A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of having a dummy pistol to practice with. Now that cold weather is here and you're wearing more clothing it's a perfect time to start working on drawing the pistol form underneath all that clothing with the dummy pistol.
When most people practice drawing the pistol it's done with the weapon exposed. In real life the majority of us carry concealed. In warm weather this may just be a shirt or sport coat covering the weapon, which isn't that difficult to clear and draw. In colder weather we're wearing heavier, bulkier clothing and maybe multiple layers. Drawing the weapon while wearing this type of clothing/concealment is going to be more complicated and take more time. Using the dummy weapon will allow you to safely practice, working out all the little details that make a big difference in your draw.
There are a variety of ways to clear cover garments. The technique we teach uses both hands, and works whether you're wearing an open or closed front garment and with multiple layers. It works with everything except a trench coat or garment that hangs down lower.
The strong hand goes back behind the pistol's grip and down as low as possible and grabs the garment(s). The support hand goes in front of the pistol and down low to grasp the garment(s). Both hands pull straight up. Using both hands ensures the pistol is fully exposed. Now the support hand pulls the garments to the center of the body, making sure the clothing is out of the way, and the strong hand drops down to acquire a firing grip on the pistol.
When it's time to holster, leave the strong hand and pistol out in front of the body and bring the support hand back to clear the garment(s) out of the way, again with the support hand ending up in the center of the body. After your garment(s) are clear the strong hand holsters the pistol. Leaving the pistol out in front of the body ensures you don't sweep or cover the support hand/arm while getting your clothing out of the way.
Your practice should be a reflection of how you dress and carry. If the weather is cold enough for gloves then you need to practice while wearing them. Only realistic practice will prepare you for actual use of the weapon. You have to practice the way you carry, otherwise you won't have the skills you need and it's going to be difficult or impossible to figure them out while being attacked.
Thousands of repetitions are required to learn a skill. The only way to acquire these repetitions is dry practice – using your dummy weapon – and focusing on efficiency. Whenever we try to go "fast" things go down hill. Don't worry about speed; practice should focus on proper technique, which creates efficiency. Once you're performing the draw well start adding movement into your response.
Eventually, with practice, it should feel natural to move and draw the pistol at the same time. For it to apply to real life it must be practiced under realistic conditions. This means full dress, just like it would be on the street. Only then can you say you're prepared.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org