Tactics are an expedient and the “correct” one is situation dependent. Fundamental skills apply to all relevant situations. Therefore, once an overview of concepts has been accomplished, most training time should be spent learning something that is guaranteed useful in all situations rather than obsess over edge cases that likely won’t occur.

It is too bad many folks billing themselves as tactical trainers don’t understand this. Here’s an example.

How does a defensive firearms trainer establish a test that demonstrates proficiency with a firearm (or a specific skill) that is NOT just another “game” that can be practiced by the student? How do we make a realistic testing process, or do we need to even do it? I ask specifically in the context of law enforcement training but the question applies to any personal defense scenario.

If the standard is currently difficult or impossible for the person attempting it, practice and training for a “game” forces skill/capability development if the standard is ever to be achieved.

For a person incapable of shooting El Presidente with a 6 hit factor (12 centered hits in 10 seconds) that has been considered “par” for any competent handgun shooter since the 1970s, practicing for it until this standard is consistently achieved will also improve general, overall gunhandling and marksmanship. Training fundamentals intelligently with periodic retesting against some standard demonstrates skill is actually improving. When this is achieved, increase the standard or find a new one to test against.

The deadlift is just another “game” that can be practiced. Training it with ever-increasing weight until you can pull double or triple the beginning poundage will also improve your general, overall body strength.

Failing to assess results with numbers is a training failure.

Shooting El Presidente is a great example of a circus trick. It requires skill, but those “skills” may likely get you killed in a real gun fight.


It is a measure of fundamental skill, nothing more. Any other sort of test can be used if preferred. Shoot it once or twice as a measure, train fundamentals, then retest to measure improvement.

This isn’t a “circus trick” as some low-skilled personnel pretending to be instructors have suggested. A person with good marksmanship and gunhandling will have good results on such a course. An improvement in fundamentals will result in an improved score. A poor score or a lack of measurable improvement indicates fundamentals are poor and haven’t improved.

Same with the deadlift, or other primary lift. If you aren’t adding weight over time, you aren’t getting stronger.

What this “tactical trainer” fails to realize is many gun owners (LEOs included) struggle greatly on any reasonably challenging test even when there aren’t any variables. Set up an El Prez for a few police officers or gun owners and ask them to shoot it once or twice for record, suggesting that a good score is all center hits in under 10 seconds.

Straight forward, no variables, yet (for many) it will provide plenty of challenge. Their skills aren’t sufficient to meet the challenge with a straight forward, no-variable test. That low skill will just degrade further if more variables, stress, and uncertainty are thrown at them.

Given the standards of most LEO and CCW qualifications, most people would need a 200-300% skill increase to earn a “par” score (12 center hits/60 points in 10 seconds) on this.

The only “circus trick” of this drill for most people is developing sufficient fundamental skill to shoot it reasonably well. No sacred cow here, just the harsh reality most gun owners would be better served with simple exercises and actually developing basic skills beyond novice levels.

If rules changed to address and enforce the various complaints cited against competitive events and courses, the same good shooters would continue to win and the complaining non-shooters would find other excuses to avoid having their lack of skills measured in a peer environment.