The El Presidente Drill | Skills and Drills [2023]

El Presidente Featured Image

The El Presidente is a classic drill, one that most people already know. However, I've found myself shooting it lately, and wanted to cover it. What is the El Presidente, and how useful is it for improving skill?

What is the El Presidente Drill?

The El Presidente (often shortened to "El Pres") is a simple pistol drill, developed by Jeff Cooper in the 1970s. The name came from a group of students that Cooper was training in South America, who titled the drill the "El Presidente".

The drill is fairly simple. Our targets are silhouette targets, however, you can use something smaller too. I generally use B8s, and count any hit on the entire repair center as a "hit". Our targets are set up 10 yards away from the shooter, and 1 yard apart from each other.

The shooter begins with their gun holstered, and loaded with six rounds. Shooter also needs to have a spare magazine on them, for performing a reload, and that mag needs at least 6 rounds in it too. Start position is facing away from the targets, with hands in the surrender position.

On beep, shooter turns around, drawing their pistol while doing so. Shooter then engages each target with two rounds, for a total of 6 rounds fired in the first string of fire. Shooter then performs a slide lock reload, and engages the targets again, with another 2 rounds to each target. Drill is over once shooter has fired 12 rounds total, 4 rounds to each target over the two strings of fire. Par time is 10 seconds.

Paul El Pres Start Position
Me in surrender position, preparing to shoot a modified El Pres at a pistol match in November of 2022.

The El Pres is a very common drill, with it making appearances at lots of handgun shooting matches. It's also been modified into other drills, such as the Haley 22422 drill.

How about a quick TL;DR?

The Quick Rundown


  • Targets: Chosen by shooter, but is often 3 torso silhouette targets. Targets are staged facing the shooter, 1 yard apart.
  • Distance: 10 yards
  • Start Position: Shooting begins with the gun holstered, facing away from targets, with hands in surrender position.
  • Round Count & Strings of Fire: 12 rounds total, with 2 strings of 6 rounds of fire. A necessary slide lock reload is performed after the 6th round is fired.
  • Par Time: 10 seconds
  • Course of Fire: Shooter begins in surrender position, with firearm holstered, 6 rounds loaded into the gun. On beep, shooter turns around 180 degrees, drawing their gun while doing so. Shooter engages each target with 2 rounds, performs a slide lock reload, then engages each target again, with 2 rounds each.

An example of a recent El Pres:

What Skills Does the El Presidente Stress?

The EL Presidente is a classic drill that stresses the following skills:

  • Some movement, and getting into shooting stance
  • A draw from holster
  • Rapid target acquisition, and quick shooting with multiple rounds per target
  • Rapid target transition
  • Completing a slide lock reload, under a tight time constraint

The El Pres isn't the lowest round count drill, but it stresses some good skills.

The 180 degree spin and draw are good skills to practice. Beginning with our hands up removes any "gaming" advantage we may have, and the spin makes it that we have to acquire our target, possibly even before the gun is out. Getting a drawstroke in is also a great skill.

Our shooting on the El Pres needs to be fast, but we still have to maintain an (albeit more lax) accuracy standard. Two hits per target means that we need a strong grip to make the second round hit. The target transition also makes it that we need to not "over sweep" past the target, and actually stop and get the hits.

The integration of a reload is very important. Sometimes, that reload may hurt your cadence of fire, but with the El Pres, we have to remain fast, but still get the reload right.

And of course, we have to fire six rounds after the reload, stressing the above skills again. The El Pres is a drill that I really enjoy, generally speaking.

What I Like About the El Presidente Drill

I like that the El Pres is a simple drill, yet it works in quite a few skills. A little movement, a draw, target acquisition, transition, rapid shooting, and a reload, all important skills. I also enjoy how easy it is to modify the El Pres.

You can easily take the layout of the El Pres, and shift it around. Wanna change the distance, or the target used, or the number of rounds fired? The El Pres makes that easy enough to do. I personally like a modified El Pres, that is 6 rounds total, with 3 headshots in each string of fire. I've also shot modified El Presidentes with a normal first string of fire, that ended with a headshot to each target. Essentially, combining the El Pres and the Mozambique.

I mentioned it earlier, but the Haley Strategic 22422 is basically an El Pres, but without the reload and the spin. Meant to be faster, it is for generating shooting cadence, while also working on accuracy, and a fast target transition.

I just really enjoy shooting the El Pres. However, there is a part that I'm not a huge fan of. That is setting up extra target stands. I'll get over it though.

Muddy Feet
I love shooting the El Pres, I just don't like setting up multiple target stands in mud.

The El Presidente is a drill that I can wholeheartedly recommend to shooters. It is easy to adapt if you cannot clean/pass par on the standard version, and scales well to different targets, distances, and round counts.

Other Shooting Drills & Additional Info

Check out our other shooting drills  >>>here<<<.

For specific drills that I enjoy, check out "The Test" and the "FAST". These two drills are also fairly low round count, but work your skills quite well.

Here's another El Pres that I shot:


About Paul Whaley 196 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a Resident Evil game or listening to Warren Zevon.

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