Lee’s note: This is the second of a four-part series from Michael Sheesley – a true expert – a practicing lawyer, firearms trainer and lethal force expert living on St. Thomas, USVI.
HONING YOUR RAZOR’S EDGE: THE DRAW
Story and photos by Michael Sheesley, Esq.
With the recent increase in prices of ammunition and a marked decrease in availability how can you maintain your razor sharp edge in training? Outlined in this series of articles are some ways to train cheaply (or free!), efficiently and virtually anywhere.
The purpose of utilizing your firearm in self defense is to stop the threat.
A “stop” in a self-defense situation is winning the fight. That is, remaining unharmed and having the bad guy cease to be the aggressor in a confrontation. A large number of “stops” in a self-defense situation involving a firearm do not require a round to be fired. These are psychological stops and are effectuated by the bad guy not wanting to play anymore once he is looking down the barrel of your firearm or once you have taken a strong, defensive position and issue direct verbal commands to stop. Being able to present your firearm from your preferred concealed carry position quickly, safely and efficiently will increase your chances of effectuating a psychological stop.
With that thought in mind it makes sense to practice the presentation of the firearm from the preferred method of carry to the target in a smooth, safe and efficient way. Whatever method you choose to carry (I prefer strong side 4 o’clock position in a crossbreed® type IWB holster) you can practice the presentation of your firearm every day virtually anywhere. From my preferred carry position and rig I can smoothly, safely and efficiently draw and present my firearm at a target, scan for other threats and safely re-holster at least 6 times per minute. If I do this 5 minutes a day this gives me 30 draws per day and 210 draws per week! Perform this exercise in front of a mirror and go slow. Your form should be flawless. If you carry in an ankle holster, small of the back holster, shoulder holster, fanny pack or purse you can practice your draw using your preferred concealment method.
Research and statistics vary but in order to become proficient at a physical activity I would recommend that an individual perform 1,000 reps to become comfortable drawing their firearm in a self-defense situation under stress. I have heard claims that 10,000 reps (or hours) doing a certain thing makes and individual an “expert”, this however will vary from person to person and from task to task.
Safety is our primary concern. Notice that nothing in the above exercise involves pressing the trigger on your firearm. Unload your firearm, visually and physically inspect the firearm twice and store the ammunition in a location other than somewhere immediately accessible. Blueguns® or other similar dummy firearms can be used to make this exercise absolutely safe. Follow all the rules of gun safety even if using a Bluegun ®.
Remember not to point the muzzle at your own body while re-holstering. The muzzle of the firearm should never point at anything that you are not willing to destroy. As stated above keep your finger off the trigger and indexed on the frame. Finally, be aware of your target and what surrounds it.
Pay particular attention to where the muzzle of the firearm is pointing as you draw. Different carry methods will naturally point the muzzle in different directions. Practice muzzle discipline so that you are drawing smoothly, safely and efficiently.
When practicing your draw focus on sight acquisition and actually drawing and aiming at a particular target. Once you have your draw smooth and efficient you can start practicing from a variety of different positions. Try drawing your firearm while you are seated on your couch or in your office chair. Next try drawing while seated in your car. Draw your firearm while lying on the ground. Draw with your back against a wall.
The variations, locations and situations are only limited by your imagination and a prudent respect for the law. You obviously do not want to practice your draw in a crowded mall or a public park.
Keeping these rules in mind you can start training your draw virtually anywhere.
Train hard, stay safe.
Michael Sheesley is a practicing attorney, a firearms instructor and a partner in Virgin Arms, a FFL holder serving the law enforcement and civilian community in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mr. Sheesley regularly deals with criminal matters involving the use of lethal force and is a consultant to expert witnesses. Mr. Sheesley is a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org