Build a Robust Draw Stroke that Always Works


Having taken many handgun classes from a lot of different instructors, I have gleaned much from what they have presented. Beyond this, however, I have synthesized the specifics of the draw into what works best for me, as any advanced practitioner does. The truth remains, however, that most handgun training courses don’t spend much time on the essential skill of drawing the handgun to presentation. I find that most attendees of even advanced classes still have a less-than desirable command of drawing the pistol from concealment. Based on my observation, here I present a number of often overlooked details involved in developing a draw technique that will be robust, reliable, and work under unpredictable circumstances.  

Consider the conditions under which one may be forced to draw a concealed handgun; it is unlikely to be as ideal as what we practice at the range. You might need to draw the gun from a compromised position, such as on the ground after falling, seated in a booth, running, or holding a child. Or, perhaps, you must surreptitiously draw a gun. Certain elements within the technique apply universally and must be done correctly, no matter the circumstance, to get the gun out and presented to address the threat.  

Clearing the Garment: The Primary Source of Fumble

The primary obstacle to a concealed draw is clearing the concealment garment itself. Not only does the concealment garment add another layer of complexity to the task, but it also introduces unpredictability if not done right. The garment itself can be unpredictable if you tend to wear different types and cuts of fabric, and, depending on the garment, it can change positions throughout the day just based on movement. Therefore, a consistent draw stroke depends on a predictable means of clearing the garment.  

The truth is, to have a consistent draw from concealment, you will need to stick with a similar cover garment type. For example, if you carry strong-side hip under an open-front jacket or shirt, you will have a significantly different draw stroke if you wear a closed-front sweater. If you carry in the appendix position under t-shirts, even changing to a different kind of closed-front garment, such as a hoodie that hangs lower, with heavier fabric, can change the technique needed to clear the garment. Therefore, consistency of draw will dictate some level of consistency in clothing choice.

Pertaining to technique, the mechanics of the draw stroke may need to change according to the kind of clothing you wear. Here is an example: if you carry in the appendix position, there are, generally, two ways to clear the cover shirt with your support hand. You can sweep the shirt up from the bottom of the garment itself, grabbing the shirt’s tail, or you can grab the shirt at your navel area, essentially just clasping the fabric and lift it that way. Both techniques have advantages.  

The kind of shirts or cover garments you use will determine which option works best. For example, grabbing the garment at the navel does not work very well if you are wearing a zipped-up jacket, or if you wear tighter-fitting button-up shirts. However, grabbing the garment at the navel area may be more consistent if clearing only t-shirts or sweaters. Therefore, personal experimentation is in order, and a commitment to similar clothing styles will be necessary if you want a truly consistent draw stroke.  

Establishing a Master Grip

An absolutely essential part of building a consistent draw stroke is to establish a good grip on the gun while it is still in the holster upon executing a draw. In order to do so quickly, you need to index the gun the same way every single time. Be sure to get the web of your hand high against the tang of the back strap when you initially grip the gun. I see many new shooters draw and then shift their grip around while the gun is being presented. Practice a draw that uses consistent index points when the hand lands on the gun, and intentionally work to build utter consistency in the grip that gets established before the gun comes out.

Join Hands at a Specific Point

When drawing the gun into the standard two-handed shooting stance, it is important to marry the hands together at a consistent location. For most people, the ideal location to do this is right at the chest, at the point where the gun is raised to and tilted up and forward by the dominant hand. The support hand should await the arrival of the gun at this specific location, then lock onto the gun the same exact way, in the same spot, every single time. If this is not done, the hands must find each other out in space, as the gun is being driven forward in presentation, which interferes with a consistent presentation to the target.  

A Constant Presentation Path

A consistent presentation path to the target is also necessary for a good draw stroke. There are different techniques. Some shooters use what is referred to as the elevator ride, with the gun moving in a direct line from the beginning of the draw to the end of the presentation, and other shooters tend to lift the gun high to the chest and then press it out straight to the target. The most important consideration is that you consistently use the same technique every single time to build an efficient presentation.  

While drawing a gun from concealment can be a complicated task, consistency is your friend. Doing the same mechanics every single time will make building an efficient and fast draw stroke much easier. These aforementioned issues are the failures of consistency that I see most often, and spending some time addressing them will make your draw better and faster.  

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