best pistol shooting drills

Best Pistol Drills For Indoor Range & Tactical Training

Best Pistol Drills For Indoor Range & Tactical Training
U.S. Marines, stationed aboard Parris Island, participate in a M18 pistol range on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., Dec. 6, 2022. The routine training enables Marines to maintain proficiency in marksmanship and close combat. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bradley Williams)

Whether you’re a beginner looking to master the basics or a seasoned shooter looking to refine your tactical skills, this article has got you covered. 

We’ve curated a collection of pistol drills for indoor ranges and more advanced drills and qualifications for outdoor ranges. 

Each drill aims to enhance precision, speed, and overall shooting performance, from the Baer Standard Drill to the challenging Air Marshal Qualification.

Indoor Range Drills

Most people only have access to indoor ranges, so the following pistol drills are designed more for that, so you can work on your accuracy. These are also great for beginners to start with as you work your way up to the tactical shooting drills.

Baer Standard Drill

The standards target drill is all about measuring your skills right off the bat in your training sessions, and again at the end. The catch? You shoot it cold, with no warm-up shots, because let’s face it, real-life situations don’t come with a rehearsal. Kick things off at 5 meters; it’s a sweet spot for starters. Once you’ve got the hang of it, challenge yourself by stepping back to 7 meters, or even 10 meters. Remember, if you miss, it’s game over. Every shot counts, and you’ve got to own every bullet that flies. Speed is key here; clocking in at 9 seconds or under means you’re on the right track.

Here’s the drill: start with your hands off your pistol, just hanging by your sides. On cue, draw and light up one of the 6″ x 3.5″ rectangles with 5 rounds, then swing over and do the same to the other rectangle. Next up, hit a slide lock reload and take on the center circle with 3 rounds. You’ll want to start with a 10-round mag, then switch to a 3-rounder, keeping a full mag ready to rock after the drill.

If you’re running this at an indoor range, you’ll more than likely have to substitute drawing from the holster with shooting from a low ready. Mag changes might be another restriction, so do the best you can within the constraints of the range rules. When I run this at my local indoor range, I drop the mag into my hand, set it down on the table in front of me, and reload another full mag.

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Phase 5 Drill

The Phase 5 Drill is spread across five targets—or “phases”—with a total of 50 draws from your holster and 50 shots to fire.

Here’s the lowdown on how this drill plays out: Start at just three yards away from your target. Nail it, and then feel free to run the target to 5 or 7 yards to up the ante. You’ll set your shot timer to 2.5 seconds. When that buzzer sounds, it’s showtime.

You’ll complete each phase with 10 rounds. Target #1 is a larger circle where you’ve gotta land all shots without breaking the line. That’s the deal for targets #1, #2, and #3—draw, fire one shot, and make it count, ten times for each. 

By the time you square off against target #4, you’re aiming for a tiny 2” circle, where a shot that breaks the line is now considered a pass. And that rule holds for the grand finale, Phase 5, too.

Speaking of Phase 5, brace yourself—it’s a challenge. Ten small 1” square targets, each demanding a shot under that relentless 2.5-second timer. Here, too, breaking the line with your shot is a pass. 

Slip up on a phase by not landing a shot within the target and you’ve gotta rerun that phase, no moving ahead until you get a pass.

As with the previous drill, you’ll need to substitute drawing from the hoster with shooting from the low ready. 

Don’t have a shot timer? Just run through the drill as is, focusing on safety and accuracy. Speed can wait until you’ve got your accuracy dialed in.

Another great aspect of this drill is that it can be done with a single box of 50 rounds. Well, that’s assuming you pass each phase the first time; no pressure.

William Drill

The William Drill is very similar to the Bill Drill, except you’re slowing it down quite a bit. With the Bill Drill, you’re running flat out as fast as possible. That drill is great for learning recoil management, but that’s not what we’re after with these drills; we want accuracy.

NOX Dynamics

So the William Drill is ‘pumping the brakes’ on the Bill Drill.

Kicking things off from the holster at a solid 7 yards, the moment you hear that shot timer, it’s game time: draw and fire five shots right into the high center chest of your target, followed by a shot to the head.

That headshot? It’s the deal-breaker. Only shots landing in the top-scoring zone of the head are considered a pass. If we’re talking about a USPSA target, you’re aiming for nothing but A’s. And on an FBI QIT target, you need to nail that specific box. 

With this drill, you don’t need a shot timer to run it. Run through the drill a few times to get your accuracy down, then incorporate a shot timer. Likewise, at an indoor range, you’ll more than likely have to run this drill from the low ready and not your holster.

Tactical Pistol Drills

These drills require shooting at a faster pace, drawing from a holster, and engaging multiple targets, which disqualifies most indoor ranges. The following tactical shooting drills will require an outdoor training facility.

Bill Drill

The Bill Drill, created by Bill Wilson (and sometimes mistakenly attributed to Bill Jordan or Bill Rogers), is a fundamental shooting exercise designed to enhance a shooter’s speed without compromising accuracy. 

Conducted at a range of 7 yards with a standard IPSC target, the drill begins with the shooter’s gun holstered and hands in the surrender position. It involves firing six rounds as quickly as possible, aiming to achieve six hits on the target.

This drill focuses on teaching sight tracking, recoil management, proper visual reference, and trigger manipulation. A critical aspect of mastering the Bill Drill is learning to track the front sight through recoil, allowing the shooter to fire the next shot as soon as an adequate sight picture is reacquired, without waiting for the sight to stop moving or achieve perfect alignment. 

The objective is to maintain speed throughout the drill, with the front sight in constant motion until the exercise concludes. Safety protocols are emphasized due to the inherent risks of firearm training, and the drills are intended for informational purposes, recommending personal responsibility and caution.

Bill Drill Version 2

This version of the Bill Drill starts with a single round to the target, followed by 2 rounds, then 3 rounds, all the way up to six rounds. 

This course of fire is very similar to the Phase 5 Drill where we start with a single round and don’t move forward until we’ve mastered each round.

FBI Qual

The FBI updated its pistol qualification course in 2013 to better reflect scenarios a field agent might face. 

The revised course includes shooting from 3 to 25 meters, incorporating both strong and weak hand shooting, as well as shooting from behind a barricade and concealed positions. This is a significant change from the older standard, which involved shooting at distances up to 50 meters. 

The qualification consists of a 60-round course of fire, all aimed at one QIT-99 target, with each round counting as one point. Agents must achieve a score of 48 out of 60 to pass, while instructors need a score of 54.

The qualification is challenging, requiring precision, skill, and focus, but with the right training, it’s achievable. It serves as a valuable tool for law enforcement officers and civilians carrying concealed weapons, aiming to improve their shooting skills and preparedness.

Air Marshall Qual

The U.S. Air Marshal Pistol Qualification (Qual) is designed to meet the unique requirements of Air Marshals, focusing on high accuracy within the confined space of an airplane. 

The qualification involves shooting from concealment, using a compact firearm like a Gen 5 Glock 19 or a P229. Participants need 30 rounds of ammo, at least two magazines, a concealable magazine carrier, and safety gear. 

The course is scored on the FBI QIT target, with a maximum score of 150 points and a qualifying score of 135 points. The qual is entirely conducted at seven yards to simulate the limited space inside an aircraft, consisting of several stages that test different shooting skills, including drawing, double tapping, finding rhythm, reloading, engaging multiple targets, and shooting after movement.

Each stage has specific time constraints, emphasizing the balance between speed and accuracy. The qualification is challenging but provides valuable training for close combat scenarios, making it beneficial for concealed carriers looking to improve their skills.

RE Factor Tactical Kill Card Challenge

The RE Factor Tactical Kill Card Challenge is a drill designed to push pistol shooting skills to the limit, focusing on speed, accuracy, trigger manipulation, and reloading efficiency. 

Participants who complete the challenge under the set conditions will receive an exclusive RE Factor Tactical Challenge patch, which cannot be purchased and is only awarded based on demonstrated proficiency with video proof. 

The challenge is performed at a distance of 5 yards and involves a sequence of drawing and firing on the Essentials Target

The Drill: At the buzzer, the shooter will draw and fire two rounds to the #1 circle, reload, fire four rounds to the #7 rectangle, reload, and fire two rounds to the #12 rectangle.

Successful completion requires finishing the drill in under 7 seconds without any misses. 

This test of shooting ability is not just about hitting targets; it’s a comprehensive assessment of a shooter’s capabilities and a rite of passage for those dedicated to mastering pistol marksmanship.


Head over to the Tac-Skills store now to find all the range gear you need to tackle these drills and qualifications