Precision Rifle Training: Keep it Complicated

When it comes to precision rifle training, keep it complicated.


Long before Bill Wilson began building coveted combat firearms, he was a world-class competitor. Wilson designed a training drill for practical pistol shooting, which is still known as the "Bill Drill." This drill is a training exercise where the pistol shooter begins by standing 7 yards away from an International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) target. The shooter must draw and fire six "A" hits within 2 seconds. An "A" zone is about the size of an index card in a vital area.

The Bill Drill is much harder than it sounds. Modified many times to suit the needs of the training, it is an excellent rifle training drill as well, but done from 100 yards.

This modified Bill Drill is perfect for inducing pressure on the precision rifle shooter. A standard Milpark target should be used with the precision rifle shooter targeting threat-neutralizing zones only. That is, the precision rifle shooter should concentrate on sinus cavity shots. Second, five shots should be fired within 15 seconds. This will accommodate bolt action shooters who generally use five-round magazines. If this drill gives an advantage to semi-automatic precision shooters, that is simply the way it goes. When the precision shooter becomes proficient at this drill, it should be practiced offhand.

The modified el Presidente
The Bill Drill is good training for the "el Presidente," a handgun drill designed by Col. Jeff Cooper. Originally fired at 7 yards, it was later adapted to 10. Shooters stand with their backs toward three IPSC targets, each target 3 feet apart. On command, the shooter turns, draws and fires two shots into each target, reloads and fires two in each target once again. The shooter is scored by their accuracy and time with a goal at about 6 seconds.

A modification of the "el Presidente," as with the Bill Drill, should be fired at 100 yards, with peripheral hits severely penalized.

Balloon drills
There are two excellent ways of using balloons in precision rifle shooting. The first is to suspend helium-filled balloons in front of a target so shifting winds obscure parts or the entire target. This forces the shooter to time the shot. Obviously, if a balloon is popped, the shooter fails.

The second method of using balloons is to obscure the target by stapling or taping a balloon to the target. This presents a smaller target zone. The balloons should be attached in such a way that they will shift in the wind.

Regardless of the balloon drill method, photo targets — rather than predictable target zones, should be used. This causes the precision shooter to use judgment, perception and accuracy at same time.

Multiple distance drills
Engaging several targets at different distances requires a precision shooter to quickly calculate distances and priorities. This type of drill is best performed using four photo targets with prominent numbers on them. The targets can be placed at any distance within the confines of the range.

Precision shooters shoot against each other in a one-on-one competition. The scorer calls out the list of targets and announces their threat level. For example, "Target 1, gun — Target 2, gun — Target 3, knife on hostage — Target 4, gun." Based on the scenario, the precision shooter must judge the priority of engagement and engage.

Friendly competition is an excellent group tightener. If the shooting range is wide enough, performing this drill while shooters are prone will cause them to shift and reacquire their natural point of aim.

All of these drills are multiple target or multiple engagement drills which require at least one follow-up shot. This will introduce bolt manipulation, magazine changes and the need for shooters to shift positions toward additional targets. Some drills require judgment, others timing. The purpose is to train the officer to recognize they may need to fire a follow-up shot because the threat was not neutralized or more than one threat exists. When it comes to training precision shooters, keep it complicated.

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