Top 5 Range Drills: Be Accurate, Be Fast!

— Jason MosherCADRE Dispatch

If you carry a firearm, you should be doing some type of training, but finding a good drill that improves your skill is not always an easy task. Some range drills are not fun, some burn holes in your wallet with all the ammo required, and others are complicated and lengthy.

But if you carry a firearm for self-defense, you should be training. And by training, I mean physically training at the range, not binge-watching your favorite action movies. Your body needs to practice the motions of everything involved in carrying, shooting, and handling your firearm.

And when I say training, I’m not just talking about shooting at a target on the range. Finding a good drill is the secret sauce that transforms you from a paper-target pro to an effective defensive shooter.

Jason Mosher shooting a Glock 49 with Aimpoint ACRO P-2 red dot
Training with the Glock 49. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

You don’t have to be Rambo, but having the skills and ability to move and shoot effectively during stressful situations is vital. Building up muscle memory and good habits is a key to improvement.

So, the next time you feel like channeling your inner John Wick, try out some of these awesome drills at the range. There are plenty to pick from, but these are five of my favorites.

The Bill Drill

The Bill Drill is among the most popular drills out there, and for good reason. It focuses on drawing from the holster and delivering rapid, accurate shots on target. This drill improves target acquisition, recoil management, and follow-up shot accuracy, making it indispensable for anyone serious about shooting.

This drill works best with an IPSC target. But if you’re just trying to have some fun and improve your skills, any target will work. It needs to have a small center (A zone) marked on it. The idea is to improve speed and accuracy.

While the drill calls for a 7-yard distance, it’s ok to start out closer if needed. You can also move further out if you feel your Hollywood magic is too great for just 7 yards.

How to Perform the Bill Drill

  • Place a single target at 7 yards.
  • Begin with your hands at your sides, gun holstered.
  • Use a shot timer to measure your performance.
  • On the beep, draw your firearm and fire six shots as quickly and accurately as possible at the A zone.
  • After firing, evaluate your hits. All shots should ideally be within the A-zone (center mass) of the target.

Benefits of the Bill Drill

The Bill Drill is just fun to do. If we are honest, we all want to practice our quick draw, right?  It’s not as easy as John Wayne makes it look.

The Bill Drill.
The Bill Drill is a great way to practice drawing and shooting quickly.

Being able to draw quickly is an important part of self-defense and is often overlooked at the range. This drill helps improve speed for drawing, target acquisition, follow-up shots, and trigger control. Recoil management is important for a fast and accurate outcome, which is what you need during a self-defense incident.

Incorporating the Bill Drill into your training regimen will improve your speed, accuracy, and confidence. It’s a straightforward drill, but its benefits are profound. Give it a try, I think you will like it.

The DOPE Drill

Don’t worry, the DOPE Drill doesn’t involve any drugs, it’s all shooting. DOPE stands for “Data on Previous Engagement” and is somewhat of a longer, more difficult version of the Bill Drill. It is designed for both handguns and rifles and uses a time vs point system to calculate a “hit factor.” This is a handy number that tracks your speed and accuracy together.

How to Perform the DOPE Drill

  • Set your target and mark the following distances (5, 10, 15, 20, 25 yards).
  • Begin at the 5-yard mark. On the beep, fire (from low or high ready) five rounds at the A zone as fast as possible.
  • Record your time and add up your points using a score system. This can be found on the full article we have on the DOPE drill.
  • Continue this process for each distance. As you get further away from your target, you must adjust your speed to keep your accuracy. Record your points and time at each distance of the drill.
  • After completing the drill, add up all your points and times. Divide the total points by the total time and you have your hit factor.
Yard lines on a shooting range.
To perform the D.O.P.E drill, you will need to shoot from multiple distances at a USPSA target. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

Benefits of the Bill Drill

The DOPE Drill is indispensable for developing skills at multiple distances. It’s a blast to perform with both a handgun and a rifle. It also helps you understand the disadvantages of being accurate but slow, or fast but not accurate. You must have a good balance of each and the hit factor score is a perfect way of tracking that.

The El Presidente Drill

The El Presidente Drill is a classic exercise that challenges a shooter’s speed, accuracy, and ability to engage multiple targets. Originating from practical shooting competitions, this drill is perfect for practicing target transitions and quick reloads.

How to Perform the El Presidente Drill

  • Place three targets in a line, spaced about one yard apart, at 10 yards.
  • Stand with your back to the targets, hands above shoulders, gun holstered.
  • On the beep, turn 180 degrees, draw your firearm, and engage each target with two shots.
  • Perform a mandatory reload and engage each target with two more shots.
  • After firing, check your hits and record your time.

Benefits of the El Presidente Drill

The El Presidente Drill is a comprehensive exercise that hones several key shooting skills. First, it improves your ability to transition between multiple targets. The drill requires you to quickly move your sights from one target to the next while maintaining accuracy, which is not easy.

El Presidente Drill.
I use any available target when setting up the El Presidente Drill.

Next, the drill emphasizes the importance of smooth, efficient reloads. Reloading under pressure is a valuable skill, especially in situations where every second counts. Practicing reloads in the context of this drill ensures that you can perform them quickly and without fumbling, maintaining your ability to engage targets effectively.

The El Presidente Drill also enhances your shooting speed while maintaining accuracy, just like the first two drills. Firing multiple shots at multiple targets requires a balance of speed and precision. If you fumble, you miss a target or take too long to shoot.

Incorporating the El Presidente Drill into your training routine will keep things fun and add to the skills of the first two drills. Just remember to start out slow when turning and drawing with a firearm. Safety is far more important than how cool you look and how fast you move.

The Mozambique Drill

The Mozambique Drill, also known as the Failure to Stop Drill, is a defensive shooting exercise. It is designed to simulate a situation where an assailant may not be neutralized by body shots alone. This drill focuses on accuracy and decision-making under stress.

How to Perform the Mozambique Drill

  • Place a single target at 7 yards.
  • Begin with your hands at your sides, gun holstered.
  • On the beep, draw your firearm and fire two shots to the center mass of the target.
  • Immediately follow up with one shot to the head.
  • Check your hits to ensure both body and headshots are accurate.

Benefits of the Mozambique Drill

The Mozambique Drill is particularly beneficial for defensive shooting. It trains you to quickly and accurately deliver multiple shots to different target areas. This simulates a real-world scenario where an attacker may not be stopped immediately. It is not uncommon for an attacker to continue attacking after being shot in the torso.

man running handgun drills on the firing range.
Shooting fast and accurate are much harder than it looks.

Firing two shots to the center mass, followed by a precise headshot, requires controlled shooting and rapid target acquisition. As you notice with the DOPE drill when you get to the 20 and 25 yard line, you have to slow down just a little when shooting at smaller targets. Shoot fast at the torso and take just enough time to make sure you hit the head shot.

While the drill calls for two shots at center mass and one to the head, you can also incorporate multiple shots before shooting at the head. I don’t like to train my body to only shoot one or two shots and then stop to evaluate. The idea is to stop the threat. That means shoot until the threat is down. If you have multiple rounds and the threat is not stopping, switch to the head.

It’s just another fun drill to perform and you can easily turn it into a friendly competition with your friends by timing it.

The 1-Reload-1 Drill

The 1-Reload-1 Drill is designed to enhance your ability to perform quick reloads while maintaining accuracy. This drill is especially useful for competitive and self-defense shooters. It allows you to improve mag change speeds under pressure without firing a lot of ammo.

How to Perform the 1-Reload-1 Drill

  • Start with one round in the chamber and an empty magazine in the firearm.
  • Place a single target at 7 yards.
  • Begin with your hands at your sides, gun holstered.
  • On the beep, draw your firearm and fire one shot at the target.
  • Perform a speed reload, ensuring the new magazine is seated correctly.
  • After reloading, fire one more shot at the target.
  • Check your hits to ensure both shots are accurate and record your time.

Benefits of the 1-Reload-1 Drill

The 1-Reload-1 Drill is essential for developing proficiency in reloading under pressure. We all like to shoot, but how often do you practice reloading? When you’re under pressure and trying to move fast, it is much harder than it looks on television.

The 1-Reload-1 Drill can be done with a handgun or rifle.

One trick that will make this drill go a little faster is to keep one mag fully loaded and one empty. Insert the fully loaded mag to chamber the round, the place the laded mag in your mag holder. Insert the empty mag for the drill. After you fire your second round (at the end of the drill), the gun will be set up for the next round. Just place the loaded mag back in your holder and pick the empty mag up off the ground and insert it back into the gun.

Incorporating the 1-Reload-1 Drill into your training routine will improve your overall shooting efficiency, but really helps with mag loads. If you want to train and not blow through a ton of ammo, load up one or two mags and call it good. You can get a lot of practice out of 15-30 mag changes (depending on the magazine capacity). You can also run this drill with an AR-15, starting from low-ready. 

Ready for some drills?

Each one of these drills targets a specific aspect of shooting, which is important for a well-rounded training regimen. While some of these drills were designed for specific targets, you can still train with the drill using any target you have available. By regularly practicing these drills, you’ll become a more proficient and confident shooter, capable of handling various scenarios with precision and efficiency.

They also add some fun to the day and save ammo when compared to standing and shooting at a target all day. Get yourself a shot timer, notepad, and pen and you’re ready to go. Track your times so you have a goal to beat the next time you hit the range. As you find other drills you like, add them to the list as well.

Get the Safariland Newsletter

Get the SITREP on promotions, product news and exclusive offers.

Sign Up

Find a Dealer

Find a dealer near you with Safariland’s dealer locator.