You probably spent a lot of time deciding what gun to carry, what method of carrying you want to use, and what holster best fits your style – basically learning about everything concealed carry. How much time have you spent practicing getting that gun out of that holster and into a ready position should the need arise? Learning how to draw a gun is a skill that needs to be practiced just as much as firing your gun.
Depending on where you carry your concealed gun and the type of holster you employ will make a big difference in the way you draw your gun. There are no hard and fast rules for drawing a gun. However, there are some steps that you can adopt that will allow you to practice a series of repeatable steps that will ensure that you can reliably get your gun into play in an emergency.
What many new concealed carry license holders fail to understand is the realities of a self-defense event. Unlike standing on the range where you can concentrate on your movements, a real situation where your gun comes into play is anything but calm. Your adrenaline levels will be through the roof. Your heart rate will be up, and your mind will be overwhelmed with sensory information as you try to deal with the situation. The last thing you will be thinking about is the five steps of how to draw a gun.
Why Practice is Important
Ask any athlete why practice is important. Athletes will tell you that practice ingrains motions and actions into your memory in such a way that, when the time comes, those motions and actions become automatic and can be performed without conscious thought, allowing your brain to concentrate on other information.
The same holds for first responders who face volatile and dangerous situations that require their utmost concentration while completing complex tasks under high levels of stress and anxiety. They rely on their ability to perform practiced tasks while having the wherewithal to deal with changing conditions and dangerous situations.
As a concealed carry license holder, you must assume that at some point, you may experience the same situation of high stress, complex decision making, and volatile, dangerous situations. Amid that chaos, you may need to unholster and deploy your gun rapidly and precisely. You can only hope to accomplish that if you have repeatedly and regularly practiced those movements.
How to Draw A Gun from Concealed Carry
The most widely adopted method of carrying a concealed gun is an inside the waistband holster on your strong side. IWB is the method used by most beginning concealed carry license holders, and it is the type of carry that we will base our step by step instructions for drawing from concealed carry.
Drawing from concealed carry can be summed up in one word – control. More specifically, you need to control yourself, control your clothing, control your gun, and control the shot, if you must take it.
At the range as your practice, you are at ease, in a safe environment, and have the time to concentrate on your movements and positioning as you practice drawing and firing your gun. If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires you to draw a gun to defend yourself or your family, you can count on the conditions to be at the far end of the spectrum.
The situation will be far from calm and controlled. The stress levels will be high, and you will be filled with adrenaline as you are trying to handle the sensory overload and countless minute decisions that are flooding your brain. Controlling your own emotions and reactions is as important as practicing your draw and your shoot.
Some tricks and tips that can help you in these types of situations.
- Breath – Too often, people in high-stress situations forget to breathe, causing your body to enter an even more stressed condition. Consciously take deep, slow breaths to help you relax and allow your brain a few seconds to process.
- Relax – Make a conscious effort to relax. More than likely, most of the muscles in your arms and legs are tense and tight. That is a natural reaction to the fight or flight syndrome as your body gets ready for action. As you breathe, concentrate on letting the tension in your muscles ease.
- Don’t get focused too much on one thing – Try to stay aware of your surroundings and not focus just on what you perceive as the threat. Other, more threatening situations may be developing around you.
Keep Your Clothing Under Control
Depending on the time of year, you may have various layers of clothing to contend with as you try to draw your gun. You should try to minimize the risk of your gun getting hung up or tangled in clothing as much as possible if you have the time.
If possible, shed as many layers of clothing such as jackets or sweaters as you can. You may not have the chance to get out of any encumbering clothing, but if afforded the time, you will appreciate the freedom of movement.
Control the Shot
You must always be acutely aware of your surroundings, particularly of what is behind your potential target. Defensive shooting in an urban environment is fraught with the danger of an errant round finding a target.
Maneuvering to get a clear shot with a safe background can be difficult. You may not have the option and you may have to take a shot under conditions that are far less than optimal.
With those caveats known, let’s look at the basic steps to draw a gun from a concealed carry holster.
Step 1 – Clear the Gun
Carrying concealed means that your gun is probably under one or more pieces of clothing. The very first thing you must do is clear the clothing from the gun and holster, so your gun hand and the gun are unimpeded.
If you carry under an untucked shirt, use your free hand to pull the untucked shirt up and away from the holstered gun. If you carry tucked, this will be a more strenuous exercise as you must pull the tucked tail of the shirt from around the holstered gun.
If given the opportunity, clear your clothing in advance of the need to unholster your gun. You may not have enough warning to perform this action, but it can buy you precious seconds.
Step 2 – Your Grip
Grip the gun firmly, pushing the web of your hand as tightly into the butt of the pistol as possible. Ideally, as you grip the pistol in the holster, you will not need to shift or adjust your grip as you draw the gun.
Establishing the proper grip may be difficult, with some in the waistband concealed carry holsters. Practice will tell you how to best grasp your gun in the holster for the most secure hand position as your draw.
Step 3 – Draw the Gun
Pull the gun straight up out of the holster. Rotate the gun 90 degrees toward the target as the muzzle clears the holster. Keep the gun close to your body. Remember to keep your trigger finger out of the trigger guard. Excitement and adrenaline are the primary causes of accidental discharges at this stage of the draw sequence.
Step 4 – Center the Gun on your Body
Keeping the muzzle of the gun pointed downrange toward your target, move the gun upward toward the center of your chest. Your off-hand can now release any clothing you were clearing from your holster. Move your off-hand toward the center of your chest, index the pistol and finalize your two-handed grasp on the gun.
Keep your arms close to your body. Many shooters’ elbows will be touching their torso as they finalize their two-handed grip.
Step 5 – Drive the Gun Forward
With your grip firmly established, use both arms to drive the gun straight forward toward the target. Acquire the sights with the target. Your trigger finger should only move into the trigger guard when you have acquired your target in the sights and have a firm decision to fire.
Step 6 – Take the Shot
Take the shot only if required and only if you are sure of the following:
- Your target is still a direct and immediate threat
- The downrange area behind the target is clear of any people
- You have an acceptable sight picture and a reasonable target
After the Shot
After the shot, make sure that the threat no longer exists. Maintain the ready position until the threat ends. Check the immediate area for any other threat that may have appeared. Only then should you re-holster your gun.
Reholstering should be as practiced as the draw. In some sense, it is the reverse of the draw maneuver. If your clothing has returned to its normal position, you should clear the holster with your off-hand. Keep your gun extended in the ready position until the holster is clear and then reverse the steps above to return the gun to your holster.
The last thing any concealed carry license holder wants to do is draw their gun and fire. However, the fact that you decided to get the license and carry a concealed gun is a statement of your understanding that, at some point, this very act may occur.
You must train so that you prepare yourself to defend yourself and your family if the need arises. This preparation includes regular and diligent training in drawing your gun and acquiring a target. Consistent and regular training will ingrain these skills so that under stress, these actions occur automatically and correctly. As mentioned on our blog, it’s also highly recommended to pick up concealed carry insurance, such as the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA).
I hope that this article has helped you better understand how to correctly draw a gun, and the reasons why practice is so critically important. While the ideal situation is to never have to draw your gun in self-defence, it’s always better to be informed and prepared than sorry. Abiding by these words will help with that. Now get out there and practice!