapid fire shots on target is what doesn’t get practiced. Your “dance and weave” strategy is a useless lesson if the shooter cannot place a quickly aimed and fired shot on target. I have taught people who had taken several self defense “strategy and moves” classes who could not keep 6 shots, two handed, un-timed, on a 8.5X11 sheet of paper at 8 feet…but their stance and grip were good. Running them through a move from cover to cover while firing was a waste effort.

    Interesting that in my experience, practice of rapid fire, particularly with women who had actually had instruction well beyond the basics, dramatically improved general accuracy in a one hour class.

    One of my complaints is that most ranges do not allow such practice, requiring 3 seconds between shots. Teaching such rapid fire practice is allowed only when the range is closed to all but the class participants. I believed you, if you are open to the idea, will find students trained in the “Bill Drill” become MUCH more proficient at hitting the target when moving from cover to cover.

    • Read my above response to “Vanns40” but if someone has taken several of those classes and can’t hit shit come out his own ass his instructors where piss poor performers. You have to have two instructors for a class minimum and if you have 7-10 students three is in my eyes necessary. This is so you can take note of those who are having trouble and have a instructor split off real quick and work with them to get past the trouble spot. So if you have met people who have taken several classes and are having those kinds of troubles (I have met them too) they had instructors that like to cash your check but not teach. You can pay your money and at the end of the weekend not get that Level 1 handgun certificate. Most do though and I can count on one hand those who have taken the class twice to pass and then able to sign up for Level 2. It’s rare because like you said in one hour with a little attention drastic improvements can be achieved and that’s easy to give if you have the appropriate number of instructors and pay attention to your students individual performance and problems.
      I always want to talk to a person signing up before they give their deposit and I like to meet them in person (when they are coming a decent distance I’ve used skype more then a few times gotta luv modern tech) so I can find out what holster they have, how many mags, type of pistol/carbine/etc. they have, and what skill level they are already at and do they need a little one on one attention before I feel they can keep up with a Level 1 class and not slow it down.

      • Vanns40

        I agree with both of you! It takes a lot of time to train effectively which is why most of us favor a “facility” not just a range. When you actually have acreage, set up with barricades, vehicles to shoot from and around and a shoot house, shooting ability really starts to improve. Of course the fun factor also goes way up 🙂

  • David Miller

    One reason this drill is not executed more often is that urban gun ranges require minimum 2 seconds between shots, and explicitly prohibit rapid fire.

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    • Robert Floyd

      This discussion is always tough , where to draw the line between CQB and personal defense. I like the marine response to this matter, teach them the best they can be and hope that it sticks. Seen most who just want to put rounds down range, no thought as to what the how and why.

    • Vanns40

      Everyone on this forum, please flag SPAMS like the one I’m replying to.

  • MarkCValdez

    Google is paying 80$ per hour! Work for few hours and have more time with

    friends & family! On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from

    having earned $4151 this last four weeks. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve

    had. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it

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  • drivingrein

    Hi all….can anyone send me to a video of HOW to do the Bill Drill? Thanks!

  • drivingrein

    Hi all….can anyone send me to a video of HOW to do the Bill Drill? Thanks!

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