Practicing Your Draw

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I know a lot of people who carry daily. While many of those people take that responsibility seriously, I can’t say that all do. Honestly, there are just too many people whose first experience with a handgun is when they go to take their concealed carry course. These people haven’t bothered to take the time to learn more than minimal proficiency with their guns, yet expect to be able to defend themselves.

Perhaps part of the blame for this can be laid at Hollywood’s feet. After all, the good guys can grab any gun and shoot it perfectly, every time. But as you and I know, real life isn’t that way. Learning shooting proficiency takes a lot of time and practice on the range; time these people aren’t taking.

But that’s not the only thing they aren’t taking the time to learn proficiently. When the brown stuff hits the rotary air movement device, our ability to shoot accurately is only one of a long string of skills which we have to put together, if we’re going to survive the encounter. Those skills start with our situational awareness and end with our police interview. Each and every one of them is equally important.

Like drawing a gun; that’s an important skill. Yet it’s a skill that few people practice, even people who are experienced shooters. Somehow, we all think that when the time comes, we’re going to be able to grab our gun and get a good sight picture as well as Doc Holliday could.

Yet the draw is critical. Our ability to remove our gun from its place of hiding, get a good grip, bring the gun to eye level and get a good sight picture, all while establishing a good stance and deciding if the situation warrants lead going downrange is critical. We have to coordinate several actions and decisions at the same time and we have to do it in less than a second. That’s nothing to take lightly.

This problem is complicated enough on its own, but it actually gets more complicated for many of us. There may be cases where we don’t carry our gun in the same place all the time, due to changes in wardrobe. There might also be times when we change our wardrobe in a way that changes our draw, even though we don’t change the location of our gun. Putting on a winter coat is a prime example of this.

As with many things, the key here is practice. Unfortunately, most shooting ranges won’t allow you to practice drawing, especially indoor ranges. The risk is just too high that someone drawing their gun might pull the trigger before having the gun pointed downrange.

Nevertheless, there are things you can do. I’ve gotten to know the people at my local range pretty well, so they allow me to go in when other people aren’t there to do some of the more unusual types of practice, like drawing and firing. But the deal is, as soon as anyone else enters the range, I revert back to the normal range rules.

Even with that, I don’t do a lot of drawing and firing practice at the range. I do most of it as dry fire exercises. That allows me unlimited practice, without any safety issues to be concerned about. Dry fire is perfect for practicing your draw, especially if you set the end of the draw as being gun level, with a good sight picture.

Taking that idea a step further, one of the things I do is to practice my draw with my eyes closed. I’m working on the same goal, but what I’m really working on is the muscle memory to be able to do it perfectly, without depending on my eyes.

As part of this dry fire practice, I also work on drawing from the cargo pocket of my pants. While I usually belt carry at the 3:00 position, there are times when I can’t. In those cases, my backup carry position is my right cargo pocket. Therefore, I practice drawing from there as well.

The other big thing I do in this practice is practice drawing with a coat on; both a suit coat and a winter coat. Even though I typically wear my shirt outside of my pants, so that it covers my gun, lifting the shirt to draw and lifting the hem of a coat to draw aren’t the same thing. For that matter, if I’m wearing my shirt on the outside of my pants and have a winter coat on, I actually have two garments that I have to get out of the way in order to draw. So I need to practice and become used to that as well.

The point is, practice every combination that you are likely to need. You should have a primary way that you carry and you should practice that the most. But don’t assume you will always be carrying the same way. Be prepared for other options. And if you find you need to carry in a way you’ve never practiced for, give yourself the time to do some dry-fire practice from that position, before leaving home. After all, what good does it do to carry, if you’re not ready to use it? Remember, “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” That’s just about as important as keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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