So looking at the El Prez exercise, let’s see what it has to offer. We went over the standard drill above, and the important thing is to practice what the exercise was designed to improve: Draw, shoot and reload.
The first step is on the turn and the presentation. The directional turns should be practiced also; left, right, and back as these are necessary skills to develop for shooting and moving.
Focus on good presentation mechanics after the turn. The firearm is gripped and pulled out while the weak hand comes to the abdomen. As the gun is rotated and raised the safety (if equipped) is released and the hands are brought together in a good strong grip and the peripheral vision follows the sight to the target while the main vision is on the target.
When the sights, the target, and the eye on the target all line up, fire the first shoot, followed quickly by the second half of the double tap.
Now make the transition. The goal is simple; look/shoot. Look at the next target and smoothly move until the sights cross the target and again double tap. Then do it again.
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At this time the slide will lock open requiring a quick reload. As you hit the magazine release you should be grabbing for another magazine. Make sure your index finger is pointing to the bullet end of the loaded magazine.
This will aid in bringing the fresh magazine directly to the well for insertion. As it goes in give it a slap with the palm all in one movement to make sure it engages fully.
The next part of the exercise is a matter of opinion. Some advocate using the slide lock to release the slide to chamber a fresh round. This is faster and although some say it can wear the surface of the slide lock, it is acceptable.
Some experts believe that grabbing the slide of the gun near the rear sight while pushing the gun forward to the sighting and firing position is preferable. This is the way I was taught and I continue to do it this way to this day.
During the stress of a gunfight the body may in its fight-or-flight response drain smaller muscle groups of blood to concentrate oxygenated blood in bigger muscle groups for escape. Your thumb might not work as well under pressure.
I do it this way because it is one move that occurs when the gun is being thrust forward and it doesn’t take any more time. It is positive and I don’t have to worry about the possibility of my thumb slipping off the slide lock without releasing it.
Once you get the movements down get out the timer. Nothing will shudder your performance more than getting on the timer, even if there isn’t a competition on the line.
As you practice you will get faster. Start slowly. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. Soon not only will you be able to do the whole drill faster, but you will be able to do each individual function more quickly, like a mag change.
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These skills are perishable and need to be practiced regularly. Putting them together in drills or kata help us remember and practice them when we are at the range.
El Presidente contains some of the minimum and most basic skills that all who carry defensive firearms should master. These skills are wrapped up in a neat little practice package. El Prez is not about gunning down three bad guys. It is about aiming, shooting and reloading.
The biggest advantage to practicing any of these drills is the confidence that builds with mastery of the skills. You will reek of it and the bad guys will sense it.
This article is an excerpt from the May 2011 Tactical Gear iPad Edition. Click here to download to your iPad for Free
Recommended 1911 Resources
New! Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to the 1911
Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World
1911 Series Disassembly-Reassembly DVD