The Bill Drill is one of the most popular handgun shooting drills in existence. It’s a very easy and straightforward drill that involves drawing and shooting 6 rounds at a distance of 7 yards into the A-Zone of an IPSC paper (cardboard) target. In the world of handguns, the time to beat is two seconds.

The Bill Drill is very prevalent and involves every aspect of shooting, including drawing, proper manipulation, and recoil control. So, a person’s Bill Drill time is a good shorthand way of sizing up their general handgun skills. Any shooter who can pull off a two-second Bill Drill has above-average skills. It’s a lot like having a 300-pound bench press in strength training. You know someone is strong if they can bench that amount.

But what about a Carbine Bill Drill? Does it make sense to adapt this handgun staple over to rifles?

Bill Drill For Carbines

I doubt I’m far from being the only person who ever pondered how the Bill Drill would transfer over to the realm of semi-auto long guns, especially modern defensive carbines. Last week, by chance, Matthew Little / Greybeard Actual shared a video clip on social media about adapting the Bill Drill to carbines. It’s a short video clip, but I recommend watching it as he mentions other benefits and value that Bill Drills provide in general.

The most important snippet of information in Graybeard’s video is that he mentions a par time of 1.5 seconds for carbines. Given Mr. Little’s extensive expertise and experience with firearms, I have no problem “appealing to authority” in this regard. If he says 1.5 seconds as a baseline is good enough, that’s good enough for me, too.

Carrying Out The Carbine Bill Drill

The beauty of shooting Bill Drills, whether with a rifle or pistol, is that they’re easy to set up. Besides a firearm, one only needs a shot timer and 21 feet of space between them and their target. A real IPSC target isn’t even necessary either because all that’s needed is a 6×11-inch vertical rectangle. This can be traced out with a permanent marker on a large piece of paper or sheet of cardboard.

For this article, I shot the Carbine Bill Drill with one of the most basic AR-15s I have at my disposal. It is a BCM 16″ carbine with pencil barrel upper, BCM bolt carrier group, and basic grey Magpul MOE SL furniture. This “backup” AR-15 carbine is built from an assortment of parts, including a standard forged lower receiver purchased from a big-box outdoor store a couple of years ago.

There isn’t anything fancy about it. The only accessories this carbine has are a sling and a Trijicon MRO reflex sight. I figured this no-frills AR was just as good as any other to run the Carbine Bill Drill, so I didn’t mind shooting it this time. In spite of its age, it hardly gets shot nowadays, and I was happy to dust it off.

A better view of my BCM KISS Carbine and the improvised targets I made for the Carbine Bill Drill from a recycled sheet of cardboard.

Carbine Bill Drill Times (In Seconds)

With the high prices of 5.56mm ammo lately (along with pretty much everything else), I didn’t go too crazy for this write-up and only fired 40 rounds. I shot two 3-shot groups to confirm that the Trijicon MRO was still roughly zeroed. I fired the other 36 rounds over six separate Carbine Bill Drill runs. Although it’s lots of fun, extended Carbine Bill Drill repetitions are a good way to become bankrupt.

  1. 1.61
  2. 1.37 (dropped a single, careless round outside A-zone)
  3. 1.56
  4. 1.45
  5. 1.40
  6. 1.44

Is It Too Easy? (And Other Thoughts)

Once “warmed up” and in my groove, I was able to consistently pass the 1.50 second par time easily. This is evident by the times for my fourth, fifth, and sixth runs. Out of curiosity, I also tracked my splits for these runs, and they were all around the mid-teens, with an average of 0.16 seconds.

Is that too easy? Perhaps it could be, but I think it ultimately depends on the shooter and their rifle. I’d be impressed if I could shoot the Carbine Bill Drill with the Kalashnikov and sight I recently reviewed and still get 1.40 on a run. As Greybeard mentions in his video, the Carbine Bill Drill also serves as an isolation drill that allows shooters to train on other aspects of carbine shooting.

In this go-around of the drill, my goal was simply to see how quickly I could do it and establish a baseline because I had never tried it with a carbine before. I found that my experience shooting handguns quickly gave me a leg-up with the carbine, too.

Besides its simplicity, the other beauty of the Carbine Bill Drill is that there are no rules holding anyone back from tweaking this exercise to better suit their needs. For example, the size of the scoring area could be changed from an A-Zone into a B-8. The distance can be increased or decreased as needed. Ditto for par times. The sky is truly the limit with the Carbine Bill Drill.

P.E. Fitch
I am a shooter first, and a writer second. IG & Twitter: @pfitch45