Essential Firearm Training Drills for Concealed Carry and Home Defense


Bill Drill

Materials: Handgun, holster, standard IPSC target


  • Load six rounds in your magazine or cylinder
  • Start at 3, 5 or 7 yards with hands on your head or by your side
  • Set timer for 5-10 second delay
  • On the beep, fire all six rounds as fast as you can at “A” zone region.
  • For a clean Bill Drill, all six rounds must be in “A” zone in 6 seconds or less.

What It Teaches: This drill works speed and accuracy. First, perfect your draw and holster presentation. Then, concentrate on quick sight alignment to hit the target. You’ll need a quick finger for follow-up shots. This also challenges ability to control and manage recoil. The better your recoil management, the more you’ll enjoy this drill. The key is to build up fundamentals before increasing speed. If you go for speed first, you’ll miss the target. Throw the phrase “spray and pray” away and aim to be focused and disciplined. Find your cadence in this drill to land six perfect shots. 

 El Presidente Drill

Materials: Handgun, holster, two mags, mag holster, shot timer, three targets


  • Load six rounds in each magazine (two mags, 12 rds)
  • Setup three targets at ten yards
  • Set timer for 5 second delay
  • Stand with back towards target with hands on head in “surrender mode”.
  • At the beep, turn, draw from holster and perform three double taps on each target (6 rounds total).
  • Perform a mag change and engage each target with a double tap again (next 6 rounds).
  • Goal is for all 12 rounds to be within 5” of intended target across all 3 targets.
  • Goal is 10 second time

What It Teaches: Builds skills on hand and eye coordination, drawing from concealment, holster presentation, sight alignment retrieval and shot placement, proper reloading, and solidifies critical firearm handling muscle memory.

Dot Torture Test

Materials: Handgun, shot timer, holster, mag holster, 4 mags, dot torture target

Download target:


  • Start at 3 yards in ready position
  • Load two mags with 12 rounds and two with 13
  • Start timer for 5-10 second delay
  • Start at ready position and wait for the beep
  • Dot 1 – Draw and fire one string of 5 rounds for best group. One hole if possible, total 5 rounds.
  • Dot 2 – Draw and fire 1 shot, holster and repeat X4, total 5 rounds.
  • Dots 3 & 4 – Draw and fire 1 shot on #3, then 1 shot on #4, holster and repeat X3, total 8 rounds.
  • Dot 5 – Draw and fire string of 5 rounds, strong hand only, total 5 rounds.
  • Dots 6 & 7 – Draw and fire 2 shots on #6, then 2 on #7, holster, repeat X4, total 16 rounds.
  • Dot 8 – From ready or retention, fire five shots, weak hand only, total 5 rounds.
  • Dots 9 & 10 – Draw and fire 1 shot on #9, speed reload, fire 1 shot on #10, holster and repeat X3, total 6 rounds.
  • Try to finish in under 5 minutes with perfect accuracy

What It Teaches: This drill is probably my personal favorite. It can be done timed or by adding distance. This tests all firearm muscle memory and therefore, for seasoned shooters. I recommend beginner shooters try the Bill Drill or El Presidente before attempting this drill. In order to excel, one must be focused, disciplined and able to handle accelerating stages of challenge.


Materials: Handgun, shot timer, holster, mag holster, two magazines, one regular target, one 3x5 card and 8” paper plate.

Or download target:


  • Load two rounds in one mag and four rounds in the other.
  • At seven yards, place the standard target on a target backer. Place the 3x5 card on the top and paper plate towards the middle.
  • Set timer for 5-10 second delay
  • Load magazine with two rounds into sidearm and chamber one round. Place in holster.
  • Start facing the target with hands on head or at ready position.
  • At the beep, draw and fire two rounds into the head of the target, then perform a slide lock reload with the additional mag. Fire the 4 shots into the plate.
  • If you miss you fail.
  • 10+ seconds: Novice
  • Less than 10 seconds: Intermediate
  • Less than 7 seconds: Advanced
  • Less than 5 seconds: Expert

What It Teaches: F.A.S.T stands for Fundamentals, Accuracy and Speed Test. It’s tough but a great drill to master. This drill incorporates all muscle memory needed to survive a self-defense situation. You need to be comfortable with your handgun, know all the fundamentals of shooting and complete the drill with accuracy in a very short amount of time.  Prioritize accuracy first. Speed comes with time.

The Recoil Management Test

Materials: Handgun, one mag, standard target, shot timer 


  • Start at 5 yards with a standard target
  • A timer is optional but gives the shooter an idea of their personal shoot time. Start time at 5-10 second delay.
  • In high ready position, fire five rounds as fast as possible.
  • This helps the student determine his or her personal "cyclic rate” and recoil ability.
  • Goal is to perform perfectly in under 4 seconds.

What It Teaches: Although not as fun as the others, this drill is essential to all other drills. This drill allows the shooter to determine their “cyclic rate” and ability to absorb recoil.

If you have a slow time and unable to manage recoil, follow these tips: The popular thumbs-forward grip is a good place to start for shooters. From an isosceles-type stance, ensure the web of your firing hand is as high on the grip of the pistol as possible (rest right below the slide). Next, roll the support hand over the grip as much as possible to lock the wrist into place for added leverage to mitigate recoil. Both hands should apply pressure similar to a firm handshake. The support-hand thumb pushes against the frame toward the firing hand, which helps counter the tendency to push rounds to the support side when delivering rapid fire shots. The thumb of the firing hand applies downward pressure on the other thumb to mitigate muzzle flip. Finally, the elbows remain "unlocked" to avoid recoil traveling to the shoulders, which would cause the arms to rise unnecessarily after each shot. Use this tip and hopefully a strong grip helps your recoil game.

RIFLE: The 1-5X Drill

Materials:  You’ll need a rifle, a single magazine loaded with 15 rounds, and 3 targets placed 6-12’’ apart.


  • Start 5 yards away from the three targets placed 6-12’’ apart. The drill requires IPSC targets, but any man-sized targets will work.
  • Start the timer for 5-10 second delay
  • In low ready position, wait for the beep.
  • You can work from left to right or right to left.
  • Starting on the first target fire a single round, transition to target 2 and fire two rounds, transition to target 3 and fire three shots, transition back to target 2 and fire four rounds and finally, back to target 1 and fire 5 shots.
  • Try to complete this drill in less than 10 seconds. Always try to beat your last time.

What It Teaches: This drill trains rapid transitions. It also incorporates all fundamentals of successful rifle shooting and handling. This includes trigger control, body positioning, and recoil and muzzle control.

SHOTGUN: The Port Reload Drill

Materials: A shotgun, a method to hold ammo (side saddle is best), two targets, shot timer


  • Start at 10 yards with a round in the chamber, but an overall empty shotgun.
  • Two targets should be 6-12” apart.
  • Set the timer for 5-10 second delay.
  • At low ready, wait for the beep
  • Fire one round at the first target and keep the bolt to the rear.
  • Keep your shotgun pointed down range and with your non-firing hand retrieve a round of ammunition. Load the round directly through the port and close the bolt. Engage the second target.
  • The drill should be done in about 2 seconds total with a side saddle ammo carrier.
  • Try to do this in under 2 seconds.
  • For further practice, add more rounds and two seconds for each round. 

What It Teaches: A shotgun's biggest weakness is its low capacity. It's critical for any shotgun operator to learn how to reload their weapon effectively. Your ability to quickly reload and re-engage a target is the primary purpose of this drill. It helps build reloading muscle memory.