Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The draw

The first of the 5 things you need to practice.

Let's start off talking about the basic hands at sides draw. It is the most common and in reality the basics of all draws are the same.

In general the key to the draw is to SMOOTHLY get your gun into your hand in a CONSISTENT manner and bring it between you and the first target SMOOTHLY and EFFICIENTLY.

The three all caps words, SMOOTH, CONSISTENT, and EFFICIENT are probably the most important concepts in practical shooting. If you add these together they equal FAST and ACCURATE. That wins.

You probably understand the draw and should do what works for you, but I'll attempt to explain the draw for the newbies. It is hard to put the perfect draw into words, but I'll try.

Important: You should be looking intently at your first target throughout the draw sequence.

1. Get your strong hand to your pistol and establish your firing grip with that hand right off the bat. It may seems like this takes time, but it accomplishes two things. You won't drop your gun, and I don't have to explain why that's important, and you won't have to correct it later, which wastes time, and leads to inconsistency and inaccuracy. At the same time move your flattened weak hand to your belly area so it's ready for the next step.

2. Smoothly withdraw the gun straight up out of the holster and get the flattened weak hand to the gun and take the section of your index finger closest to your hand and put it into the intersection of your trigger guard and grip like you're doing an gentle upward karate chop.

3. As you pull the gun up to chest level the weak hand should wrap around the grip of the strong hand so that index finger is tight up against the trigger guard and the weak hand wraps the strong hand which has remained in place since step 1. The thumbs should be fairly parallel at this point and pointing generally toward the target.

4. Now that the grip is established you can start extending the arms out towards the target and remove the safety if your pistol is so equipped.

5. When the sights get between your eyes and the target your arms should be at nearly full extension (but never locked) and as the sights line up the gun should be pushed against your trigger finger and fire. I don't pull the trigger. I push the gun forward and stop my trigger finger and as the gun pushes forward into it the gun fires. This technique keeps you from jerking the trigger.

How do we practice the draw?

Dry firing the draw is an incredibly important tool for practicing the draw. Put up some kind of target to aim at. Usually smaller is better because of the reduced distances available. Gear up with absolutely no ammo in the room where you do this. Check to make sure your gun is unloaded. Now go through the steps of the draw in super slow motion several times. Just work on being smooth and efficient. Do everything perfect every time. Now do it in slow motion several times still working to be perfectly smooth and efficient. Now do it in real time until you boredom overcomes you. If you are sloppy and not intent on improving don't do it at all. You'll only be teaching yourself bad habits. Dry firing is free and doesn't take much time because you can do it wihout leaving the house.

Live firing the draw is equally important because you need the feedback the target and the timer can give you. Start out the same way. Super slow motion but perfect several times. Slow motion and perfect several more. Real time and perfect, at targets of various sizes and distances for dozens if not hundreds of rounds. If you're using IPSC targets you should be shooting A's only. Don't accept drawing fast and shooting C's or D's. If you're not shoot A's you should slow down.

Important note: When practicing the draw, only practice the draw. Draw and shoot one round on one target. Reholster. Repeat. Isolate the thing you're working on and do it until it's perfect. If you get bored with practicing the draw, work on something else, but don't just start adding things and tell yourself you're still working on the draw.

I really think the super slow motion and slow motion draws are important to learn the muscle memory important to a smooth and consistent draw.

After you feel comfortable with the hands at sides draw, try wrists above shoulders, back to targets, and all the other draws you have seen at matches. The basics of the draw are the same for any start position really.

Handle your gun a lot. Dry firing every day you can't get to the range would be optimal. Practice the draw more than you think you need to. It may seem too simple and rudimentary for you, but I'll bet the top few still do it more than you can even imagine. We should too.


gary said...

Yes, Yes, Yes. Do it enough, and your muscles will remember and do it for you. Or you could be like me and have to readjust now and again, it really messes up my head...
Practice really does make perfect.
Thanks for the reminders Howard! Keep it coming!

Mark Cooper said...

This definitly should be practiced as a dry fire for the slow and smooth. So you can build muscle memory and see where you can cut out wasted movement.