“Pistol Training Techniques” is a series we provide to our readers to share the pistol training live and dry fire drills we utilize and feel can improve the shooting for our readership. In this article, we present the “Bill Drill”. This drill has become a staple in my own routine. This is a speed drill that helps:
- develop speed without sacrificing accuracy
- removes any “think” time
- teaches target focus/sight focus (or type 1 & 2 focuses if you follow Brian Enos)
- trains trigger reset and rapid trigger engagement
- shot-to-shot sight engagement
Overall, it is one of the top two drills I currently do in order to ensure that my speed shooting skills stay sharp.
Clearly, the Bill Drill is one created by some guy named, well Bill. Legends and lore indicate the Bill Drill was created and used by Bill Wilson – that may or may not be true. Others attribute this drill to Bill Jordan or Bill Rogers. Given that Bill Wilson was a 1911 guy, I would wonder why it was not a 7 shot or a 9 shot drill. It would be weird to shoot a drill (especially back when he would have come up with it) and leave 1 or 3 rounds in your magazine after the drill. Bill Jordan, on the other hand, was a revolver guy and 6 rounds corresponds more with a wheel gun than a 1911.
If you follow other wheel gun shooters like Jerry Miculek, you know that one of the “feats” that is often performed is to draw 6 shots on a target in historic times… AKA the Bill Drill.
So, my bet is on Bill Jordan.
Regardless, this drill came into being. Whoever created it, thank you. It is a great drill and I really don’t care if “Bill Nobody-Knows” created it.
Using a standard IPSC target at 7 yards, the starting position is either surrender with hands above your head or hands at your side. At the buzzer, draw and fire 6 shots as fast as possible, but make them accurate. Only “A” zone hits count. You must have all 6 shots in the “A” zone for it to be a clean drill.
The Master Class standard for this drill is to complete this in under 2 seconds. Trust me, that is blazing fast. I started with 4 secs and have been working my way down to under 3 secs. I would say to start in the 4 sec range, focus on that acquisition and follow the sights, then work your way down. Remember, this is an accuracy speed drill. I try to get my times down by .1 sec at a time. My standard is to have all 6 shots in the “A” zone on 3 consecutive drills before moving my time down. The Bill Drill format enables you to distinctly measure improvement. For instance, the last time I shot (at a new lowered time), I had 3 that were all “A’s” out of 6 repetitions of the drill. That was 2 more than the previous time.
When I first started shooting the Bill Drill, I was completely depressed and felt defeated. Though I felt I was a good shooter, and even with a high time of 4 secs, I was finding I was pushed in order to consistently achieve this time. Wow! I shot the drill several times and was not feeling much improvement – this drill can sometimes create head games like that.
One day, my friend Tony shot this drill with me. He was shooting a 9mm (I shoot a 40 S&W) and, inherently, his inter-shot times were faster. As we shot side-by-side, upon hearing his cadence, it changed the cadence I had built up in my head and sped me up. As a result, I have learned a few training variations to help make improvements in the Bill Drill.
Partner Shooting – Shoot with a “better shooter” partner, or at least one who can run some faster strings. If you do not have one, ask another shooter to shoot beside you and have him pull his trigger as fast as he can (literally) while shooting the target. Sometimes our own “cadence” in our head gets stuck. Hearing another shooters cadence can help change our own. If no other shooter is available, try wearing ear buds while playing rapid shot tones under your ear muffs.
De-Focus Shooting – If you have not read Brian Enos’ “Practical Shooting”, I recommend that you do. He has the best discussion of sight focus. He talks very explicitly and openly about the myth of “front sight” focus, identifying 5 types of focus that actually happen in various shooting scenarios. When you first get started with this drill, you should focus on acquiring and maintaining your front sight – that is part of the purpose of the drill.
That said, you will find if you do not de-focus shoot, you may not move down in your times. De-focus shoot by not focusing so hard on the front sight and allow the speed to overcome accuracy while not allowing it to destroy accuracy. If you go from 4 secs with all “A’s” to 3.8 secs and you have 3 “A’s”/3 (or whatever)… That is ok. Then, start bringing your focus back into play to push it to 6 “A’s” again.
Ultimately, I believe in order to shoot this drill at or under 2 secs that it is an instinctive acquisition (not actual visual acquisition) of the front sight and target you need to develop.
Caliber Change Shooting – Oddly enough, I have found if I change the load, or move up/down a caliber, the recoil difference challenges me to improve. For instance, when I go from my 40 S&W that I normally shoot with to a 9mm, I find that I speed up with the 9mm (naturally, less recoil) . But, when I go back to my 40 S&W, I retain some of that speed improvement. Similarly, when I shoot with my 45 ACP, I slow down and when I go back to my normal gun, my sight acquisition (better recoil control) improves and my accuracy with speed improves.
I am so glad I ran across the Bill Drill. As I have integrated this drill into my routine, I have seen significant improvements in many areas of my shooting. The Bill Drill can be a “head game” , though – you have to not let it become one. The “at speed” challenges it presents to you as a shooter are unlike anything other than real competition.