Pistol Shooting Drills [2023]

Improving your Skills

Do you want to get good at shooting a pistol? And, we’re not talking about just standing in front of a paper target shooting at your leisure. You want to be able to defend yourself and loved ones. What do you do?

There are many shooting drills out there for every skill level, but as with any hobby or skill, the basics are the most important. Without basic proficiency, one cannot become competent, let alone get actually good..
Getting good means you’ll need to attend all of these top of the line defensive firearms courses offered at Joe’s Tactical School.
Reality is these courses are expensive and if you’re like most of us we don’t work for an agency that will send us to these courses every week.

Here’s a few pistol drills to keep your skills sharp and build a solid base and you can do this without paying big bucks to stroke your ego.

There are many rifle/pistol drills out there on the internet (Youtube). Most are just junk for entertainment, start with these in the following list as they have been taught at real-world law enforcement and military schools. Yes, there are some that have been modified which the world doesn’t know about.
Anyways, here’s a few to start with:

  • 5×5 Drill

    This drill was developed by Bill Wilson, its really useful for assessing your basic skill level with a pistol. We mean for the type of pistol/caliber that you want to be proficient with. For example, shooting a .22 cal pistol would be faster than shooting a .45 ACP. The faster and more accurate shots tells the shooter that they are competent to use for personal defense with that type of pistol/caliber.
    This drill basically is take 5 shots at a 5 inch target from 5 yards within 5 seconds.
  • Slap Rack Bang
    Most semi-automatic handgun and AR type rifle malfunctions are cleared with the “Slap Rack Bang”.
    Actually without the bang first action is to slap the bottom of your magazine to make sure that the magazine is in place.
    Then, Rack the slide to the rear to remove a possible round that is obscuring at the ejection area.
    -Shotgun – With a pump shotgun pull the pump fully to the rear, and if necessary reach in and remove the malfunction. With an automatic lock the bolt back to the rear and clear the malfunction with your hands.
    Put another round in the chamber and fire a round.
    The object if this drill is to ingrain this into your neuro-muscular system as a primary action to do when malfunction comes up, especially if you were in a personal defense situation.
  • Mozambique Drill

    This drill is more fun to do as it stresses shot placement into critical areas of a perp.
    Commonly known as “Failure to Stop Drill”, incorporated by the late Jeff Cooper at GunSite Academy. Which has been taught at every level of law enforcement agencies to Joe Tactical wannabes.
    The drill has the person in front of the target at 7-10 yards with a pistol or 15 – 25 yards with a rifle or shotgun.
    You fire your firearms and put “two to the body, one to the head”, the idea is to stop the aggression. The third shot is a last option if the perp was still advancing.
  • The El Presidente Drill

    Another drill developed by Jeff Cooper specifically for the handgun. This is used as a benchmark to gauge a shooter’s skills, as it tests the draw and reload, and requires good transitions and follow-through.
    -Three silhouette targets are placed 1 meter apart in a line 10 meters from the shooter.
    -The shooter starts with six rounds in a holstered handgun, and a spare magazine or speedloader with another six rounds.
    -The shooter begins facing directly away from the targets, often with hands clasped in front or over the head.
    -Upon the starting signal, the shooter turns and draws, fires two shots at each target, reloads, and then fires two more shots at each target.
  • 1 to 5 Drill

    This drill was designed for using an AR but can be adapted for handguns as well. Kyle Lamb gets the credit for this drill. Kyle was a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army as a Delta Force Operator, and participated in numerous deployments, including the Black Hawk Down Incident back in the early 90’s.
    Here’s the how the drill works:
    Space three targets, preferably human silhouette targets, about one target-width apart and place them five yards away from you. Start with the rifle butt on your shoulder and the muzzle down, as if you are exiting a vehicle or entering a building.
    At the buzzer, shoot one shot on the left target, two shots on the center target, and three shots on the right target. Then shoot four shots back on the center target followed by five shots on the left. That’s a total of 15 shots at five targets, and only “A” or center hits count. Most experienced shooters will do this in about five seconds the first time out. Scoring under 3.5 seconds is getting pretty good. Three seconds or less is excellent.
  • The Box Drill

    There are two different types of box drill that you may have seen.
    -First version is that you run to four corner of a box and fire off a round to a target. This works your ability to run, stop and fire. You put your fundamentals to use when you make that abrupt stop to fire off a round.
    -Second version is to fire two rounds to the chest per target at two targets. This drill stresses shot placement, and multiple target engagement. There are versions where you take a head shot as well. The video below highlights Tom Cruise in the movie Collateral. He does a box drill on two targets.
  • Action – Reaction Drill

    Many of these gun/pistol drills are based from a stationary position.
    This particular one from PFC Training is based off of charging (moving) towards the target and fire off a few rounds. The beginning stages is charging forward, later you can incorporate moving at a 45 degree angle and firing at the target.
    The drill is two-fold, each shooters ability to go from zero to full speed with accuracy will be enhanced.
  • Bill Drill

    Originally created by Bill Wilson and is intended to improve speed without sacrificing accuracy. (action starts at 1:31)
    The drill teaches sight tracking, proper visual reference, recoil management, and trigger manipulation. Draw and fire 6 rounds as quickly as possible to a target at 7 yards away. Goal is to get all 6 onto the target at 3.5 seconds.
  • Come at Me Bro Drill

    This drill starts at 7 yards. When the audible synaptic response module is triggered, the operator will advance and engage all targets in tactical order within designated weapon system deployment area.
    The idea actually comes from an immediate action drill when you are being attacked (ambushed) at close range while on patrol. Once engaged you would turn toward the threat and attack.
  • Tactical Blind Fire

    This drill is a fun drill and you probably have seen this in the movies. Its where you get the hero just blindly sticking out their gun from a corner and fires away. This is just showcasing the flashiness of the firearm. Youtuber Dynamic Pie Concepts gets the credit for turning this into a drill, is it really a legit drill for the real world? Who knows, but why not, its great to spend some time to blow off some rounds. Though the video shows the guys from DPC using an automatic weapon, this can be used with a pistol as well.
  • Getting Off-the-X V Drill

    Jack Nevils (Retired Green Beret of Elite You)goes over the one drill he believes creates the highest return from training. There are lots of drills that someone can focus on but this one drill creates urgency to get off line, draw fast, draw while moving naturally, and put anchor shots into the threat quickly. There are a lot of fundamentals built into this drill. This drill may be the most important drill for the common Joe while out at the mall or store. Move (draw) shoot and move. Though the drill in this video about the V drill and is used for room clearing as you run the wall while engaging on a threat. This can also serve as “getting off-the-x quickly. The video is long with a thorough explanation, skip to 4:44 to see the drill in action.

Well there you have it, this is not the complete list of pistol shooting drills. But, some of these can form as a foundation to learn from. And, there are some drills just for giggles.

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