Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Defensive shooting drill: Rapid draw and point shooting


(Please note: This drill carries risks, just as any shooting does. There is a real danger involved in drawing a loaded weapon and firing it, even on a controlled range during practice. The shooter does so at his own risk. The drill presented here is the authors own practice method, and is shared only as an example of a defensive drill. The author is not a firearms instructor. Many ranges will not allow this type of practice, and the shooter should consult with range management before attempting defensive drills involving draw and movement.)

A tourist walks up to a cab driver in New York City and asks him “Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” The cab driver promptly responds “Practice!” as he drives away laughing.

I suspect if a civilian who caries a weapon for self defense asked an experienced soldier the best way to survive an attack, the answer might very well be “Training!”.

For a pistol shooter, practice and training comes in many forms. Safety is paramount at all times, and practicing it should go without saying. Beyond that each discipline has it’s forms and methods. Bull’s-eye shooters spend hours upon hours practicing breathing and trigger control. Steel shooters practice rapid target acquisition. IPSC shooters even practice explaining away all the misses.

For the defensive shooter, all these are needed, and more. The point of carrying a weapon for self defense is it’s there when it’s needed. Predicting exactly what will be happening when that need arises is nearly impossible. If one could predict every dire situation, one could then avoid them. Almost by definition the defensive situation a CCW holder might face will be a surprise, and come on rapidly. If it were any other case then it would probably be better to escape than fight.

In its most extreme the armed person might have just fractions of a second to commit to shooting in defense. It’s likely to be close at hand, if not at arms length. It’s entirely possible the first rounds will be fired as snap shots on the draw, and without aiming.

If this is the case, then shooting like that should be practiced! Like anything we do under stress, practice and training will always improve how we react. The more training, the better we can deal with the stress of a sudden life and death situation. The more muscle memory we can use in that moment, the freer our mental faculties will be to access the danger, if that’s even possible.

Practice should be pointed, with a goal in mind. Not just standing up at the bench and blasting away someplace down range, but firing with deliberation and purpose. Often, even the firing should be omitted as finer points of the draw and reload are repeated over and over with an unloaded weapon.

One range session for sight acquisition, and another session might concentrate on trigger control. Yet another on reloading and failure drills. If possible, movement and firing from the draw should be done as well. Later, as each skill is learned, they can be combined in drills, such as using action dummies to force a surprise tap+rack malfunction clearing (another post!). In the event a weapon must be pulled from concealment for purposes of self defense, all these skills can and may be needed. The only thing that can be certain is not enough time will be available and something will probably go wrong.

Here, we’ll look at a drill designed to practice rapid draw and point shooting at very close range, a skill that might be useful in an extreme social encounter of the worst kind. Emergency situations don’t normally announce themselves well in advance and from far away. In the event of a personal attack the perpetrator probably took pains to remove the victim’s response time and options. The ability to draw quickly, point the weapon properly, and fire reliably could a life saving skill.

As the illustrations show, this drill has the weapon holstered on the belt in a normal concealed carry rig. The non-shooting hand comes forward and up to at least shoulder level, and probably higher. During the drill this gets the hand out of the path of firing to avoid unwanted and unauthorized bullet wounds in that hand. In a real life defensive situation, the off hand would be coming up to push away an attacker, distract attention, and possible deflect a weapon.

Care should be taken to not allow the muzzle to cover any part of the shooters body during the draw and handling.

The gun hand draws the weapon and brings it muzzle forward just in front of the body, but not extended. The pistol is pointed at the attacker, and multiple rounds are fired; at least two, but three is probably better. Without aiming, the assurance of a disabling hit that will stop the attack is lower. Multiple rounds will increase the odds of stopping the attacker.

The video shows the whole drill, first at speed, then in slow motion. It also shows one reason eye protection should always be worn while shooting. Firing this close to the backstop puts one right in the path of dirt and debris flying up from the impacts. Such shooting should never be done someplace bullets might ricochet or bounce back. The danger of being hit is far too great. (The linked post by Brigid is an excellent primer on eye protection!)

The drill should be performed dry (unloaded) several dozen times, and then done at very slow and deliberate speed while concentrating on a safe draw and motion to fire. First the safe draw, and then the safe draw and pointing the weapon, and then the draw, point, and fire, all done at slow speed. As the actions get smoother, the pace can be picked up. After a few range sessions it should begin to fall into place.

Like any drill, it must be practiced on a regular basis to keep the skills alive. Once the motions and actions are learned and ingrained, periodic refreshers are needed. Shooting the drill once or twice each range session is recommended, if possible. Regular range sessions should already be on the agenda of any conscientious CCW holder.

This drill, and many others like it, can be used to build a shooters skill level. In the event the carry weapon is needed in the gravest extreme, such skills may be life savers.


pdb said...

This is an important drill for people to practice. Even if you don't have a friendly, understanding range staff, a few dryfire snaps at home are better than nothing.

I do prefer to keep my non-dominant hand tight to the chest both for shooting from retention, and on the draw until I'm ready for both hands to link up. This keeps my hand behind the muzzle of the pistol, since it gives me the heebie jeebies to have it wandering around on its own out there when bullets are flying.

There's a great article about it here.

immagikman said...

Great Post, I love these educational subjects and the videos are cool

Can you tell us what equipment you use to make the viedos and the still pictures?

Little Joe said...

Interesting. Kind of makes me think of "Gunfight at the Carteach0 Corral"

It's getting tough to find a place down here to do this kind of practice. The latest "stupid rule" at many shooting ranges is "No holsters allowed."

I guess one of these days we'll have to bring our guns in a roll away safe. Roll it up to the firing line and pull one gun and one round of ammo out of the safe at a time.



Carteach0 said...

Immagikman, I use a Canon S3i. It's really my only camera right now, and all my still and video is shot with it. A few years old, only 6mp, not an SLR.... pretty basic. Still, given a small understanding of photography it does the job.

I'd like a decent digital SLR, but with an entry level of $800 or so, it will have to wait. I'll make do with what I have, and be happy for it.

Xavier said...

Excellent post Carteach0!

I hope you don't mind if I embedded your video and linked to it.


Carteach0 said...


Awe Shucks.... I am proud and honored!

I thought the dirt falling all over me was a nice touch... (g).

Turk Turon said...

Wow! Nicely done!

Cowboy Blob said...

That's awesome! I only have two gun categories on my blog: gunfun and gunfun_NOT. I shy away from even linking tactical training posts because a lot of the shooting disciplines I practice run counter- intuitively to my own instincts (It's fun to PRETEND to be a SWAT entry team, but I'd rather train for a fighting retreat because I AM NOT A COP!) Still, all the fun-gun activities I practice keep me comfortable with the weapon I may carry in a defensive situation.

Keep up the good work.

Carteach0 said...

Cowboy... agreed. Things like this I drill in are FUN, and I keep them as much to the point as I can. I'm not police and I don't even play one on TV, so my shooting fun is geared in another direction.

Besides... it's so much more fun than standing up there and just putting holes in paper (g).

krisjan76 said...

Nicely done. I'm a new reader to your blog and am constantly finding good things to read.