The Bull Is Back

B8 = Human Heart. See the connection?

The old bulls-eye shooters could put 10 in a row into a 3" bulls-eye at 25 yards — one-handed. Photo: Roy Huntington

The round, black bulls-eye target with tight scoring rings comes from traditional one-handed target shooting. It has long since fell into disfavor with defensive shooters who find a humanoid silhouette more appropriate for the purpose. Yet, at a time when virtually all agree shot placement is the most critical element in surviving a gunfight, many of our leading experts have rediscovered the bulls-eye, specifically the NRA B8, designed originally for one-hand timed and rapid fire at 25 yards.

NRA specifies “timed fire” as two strings of five shots in 20 seconds, and “rapid fire” as two strings of five shots in 10 seconds. The diameter of the black bulls-eye is 5.2″ at its outer (9-point) ring, encompassing a 3″ “10-ring” and at the center, a 1-1/2″ “10-X” tiebreaker circle. Let’s look at how some top self-defense gurus are using this classic target to reinforce fundamentals and improve hits.

The Test: Ten shots in just under 10 seconds at 10 yards — from concealment.

heart book

Larry Vickers, Ken Hackathorn

Ken and Larry are old masters who should need no introduction here. Larry Vickers writes at

“One of my favorite handgun skill drills is called The Test. Also known as the 10-10-10 drill; it goes like this — put a B8 replacement center bulls-eye at 10 yards and in a max of 10 seconds shoot 10 shots from the low ready position. The goal is to put them all in the black within the maximum time limit — once you become proficient, try using the scoring rings and try to score a minimum of 90 with 95 and above being ideal. As my students can tell you, this drill is no joke and serves as an excellent yardstick to measure handgun skill by; you can find out where a student is at skill-wise real fast with this quick drill. I got it from Ken Hackathorn years ago and it is a classic.”

Action targets are fine, but shooters need to practice precise shooting too.
“Aim small, hit small” as they say.

Hearne, Blowers

At the excellent site, star instructor John Hearne writes:

“My favorite drill right now is the Hateful Eight by Bill Blowers. Shot at 8 yards using a B-8 repair center as a target. Gun is set up with four rounds and you have two reloads of two rounds each. You have eight seconds to draw and fire all eight rounds. There are three standards: all eight in the 8 ring; all eight in the 9 and 10 ring; (or) at least 76 points. At first, this sounds like a reload intensive drill with no marksmanship benefit. What I’ve found is the number of reloads creates a lot of mental pressure to go faster than one can hit the black of the bulls-eye. It is a great drill for making you focus on the task at hand. If you’re drawing and shooting, you can’t think about the reloads. If you’re reloading, you can’t be thinking ahead to the shooting, as soon as the gun is reloaded, you must make a 100 percent shift back to shooting … I find the mental discipline required for this drill to be very high and hard to generate from any other easily conducted drill. In the day and age of 15-round service pistols, the reload is a rarely necessary skill. However, if you have an empty pistol, there is no such thing as a ‘too fast’ successful reload. Also, you’re going to reload your pistol anyway, you might as well practice it in a serious fashion.”


MacNamara, Dobbs, Bolke, Dyal

Noted combat instructor Pat MacNamara wrote an article in Combat Handguns (March-April 2019) called “Quick Hits: Get Strong By Going Long.” There he writes:

“I cannot overemphasize the importance of working on accuracy. Shooting bulls-eye drills allows us to slow down and perform the perfect repetition. It allows us to be introspective and exercise some constructive criticism.”

Wayne Dobbs and Darryl Bolke skillfully teach the defensive handgun, and use the B8 as part of their curriculum. Dobbs notes the human heart is about the size of a grapefruit and, coincidentally, so is a B8 bull. They, like other top instructors, emphasize accuracy is vital.

Justin Dyal, a recently retired combat Marine officer, is writing some of the most practical stuff out there on defensive shooting. He created the “Five-Yard Roundup” using the B8 that I covered in my November column. It’s comprised of four strings, each accomplished in separate two-and-a-half second intervals. (1) Starting with hands at sides, draw and fire one shot, free style; (2) At low ready, free style (hopefully two-handed), raise the gun on the signal and fire four shots; (3) From low ready, three shots dominant hand only; (4) From low ready, two shots non-dominant hand only.

The above drills are quick, cheap landmarks for skill testing. And, before you call a true bulls-eye shooter an old Fudd, just remember some of them can put 10 in a row — timed and rapid — into that 3″ 10-ring from 25 yards. One-handed.

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