Skills Check: El Presidente Drill Times Two

Making it a double helps to hone your defensive-shooting skills.

posted on July 26, 2022
gun and target

What makes a good training drill? It is one that teaches and tests essential skills of gun handling and marksmanship. Sure, running and jumping while shooting dozens of rounds is fun, but effective drills need not be difficult. I recall a federal agency that used our Border Patrol range for training and set up elaborate and complicated courses of fire designed to make the shooters fail so the instructors could belittle them. Not smart. 

One of the classic drills is the El Presidente, conceived by the late Jeff Cooper and now practiced obsessively by competitive shooters. Fired at 10 yards, this drill uses three targets and includes a 180-degree turn, drawing the pistol, engaging each target with two shots each, reloading and firing two more shots per target. Cooper believed it was not a tactical solution to face three threats, but rather a test of effective gun handling. 

There are variations of the El Pres, including a Demi-Pres and a Tactical Pres. I use this variation to test the skill level of CCW-permit holders, who often carry small guns. You will need two silhouette targets with body and head-scoring areas, a timer, your concealed-carry pistol and six rounds of defensive ammunition. 

Here’s the drill:
At 5 yards, starting with your back to two targets, turn, draw, engage each target with two rounds, take a step to the side as you reload and fire one head shot on each target. 

So basically, it’s turn, draw, two body, two body, step and reload, one head, one head.

Par time is 8 seconds. Shots in the scoring areas of the body and head count for five points, shots outside score two. There’s a two-point penalty for each second beyond the 8-second limit, and you gain two points for each second less than 8 seconds. A perfect run within the par time yields a total of 30 points, while runs under the par time can exceed this total if there are no misses. If you’re shooting a revolver, par time is 10 seconds.

It’s vitally important you don’t draw your pistol until you’re facing downrange, as you don’t want to sweep anyone with your muzzle as you turn. 

This drill is easier if you use your training pistol and gear, but perhaps you’ll find it a tad more challenging if you attempted to shoot it from concealment with your carry pistol, especially if you carry one of the small handguns that are so popular these days.


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