There are many elements that go into being a good shooter, such as having a proper pistol grip and knowing how to properly align your sights, and while these elements are important, you’ll also want to learn how to draw a pistol from concealment.
Danger can be around any corner, so it’s vital to know how to properly draw your pistol without accidentally hurting yourself or causing a misfire.
One of the most dangerous times when practicing with firearms is when you draw and reholster. It’s a valuable technique to learn, and you want to make sure you get it right. You want to have a good understanding of different draws from concealment, different carry positions, and how to effectively and safely draw your gun from your holster.
Before practicing, it’s important to keep in mind the four basic safety rules.
The Four Basic Safety Rules
- Treat the gun as if it was loaded
- Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
- Keep your finger off the trigger outside the trigger guard until your sights are on your target
- Know your target and what is beyond it
The Motions of Drawing from Concealment
When you draw from concealment, your clothing needs to be raised. You could either do this with one hand or two, but for now, we’ll go over using one hand.
You’ll raise your clothing and then move your hand down on the gun. It’s essential to keep your trigger finger straight as you move alongside the frame as you clear your holster. You’ll then rotate your gun up and press out onto your target focusing on your front sight.
To reholster, you’ll move back to compressed ready, maybe scanning and assessing your immediate area, and then slowly move your gun back into the holster. Make sure your clothing is clear from your holster. Keep your trigger finger straight and outside your trigger guard, and move slowly back to the holster.
Tips for New Students
Bill recommends that new students dry fire with blue guns, which are inert training tools. They’re meant to help students get used to the movements and building neural-pathways.
By practicing with a blue gun, you’ll be able to train your mind to know where your clothing has to go, where your gun goes, and where your hand goes on the gun without having to worry about an accidental discharge.
When your training, Bill recommends going slow. You could cause severe injury if you’re not practicing correctly. Make sure you practice dry, i.e. without live ammo, as much as possible, before you move to live fire.
Don’t focus on speed; instead, concentrate on smoothness and technique initially. As you practice more, you will build speed. The work you put into building smoothness will eventually translate into speed.
Practicing with Your Clothing Garments
As you're learning how to draw from concealment, Bill recommends running these practices dry without any clothing or cover garment first. This way, you can get your draw stroke and motions down without having to worry about your clothing interfering. Once you’ve mastered your strokes and motions, you may then incorporate your clothing garments.
When you practice your drills with your clothing garments incorporated, you want to learn how to avoid getting your clothing caught in your holster and interfering with your draw.
How Your Clothing Can Negatively Affect Your Draw
Your clothing can negatively affect your draw because it may get hooked or stuck on your gun. This can cause your gun to whip out to the side or come out of your hand as your drawing it out of your holster.
As you move your gun to reholster, you need to clear your clothing from your holster or else your clothing could get caught. Your clothing could pinch inside the holster and get inside the trigger guard, which could potentially cause a discharge inside the holster. You must ensure your clothing is out of the way.
Recommended Types of Clothing
Bill recommends wearing flexible clothing. Shirts that have snaps work well because they can open up easily and are pretty flexible.
Regular t-shirts are fine, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to wear a really tight shirt or anything that’s going to get caught on your gun.
Concealed Carry Holster Positions
There are various ways to carry concealed. Here are several popular carry positions for your concealed carry holster:
- Strong Side Hip
The Strong Side Hip Position
Bill recommends a good draw position to start with is the strong side hip position. Your concealed gun is off to the side at an angle. It could be at three o’clock, four o’clock, or any position that’s comfortable for you. Just ensure your gear is set in a position that works for you.
When you access your firearm, you can do it with your strong hand on the strong side or with your support side hand. It depends on the type of clothing you’re wearing.
When you draw, if you’re using one hand, you’ll want to clear your clothing high and past the holstered gun and then come down on it. If you’re using two hands, you’ll clear your garment with one hand by bringing your garment up, high and close to your body, and accessing the gun with your other hand at the same time.
The accessing of the gun can be done with either hand or arm. You just have to be cautious of your body type, the type of clothing you’re wearing, and the position of your gun.
For the strong side hip, or just a little bit back from the mid seam of your leg, you can usually clear your garment with either your left or right hand. Using your support hand is a little bit more positive because you're out of the way, and once your shirt is completely out of the way, you can draw and push your gun out to the target without any issues.
A popular method of carry right now is appendix carry. With appendix carry, there is a higher risk of hurting yourself, and like other carry positions, Bill stresses safety and adherence to the rules.
When your gun is holstered during appendix carry, you’re pointing your gun in a downward direction that would be extremely uncomfortable if it were to discharge.
It’s more of a personal preference as to where you’re going to put your gun and holster, but you should consider having your holster positioned on either the right or left side of your hipline in between your hips and groin.
If you’re a first-timer, Bill recommends not to use ammunition. You should stick with either a blue gun or an unloaded gun. Bill also recommends taking off your holster, undoing the clip, and putting your gun in the holster, so you can get a feel for how you want to position the gun on your person. When ready, put the holster back on your person and make sure the clip is locked on to your belt.
Appendix Carry and Belts
Another critical element of appendix carry, or any carry position along the waste, is to have a good quality belt. Bill recommends getting a belt that’s rigid and going to hold your gun in place. If you don't have a sturdy gun belt, your weapon won't be secured and may flop around causing discomfort or worse.
Going Through the Motions
When you appendix carry, you can come straight up with one hand and then come down on the gun. Alternatively, you can pull your garment up with one hand and then use your other hand to come down on the gun at the same time.
If you are using two hands, you could use your left hand to clear your clothing garment and have your right hand draw the gun. You would then move to high compressed ready with your hands joined together, letting go of the clothing, and pressing out to your target.
After you're done shooting, move back to high compressed ready and scan and assess your immediate area. Clear your clothing by pulling it really high up, so your shirt is not going to get caught in your holster, and move back down to your holster area.
You want to tap your gun against your holster first to make sure you’re in the exact spot where your holster is. You should then move your firearm up and slowly down, with your finger straight and off the trigger, as you go into the holster.
The Art of Practicing Slow and Smoothly
As with the previously mentioned techniques, Bill emphasizes practicing the appendix carry motions slow and smooth. When you actually put it to speed, either under a timer or in the real world, you will gradually speed up. Practicing fast will make you sloppy, so it’s best to practice smooth and slow.
Ankle Carry Method
Often times, fights start with confrontations, which could be verbal or physical, and that could escalate to where you’re knocked down on the ground. You might be in a different position than you would normally draw your firearm from.
An ankle holster could come in handy in this situation, not in the sense that you’re anticipating or expecting to be knocked down on the ground, but if it happens.
The ankle carry method can be good when carrying a backup gun such as a secondary or third gun. Keep in mind though, you’re usually going to be storing a more compact gun, and it’s not going to be easily accessible.
Drawing and Reholstering with the Ankle Carry Method
Drawing from an ankle holster while standing can be tough, so Bill recommends to move into a kneeling position. You’ll then pull up your pant leg to access your firearm, defeating any safety mechanisms, draw your gun up and then shoot from a kneeling position. The kneeling position gives you a better chance to access your gun, but it does minimize your mobility.
Reholstering is similar to the previously mentioned method. Keep your trigger finger straight, put your gun slowly back into your holster, and then engage any safety straps of safety mechanisms for that particular holster. Cover your holster back up.
Whether it’s a strong side hip, appendix carry, or from an ankle holster, Bill suggests to experiment and see what works for you. You want to make your decisions based on your lifestyle, the type of clothing you usually wear, and how you’re going to access your gun. Always make sure to practice, be repetitive, and work smoothly and slowly.