One of the most overlooked skills for the defensive shooter is the draw. It’s not so much that most people don’t understand the importance of it, but rather unfortunately, for so many shooters, there isn’t convenient public access to a range that allows drawing from the holster. There’s still hope in that you can practice at home whenever you like but while this will definitely help you hone your mechanical skills, it still lacks the obvious effect of recoil and multiple shots. That said, there’s still a tremendous value in dry fire training. Here, we’ll specifically point out a few key training elements for a defensive shooting draw.
Like anything else, there is more than one way to draw. One factor is where on your body you carry the firearm. An ankle holster takes a lot more effort to get to than an open carry at the 3 O’clock. There’s always a compromise between accessibility and concealability. A competition style draw may use a straight path for the gun from the holster to the full extension. This has been proven to be fast and accurate, as many top-level competitors demonstrate regularly, however, their targets are not interacting up close and personal so they have the opportunity to go to full extension. A bad guy pushing you into your car with a knife at your throat isn’t going to allot you that time or space. You’ll have to shoot from a shorter stroke draw. That’s one reason why, for defensive and tactical reasons, you should practice drawing from multiple positions; seated in a big chair, in the car, on your back, etc.
Here are some basic tips to keep in mind while practicing your draw at home. As always, make sure the weapon is clear. Safety first!
- Start with the basics; open carry on your strong side and take the draw one step at a time.
- When you go for the gun, you should establish both your grip and your stance so that, ideally, nothing else needs to move but your arms and hands to provide a solid foundation for the shots.
- Apply forward pressure to the gun so that as soon as the barrel clears the holster the muzzle will quickly flip up towards the target.
- Be sure to keep your elbow pointed as straight back behind you as possible to ensure the muzzle direction stays downrange.
- Once you’ve cleared the holster you should deactivate the safety if you have one, and get your finger on the trigger so that, if necessary due to time or space restraints, you can fire the weapon “from the hip”.
- Be sure to keep your support hand up and close to the centerline of your body. If the bad guy is up close, you may need to use your support hand to push them away and/or clear some clothing out of the holster’s way.
- Your stance should be solid and balanced the entire draw stroke. Your shoulders should be just about directly over your knees, ideally, with a very slightly forward bias.
- You should try to find your sights as soon as possible—when your extending, so you can get a decent sight picture as soon as possible.
- Try to really concentrate on establishing that proper sight alignment and picture as quickly as possible. As you improve you should see less movement on the sights as you pull the trigger.
- When drawing from other positions, be mindful of the muzzle. For example, if you’re on your back, make sure to move the leg on the gun side out of the muzzle’s line of fire to avoid accidentally shooting your own foot.
- Face a mirror and/or video tape yourself to see errors you didn’t realize you were making. Sometimes you have no idea your doing something wrong until you get a chance to view yourself going through the motions.
All this can be a lot to think about and it’s not even everything you need to know to master the draw. But any practice you get is better than none. And if you want to make things a bit more spontaneous try practicing in front of a TV and drawing whenever certain characters come on screen. See if you can nail those precious head shots! There’s no reason not to have fun when your training.
Here’s a quick video demonstrating a draw. Basic Draw
If you’d like to work on your drawing skills with a live coach, come join us for our Elemental Skills Clinics. Each two-hour course focuses on a single aspect of shooting so you can find your own style and perfect your skills. Click HERE to learn more and sign up.