Handgun Skills: Prioritize the Draw that Matters

The draw and presentation of the concealed handgun is, bar none, the most important skill in the toolbox of the defensive handgunner.  Almost all fights in the civilian world involve the need to produce the gun from a concealed state and bring it into action.  How fast you can reload most likely won’t matter.  How cool your flashlight technique looks most likely won’t matter.  However, how fast and efficiently you can draw and produce the gun will inevitably matter.  It is a prime, perhaps the prime, concern and it deserves a significant amount of practice time and training repetition.

Here is the issue I see consistently: the vast majority of people don’t practice their draw (I shoot at a range that allows drawing from a holster and even there it is exceedingly rare to see anyone doing it besides myself) and those that do usually practice only from an open holster.  The majority of these folks probably carry a diminutive concealed pistol in a pocket or tucked in the waistband and they give no thought or training effort to actually producing that gun.

I don’t even draw a gun from an open holster anymore.  Not at all.  Never.  Sure, can I bedazzle my friends and students with sub-second draws from an open holster?  You bet.  But what relevance does an open holster have to my real life?  None.  I carry the gun concealed, therefore every single training rep I do is from concealment.  Even if I attend a training and everyone is working from an open holster I will work from concealment if allowed.  The others can waste their time doing repetitions that don’t matter.  Even when shooting a match in which everyone has an open holster, good for them, I shoot from concealment.  The only form of competition I do now is IDPA because I can be more competitive using my real concealment setup.  Unfortunately all of those guys wear competition holsters covered by fishing vests, thus defeating any value they could gain from the match while using their real carry setup.

I harp on this topic quite often in my writing but it is for a reason.  The core skill for the individual who carries a concealed handgun is being able to get the gun out quickly, efficiently, and safely, and very few people put in the training effort for this.  I am also dismayed when I see a lot of instructors teach defensive handgun classes that are primarily stocked with civilians and everyone works exclusively from open holsters.  How is that applicable training?  Many do this because the draw from concealment is a bit more hazardous for novice shooters and instructors need to run a safe class.  Understandable, but there needs to be a sea change in our approach to this.  Drawing from concealment is treated as a more advanced skill that is broached only after the student has sufficient experience drawing from an open holster.  The problem with this approach is that only the draw from concealment matters for the individual who carriers a concealed handgun.  That simple.  Practice the important stuff.

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