Guns Handguns

How to Shoot the Bill Drill

The Bill drill seems like it’s all about speed, but it’s actually a tough test of several handgun shooting fundamentals
Tyler Freel Avatar
Sean Murphy shoots Staccato XC
Shooting all six rounds fast and accurately requires a rock-solid stance and grip. Scott Einsmann

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The Bill drill is one of the most simple and common drills for checking key pistol shooting skills—even if it might look like you’re trying to do your best John Wick impression at the local range. To the unknowing observer, it might not seem like much of a drill at all. However, doing the Bill drill well takes concentration and skill. 

Setting Up the Bill Drill

It doesn’t get much simpler than the Bill drill, which is named after Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat. All you’ll need is a single target. Any silhouette target with a center vital zone will do, but it’s most commonly done with a USPSA/IPSC cardboard target

Set the single target up at 7 yards. Starting position is facing the target with your pistol holstered, hands hanging at your sides. Most people will use a strong-side hip-mounted holster, but it’s an excellent drill to run from your appendix carry holster.

Shooting the Bill Drill

You’ll want to use a shot timer while shooting the drill to track your speed. At the “beep,” draw your pistol and fire six shots into the center zone of the target as quickly as you can. That’s it. 

To run a clean drill, all shots must be in the center zone of the target. If you’re shooting the drill in under five seconds, you’re doing pretty well. 

The Bill Drill Takes Skill

Sounds simple, right? Draw from the holster, blaze away, you’re done. It’s not as easy as you might think. The bill drill puts several skills to the test: draw/grip acquisition, sight acquisition and maintenance, trigger pull, and grip maintenance. Sure, you want to go fast, but succeeding at the Bill drill forces you to slow down and do things properly. Speed comes only with practice.

Draw and Grip Acquisition

You better get a good grip on your pistol before you skin that smoke wagon. Many competitive and practical applications require aptitude for drawing your pistol and getting the first shot off clean. If your grip isn’t where it needs to be, you won’t be able to maintain it on follow-up shots in any situation, whether you’re in a USPSA match or getting charged by a grizzly.

Sean Murphy with Springfield DS Prodigy
A successful Bill drill is both fast and accurate. Hits outside the center zone don't count. Scott Einsmann

Sight Picture

Don’t believe the lore that says you just need to point a pistol. If you’re not aiming, you’re not hitting anything past a few feet. Getting a solid sight picture before you crack the first round off is imperative to keeping the rest of your shots in the center zone when running a Bill drill. Like other skill sets, if you slow down for a millisecond to set your sight picture, you’ll likely see your times and accuracy improve. Watch your sight picture and as soon as it falls back into place, touch your next round off. 

Freel shoots a Bill Drill
Establishing a good sight picture before firing the first shot is key to success in the Bill drill. Scott Einsmann

Trigger Press

A good, consistent trigger pull is key. To shoot ultra fast, you have to smack the trigger, but if you’re seeing lots of left impacts for a right-handed shooter, it might be time to slow down or work on the direction of your trigger pull. Make sure you’re pulling straight back. 

Grip Maintenance

The glue that holds your Bill drill together is good grip maintenance. If you’ve set your grip properly, you’re off to a good start, but to really go fast, an absolutely rock-solid gorilla grip is a must. With each shot your pistol is experiencing dramatic motion, and your grip is the only thing that keeps the sights falling back into the right place when the slide snaps back into battery. If your grip starts to slip, your accuracy and speed will both degrade. 

The Bill Drill is Versatile

The basic Bill drill is a tangible measure of your shooting skills, but you can also adapt it to just about any gun at any range. You’ll see youtube personalities use it to compare rifles. With some variations, it’s an excellent drill to test your position building, target acquisition, and position maintenance for any firearm.