“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” or so the saying goes. This can be translated into “A gun in the hand is worth two guns in holsters.” In law enforcement (and CCW carry), we don’t have the luxury of being able to have a gun in the hand in every situation we find ourselves in. Being able to access your firearm in a timely manner is a worthwhile skill that we can all agree on I would think.
I’ve been in more than several situations where drawing speed was a key factor in stopping lethal force aggression in my career. I can remember each incident very clearly.
Student feedback has mirrored my own in large part. Some of my students have truly remarkable tales of survival when the odds were against them. In their words, being able to draw and fire rapidly and accurately while under pressure was what kept them alive.
I am often asked by students, instructors, and others about what are the best ways to improve on drawing speed.
Trick Question Now, you have to realize, this is a trick question for me. What kind of holster are we talking about using? How much does it matter? Are we talking concealed carry or more open carry? Where do you carry it?
Draw speed is also relative to the size of the target, range to target, and your ability to shoot well.
There are a variety of ideas out there on how to access the firearm and everyone will have some idea of what they like to use. I spend a lot of time wearing different hats as a professional shooter and trainer. For a lot of CCW wear, we wear friction fit holsters or more specialized inside the pants holsters. For law enforcement and SWAT, I spend a lot of time using holsters with different types of retentions mechanisms and levels. I also spend a tremendous amount of time testing — researching holster designs and giving feedback to companies on them.
There is also the problem of position when drawing. You need to be able to do it standing, sitting, prone, in a car, chair in a restaurant etc.
What I would like to share are the concepts I use to draw a weapon with consistent, high-quality, bet-your-life-on-it, speed and control.
I am also experimenting with video clips embedded in articles so I will attach a test clip for you to view and give me feedback on. I appreciate your input!
Breaking it Down For this article, I will work on the first part of the draw sequence and that is acquiring the firearm in a consistent manner while under pressure. What you can do when you are warmed up will not be the same as when you are “cold” or under pressure.
Let’s start with an unloaded weapon on target in whatever grip you currently use. Pay attention to the angle your wrist and hand are in at this point when the sights are aligned.
Now, put the weapon back into your holster while maintaining this same alignment of hand and wrist. Do not bend your wrist yet if you can avoid it.
Your elbow will be pointing more or less straight up and your fingers will point straight down. Close your eyes and get a feel for this position in your mind.
Next, raise your hand about an inch, leaving your fingertips touching the weapon. Your elbow is straight up and your fingers are pointing down.
Move your hand away from the weapon at this point and move to the weapon, elbow straight up and fingers straight down. Find the weapon with your fingertips touching it first. If your elbow is more or less straight up it will help orient the web of your hand between thumb and index finger properly. Now you can find the various release mechanisms for your holster and access them while moving the hand down on the grip.
This methodology works with everything — CCW, different levels of holster retention, different positions and situations, etc.
Now, put your hands in a variety of different starting positions that you can imagine yourself having to move from. Remember, elbow straight up, fingers straight down as you move to the weapon. Find it with your fingertips, orient your hand by feel and then release the retention devices. This can be done really fast and above all, consistently under pressure.
For those who carry holsters that are worn down on the thigh and are a bit floppy, it is very important to stabilize the gun with your fingertips before trying to release it. Otherwise, fumbling may result.
This method is simple, repeatable, and effective. It works for me and it has saved more than a few lives for my students. Try it out and use a timer. Make sure you work from your patrol car, sitting down at a booth or table, standing, moving, etc. Okay, here’s that video — let me know what you think.
In addition to the video clip that goes with this article, the video gallery on the front page of our website has a handful of videos you can use to improve your performance. If you like those videos, tell others for me. Thanks!
See you next time!
About the author
Ron Avery is President and Director of Training for The Practical Shooting Academy, Inc. and Executive Director of the non-profit, Rocky Mountain Tactical Institute - both training institutions dedicated to professional firearms and tactics courses, higher police standards and training and use of force research. Train with Ron Avery. Visit his Course Calendar. Ron is a former police officer with many years of street experience, which he brings into the training environment. He is internationally recognized as a researcher, firearms trainer and world class shooter. His training methodology is currently being used by hundreds of agencies and thousands of individuals across the US and internationally. Ron has worked as a consultant and trainer for top level federal agencies, special operations military from all branches of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies across the US. He is a weapons and tactics trainer for handgun, carbine, select fire, precision rifle and shotgun, as well as advanced instructor schools, defensive tactics, team skills and tactics, low light tactics, arrest and control and officer survival. Contact Ron Avery