REFINING THE DRAW STROKE FOR THE CONCEALED CARRIER PT. 3
Part Three of this article goes into specific details that might prove to be useful for concealed carriers who recognize that a sub-optimal draw might prove to be their downfall if they are forced to defend themselves in a situation in which time is on the side of the attacker.
- Spencer Keepers said regardless as to whether the concealed carrier employs a three-count draw stroke or four-count draw stroke (an example of a four-count draw stroke is that first the shooter gets a grip on the holstered handgun, then draws the handgun, then joins the hands together on the grip, then pushes the handgun out so that it is aimed on the target), when the concealed carrier makes the decision to draw the handgun both hands need to move at the exact same time. Regardless as to whether the handgun is concealed under an open garment or closed garment, both hands go to work immediately. As soon as possible after the cover garment is cleared the support hand goes is placed high on the chest and the strong hand goes straight to the handgun and establishes a firing grip.
- I recommend that concealed carriers bring the elbow straight back and avoid flaring (also known as “chicken winging”) the strong side elbow. Spencer describes the level of speed used to complete these actions as “flashing” the hands. A reasonable analogy for flashing the hands is that the concealed carrier should move his or her hands at the same speed they would use to slap a mosquito that landed on their face and bit them. The amount of time that can be saved during this initial phase of the draw stroke alone is significant. Spencer noted that it may take time to both move at high speed and correctly perform the actions described above, and that concealed carriers should anticipate fumbling parts of the draw stroke in the beginning. He also said that it may be best to dial back the speed initially in order to ensure that all aspects of the draw stroke are performed correctly while keeping in mind that the ultimate objective is to eventually be able to achieve a full firing grip as quickly as possible.
- Once the handgun is drawn from the holster it should be raised to the chest to the same level as the support hand while at the same time the support hand moves horizontally across the chest in order to clamp over the fingers of the strong hand. Additional time can be saved if the concealed carrier chooses a position for the hands to join more or less straight below the dominant eye. It is absolutely critical to keep the muzzle of the handgun ahead of the support hand at all times. The support hand will then initiate contact with the dominant hand, but a full grip will not be established at this time. Time can be saved by fully achieving a final grip with the support hand as the muzzle of the handgun is moving to the final shooting position. The support hand grip should be strong, with much of the pressure being derived from the lower three fingers. Many concealed carriers do not realize how important a strong support hand grip is when it comes to making a fast first round hit from the holster, as well as making fast follow-up hits. Almost an entire article could be devoted to describing how to properly join the support hand with the strong hand and the best way (or ways) to achieve a strong support hand grip while the concealed carrier is in the actual act of “gliding” the front sight or the red dot straight towards the target and coming to a controlled stop.
- Although what I am about to say may sound counter-intuitive, I have found that I can get my quickest hits by moving at a high rate of speed to the point that my hands join, and then slow down slightly as I glide the front sight or red dot towards the target. The reason is that this allows me to make minor corrections in the alignment of the front sight or red dot with the desired point of impact so that by the time that I arrive to what is essentially full extension I am ready to press the trigger and get the hit. Simply driving the muzzle to the target as fast I can and then hitting the “brakes” may result in my front sight or red dot being off to one side or above or below the desired point of impact at the point of full extension. That leaves me with two options. One, I go ahead and take the shot with a high probability of missing, or two, I take additional time to realign the front sight or red dot (which I may not have in a real-life encounter). To make it simpler, my draw stroke from holster to the joining of the hands might be 70 MPH and from joining of the hands to full extension 50 MPH to 0 MPH. Professional shooters will go 90 MPH to nearly full extension and then slow down for the last few inches. Regardless of ability level, the objective is the same: punching out hard to full extension at full speed often results in a miss or wasted time.
- Once the handgun is in motion and the front sight or red dot is oriented towards the target is the time that the concealed carrier should place their dominant hand index finger on the trigger in preparation of pressing the trigger smoothly to the rear and making the shot. There is no good reason for waiting for the handgun to be at full extension to then place the trigger finger on the trigger if the decision to shoot has been made and the front sight or red dot is homing in on the target. All this does is waste time during an event in which time is at a premium. I advise my students that they should not place their finger on the trigger until such time that they have brought the handgun to eye level and can see the target with the front sight or red dot superimposed over it even though the handgun is still in motion.
Just as there are typically multiple roads to any one destination, there are also multiple ways to develop a faster draw stroke. By no means are the actions described in this article intended to imply that the method described within is superior to any other method. It was written for the sole purpose of assisting concealed carriers who realize that the speed of their current presentation from the holster could use a major tune-up and were unsure what to do about it. This article did not address the variety of ways a handgun can be gripped, the nuances of getting a strong support hand grip, nor the details involved in properly “prepping” the trigger while the sights are still moving towards the target.
One question that concealed carriers might be wondering is exactly what speed is fast enough? While a quick draw stroke is only one of the many variables that might determine the outcome of an unwanted encounter with a violent criminal actor, both Spencer and I agree that ideally no more than two seconds should elapse between the time that a concealed carrier realizes that they need to use their handgun and the time that it has been drawn from concealment and a hit made on a five-inch target at five yards. Of course, faster is always better, but a concealed carrier with the ability to meet that standard who has an understanding of the dynamics of a lethal force encounter can greatly increase the odds that they have a large say in what happens if actually confronted by another person (or persons) who might care less if another is seriously injured or worse by their actions.
Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (www.ptgtrainingllc.com).