APRIL 18, 2017

Editor's Notebook: Presentation Practice

To practice draws, have a non-firing model of your carry gun and a lockbox, like this "in car gun locker" from Center of Mass, LLC, to stow your loaded carry gun in.
It was instructive, as it usually is, to read Ed Head's "Skills Check" column in Shooting Illustrated online. This latest installment was The 5-5-5 Drill. I won't go into that particular standard here, but I will address something raised in the comments section. The first rule of keeping one's sanity on the internet is "never read the comments." This appeared to be more of the same – except that the commenters apparently didn't know exactly what they didn't know. And that's not their fault. The course requires a timer, gun, holster and cover garment. Those complaining mentioned that Ed was lucky and had a decent place to shoot. See, most indoor ranges don't allow users to draw from a holster – and for good reasons. People simply don't get trained in drawing from a holster. Of those that do, it's likely a small percentage that spend any time and serious practice at it. That was certainly true for my in-service students; it seemed they could best measure their time to first hit from the holster using an hour glass. More importantly, it seemed like it was a new and different experience for "veterans" each time they appeared at the range. You don't have to be a sub-second bad actor, but you have to be confident of your ability to draw to a first hit – or simply to draw confidently to point without firing. What I'd determined over decades of service is that our people would operationally draw hundreds of times – cumulatively – without firing a shot. The appearance of the gun stopped events from going the bad way, maybe the offender wasn't ready to fight – in some cases, the circumstances were suspicious and led reasonable officers to prepare to fight by drawing to gunpoint.
Guard is much preferred to gunpoint for many reasons. A necessary skill for all, it's best for armed citizens not to draw until shooting is required -- when possible.
As a technique for gaining compliance, gunpoint has gone the way of the passenger pigeon – or it should. It's a solid Rule 2 issue, often compounded by a Rule 3 problem: the muzzle's on someone who doesn't clearly need shooting (or you'd be shooting) and that index finger is doing a "trigger check." These are ingredients to a legal and ethical disaster. If this means that nearly all operational draws end up with no (intentional) shots fired, doesn't it follow that we should practice drawing to guard (or some other ready position) more than drawing to one or more shots fired? For presentation practice, I use a non-firing model gun of the same type as the carry gun. In this case, the training gun is from Ring's Manufacturing. There are other makers out there, just get something that doesn't fire a projectile. Another item I use is a lock box to store my duty pistol. Shown is the "in car gun locker" from Center of Mass, LLC. Again, other companies make similar devices, all good for this purpose – which is to secure the loaded carry gun during dry practice. Simply learn the components of the draw – clear the cover garment as you bring the non-gun hand to center chest, get a firing grip in the holster, clear the gun up to high chest and rotate the muzzle in line with the threat. Hands meet there and drive the gun out under the master eye – but don't touch the (nonfunctioning) trigger; just pause and lower to low ready.
Obviously, your dry practice involves a cover garment and the holster you actually use to carry the gun every day.
Repeat for a number of repetitions. Go for form. Some people will despair if I say to start this "slow fire," getting each step down perfectly before flowing into one move – but it's how you learn. After a few minutes, stow your gear. Don't wear yourself out on it. Go back to it later in the day. Doing a minute or two of reps 2 or 3 times a day will add up over time. If you want to check progress, once you have the steps down pat, use a shot timer app on your smart phone. Set it to "random start" (it will sound a tone 1 – 5 seconds or so after you start it) and set the part time to two seconds. Is the 'rubber gun' lined up with the target when the second tone sounds? Fine, cut the par to 1.8 seconds, then to 1.5 seconds. After you get to where you are 'in time' for 10 or so reps in a row, start shortening the time. See how close you can surely, confidently, safely get to one second from tone to on-target. Then, at the range, shoot Ed's drill by starting at "clear and rotate" as it would be in a draw stroke and see if you can get five good hits on the card in four seconds. Or in 3.5 seconds. Just because you can't draw from holster at your local range doesn't mean you can't practice drawing from a holster. You can. Very cheaply. And you'll be getting important practice that will be there when you need it. -- Rich Grassi