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How Important is a Fast Draw for Personal Defense with a Handgun?: The Sheriff's Take

TSiWRX

Custom
^ Not only that, but the first to score an effective hit.

There's more than one SME whose research into police (such as Joe Weyer at APD) and civilian (Tom Givens) gunfights suggests that the party that scores the first effective hit is typically the winner of the encounter.

To paraphrase the former instructor, we can undertake the following thought exercise: You're dueling an opponent - and I tell you that you must delay your draw by X-tenths of a second after your opponent has begun his/her draw....

At what point will you protest this rule? ;)
 

Bear007

Elite

ChanceMcCall

Master Class
As Bill Jordan titled one of his books years ago - "No Second Place Winner".

This belief was a theme of every survivor I ever knew who had been in one or more real gunfight(s).

The people who speak against it are usually range masters and trainers who are more worried about accidental shootings during range time or training than they are about people actually winning gun fights. :mad:
 

Bear007

Elite
As Bill Jordan titled one of his books years ago - "No Second Place Winner".

This belief was a theme of every survivor I ever knew who had been in one or more real gunfight(s).

The people who speak against it are usually range masters and trainers who are more worried about accidental shootings during range time or training than they are about people actually winning gun fight.
It's something I need to practice more of and more often.
 

TSiWRX

Custom
Kinda funny here ... the last day or 2 we've had a thread going on the Galco pocket holster, now we're talking quick draw. I don't think anyone sitting down with a pocket holster is going to win the quick draw ... ugh! So I guess I'll work on my awareness instead. 🧐

There's more than a little something to be said about presenting a weapon from a position that typically receives less scrutiny, too. (y)

There's always tradeoffs.

Speed < > Stealth

While not mutually exclusive, typically, increasing one's depth-of-concealment does result in a commensurate increase in one's speed-to-first-shot (i.e. that shot happens slower), where reaction time is held as a constant.

But to balance that, certain concealment methods allow for the shooter to be able to get his/her hand(s) on-gun earlier-on in the time-course of the encounter, or may even allow firing from/through concealment.
 

Bear007

Elite
There's more than a little something to be said about presenting a weapon from a position that typically receives less scrutiny, too. (y)

There's always tradeoffs.

Speed < > Stealth

While not mutually exclusive, typically, increasing one's depth-of-concealment does result in a commensurate increase in one's speed-to-first-shot (i.e. that shot happens slower), where reaction time is held as a constant.

But to balance that, certain concealment methods allow for the shooter to be able to get his/her hand(s) on-gun earlier-on in the time-course of the encounter, or may even allow firing from/through concealment.
Agreed ...
You do all kinds of training but the odds of an actual encounter matching your training scenario are all over the place. So train as best you can but always be aware. Awareness of a situation about to happen may be where a CCW will gain some advantage. There are no guarantees here.
 

Jimbo

Elite
I can get my Ruger out of my pocket and into position quicker than my Beretta, because my Ruger is a thin single-stack pistol, whereas my Beretta is fatter.

As for why I pocket carry, I will ALWAYS carry if I can carry my gun in my pocket. I will not always carry if I carry some other way. In other words, I will always be armed if I pocket carry.

Putting all of the above together, I believe my single stack Ruger is the better gun for me to carry, because I can be ready to pull the trigger faster with my Ruger than with my Beretta. Even with lots of practice, I think it will always be this way.

I can carry a spare magazine and therefore mitigate the advantage that the Beretta has (14 rounds vs 8). I'm still trying to work out the how on carrying the spare magazine.

For me, this is a big vote for a small, reliable, single-stack gun.
 

somorris

Custom
Founding Member
Thanks, Anni. Another good article from the Sheriff.

Quick draw McGraw I ain't! But if you are going to have to shoot to protect your life or your loved ones lives, being able to get your handgun in the game quickly is definitely important. We should all practice, most of the time with our guns unloaded. I was at a local indoor range pre-pandemic, and the guy in the next lane over was practicing drawing and shooting. He was pretty good, but nonetheless it made me a little nervous that he might have an oops.
 

TSiWRX

Custom
Now, this all said........

I feel it is extremely important to highlight to newer shooters here that they shouldn't go in search of blistering speed, right-off-the-bat.

Newer shooters should realize that the act of drawing the handgun is possibly second in terms of danger only versus the holster/re-holster stroke. Practice should -regardless of speed- always be done in a deliberate and safe manner. And for novices and beginners, this should translate to being slow and sure.

The idea of "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is one that's constantly brought up by many instructors and trainers. The idea here is not that slow is somehow magically fast, but that *_smoothness_* -aka EFFICIENCY of movement- naturally creates speed.

Look at those with a fast draw, be they today's top competition shooters, professional gunmen/women, or even some noted Hollywood stars of both the modern age as well as days gone by, and you'll see that their actions are smooth - and that while it can appear fast, it never appears "herky-jerky." Spastic, rushed motions and inconsistencies of technique at-best will only result in occasionally being truly speedy, and is almost always beat by efficiency and consistency,

For beginner shooters, start slow. Start very, very slow. Very, very, very, very slow. Build the appropriate neuromuscular pathways by repeatedly burning in PERFECT draw-strokes all the way through that very first PERFECT trigger press, breaking just as you come to full-presentation. Let these PERFECT repetitions build consistency and efficiency (realize anything less than perfect simply means that you'd just burned-in something less desirable, so go as slow as you need to, to insure absolute perfection). Slowly build up speed - all while maintaining PERFECT form and execution.

Your "smoothness of action" -much like a master chef or surgeon's hand motions as they practice their art- translates directly to efficiency. And it is that absolute efficiency that creates, all of its own, speed.

And once you have that efficient pathway absolutely burned-in, you should absolutely then train FOR SPEED.

Here, there's absolutely no getting around the need to objectively quantify your performance. If you're not using a shot-timer and shooting to a scored metric, you're just bench-racing your buddies at the local bar, and not really lining up for pinks. ;)

Finally, you should not trade absolute speed for overall fight capability or athleticism. A fast draw may well bring you gun to-bear on the threat...but if you should tip backwards because that threat -or even a bystander- gave you only a slight push, the shot that breaks may well be a miss. Realize that there is a difference between a speed-draw that wins a contest or gives you bragging rights on the flat-range, versus a technique that actually lets you survive the type of fight during which you may be relying on that speedy access/presentation.
 

TSiWRX

Custom
We should all practice, most of the time with our guns unloaded.

Just be sure to also practice to the same goals with a "hot gun," too.

There should never be a moment's doubt/hesitation when we access our holstered handgun for the fight of our lives: the shooter must not be at all timid or uncertain about the act of withdrawing a "hot gun" from their holster.

The dry practice should reinforce in our minds that the gun can and will come out of the holster safely, so that when we access the weapon in that dire moment, we have no doubts in our mind as to the skillset necessary to bring it to-bear.
 

Bassbob

Ronin
I have no desire to be like that guy that was the fastest shot in the world. I don't even time myself so I can't really tell you how fast I can get my weapon out, on target and fire, but I know it's fast and it's consistent. As anyone's will be if they continually drill and practice.

And there's more to it than just the mechanics of clearing your holster, rotating and bringing it up to the support hand at eye level and on target. You also, particularly as a beginner, have to focus on stance, grip and follow through.
 

KASHIRA-3

Elite
I cant tell anyone how important a fast draw may be but I can tell you how I look at it. I do not believe that anyone is trying to be slower but I wouldnt necessarily say that a "fast draw" is what I am going for. I want my draw to be unencumbered, purposeful, smooth and controlled. I endeavor to have a draw that is not bumbling and does not incorporate any unnecessary movement. That is what I work towards and I dont give a flip about putting a timer on it. I know that over the years, my presentation has remained about average among my trained peers. Not slow and not impressively fast. Speed or whatever someone wants to call it can be a byproduct of well practiced and well constructed draw but I wouldnt call it my goal. The goal is to get it right and be efficient, not necessarily "fast". My natural cadence and the time it takes to present a firearm- is what it is. Its not impressive and it is not intended to be. It is intended to be competent.

If we are talking about "skills in a bubble" my time over the decades has been 1.56 and 1.59 ( owb to first shot on target).

When I say "skills in a bubble" I am speaking of carrying out the task without the presence of danger, without managing a stress response, without any real consequence, within a predetermined space and a ready-set-go after having readied myself.

In the real world, I am sure that my time will be slower. I will not likely be ready, there is no "shooter ready" signal. Danger often manifests at the most inopportune time and comes from a place not expected. Badguys will often exploit conditions in their own favor ( giving no quarter to the victim) and at their own initiative. I will already be well behind the curve, so that 1.59 is probably closer to a 2.0 ( if I am lucky). It could actually be longer than that if I have to stop what I am doing, turn ( spin around), take cover or move off while going for my gun. It could be even longer than that if I am responding to being hit, struck, knocked down, jumped on, bludgeoned or shot.

Generally speaking, I do not consider "speed of draw" to be what most citizen self defense actions are likely to hinge upon. Sure, a person can construct a scenario where speed of draw is the critical and deciding factor. It is also rather easy to paint a picture where speed of draw has nothing to do with it. I am sure that speed of draw has been ( in some circumstances) contributed substantially toward surviving a violent encounter. That said, I consider a focus on absolute speed to be rather low on my list of priorities. Especially if the time, effort and training necessary to achieve impressive (oooh- wow) speed- comes at a cost of neglecting other important training, knowledge and experience. I say this as someone who only carries a gun for self defense and does not plan to ever partake of gun gamea/comp. If your are a competitor, I can see where (absolute speed) might be an imperative.

On Fighting Prowess: Being fast does not necessarily mean a person is a proficient or competent fighter. I consider fighting prowess to be something that is achieved via a well rounded set of skills, knowledge, training and experience. It is this reason that I am a proponent of [checking the box] and moving on to other training. What I mean by that is that once I feel that I have a clean/efficient draw, a proficient draw, a unencumbered and controlled draw... a draw that is far from bumbling; I simply check the box and move on. Certainly I will "practice" my draw to keep the rust off but I have long since, MOVED ON.

If a person ( in a bubble) has a 4 second draw... yeah I think you may need to work on that.

In regards to MY DRAW, I checked the box sometime in the early 80s. At the prompting of a colleague, I timed myself in the mid 90s and my time was 1.56 ( best out of 3 tries). At some point in the early 2004 I was again challenged to time shots on target and my time was 1.59 ( best out of 3 tries). I am sure that now, some near 20 years later.. my time ( in a bubble) is probably around the 2 second mark. I have not checked, dont plan to and will certainly not lose sleep wondering about it. My draw is clean and controlled.

have you checked the box? If not.. what is your goal?
 
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