The Praetorian Alpha Drill

Shooting practice and performing live-fire drills are solid ways to get yourself into a rhythm, whether you’re looking for improved defensive reaction time or to cut down competition shooting times. This issue’s drill comes from the training regimen for our nation’s latest military branch, the United States Space Force.

The Praetorian Drill series was developed for the U.S. Space Force Force Protection (ForcePro) personnel. These men and women are tasked with guarding the entire Space Force base to include CACs—common access points—specialized equipment, classified facilities, the command team, and more.

This specific drill, Praetorian Alpha, was developed for the Space Force ForcePro Agents (FPAs) at common access points. At these CACs, FPAs are tasked with authorizing legal documents for entry and assessing personnel and vehicles for potential threats to the command team, classified equipment, and friendly personnel. Visitors wishing to gain access to the facility will need to provide credentials at CACs and will often be in close proximity to the FPAs. The challenges created by extreme close quarters revolve around target discrimination and speed of effective engagement. Shorter distances call for faster speeds because accuracy thresholds are substantially larger. The Praetorian Drill series was designed to build proper neural pathways for reacting to instant life-or-death, close-quarters situations.

The drill itself will assess and establish a baseline level of combat effectiveness for each ForcePro agent by training on fundamentals with limited time. The Praetorian Drill series includes live-fire, force-on-target, and UTM-driven force-on-force iterations. Drawing a sidearm from a holster, marksmanship at speed, target transitions, and reloading the weapon systems are the key fundamentals in this drill.

Whether you’re a force protection agent, a law enforcement officer, or a civilian, the Praetorian Alpha drill will help you identify threats versus non-threats (target discrimination), reactive target engagements at a high rate of speed, target transitions, and overall situational awareness.

This Praetorian Drill series was developed for the Space Force security forces as a way to train fundamentals with limited time. Marksmanship at speed, target transitions, draws, and reloads are the key the fundamentals in this drill.

  1. Shooter’s hands are by his/her sides.
  2. Shooter recognizes threat.
  3. Shooter raises rifle and engages the initial threat with two rounds.
  4. Shooter transitions to secondary threat, begins to engage the threat, shooter’s rifle malfunctions (dummy round or stop stick; dummy round preferred).
  5. Shooter transitions to pistol and engages the secondary threat with four rounds.
  6. Shooter transitions to primary threat and engages with two rounds (time stops, 4 seconds).
  7. Shooter assesses the scene.
  8. Shooter holsters pistol.
  9. Shooter works on getting the rifle back on line.
  10. ENDEX

Target sizes vary depending on skill level. IPSC targets, 8.5 x 11” paper sheets, or 4×6” cards can be used as targets. The 4×6” version is obviously significantly more difficult. All shots must be fired before the end of the par time. Shots fired after par count as misses.

Text by Jeff Cotto and illustrations by Charles “Chip” Lasky

Praetorian Alpha (rifle/pistol transition drill)
Range: 3 yards
Target: 2x IPSC targets (8.5×11 paper advanced)
Start position: Rifle slung in front, pistol holstered, hands by side
Rounds: 8 rounds—2 rifle, 6 pistol (3 rifle/5 pistol variation)
Par time: 4 seconds

About the Author
Jeff Cotto served eight years and nine combat deployments with the U.S. Army’s 1st Ranger Battalion in support of the Global War On Terrorism. Between Iraq and Afghanistan he served as a Gustav gunner, SAW gunner, rifle team leader, sniper team leader, sniper section leader, and rifle squad leader. Following his service he became the training manager for the Afghan Special Operations (Khaté Khas) training cycle for mission readiness. He was then selected and assigned to perform the duties of a close protection officer for the United States clandestine services. Today Cotto runs BAT Defense, a training and security company serving military, law enforcement, civilians, and approved foreign clients. Further information can be found at batdefense.com.

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