Drawing Your Handgun: Practice for Muscle Memory

Drawing your handgun safely and effectively can be one of the most challenging aspects of concealed carry—and one of the most dangerous. If not performed with extreme caution and practice, it can result in a self-inflicted wound or even death from an assailant if you are not able to unholster in time to fire upon an attacker.

There are accounts of civilians and even police officers shooting themselves while pocket or holster carrying. By drawing your handgun and practicing for muscle memory, first slowly, then more quickly each time, you can become safe and proficient at drawing your handgun.

Clearing Techniques

Open Garment
Use this technique for open sweaters, jackets, vests, and shirts. When you are drawing from an open garment, start with your shooting hand in the center of your chest. Sweep your hand back toward your hip while exposing your handgun and opening the garment. Slide your gun hand down toward the grip for a firm hold.

Closed Garments
Use this technique for sweaters, closed jackets, tucked in shirts, and blouses. This move will require both your shooting arm and your support arm. Bring your support arm across your body and grip the hem or bottom of your garment as close to your handgun as possible to avoid making contact with the garment when you pull the gun. Raise the garment to chest level over the handgun, clearing it completely. When you have unholstered the handgun, release the garment and take your shooting stance.

Here are some basic drawing steps from a concealed carry class:

-Clear the way. The most obvious step is to be sure that you clear the way for your handgun. Use the steps outlined above.

-Using the proper technique, grip the handgun firmly, readying your support hand.

-Going straight up from the holster, lift your handgun all the while being mindful of drag. Remember to breather throughout this process.

-Shift your shooting hand toward the center of the chest while bringing up the support arm. Use your body for stability.

-Move support hand to handgun and remove safety.

-Assess assailant.

-If the target is still a threat, fire.

– Remove finger from trigger, assess assailant and re-engage safety if the target is no longer a threat.

Here’s what can happen if you can’t draw safely and quickly:

-You could get the handgun caught on your clothes and shoot yourself.

-You could fumble the gun and shoot a bystander.

-You could give the assailant a few extra seconds of advantage and that could mean your life.

You’re aiming for an ultimate safe and fluid motion so that means muscle memory in this case, which can only be achieved through practice. Anecdotally, I see too few concealed carriers practicing drawing. If you’re serious, ask a professional for guidance and practice regularly with the clothes you would wear when you carry. This must become a key portion of your firing range drills.

Have you ever watched a video about drawing and shooting practices and exercises? Well, American Concealed has one that’s now for sale. It’s brand new so it’s on sale for an introductory price.  The Shooting For Accuracy video training course is really good. One of this site’s other contributors, Donovan Beard, who is a firearms instructor with DefensiveFirearmsInstruction.org, watched it and he had really great things to say about it.

“One of the things I really liked about the instructor was how slow he went and how articulate he was on the concepts he was covering. The other thing that I really thought was kind of cool was the video was set up in such a manner that the student could very easily directly apply these in dry fire practice at home prior to getting into the training. It was very easy to follow and you could almost follow along as the instructor was covering the topics that he was talking about,” says Beard. “The instructor covered a lot of different topics. They were very basic, fundamental concepts but they tend to be the most important concepts and the most overlooked concepts. When it comes to grip, when it comes to stance, when it comes to breathing, when it comes to trigger control, there’s always how you do it. The benefit of this program is he explains why you do all these things and how it affects safety aspects.”

If you’re reading this article and you’re trying to improve your accuracy and quickness, give it a try. American Concealed’s Shooting for Accuracy is available as an electronic version or with a book and DVD. Give your body the muscle memory to achieve high accuracy with a video that you can watch any time you want.