What the 100-meter dash can teach you about a gunfight
Amateurs practice until they get it right — professionals train until they can’t get it wrong
I have raised and coached several distance runners, but for me, the most exciting and unpredictable race at a track meet is the 100-meter dash. Given a well-matched group of competitors, this race sometimes comes down to which runner can exit the starting blocks the fastest. Sprinters understand the importance of a flawless start and devote hours of training to these critical first seconds of a race.
A sprint has a lot in common with a sudden gunfight. Both can be won or lost in fractions of a second and the winner is often the participant with the most effective start. Unfortunately, there is little similarity between the time a sprinter spends perfecting his move out of the blocks and the time most officers spend developing the fast and efficient draw stroke.
The high-stakes nature of a gunfight demands that we, as law-enforcement officers and trainers, commit much more training time to this all-important skill.
Consider These Statistics
Officers and instructors need to take these numbers into account and honestly assess the effectiveness of their training. In my opinion, if every officer was capable of a draw stroke that took less than two seconds, these sobering statistics would improve. But this is not going to happen with infrequent qualifications. Improvement requires regular training, including frequent dry practice on a series of movements that will develop an officer’s ability to draw from their holster quickly and accurately — every time.
Your Formidable Start
Under the relatively minor stress of a time limit, many will struggle with their holsters or revert to any one of several time-consuming and inaccurate draw strokes. However, when they are given the opportunity to understand and practice the Five-Count Presentation, most show significant improvement in the same day.
Count One — Establish a shooting grip while clearing any holster retention
Your primary hand should move toward your pistol at the same time that your support hand is moving toward your chest or upper abdomen. Imagine that your hands are connected with a foot-long string, so that reaching for your pistol pulls your support hand toward your chest at the same speed.
Count Two — Draw your pistol
Count Three — Drop your elbow and sweep your pistol’s safety, if applicable
If you’ve done this step correctly you’ll end up with your forearm along you ribcage and your pistol pointing at the threat — preferably at the upper abdomen or chest. While you’re learning these steps, stop at step three from time to time and notice where your muzzle is pointing. Make adjustments to your form where necessary — in the forearm and not the wrist — to develop your ability to point your pistol accurately at the target’s “chest” on every draw. With practice you’ll soon master this skill, which is critical if you find yourself in a gunfight at such close distances that you are forced to begin shooting from position three.
Count Four — Establish a proper two-handed grip
Count Five — Move your pistol smoothly toward the threat while referencing your front sight to break your vision plane
Given the speed of a sudden gunfight it is unrealistic to spend any additional time acquiring your front sight reference. But shooting without any confirmation on where your pistol is pointing can be equally ineffective. Again, statistics make the point — officers commonly miss their assailant far more often than they hit them, even at distances within ten feet. A suspect who is willing to murder you is not going to stop his attack until you stop him — or he mortally wounds you — so misses will also take up time that you cannot afford to waste.
You can reduce and even eliminate these misses by developing the ability to reference your front sight as you are moving from Count Four to Count Five — but this takes regular practice.
Practice, Practice, Practice
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