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Posted on February 01 2016

The Sign of a Serious Gun Guy

by Jeff Kirkham

It was the first time we’d met this group of shooters, a cross-section of American gun owners in all shapes and sizes and a wide range of ages.

“Step up to the line, draw your handgun and present at the low ready!”

What happened next was eager and messy, kind of like a sixteen-year-old making love to a grown woman. Support hands went every-which-way. Muzzles passed over feet. Grip hands were anywhere from resting on the slide to holding the bottom of the grip. Scary.

We’d go slow from here on out.

Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to draw a handgun. And, in case you’re wondering if it matters, think about this, most self-inflicted gunshot wounds happen either coming out of or going back into the holster.  Doing it right is not only fast and efficient, but safe.

Especially in this day and age, where the Glock reigns supreme (no manual safety), correct draw can mean the difference between a clean shoot and a trip to the hospital with a bloody racing stripe and a ruined pair of pants. Plus, being capable and precise with a handgun is the mark of an American firearms craftsman. Some would even argue that it makes you faster and more accurate in a gunfight, you simply cannot miss fast enough to win.

Proper draw from a holster impacts safety more than anything. Quick draw gunfights aren’t as common as one might think. In 28 years in Special Forces, I never had to quick-draw my handgun in order to win a gunfight. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it is rare; probably more important to police officers than anyone.  But, a smooth, fast and safe draw will mark you as someone who knows his way around a handgun. Plus, in the KH/Dynamic shooting system, we use timed quickdraw extensively as pressure to make good, resilient shooters. Quickdraw’s a worthy skill.

Watch the video for precise, visual instructions. Here are a few special points:

  • Bar none the most important part of getting a pistol in action is between the holster and when the hands marry up, if you get this right, many times the rest will take care of itself, especially when the stress is on
  • Support Hand (or live hand) should stay clear of the firearm muzzle at all times. The tendency can be to muzzle your support hand when drawing. Don’t! Plant your support hand on your chest/belly or use it to sweep/pull your cover garment or use it to slide your primary firearm (rifle) out of the way. In any case, get it committed to something other than floating in front of you where it’s liable to get shot.  I like to put it at the center of my torso, so that it’s ready to marry up with the pistol and create the “vise” that’s needed to control rapid fire recoil — which is a very real part of a gun fight.
  • Drive down on your holstered handgun, making sure you get a perfect grip (start with the pinky and work your way up) as high as you can go without getting into the slide.  This also serves to get that trigger finger straight and off the trigger, helping to avoid a negligent discharge (ND).
  • Pull straight out of the holster, then rotate the handgun immediately forward by “dropping the elbow”.  Don’t try to crank your hand up to get the muzzle down range, it does not work, the elbow must drop and practice will make you lightening fast.
  • Marry the hands as close as comfortable to your torso, we tend to be stronger and have more dexterity closer to our bodies and marrying the hands late disrupts the sight picture, creates tension in the hands and arms, and throws dexterity off. Under stress if firing begins before full arm extension, then recoil management will be compromised. 
  • Both hands create a vise with a 50/50 even grip, no push-pull, just firm grip. The support hand is actually doing a great deal to manage the recoil.
  • Press straight out and push the handgun to your natural sight line. Don’t bring your head to the handgun. Stress will pre-determine the “set” of your head and under high stress there is nothing you can do about it so you might as well practice what is natural.  Moving your head will cost time and accuracy.  “Eye-muzzle-target” will get you on-target faster than anything.
  • Scan the area (finger off trigger) by moving your head. This does a couple of things, helps you to identify other threats, helps you to identify, friendlies like family and friends, helps you to identify cover (that you should be moving to), and most importantly helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and gets you thinking more clearly.  Think “rolling your shoulders” after a long day at the office or a boxer getting ready for a fight.
  • Don’t race to re-holster. It’s a horrible training scar and will bite you in the butt if you end up in a gun fight.  Take your time. I like to tell students to “look” their pistol back in the holster.  Re-holstering is when you’re likely to catch some of your coat, clothing, or finger in the trigger guard and shoot yourself.  Don’t worry, in a fight I have yet to see anyone take their eyes off a threat. Looking a pistol back in the holster will create nuero-pathways needed that later will make it so you won’t need to look.

From what I’ve seen, perhaps one out of every fifty American gun owners draws their handgun in a way that’s even vaguely proper. Often, the draw is down-right dangerous. That’s a little strange to me, since it’s the source of most self-inflicted gunshot wounds. A proper draw is the difference between a home-brewed yokel and a guy who’s investing in his skill. 

I want you to be the guy who impresses his Concealed Carry instructor with a super crisp and proper draw. Practice this dry and practice it hundreds of times a year, but most importantly remember that  “practice makes permanent” and only “perfect practice makes perfect”






1 comment

  • Stephen Rankin: February 07, 2016

    There is always room for improvement! Thank you Jeff for the free lesson. Well written and to the point, and it was free. My cc is a s/w bodygaurd, as im sure you are aware its small. I’m curious as to your opinion on the best use of my support hand on such a small frame. Im no novice, but like I said there is always room for improvement and new concepts. Thank you

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