Friday, June 19, 2009

Practicing Your Draw For Defense

I recently received a long comment from "Daves_Daily" on an old post that was about Cowboy Fast Draw. I have edited it a bit to fit a smaller space, and printed it below:

"I have always wondered, and I am not guy, but I do practice drawing fast in case I need to, and I've always wondered, what would be the danger in a fast draw if you didn't employ unsafe techniques, such as cocking the revolver in the holster? As I practice, I make it a point to pull the weapon's business end clear before I cock. And that has become a habit. I have yet to let a revolver fly out of my hand or to fire before I was on target, if I drew with live ammunition; the target being poisonous snakes, so far. "

"But you never know, someday I may have to draw fast, with live ammunition, in grave situation. It could happen. Almost did once in my life and I'm 55. That was in Fl, hence the Fl permit I got afterward when I realized that my VA and UT permits don't work in Fl. So, it really could happen, and if you do not practice with live ammunition, you may just let go of the pistol or shoot yourself in the foot or worse, because you have no habit at all, or just bad ones, like cocking the gun in the holster."

"I'm not saying CFD is a bad thing, I'd love to do it, but there's no club anywhere near where I live. And I don't think I'd develop a bad habit, because I am capable of learning more than one way to deploy a weapon. So, I've always wondered, why is it considered unsafe to practice for the gravest extreme, and for the occasional snake, cat, or bear? "

"I’m pretty sure the bad guys actually don’t practice much, I count on it. I also assume they still have a good deal of practical experience and confidence in their skill, or they wouldn’t go about bracing full grown top predators, such as myself."

Here's my two cents worth: First, Cowboy Fast Draw should never be confused with defensive pistol usage, although there are some things in common. We use shotgun primers for propellant and we use wax bullets for safety reasons. The holsters have a metal bullet deflector at the bottom so if a shot is fired with the gun not clear of the holster the bullet will shatter and be deflected away from the shooter's leg. In Cowboy Fast Draw the pistol is drawn from the holster, cocked, and fired from the hip with one hand. The fastest shooters do the entire draw and fire in close to three tenths of a second. Cowboy Fast Draw is a great deal of fun, but it is only a game, not real life.

In real life, being the fastest out of the holster is of much lower importance, relatively speaking. At least in my opinion, situational awareness is by far the most important factor. If you remain aware of your surrounding situation at all times, you may well be able to avoid the situation where you need to un-holster completely. At the very least, you may decide that you may possibly need your handgun for defensive purposes and already have it drawn and ready well before you need it. If you are in cold weather, your handgun will probably be covered by clothing anyway, so that in itself will slow down your draw.

Should you practice your draw with an unloaded weapon? Certainly. Practicing your draw, sight picture, and dry fire over and over until it's smooth and consistent is a good idea. At least from my limited experience shooting single action revolvers in competition, it always seemed like in the process of raising the gun to eye level I always had lots of time to cock the hammer, and doing it smoothly was far more important than cocking it quickly. Most folks prefer double action revolvers since the trigger pull does the cocking. Others prefer a light double action semi-auto, or a cocked and locked semi. It's not so important exactly what you carry, as long as you are proficient with it.

The one thing you cannot duplicate in practice is the effect of adrenalin on you, and that effect can be major. Competitive shooting is just about the only way you can hone your shooting skills while dealing with adrenalin. IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) competition is the closest to actual defensive pistol situations, and there are a couple of IDPA clubs in your area. Bowling pin shoots, falling plate matches, Steel Challenge, USPSA, all are good training, and getting proficient at any of those disciplines will only make you an all around better shooter, and on top of that you get to meet lots of great folks and have a lot of fun, too!

As for Cowboy Fast Draw, if you decide that sounds like fun, go to the CFDA Website and get yourself some wax bullets and a box of the specially modified .45 Colt brass. Give it a try. Give some thought to starting it up in your area. CFDA has a lot of information on getting Cowboy Fast Draw started up. It's a lot of fun, and very inexpensive to get started.

Does anyone else want to add anything advice-wise for "Daves_Daily"? If so, feel free to leave a comment.


At Sunday, June 28, 2009 12:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a european, I am somewhat sceptical on self-defense training - but OK.
When it comes to the handling of a gun, any gun, it is paramount that it becomes a part of your body. Various scientific studies have proves that the human mind is capable of "adding" many-used instruments to the brain inventory of usable bodyparts, thus making the gun a part of yourself. Brian Enos wrote a lot about it and also used the "focus" for the game - what he calls "shooting in the zone"
Train, dry-fire, go to the range and make the gun a part of youre body. Select a place -one place only- for your yaqui slide or Safariland and leave it there. Then you will always grip it in the right way at the right time. Good luck.

At Sunday, June 28, 2009 8:22:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Completely said...

Excellent advice!

.... Mr. C.

At Monday, June 29, 2009 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Michael Bane said...

Hey Mr. C!

I used to be far more casual about the real world uses of a relatively fast draw until I found myself having to out-draw your basic miscreant at my local supermarket a couple of years back. His hand went into his jacket. My hand went into my jacket. My gun came out first. He surrendered. Game over. Hmmmmm, I thought. My current thinking (and what I teach) is that any violent confrontation is a pure chaos system — so many factors acting on the system that it's impossible to predict which way it will move. That necessitates a sort of Bruce Lee approach to training...internalization of the basics, a willingness to steal whatever works regardless of which "style" you steal it from, an avoidance of the "better cage" of set patterns and, ultimately, an absolute trust in one's awareness and reaction once in Condition Red.

Michael B


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