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The Quick and the Dead (How to really draw your weapon)

Hollywood fast draws aren't what win the fight.
By Walt Rauch

The belief that we must possess the ability to draw our defensive handgun at blinding speed spans generations. For me and others who grew up during the 1950s and early '60s, the Westerns of film and televison had the heroes almost always winning face-to-face gunfights due to out-drawing the bad guy. The quick-draw craze that took hold had formal contests of blanks-firing competitors engaged in shoot-outs where they dueled against downrange balloons. TV and film stars got into the act as well, with appearances in which they demonstrated their abilities in yanking, twirling and shooting their cowboy guns from quick-draw rigs.

Adding to the apparent importance of having a quick draw, an exceptionally talented lawman named Bill Jordan, a U.S. Border Patrol Inspector, also appeared on TV where he repeatedly demonstrated his fast draw from a uniform duty rig. He'd showcase his draw by starting with a ping pong ball on the back of his hand, which he held waist-high above his holstered and blanks-loaded revolver. He then drew, fired and hit the ball before it could drop into the holster.

This obsession with a fast draw might have gone away, as do most fads, except for the introduction of a new combat shooting game: IPSC. International Practical Shooting Confederation contests had (and still have) competitors begin most courses of fire with their handguns holstered and, as time was one of the major factors in determining a winner, the quicker the gun was put into action the better the score. (Assuming everyone would also be able to shoot as well as they could draw, of course.)

Rational thinking was quite scarce at the time, as few looked back at the holsters successfully worn and used by generations of armed men, the design of which did little if anything to enhance the ability to draw a handgun quickly. In short, many of us spent altogether too much time developing and maintaining our quick-draw abilities.

In those dark ages of no economically priced electronic timers, defensive handgun quick-draw practice was often simply done by using a coin on the backs of our hands, outstretched and extended at shoulder level. The goal was to draw and fire before the coin hit the floor. (This works out, depending on your height, to about two-fifths of a second.)

I got so good at this that I was able to do it from waist height, but I abruptly stopped such practice when I was so quick that I triggered a round into the floor in front of me. (Others simply shot any number of defenseless mirrors, as well as themselves.)

With this rich history, it's not surprising that this emphasis on drawing one's handgun as fast as possible remains with us today, but I see it as a continuing impediment to learning and practicing more-important self-defense skills.

Let's be clear about one thing. Few, if any, gunfights ever were--or are--won based on a quick draw. If you beat the bad guy's effort and shoot him first, well, he'll simply shoot you second. Of course, you could manage not to be shot if you shoot accurately enough to shut him down right then.

The Quick and the Dead
Going along with this, drawing and firing into an already-drawn gun is a final act of desperation, done when you absolutely know you're going to be shot right then. And the aforementioned quick-draw results are still applicable.

Why, then, do we continue such practice, attempting to shave tenths of a second off our draw time? The simplistic answer is because we can, and we can see improvements--and, besides, it's fun.

Sure, there are instances where a fast draw has either stopped the fight without any shots being fired or the quick-draw artist shot first and the opponent stopped his activity simply due to having been shot--not because his "circuitry" had been interrupted.

I've made such a draw probably fewer than six times in my entire career as a lawman and never as a legally armed, non-sworn citizen. However, smoothly producing my handgun has been a fight-stopper countless times. This smoothness, coupled with the lack of posturing before drawing my gun, has been a life saver--both mine and theirs.

Recently, during a defensive tactics seminar I was conducting, one of the participants commented on my draw. He said I drew the gun and shot with the same motion and effort as I might use in handing a newspaper to someone. Well, he nailed it. I explained that what I want to achieve with this draw is not having the threat realize I have drawn a gun until either I fire it or he's looking down its muzzle.

The questioner then pointed out that in a recently held IDPA skills improvement class, Scott Warren, an FBI firearms instructor and national IDPA champion, taught the students to assume and use a very aggressive shooting stance. I explained that both Scott and I are correct; one is for winning a game and the other is for survival. What I suggest doing involves more than the most efficient means of delivering multiple rounds on target in the shortest amount of time. What I suggest is what to do when other options are not workable.

Telegraphing intent by the slightest body movement is something of which both sport and street fighters are well aware. Both read their opponent's pre-attack signals. What I suggest is minimizing if not eliminating these signals when possible and use body movements to misdirect or divert the threat's attention like a magician does.

Assuming a gunfighter stance simply puts the threat on guard; the more relaxed stance tells him nothing. While the aggressive shooting stance may well be quicker, I like "handing newspapers."

One truism remains for both, however: Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Or, as this relates to those of us who now have many years to our name: Old age and treachery beat youth and speed every time.

http://www.handgunsmag.com/tactics_training/HG_1207_02/index.html
 

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Really interesting article. I think I'll try this " Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast" thing. I always thought that quick as possible was the way to go but I guess there is more room for error this way.
 

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Anyone remember Jelly Bryce, the federal agent?

Bryce walked over to the car, around to the driver's door, and opened it. The man inside looked up, startled. He had some tools and it looked like he was in the process of trying to start the car without a key.

"What are you doing?" Bryce asked.

"Who are you?" the man snarled.

"A police officer."

Without another word the man drew a pistol from under his coat and tried to aim it at Bryce. Before he could fire Bryce drew and killed him. The man slid out of the car onto the cement, dead.
_____________________________________________________

"One night in 1927 Bryce, alone on night patrol, saw two men in an alley trying to jimmy the back door of a furniture store. He swerved his patrol car into the mouth of the alley, skidding to a stop with his two front lights trained on the two men. He jumped from the car. The two men spun and both opened fire at the same instant.

Bryce killed them both instantly with just two shots.
__________________________________________________________

Bryce jammed his foot in the door. "I told you we're police officers," he growled and shoved the door open. He stepped into the room.

Inside the room, lounged on the bed in skimpy pajamas, lay Mrs. Merle Bolen, the owner of the hotel, and J. Ray O'Donnell. O'Donnell was one of the gangsters the detectives had come to question. He was holding two automatic pistols. Bryce's .38 was still holstered on his hip under his coat. Without saying a word O'Donnell raised the pistols at Bryce to fire point blank. A single motion blurred with speed, Bryce drew and killed him before he could pull the trigger.
_____________________________________________________________

Jordan, Bryce and a guy named Col Askins were real world gunmen who all survived many gun battles starting behind the curve, sometimes with guns already trained on them as one recounting goes about Jordan. Bryce's own draw to first shot was .40, and Jordans about the same on the streets during his border patrol days.

Bryce and Jordan practiced religiously for hours on their draw stroke in order to be as fast as they could. In the world of training to defend yourself with a handgun, we wouldn't practice to be slower, but faster over time in our presentations to first shots.

I don't believe fast draws win gunfights either. The dynamics of a self defense situation where a gun is used to defend dictate too many variables to reliably point to any one skill as a gun fight "winner" in and of itself. I'm also of the firm belief that being able to produce your firearm from your holster and put rds on threat is a skill to have in your skills bag.

You can't defend you or your loved ones, from a holstered firearm, until you can get it into your hand and muzzled toward the threat. I want to be quicker to react than slower, so I practice my draw strokes pretty regularly.

When Mr. Rauch states:

I explained that what I want to achieve with this draw is not having the threat realize I have drawn a gun until either I fire it or he's looking down its muzzle.,

he's advancing the idea of a fast presentation from a smooth motion obviously. What I believe the article Walt wrote was more meant to convey was that he didn't think people should shoot out of control by going faster than they are presently physically capable of doing so safely or have practiced. There's out of control and dangerous, and as we see from the excerpts of Mr. Bryce's experiences, there's controlled skills and dangerous utilizing speed of presentation skills. Will the average every day citizen who CCW's practice their draw strokes to be as fast as they can be should they need it, or will the CCW holder ignore the fact that in some instances, being able to pull and fire efficiently and with combat accuracy be a skill they should develop.

edited to add: If you have a 1 second draw to first shot, you are smooth and economical in your presentation. :thumsup

Brownie
 

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Will the average every day citizen who CCW's practice their draw strokes to be as fast as they can be should they need it, or will the CCW holder ignore the fact that in some instances, being able to pull and fire efficiently and with combat accuracy be a skill they should develop.
That is so true. Many will just buy a gun and never make the time to practice not just pulling the trigger at the range but understanding what makes a person more successful at defending oneself if the need ever arise. This is what I as an ordinary license holder have started to think about and practice at home and at the range.
 

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That is so true. Many will just buy a gun and never make the time to practice not just pulling the trigger at the range but understanding what makes a person more successful at defending oneself if the need ever arise. This is what I as an ordinary license holder have started to think about and practice at home and at the range.
Hate to say it but many who obtain their permits never carry. If they do its only for a few weeks or months then the newness and novelty of it wear off and it sits at home on the nite stand. Even fewer practice on a consistent basis and when they do its usually square range, under strict rules and supervision at paper targets with virtually no movement, draws, quick or rapid fire allowed. Thats fine if you are a target shooter but does very little to enhance your capabilities and or chances of winning a gunfight should it ever happen. Practicing your draw and dry firing can help with your gun handling and trigger control and everyone should take the time to do it. Besides, its cheap. Square range practice for me is just to sight in, break in and make sure the weapon is functioning properly.
 

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Hate to say it but many who obtain their permits never carry. If they do its only for a few weeks or months then the newness and novelty of it wear off and it sits at home on the nite stand. Even fewer practice on a consistent basis and when they do its usually square range, under strict rules and supervision at paper targets with virtually no movement, draws, quick or rapid fire allowed.

Everyday except where illegal since 1971 myself. It's a commitment to have the tools necessary to control your environment if need be.

I've got $30K or more in private training of weapons, to include handguns, long guns, edged weapons, stick and H2H training since 1971. It's a work in progress and will be till the day I physically incapable of any of them. This is also a commitment to train on ones part, which by necessity, has to be included with the first commitment or one will be hard pressed to use the tools he's decided to carry effectively [ to the possible detriment of their own safety ]. I've put training expenses on my C/C's at times to attend the training available, when it was available.

The number of miles driven, flown; the food and lodging for training are considerable over those 37 years as well. Add that all up and we have to be talking another 20K over that time span.

Real effort has been made to be exposed to as much quality training as possible where SD is concerned, but thats also a commitment in and of itself as well.

If you don't train, and train properly you are not prepared for the fight. Hard reality of the streets, and harder lessons learned too late for too damned many when the training was available to them. Don't put training on the back burner.

Brownie
 
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