A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting on Target

After several nights of dry fire practice from my pocket holster, I took the two Bodyguards back to the range to have another go. Click to enlargeI had lost some of my smoothness of drawing, and I wanted it back.

My goal is to get shots on target as quickly and efficiently as possible. Always. That is what allows a person to survive a lethal confrontation. I want to get shots on target before my attacker shoots me.

Drawing a gun and firing it is a gross motion comprised of many smaller movements. Smoothness of the draw is important, but so is getting behind the sights quickly. I draw to a quick elbows up position, with my right arm almost as though I am drawing a bow. This allows the handgun to be shoved forward in my line of vision which is already on the target. My finger goes onto the trigger when the handgun is shoved forward towards the threat. As soon as the front and rear sight are aligned on the target, I smoothly pull that trigger whether my arms are fully extended or not. Click to enlargeMy goal is fluidity. I do not want any discernible pauses in the motion from the removal of the gun to the pulling of the trigger.

Yes, I pull the trigger. This is double action shooting, getting hits on target as quickly as possible and I don't trouble myself with semantics. I wrap my finger around that trigger to the first knuckle, and I pull it to the rear at a consistent steady rate. I have found that getting my elbow up and shoving the gun forward in my line of vision gets shots on target for me faster than raising my handgun into my line of vision from my side and having it bob up and down. It also allows for better retention of the handgun.

I am certain that some will say "My God, what about the cylinder blast?" That concern is valid. The risk of cylinder blast to my face and eyes is the reason my finger does not go onto the trigger until the gun is shoved forward. Click to enlargeMy goal is to get a first hit consistently on target, to shoot an attacker before I am shot. I have found that this draw allows that.

The difficulty inherent in this draw stroke is that the arm must change direction as the elbow reaches it's apex and the gun is shoved forward. To change direction, the arm must stop movement for a split second. This is where jerkiness can enter the equation, making for an extension with the sights not aligned with the eye. One must think of the motion as singular and curvilinear, not a collection of straight motions. Flowing, not spurting. Xingyiquan, not Muay Thai. Violins, not drums.
"Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate."
~Sun Tzu
This draw is not always the best solution, but it is a good technique to have in one's repertoire. A competent gunman should practice different draw strokes, to allow for maximum flexibility and advantage. The most important criteria in a gun fight though, is to get shots on target before your target gets shots on you.

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Blogger P said...

While i like practice, that (your high elbow) takes too long to get the first shot off.

For "survival draw' I pull the gun and as soon as my hand can get the gun level, at no higher than lowest rib, I have one round off, second round goes off almost as soon as I can get second hand on the gun, the last two are DT's as finally put the front site on the target.

This works, has worked in real life, and is much much faster than any other system I have tried.

This is not for 20 yard practice, this is for 4 yards and in, inside a common room or side to side in an alley. I find that I often have 4-5 inch groups with all four shots inside that on COM or 3 in COM, one to the T zone.

Try it, you might like it....

2:35 PM  
Blogger Keith Walker said...

Have you ever thought about getting some video footage up on YouTube? I think it would be a GREAT compliment to your blog! Plus, I'd like to see exactly how you make this draw.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the close-range shooting drill of "Rock, lock, bang," where you draw the pistol, lock it onto the hip by bracing your wrist, then aim by looking at where you want to hit, ala Fairbairn?

It works. Well. Practice safely.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I have thought about that as well Keith. Maybe for Christmas I will get one of those Flip video cameras. I hear they make You Tube videos easy.......

This draw is one that I prefer for a pocketed snub. It's difficult to "speed rock" a revolver out of a pocket holster. A similar draw is to bring the handgun vertically up to the pectoral muscle, turn the muzzle forward while bringing the weak hand into the grip and then press out. By going up a little higher, I just get behind the sights quicker. Keep in mind that the first shot does not need to be fired at full extension. the revolver can be fired anytime that the cylinder leaves the region of my face.

It's a draw adapted for a draw from a pocket holster. The defender can already have their strong hand on the firearm in a firing grip before the draw commences. The thing is to get behind the sights for an accurate sighted first shot as quickly as possible, while moving.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Glenn Bartley said...

My opinion only, I would not draw and fire the way you described. There are several reasons I think so and I will mention a few in the spirit of concerned discussion because you may want to reconsider your technique to stay safe.

It seems way too cumbersome to draw that way, and the arms are in a position that causes way too much strain as compared to a combat draw. I have tried your technique now several times, and my muscle on the outside of the upper arm hurts just under my shoulder joint (yes I am getting old).

I think there is a better way for you to go about it. First of all when you draw a firearm from a holster, preferably a strong side hip holster, but a pocket one will do, you should have the gun on target (or if a far off target then at least in the general direction of the target) the moment it clears the holster or pocket. In other words draw and immediately point at the target or in its direction. If a bad guy is charging you or otherwise close in you can commence firing from this position. Your draw would make pointing the weapon as soon as it clears leather almost impossible with that elbow pointing up like that.

Another thing is that firing like this is extremely awkward, and maybe even dangerous - not just to the bad guy as it should be but also to you. If you had to fire from that high hold close in as in that picture you could lose and eye from muzzle or chamber blast. I have seen people get burned like that and KNOW it happens.

Even if you do not get burned you may get burned another way. Your method has you blocking out, even if only for a moment, the field of vision to your right. Milliseconds count here and a threat could appear that quickly on that side and be blocked from view because of how you have raised the gun on that side.

Additionally, your draw is a much less natural or fluid motion for your hands and arms to make than is drawing then pointing, then punching out the firearm (if target is distant enough to require point shooting or sights as opposed to hip shooting). Therefore it is also likely slower than doing it the way I just described. A split second could mean your life if you need to shoot someone. As I draw from a strong side holster, as soon as the handgun clears the holster it is on target. If I need to do so I can begin firing at the moment it is pointed on target. If the target is far enough off but yet enough of a threat, I can vertically track with the pistol firing as I raise it to eye level to sight in, or if the target is close in I can continue to fire from the hip. Either way this is a quite effective way of getting the other guy before he gets you. In addition acquisition of the sights or top of gun (for point shooting) is much faster than when you bring your hands up high with elbows low (not above the hands). There should be no bobbing either way because with both methods it seems apparent the shooting hand(s) would be punched or rapidly pushed out in front so you could sight in.

It is just ever so quicker and more fluid coming directly up from the holster at an angle that brings it to eye level than coming out and first raising the gun up with elbow high then pushing it out to aim in. See the extra step involved. Your method seems to involver: draw, point, raise up, pull back (as in drawing a bow as you described), push out, fire as opposed to: draw, point, push out, fire. Only a minor variation, but you add 2 steps, ones that may cost too much time. Less is better in getting your handgun out and on target, here less may save your life.

Back to the bobbing you mentioned. If you draw as I described then the weapon bobs up and down when your arms are extended, you either did not do what I described or need strength exercises. Usually the bobbing is caused by someone using another method, and that includes drawing much as I said but first raising the handgun up above eye level before shooting, then bringing it down to eye level to sight in. That is an old timers method that was taught for years especially to revolver shooters. It stinks, don't do it. Hand on gun, clear leather, point at target, punch at target and you are virtually aimed in at least for point shooting, acquisition of sights follows almost automatically if you need them.

Give it a try, see what you think. If I described it right, and you do it that way, I am pretty certain you will find it faster, more fluid, less straining on the arms, and so forth.

All the best,

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but notice how similar the picture is of a samurai.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Understanding the 4 Point Drawstroke For Pistols

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier -

is that you in the picture? Your arms are huge. Write an article about your workout program. I am particularly interested in how you stay "in the groove" while working rotating and call shifts, blogging and having a family.


1:05 PM  
Anonymous dvc said...

Blading your body towards the threat is a good move if you are not wearing armor.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Glenn, your points about obstructing my vision are valid. All I can respond with is by the time the revolver is in the position shown in the photo, I'm committed to my primary threat. This would be no different with any drawstroke. I'm not firing from that position, the revolver will be fired when it enters my line of vision, approximately 12-14 inches away from my face. By going high, I also get COM shots, important when I only have five rounds available to me.

When I draw a pistol from a holster, either a IWB, or a OWB, I use a pretty much standard 4 point draw stroke. This particular draw is one I've modified from that for a snubbie revolver drawn from a pocket. When the gun is holstered in Kydex or leather on your belt, the holster tends to stay in place with the draw. When it is carried in a pocket, things wiggle around and can get tangled. The real difference is rather than turning the gun at the pectoral muscle, I'm bringing it a bit higher and leaning my head over to it. The end result is a Chapman stance, not an Iscoceles. At any time in the upward movement, once the revolver clears the garment, it can be turned and fired. What I am trying to accomplish is getting it to my field of vision as rapidly as possible so it can be extended out on a level plane rather than an arc. That allows for the most effective shooting with limited ammunition.

As far as the bobbing and needing strengthing exercises, if you can quickly raise a handgun to sights in an upwards arc and never overshoot your mark, you are a machine man! Place a laser on your gun, activate it, and watch the dot bounce around on your draw. The results should prove illuminating.

FWIW, I can and do draw as you suggest as well, especially with a pistol from a holster. As I mentioned though, this draw stroke is just another tool in a toolbox. That's all.

Anon, I never thought about the samauri thing. Years ago, I was into swords, that, along with epee and sabre, and I never thought it would stick. It probably hasn't.

Anon #2, yes, it is me. I'm really a 98 pound weakling with sand kicked in my eyes. With the Charles atlas plan....... Seriously, the photo foreshortening helps a lot. I don't work out, I just transfer my own patients to the table and volunteer to hold legs and arms for prepping.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Glenn Bartley said...

"if you can quickly raise a handgun to sights in an upwards arc and never overshoot your mark, you are a machine man!"

That is the thing to avoid, that upward arch. I draw and pucnch out, I do not draw an arch up. That was thatb old timer method i wrote about. I agree you would have to be superman or a robot to be able to draw like that and not bob the weapon up and down.

All the best,

9:28 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

"That is the thing to avoid, that upward arch. I draw and pucnch out, I do not draw an arch up. That was thatb old timer method i wrote about. I agree you would have to be superman or a robot to be able to draw like that and not bob the weapon up and down."

If you do not bring the gun up to eye level prior to punching out with it, you are arcing it up into your field of vision. Perhaps not as great an arc, but still an arc.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Chaz said...

Time spent moving your hands and arms to that high position is time spent not shooting the threat, in a moment when fractions of a second are precious.
Your eyes are already on the target. Moving the gun straight up into the line of sight speeds your shooting.
You should take work with someone who knows the subject, and time that drawstroke versus a more conventional movement. I think you'll be very surprised to see how much time you're losing doing it your way.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I think some of you who think moving up an extra six inches before punching out takes too much time are not thinking. That's OK, follow standard doctrine and rules. They are proven techniques.

It's easy to discount something that you have not tried. To imply that I have not timed this draw stroke versus others, and taken into consideration that I want the first shot on target versus a miss, is frankly rather insulting. I have timed it, and I tossed out the first shots that were not on target. I looked at percentages of misses as well as the timer. I concluded that raising the snubbie to my line of vision before punching out gives me a greater chance of a first hit on target without too great a loss in speed.

As I stated in the post, it is a draw for a snubbie from the pocket, modified to get a first shot on target while moving. Misses do not help you in a gunfight. Misses can kill you if you have to reload after five shots. Accuracy is essential with limited ammunition.

You do not have to subscribe to my way of thinking. You do not have to use this draw stroke. In fact, you do not have to think at all. Don't try anything new. Speculate and nay say instead.

Unless people share what they have learned, and expolre new techniques and possibilities, there is no progress. Thinking is why man began to throw stones and hit with sticks. Then he developed the sling. Then the spear and so on. At each step along the way nay sayers did their thing.

Try it with a snubbie. If it works for you, use it. If it doesn't, discard it. If speculating without trying it and taking into consideration the limitations of a five shot revolver in a gunfight is what you're about, then keep at it. That works for me too. I will defend my position no longer, as it seems it does not matter to those who believe they have found the one true way.

5:48 AM  
Blogger TrueBlueSam said...

I've been running this through my head since you posted it, and it looks good to me. I often carry a snubby around the farm, and I will be practicing this method. Thank you for improving our shooting skills!
Merry Christmas to you, your family, and pets.!

8:22 AM  

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