Four targets set up at The Range 702.

Top Five Defensive Pistol Drills

Self-defense is one of the leading reasons Americans own guns, with protection being a primary factor for 72% of gun owners. However, as you may have learned in one of our CCW permit classes, merely having a firearm won’t make you safer. You need to be able to effectively employ it as well.

Four targets set up at The Range 702.

Defensive pistol drills help you refine your technique, improve your reaction time, and improve your accuracy under stress. As you improve these skills, you’ll also gain confidence in both yourself and your handgun. 

For all of the below drills, we recommend using a shot timer and IPSC style targets, though any target will work. The timer is a must have, without it you won’t know if you’re improving or not. Cheap shot timers are available for around $50, and quality ones can be found for $100 – $200. 

While all of these drills are designed for live fire, they can also be run ‘dry’ using the Par Time function on a shot timer. Dry fire can be very effective in practicing both gross motor skills (such as drawing your pistol) and fine motor skills (such as your trigger press), and we highly recommend it when you’re practicing these drills for the first time.

1. Bill Drill

The Bill Drill was invented by and is named after Bill Wilson, a championship IPSC shooter. It is the epitome of “easy to learn, difficult to master”, and requires the shooter to have a smooth draw and stay relaxed enough to work the trigger rapidly in order to make time. This drill will test your ability to draw quickly, acquire the target, keep your trigger press consistent, and manage recoil.

Setup

Stand 7 yards from the target with your pistol holstered. 

Execution

Draw your pistol and fire 6 shots at the target.

Objectives

Score 6 ‘A’ zone hits in 2 seconds. 

Alternatively, start at 3 yards and 3 seconds, and work your way further back and decrease the goal time. 

If drawing from a level 2+ retention holster or IWB, add 1 second to par time. 

2. Mozambique (Failure To Stop) Drill

The Mozambique drill is all about speed and accuracy, and can be done from different starting positions. The classic “double-tap” plus head shot simulates an armored target, or one where nothing but a CNS hit will stop an attack.

Setup

Position yourself 7 yards from the target with pistol holstered or at the low ready.

Execution

Draw or raise your pistol and fire a controlled pair (double tap) into the torso ‘A’ zone, then a single round into the head ‘A’ zone.

Objectives

Score 3 ‘A’ zone hits (2 torso, 1 head) in 3 seconds from your holster or 2 seconds from the low ready. 

3. El Presidente Drill

The El Presidente drill has the shooter engage multiple targets, with a reload during the drill. This drill will test your ability to transition between targets and reload rapidly.

Setup

Put up 3 adjacent targets, roughly 1 yard apart. Position yourself 10 yards from the targets, with your back turned to them. At ranges where this kind of movement isn’t possible, you can start facing the targets – double the distance between targets if possible. If increasing the distance between targets isn’t possible, then see the execution note below.

Execution

Turn to face the targets, draw, and engage each target with 2 rounds. Conduct a reload, and engage each target with 2 more rounds. If you are not able to start with your back turned to the targets, or increase the distance between targets, then reduce par time by 3 seconds.

Objectives

Complete the entire string of fire within 10 seconds (turn, draw, engage, reload, engage). When starting out, your goal should be all ‘C’ zone hits. As you become more proficient at the drill, go for all ‘A’ zone hits.

4. Dicken’s Drill

The Dicken’s drill is a long-distance shooting drill, named after Elisjsha “Eli” Dicken, who successfully engaged a mass shooter in a mall in Greenwood, Indiana from 40 yards with a Glock 19. This drill is all about accuracy and fine motor control.

Setup

Position yourself 40 yards from the target. Start at the high ready / aiming down sights.

Execution

Fire 10 rounds at the target. 

Objectives

Score 8 hits on the target in 10 seconds. Any hit on the target is counted. As you become more proficient in the drill, reduce par time or increase accuracy requirements (‘C’ zone then ‘A’ zone).

5. Failure To Fire Drill

A Failure to Fire drill helps you practice immediate remedial action if you encounter a failure to fire – the dreaded ‘click’ when there should have been a ‘bang’. You will need snap caps or other dummy ammo to run this drill. This drill can also be combined with other drills to maximize your training time.

Setup

If possible, have someone else load a magazine with a mixture of dummy rounds and live rounds, at random intervals. If that isn’t possible, load your own magazine with a mixture of dummy and live ammunition. You can segregate any magazines for this drill, do some other shooting, and come back to this drill to minimize anticipation of the dummy rounds.

As a standalone drill, position yourself at least 5 yards from the target and engage from your holster or the low ready.

Execution

When you experience a failure to fire, take immediate remedial action. Slap the bottom of your magazine to ensure it’s seated, rack the slide, observe the round that failed to fire being ejected, and attempt to re-engage the target. Repeat as necessary (your buddy may have loaded multiple FTF’s in a row).

Objectives

Clear the malfunction in less than 2 seconds. You’ll be able to measure this on a shot timer as the time recorded between the last live round fired and the next live round fired. Decrease the par time as you become more proficient at clearing malfunctions.

Defensive Drills and More at The Range 702

A staff member at The Range 702 showing a client how to use a gun.

The Range 702 offers a variety of shooting experiences, including those tailored to novices and experts. Take advantage of our firearm training classes and experiences to refine your defensive skills so you can defend yourself if needed.

Sources:

For Most U.S. Gun Owners, Protection Is the Main Reason They Own a Gun. (2023).
Mascia, J., et al. (2022). 32 States Let People Carry Guns Without Learning How to Shoot One.
Sullum, J. (2022). The Largest-Ever Survey of American Gun Owners Finds That Defensive Use of Firearms Is Common.

Similar Posts