Gun Digest

Tactical Gear Video: The El Presidente Drill

This article is an excerpt from the May 2011 Tactical Gear iPad Edition. Click here to download to your iPad for Free

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Many of you are thinking, “Not another El Presidente story.”

Surrender or starting position. This can be with the targets to the rear or either side depending on which turn you are practicing. Remember you don’t have to be a cooperative captive. I am starting my crouch to make the turn. It should look to the bad guy that I am being submissive and giving up.

Do you know the El Presidente drill? The standard drill as I learned it was to stand with your back to three targets that are side-by-side about 10 yards away with six rounds in the gun and six rounds in a spare magazine where you normally carry it.

With your hands up, in the surrender position, turn and face the targets, draw and fire the weapon with two shots on each target, drop the empty mag, reload and again put two rounds on each target.  You can chose to go back the way you came or start on the same target you started with the first time.

I shot El Presidente the first time more than 25 years ago.  And since that time there has been much criticism leveled against this particular training sequence.

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This is largely because it is not a sound tactic to stand off against armed assailants and hope you can put four rounds into each one before you get killed. Someone even did a force-on-force evaluation on how effective it would be to take on three armed opponents standing face-to-face.

Bringing the hands together for a solid two handed grip ans the gun heads to the target. Keep your one eye on the target and one ont the front sight as it comes up to a perfect sight picture.

The consensus, was you no matter how fast you are, the best is a draw or you would lose.  Duh!

The point of this training exercise is not that you actually think you can win such a fight. The point is to teach you how to handle the weapon and the reloads.

El Pres is about drawing and presenting the pistol, firing double taps at multiple targets and performing a speed reload. These are very important things to master in handling a gun for defensive purposes.

It is like a kata that has put together several functions in one drill.  The karate man doesn’t expect to get attacked in the same order that he mastered his moves, but learns a kata to help him learn and master each move.

The mind can employ the moves as needed to the situation but first you have to master the moves.  The same with the El Presidente.

Here is full draw. Start closer to the targets, this is 5 yards. Practice slow fluid moves at first and strive for center hits. Speed will come with practice. As you get faster at this distance move back a few yards.


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.

I like the over the slide method of closing the pistol. I do it in the same movement as bringing the pistol back up to fire. I was taught to do it that way and it is a habit that is still with me.

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.

Turn the pistol slightly to the side and insert the mag keeping it all pointed downrange to the threat.

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

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