This article was written some years back by Arno Barlow, Classified as the first IDPA Master in South Africa. The thing about core principles, it always remains the same, no matter whether it was said today, last week or a year back.
SMOOTH = FAST
The law requires that as a responsible handgun owner, you should carry your weapon concealed. Although there are many different methods of carry, based on factors such as climate, body shape and dress code, in the interest of simplicity we will deal with strong side hip draws only.
Most instructors agree that a 1.5 second draw should be the benchmark for most beginners (based on the Tueller Drill) or the 21ft rule. However, it is possible to achieve sub second draws, from concealment if you invest the time and effort. The aim here is economy of movement whilst performing the draw. Remember that no good will come from a sub second draw if you can’t hit what you are aiming at. The truth of the matter is, all people are different and some have superior reflexes, co ordination and athletic ability than others. That is the reality of physical capability from one person to another.
For this exercise I used my daily carry rig; Glock 19, and HI-VIZ sights. My concealment garment is the excellent concealment vest made by 5.11 a standard leather belt and a normal paddle holster from Fobus.
Steps to fast smooth draw:
Being fast is a combination of speed, rhythm and coordination, executed smoothly and precisely. Three essential ingredients to make a fast and accurate draw.
You should never sacrifice accuracy for speed.
Remember to work with what you are physically capable of, and always manipulate the weapon safely.
You will also need to eliminate any extra movement that might slow you down. By this I mean, taking the shortest possible route to the gun and back. Training in front of a mirror is an excellent way to spot mistakes you might be making and more importantly, correcting them.
When going for the gun, the strong hand knife edges inside garment and sweeps it away, clearing a path to the gun. Once you touch the gun, get a positive three-finger grip on the front strap. The web of your hand should then grip the backstrap as high on the tang as possible. There must be no space between the web of your hand and the backstrap; your trigger finger must be pointed straight down along the trigger guard at the ground. Grip the gun firmly in a “fighting grip” to retain control of it in case of a gun grab or if it accidentally snags on clothing.
This crucial part of the draw is the first interface of your hand and the gun. If this done wrong, accuracy will be degraded at longer ranges.
Once you have a “lock” on the gun draw it out quickly and in a straight upward line, to chest level.
The weapon should still be pointing at the ground up to this stage. To digress slightly, if an attacker is at contact distance, pivot the gun towards him as soon as the muzzle clears the holster and start engaging.
You might even step back while doing this. Getting back to the draw, once the gun is at nipple level, index it towards the target. You can start shooting from this (retention) position, or start extending the arms.
If you continue to extend your arms will notice the weapon coming up in your peripheral vision. You can start breaking the shot from here, as it is a matter of personal preference on whether to extend fully or not. Whatever works for you is fine.
We have found that extending fully can result in a whiplash effect when the gun comes to an abrupt halt that can throw your sights off.
Get the gun up to your eye level as quickly as possible. Acquire the front sight and line up with the target while the gun is still in motion. This is called a flash sight picture, and you can start squeezing the trigger.
To recap, we can see that the complete draw from holster extended to eye level, is an L shaped movement, and the pivot at chest area is where the angle changes from vertical to horizontal. We use this system because it is simple to teach and learn, and it’s easier to duplicate an angle than an arc. By this we mean if you draw the gun and scribe an arc to the front of your eyes it cannot always be consistently repeated. A right angle can, every time. In addition, an arc can be intercepted, resulting in disarm, this is universally known as “a bad thing”.
Begin training at almost contact distance to the target and practice slowly, smoothly and consistently. Perfect practice makes perfect.
As your confidence and skill level increases you can start increasing the distance to the target in small increments. You can introduce a speed timer from a distance of 3 m. Start off slowly by setting it on a par time of say 3 seconds and try to get your shot off on the second beep. When you get it down to 1. 5 seconds, move backwards to the seven meters line.
Practice until you can get your shot in the ”A” zone on the 1.5 seconds beep. Do not make the mistake of slowing down for longer range shots, focus on doing everything at the same speed that you will use at three meters, just take a bit more time on the sights and trigger squeeze.
Train hard and you will get positive results. The aim is to find your optimum of speed and accuracy, and then continually push to better it.