Multiple armed assailants? Tactical reloads? Reflexive shooting? Rapid follow up shots? There is a classic handgun drill that helps hone all of these: The El Presidente
Imminent gun guru and master pistolero Lt.Colonel Jeff Cooper, USMC, developed this drill personally to gauge the skill of handgun shooters. He taught the drill at his American Pistol Institute in the late 1970s alongside other classics such as the Mozambique Drill. Working on the premise of firing at multiple targets, it included a rapid (and timed) reload and follow up shots. Since then it has become a standard drill often taught in security and law enforcement circles as well as to military and other tactical shooters. For decades, it has been used and speed raced in IPSC matches and USPSA events in gun clubs across the continent.
The Drill itself
This classic drill is easy enough to stage if you have an open range or personal and safe shooting area. You need three silhouette targets on appropriate stands set up one yard apart. These should be ten yards from the firing line with a safe backstop. Remember to know your target and what is beyond it for safety.
- Three targets are the core of the drill. These are slightly further apart than the 1-yard called for, but you get the idea.
Once you have the three targets set up, clear your range, and commence with the drill. Start with your firearm holstered and your back to the target and your hands either in front of your chest or over your head in a surrender position. To begin turn fully and engage all three targets with two rounds each to the center mass until six rounds have been fired. Complete a reload, and then repeat the drill firing two more rounds center mass of the targets. At the end, you will have fired 12-rounds, ideally 4 into each target, and performed a reload in the middle.
You can use this drill with both revolvers and semi-automatics. If you start with more than six rounds loaded in your firearm, simply perform a tactical reload (where you keep the magazine still containing rounds of ammunition) instead of an administrative reload.
At Cooper's American Pistol Institute in the late 1970s, the average for this was 10-seconds. In today's IPSC matches these run anywhere from 15-seconds for "D-class" shooters and 4.75 seconds for Grandmasters. It should be remembered that Master class shooters have done this drill thousands of times before being able to safely attempt the El Presidente in 5 seconds or less. Your best bet is to try it as slow as possible, concentrating on the movements rather than your time. Once you have the basic movements down, the speed will come. Remember we all learned to crawl before walking, and walked before we ran.
You can also run the drill with an unloaded firearm dry-firing or using snap cap, or with air pistols and/or airsoft weapons to hone your weapons manipulation techniques without live fire.
It is a lot of fun and helps practice several different skillsets.
Variants of the Drill
For shooting at a shorter range, like the 5 or 7-yard mark, rather than the 10-yard mark used in the El Presidente, the drill is referred to tongue-in-cheek as the Vice Presidente.
A version of the drill that incorporates head-shots is the Demi-Presidente. Instead of the second round of two shots each, deliver one aimed shot to the head of the silhouette target after your reload.
Both the Demi and the Vice have the same time periods to deliver as the regular El Presidente: 5-15 seconds with about 10 seconds being the average for a good shooter.