The Bill Drill—The Ultimate Defensive Shooting Technique

If you do only one drill at the range…do this one.

There are plenty of reasons why people chose to own firearms. Many firearm owners, like myself, own firearms for lots of different reasons. But there is one reason I have found that we all have in common—to protect ourselves and our families if we must. Honestly, I don’t know anyone that owns a gun that doesn’t say, “protection” as one of those reasons. I know people who own a firearm solely to defend themselves. In a Pew Research Center poll, 67% of gun owners report the main reason they own a firearm is for self-defense. No matter the reason, choosing to be a firearm owner means responsibly learning how to safely operate your firearm, as well as knowing how to clean and maintain that firearm. Buying a gun for protection and sticking it in a biometric safe next to the bed isn’t enough. Knowing confidently that you will be able to use that gun if you must is what can save your life. And the only way you are going to do that is by regular training and practice.

Practice keeps you proficient with the shooting fundamentals and basic handgun techniques. It helps you know the ins and outs of your firearm and how to keep it in tip-top working order. Training reveals your weaknesses. It creates positive muscle memory, so you can operate your gun efficiently in times of duress and hopefully, increase your speed and accuracy.

man at the shooting range
Practice keeps you proficient!

In Texas, we must take a course from a certified instructor in order to obtain a concealed carry license. Every instructor of that course will tell you at some time during those six hours that we “shoot to stop a threat.” It is highly unlikely that when you must use your gun to save your life, your first shot will put down an attacker. Though we cannot know what our exact reaction would be when faced with the situation in which we have to use our gun, most experts agree—you will not aim properly, nor will one round usually do the trick. When faced with a threat, your eyes will naturally stay on target and not your gun’s sights. That is why the simple Bill Drill is one of my favorite defensive pistol drills. It makes you practice your fundamentals but also prepares you for a self-defense situation and challenges you to increase your speed and accuracy. The Bill Drill focuses on a realistic aspect of a self-defense shooting—dumping your mag at a threat in close quarters.

Before doing the Bill Drill at the range with live ammo (you can easily perform this drill at home with airsoft or dry fire,) check with your range to make sure it is okay to draw from a holster and rapid fire. There are many ranges that ask you to keep 2 to 3 seconds between shots.

To do the Bill Drill you will need:

  • IDPA or IPSC silhouette or another man-sized silhouette target
  • Ammo
  • One full magazine with at least six rounds loaded
  • A 6×11 piece of paper, paper plate, index card, or another way to mark an area in center mass of the target

How to do the Bill Drill:

Put a paper plate in the center mass area of any man-sized target. Focus on speed and accuracy. Empty your magazine into the paper plate. Your goal is to have every round hit somewhere inside that paper plate.

  • Hang a paper plate, index card or a 6×11 sheet of paper in the center mass area of the target. This is your “A Zone.” Send the target out to seven yards (Most self-defense shootings occur between 10 and 5 feet.)
  • Either keep your gun in your holster or if your range restricts holster work, keep it on the bench or at the low ready.
  • Have your shooting buddy tell you when to go and clock your time on a shot timer.
  • Draw your gun from your holster, the bench or from the low ready and fire six rounds or your full magazine into the 6×11 area.
  • Your ultimate goal is to hit every round in the A Zone in under three seconds.

Start out slow with the Bill Drill, eventually working your way up from eight seconds to three Do the drill cold. Meaning, let it be the first drill you do when you arrive at the range. Think about it—you won’t get a warm up in real life.


Modifications and Challenges:

  • Reload quickly and perform the drill with another magazine
  • Switch from a paper plate to an index card
  • Practice reloads while keeping your eyes on the target
  • Practice clearing malfunctions without taking your gun off target

The Bill Drill is not only a practical self-defense shooting drill, it also helps you develop faster recovery time for quicker and more accurate follow-up shots and better trigger control and recoil mitigation.

You can dry fire any drill at home. Dry fire gives you the opportunity to practice and train more often and save money, especially if your gun range has restrictive rules.

Note: If you have never drawn from a holster before, please do not attempt the Bill Drill with live ammunition. Accidents happen when people are inexperienced at drawing and reholstering. You must learn how to present your gun from its holster safely. Practice this at home without any ammo, graduating to snap caps before any attempts at drawing at the range with live ammunition.

No amount of training will completely prepare you for real-life self-defense use of your handgun, but regular practice will help you develop the muscle memory needed to function efficiently if you have to. It will help you overcome the adrenaline dump that causes tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills and memory loss when your body experiences fight or flight.

What are your favorite self-defense drills? Share them with other shooters in the comment section.

Boresighting a Pistol

 “When you read about “accuracy” of any given handgun, know that unless machines are involved, what you’re really getting is an indication of that pistol’s ability to be shot accurately. — Tom McHale Shooting Illustrated

When we say a pistol is ‘accurate,’ we mean it consistently hits where we aim. A lot goes into whether a gun is accurate. The barrel, fittings and how precisely-machined all the parts affect accuracy. The sighting system affects accuracy. But we can’t blame all accuracy issues on the pistol. Most accuracy problems originate with you, the shooter. If you have the fundamentals of pistol shooting down—your aim, stance, grip and how you manipulate the trigger—than you should be shooting pretty darn straight. If you are still having problems punching holes into holes from a self-defense distance (10 feet and under), there just might be an issue with the gun.

So, where do you begin?

Inserting a laser boresight into a Ruger pistol
Increase your accuracy with Sightmark’s in-chamber boresights.

Let’s start by inspecting the sighting system you have on your gun—iron sights, night sights, lasers and red dots all need sighting-in to make sure they are aligned properly. Surprisingly, a lot of us just compensate our aim to match that of our gun’s sights from the factory. For example, if your sights are off, which they could very well be, we simply just shoot low left, or high right—whichever way your sights are set—to hit bullseye. It is not good to compensate our aim for offset optics or sights.

Why does accuracy matter?

To stop a threat, you must be able to hit vital organs. Inaccuracy could mean the bad guy wins.

What Happens to Your Body During a Self-Defense Shooting

When we are faced with a threat, our bodies dump adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol into our bloodstream, preparing us to either stay and fight or run. Our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase, our pupils dilate and our muscles tense. This dump of hormones can cause memory problems, loss of hearing and create tunnel vision.

In a self-defense situation, you won’t be able to take your time to aim. You won’t focus on the front sight. That is why we put lasers, red dots and high-visibility aftermarket sights on our handguns. Anytime we get a new handgun or a new sighting system, we need to make sure our sights or optic is centered with the bore. This makes your gun more accurate. An in-chamber boresight is a perfect way to do this and saves you time and money.

What is a Laser Boresight?

Zero your pistol from 15-100 yards.

A laser boresight is a preliminary method of getting your sights dialed in without using a lot of ammo at the range. Using a laser diode, it projects a red dot on a target, making it easier for you to center your sights and optics. Sightmark’s pistol boresights are caliber-specific and placed directly in your firearm’s chamber.

How to Boresight a Pistol

Using a pistol boresight is simple.

  1. Unload your firearm and pointing it in a safe direction, stabilize it using a benchrest or shooting bags.
  2. Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
  3. Unscrew the bottom of the boresight and insert the batteries according to the instructions. The boresight automatically turns on when the batteries are inserted correctly.
  4. Put the laser boresight into the chamber.
  5. Close the slide.
  6. Line the laser beam on to the center of the target.
  7. Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the crosshairs or dot until it lines up with the dot of the laser boresight. If you do not have an optic and just want to calibrate your sights, aim as you would regularly and then use a pistol sight adjustment tool to correct for windage and elevation.

As mentioned above, most inaccuracy problems can’t be blamed on the gun. There are a few things we can do besides improving our own technique to help increase accuracy. Accuracy isn’t just for precision shooters or competitors. Accurate is something we must all aim to be. For a small price to pay and a few minutes, a laser boresight might just make all the difference.

Pick your laser boresight out by clicking here.

Do you have any tips on how to improve accuracy? Help other shooters and leave them below in the comment section.

How to Boresight a Rifle

When you purchase a new optic for your rifle, that optic is not going to be accurate right out of the box. Before depending on your optic to help you hit exactly where you mean, you’ll have to zero it. Sighting in your scope can take a long time and waste a lot of ammo. Fortunately, there is a solution.

There is a more efficient and faster way of zeroing in a new optic. By using a laser boresight, you save time and money by making sighting-in much faster without using any ammo!

Bore sighting is a reliable way to align your reticle, sights and scope’s crosshairs with the true center of the gun’s barrel—which is the bore. Boresights use a laser diode to project a dot on a target much like a laser pointer, making it easy to see when your crosshairs align with the laser. Since the two run parallel to each other, they can only truly zero at a given distance. This is typically 25 yards.

You can bore sight any firearm—AR-15 and other MSWs, shotgun, bolt-action, and handguns. Bore sighting also works on any sighting system—red dot, reflex, riflescopes, holograph and even your iron or night sights.

There are two different types of laser boresights—one you put directly into the chamber and one you insert into the barrel.


In-chamber boresights are inserted directly into your gun’s chamber, so they must be caliber-specific and made to the same dimensions and specs as a cartridge in that caliber. These types of boresights are the most accurate. These can, however, become costly If you have firearms in multiple calibers that you need to sight in, because you must purchase a separate boresight for each caliber.

Man inserting a brass-cased in-chamber Sightmark boresight into his AR-15.
In-chamber boresights are accurate and easy to use.

Laser boresight cartridges are easy to use. You simply turn them on and insert it into the chamber of your firearm like you would a live round or snap cap.

Sightmark in-chamber boresights are superior to competitors, due to the multiple set screws that lock in the laser diode, ensuring the laser stays straight and centered. To test an in-chamber boresight’s accuracy, roll your laser boresight on a flat surface, the laser should stay straight along the wall as you roll it. If the dot rotates, you know the diode is canted and you won’t be able to accurately zero-in your scope.

Made of high-quality brass, the Sightmark boresights are calibrated to make sure the laser is true to center, and measure precisely the same specs as a live round. The extensive offerings include 12- and 20-gauge shotgun, the most popular self-defense handgun calibers, and over 30 different hunting, defense, sporting, and popular rifle calibers—including .223/5.56, .308, .50, .300 BLK and 6.5 Creedmoor.

Using an In-Chamber Boresight

  1. Use a benchrest, shooting bags, or other platform that stabilizes your gun. Make sure the firearm is completely unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
  3. Remove the batteries from the boresight packaging and unscrew the bottom of the boresight. Insert the two batteries according to the instructions. The boresight will automatically turn on when the batteries are inserted correctly.
  4. Lock your bolt open to the rear.
  5. Put the laser boresight into the chamber.
  6. You may close the bolt or leave it open.
  7. Line the laser beam on to the center of the target.
  8. Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the reticle, dot or crosshairs until it lines up with the dot of the laser boresight.

Universal Boresights

Other boresights are either attached or inserted into the barrel. Most boresights that you must insert into the barrel come with a set of arbors that will modify the boresight to fit different barrel sizes. These types of boresights are the most affordable, but they do come with some disadvantages.

  • Arbors are small and can get lost easily. They also wear out and break.
  • The entire boresight itself can play against the barrel, causing inaccuracy.
  • Safety concerns. Forgetting to remove a boresight from the barrel can result in a catastrophic accident.
Image shows a rifle with a barrel blown up in three pieces, split down the center from a forgotten in-barrel boresight
This barrel blew up when a competitor’s boresight was forgotten inside.

Sightmark’s universal boresights provide a much safer way to boresight if you prefer this type of boresight over an in-chamber boresighter. If you have looked at any firearm failure montages or spent any good deal of time on gun blogs and forums, you have probably seen the blown-up barrel caused by an in-barrel boresight. Our universal laser boresights securely stay on your rifle, shotgun, or pistol via a heavy-duty magnet. Only a small portion of the arbor goes inside the barrel. They incorporate a self-centering arbor, so you never have to worry about losing pieces or breaking parts. They will sight in firearms .17 to .50 caliber.


Using the Universal Boresight and Universal Boresight Pro

  1. Use a benchrest, shooting bags, or other platform that stabilizes your gun. Make sure the firearm is completely unloaded and point it in a safe direction.
  2. Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
  3. Remove the Universal Boresight from the package. Turn the unit on. To preserve battery life, the Universal Boresight Pro will only activate when the arbor is pressed in when it is attached to the barrel.
  4. Remove any suppressor or muzzle device you have on your firearm.
  5. Simply attach the boresight to the end of the barrel.
  6. Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the reticle, dot or crosshairs until it lines up with the dot of the laser boresight.

It’s as easy as that!

Now, you are ready to head to the range to make precise adjustments to your riflescope. It shouldn’t take but a few rounds to zero it in.

You will want to bore sight your firearm any time you get a new optic, upgrade factory sights, for a competition, before hunting, and on a firearm that has been in storage.

Click here to buy boresights from Sightmark.

Do you have questions about boresights? Leave them below and we will do our best to answer them.

How to Shoot with a Red Dot Sight

Once upon a time, a red dot sight meant exactly that—a sight that projects an illuminated red dot as an aiming point onto an objective lens. It is now a generic term most shooters use to describe a type of weapon sight that uses any illuminated color aiming dot or another shape for the reticle. Many red dot sights will illuminate green and offer different reticle choices other than just a dot with an outer ring. The appeal of the red dot sight is its simplistic operation and accuracy. Beginners to professional competitors thoroughly appreciate all the benefits illuminated dot sights give them.

Black open-style reflex sight mounted to a GLOCK with a Coyote tan frame
Red dot or reflex sights project an illuminated red or green dot or another shaped reticle for super quick target acquisition.

There are a few different types of red dot sights—reflex, tube, prismatic, and holographic. The difference in the types is how the sight works to project the reticle. Reflex and tube sights use a reflective glass lens and an LED, prismatic sights use prisms and holographic sights use a laser. Sightmark makes three of these sights—reflective, prismatic, and tube.

Dot sights offer shooters a great advantage—speed! Target acquisition with these types of optics is quicker and far easier than with iron sights or magnified scopes. That is because they can reflect the reticle’s projection in parallel with the sight’s optical axis, ensuring the point of aim and point of impact always coincide. They are designed so the reticle is always in focus when pointed at your target. There is no aligning of sights and no adjusting for different distances. The dot stays in focus no matter the distance of the target.

Using Your Red Dot for the First Time

Turn on the unit and check to make sure it is working. Depending on the environment, adjust the brightness of the reticle using the knob or brightness adjustment buttons. If you are shooting indoors or in low-light situations, your reticle will appear fuzzy or have a halo effect if it is too bright. Alternatively, if you don’t have the brightness up high enough outdoors or in bright light, your reticle will disappear.


Sightmark reflex, red dot and prismatic sights offer unlimited eye relief. Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and what your eyes see in the field of view. Red dots can be placed anywhere on your that gun that is most comfortable for you and reduces your line of the sight the most. For many, this is centered above the AR-15’s ejection port.

Man looking through a red dot sight mounted on an AR-15.
Red dot sights allow you to hit exactly where you need to, exactly when you need to.

When you have mounted, checked and corrected the brightness, you’re ready to shoot. (Always know your target and what’s behind it!)

  1. Look at your target.
  2. While remaining focused on your target, bring your gun up to the shooting position.
  3. Keep both eyes open.
  4. You will see the reticle move onto your target as you are bringing up your gun to shoot.
  5. Fire when the reticle meets the point you want to hit.

Once you have used your red dot for the first time, you will be able to quickly engage a target every time after.

Aiming a red dot is simple and fast. The reticle corrects itself and they are virtually parallax-free. Parallax is the visual movement of the reticle in relation to the target. When you move your head, the reticle will appear to move. Parallax is caused by the reticle not focusing at the same distance as the target. Sightmark’s dot sights are parallax-free anywhere from 10 to 25 yards to infinity. No sight is 100% parallax-free, as parallax will occur at closer distances.

Open-style reflex sight mounted a GLOCK pistol
Dot sights will fit on any gun with a rail. Mounted on a self-defense gun, a reflex sight gives you the tactical advantage.

Dot, reflex and prismatic sights are made for close quarters, close range, and for self-defense. They allow you to keep focused on the most important part—the target. With fast target acquisition and an accurate point of aim and shot placement, you hit exactly where you need to, exactly when you need to.

These sights offer an advantage over others because they allow you to remain situationally aware. You still can see your surroundings with their wide field of view and while aiming with both eyes open. When using a reflex sight with both eyes open, your dominant eye views the reticle and the target while the non-dominant eye is only viewing the target.  If the reflex sight’s line of sight to the target becomes blocked by debris, the dominant eye still sees the reticle.  The brain will continue to overlay the images of both eyes, and in this case, the reticle image of the dominant eye will be overlaid with the target image of the non-dominant eye.

Undoubtedly, red dot and reflex sights help you be a better shooter. They fit on any gun with a rail—handguns, shotguns, rifles…even bolt-action. Even though most reflex sights, apart from Sightmark’s prismatic sights, do not magnify, there are many units that are magnifier-compatible, as well as night vision-compatible. This versatility allows you to engage targets at further distances over 50 yards, as well as getting a close-range night vision scope for a very affordable price.

Unless you are long-distance precision shooting, there is no reason not to have one. With a red dot, you’ll spend more time hitting targets and less time wasting ammo.

Reflex, tube, prismatic, holographic? Which one did you choose and why? Tell us what you like and don’t like about it below in the comments.