Holster Draw Training with Daniel Shaw

Drawing your sidearm correctly is a big deal. But many of us don’t practice it enough. I’m as guilty as anyone else there. But even when you do practice, are you doing it right? In the video linked below, Daniel Shaw shows a class how to practice their holster draw. As always, the little things matter.

Daniel Shaw

Daniel says that he’s “a firm believer that every time you take a bad shot, you’re practicing being bad. Every time you take a perfect shot, you’re practicing perfection. I’m asking for a perfect shot every time.” That same philosophy applies to your holster draw. Hip, appendix, whatever, your technique must be sound to get that perfect draw.

Holster Draw Baby Steps

Daniel’s students use a mix of appendix and outside the waistband hip holsters. Both use the same principles. They’re just adjusted for their choice of carry position. The same principles also apply to inside the waistband hip carry.

Firm One-Handed Grip

  • The first step to a perfect draw is a firm one-handed grip. “That’s the most important thing,” Daniel stresses. A good grip is high and tight with everything in line.
  • Eyes on the bad guy, reach down to find the pistol’s grip.
  • Push down and forward, riding the backstrap all the way to the top.
  • Hit the tang and wrap your fingers around.
Proper one-handed grip on the pistol
Make certain you have a firm one-handed grip before drawing your sidearm.

Draw the Pistol

  • Start drawing the pistol once you have a firm one-handed grip.
  • The pistol should be moving forward as soon as possible. “The whole point of drawing to fire is to get my gun out into a firing position and shoot,” Daniel says.
  • Take as direct a line to the presentation as possible. Pulling the pistol too high before moving forward wastes motion and time. “Time can be life,” Daniel notes, “so I want to have a draw that has good economy of motion” Combined with positive control of the gun, this allows the shooter to go straight to a good sight picture and trigger press.
  •  
Drawing too high

    • Pulling the pistol too high wastes motion and time.

 

  • Drag the gun forward toward presentation when pulling up from the holster. The gun’s movement will tell you when it clears the holster and naturally help you present. You don’t have to drag the gun particularly hard. All you want is an indicator that the muzzle has cleared the holster.
    Dragging the pistol forward while drawing

      Left: Pulling the pistol straight up wastes motion. Right: Dragging the pistol forward leads to a faster presentation.
  • Appendix carriers achieve this by torquing the wrist. Appendix carriers should not use the whole arm or shoulder to pull forward because it can negatively affect their grip, especially in a stressful situation.

    Forward dragging from appendix holster
    Torque the wrist to get forward motion from appendix carry.
  • The Marine Corps taught Daniel to draw the gun to his chest before pressing out to present. That technique is safe, but it wastes motion and time. Dragging the gun forward creates a direct line to presentation.
  • Bring the non-firing hand down so it can go straight under the trigger guard as the muzzle clears the holster. Try to get an early touch point. This gives you extra time to build your grip as you present. Waiting until the gun is up to add the offhand loses time to build the grip. An extra half second is a big deal. Your hand is likely already in that position if you are clearing clothing for the draw. Use it!

    Offhand position comparison
    Getting your offhand onto the pistol sooner helps build your grip during presentation.
  • Be careful not to get inside the trigger guard when bringing in your off-hand. Sweep up with that hand, not in.
  • Start referencing your sights as you drive the gun forward. Don’t wait for presentation.

    Offhand technique
    Use proper technique to get your offhand under the trigger guard, not into it.
  • Daniel makes an interesting point to a student shooting double action from the draw. He says to stage the trigger as the gun comes up. With practice, you can stage it to where it’s almost a single action pull. I tried it with my Beretta 92FS, and it works. But I’ll have to practice.

Holstering the Pistol

Daniel notes that putting your pistol in the holster is the most dangerous thing you’ll do on the range. Take your time, clear your clothing, and look at your holster. Finger off the trigger and holster the gun. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it quickly. It means you have to practice holstering your pistol just like you practice drawing it.

“Somebody said a long time ago that nobody ever won a gunfight by being fast to the holster,” Daniel says. “I believe that person never fought with rifles. I think we should be incredibly fast back to the holster. But we should also be incredibly safe. We get fast going back to the holster not by closing our eyes and bouncing around for 20 minutes…we get it by using our eyes to train our body.”

Fist bump
Get it right and Daniel will personally come to your range and fist bump you. Probably.

Holster Draw Training

Always practice the optimum draw stroke, even on drills with no time limit. Drawing quickly and correctly every time builds muscle memory and provides more time for a good shot. It’s one thing to know the right draw stroke. Actually doing it is another thing entirely. Your mind trains your body, but you have to do the work.

I recommend watching the video below. You can see Daniel instructing individual students as they run the drills. You’ll pick up little things and see it done correctly. Happy shooting, y’all.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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