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  1. #1
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    Drawing and aiming technique

    I've been doing a lot of drawing and aiming practicing as my CCDW paperwork should arrive any day now. It definitely speeds things up to not have to rack the slide when drawing, but I've practiced that as well and it's pretty natural.

    I did some reading in my psych book for PSY223 (developmental psychology), and it talks about experience-expected development versus experience-dependent development, and the synaptic pruning that is necessary. I could go into detail about it, but drawing and aiming a gun is experience-dependent as it's not a typical act for the average human, and therefore must be learned. It ties into muscle memory, which is very important in quickly drawing and centering on a target.

    Something I've been doing that has drastically improved my speed is using a UV light and UV reactant sights. My front sight is already UV reactant, but the dots on the rear sight aren't, so I colored them with yellow highlighter, turned on the UV light in my room, and switched all the other lights off. This way, any aiming adjustments I need to make are more obvious as the sights are the brightest objects in the room, which means corrections come much faster. It also means I don't have to focus on the sights nearly as much, which is something you don't wanna do in a self-defense situation...your eyes should be focusing on your target. With practice, the muscle memory is learned, and I'm getting faster and faster at it.

    It's something to think about for practice if you have a UV light, or fluorescent tubes that can be replaced with UV bulbs. Muscle memory is formed very quickly doing this.

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    If I get what you are saying.....You are working on point of aim muscle memory???? So your hands and arms are coming in to correct point of aim? That's actually a good fine point of practice.....interesting.

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    That's correct. I'm practicing, practicing, practing, and practicing some more. I want to get to where I can, in well under a second, lift my shirt, draw my handgun, and have the sights zeroed in on my target. I practice drawing for a bit, then flip the lights out and use the UV to really focus on getting my sights centered instinctively. When they're glowing bright green, it means I focus my vision on the sights less, which is more realistic if I have a target.

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    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fivehourfrenzy View Post
    I did some reading in my psych book for PSY223 (developmental psychology), and it talks about experience-expected development versus experience-dependent development, and the synaptic pruning that is necessary.
    Can I ask what other texts you're using in your training, aside from a psychology book that has nothing to do with shooting, except in the most theoretical and abstract sense?

    Practice is fine, but practicing the wrong thing is counterproductive and can be dangerous. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

    Are you using a four-count draw? A five-count? Are you bowling? Are you slapping? If you don't know what these things are (and don't go Google them right now, be honest), you are probably not practicing correctly. This means you are probably doing it wrong, and will need time consuming correction down the line, especially if you are serious about your extremely ambitious goal of sub-1-second presentations from concealment.

    I could go into detail about it, but drawing and aiming a gun is experience-dependent as it's not a typical act for the average human, and therefore must be learned.
    Please don't. I doubt any serious person thinks drawing and firing a gun is a natural act. Any skill involving a tool must be learned. Guns are no different.

    Something I've been doing that has drastically improved my speed is using a UV light and UV reactant sights. My front sight is already UV reactant, but the dots on the rear sight aren't, so I colored them with yellow highlighter, turned on the UV light in my room, and switched all the other lights off.
    Put away the silly gimmicks. Forget trying to be fast. Concentrate on being smooth and eliminating wasted motion. Everyone has a natural body speed. If they try to exceed it, they will only become spastic, wasting motion and energy, and become slower rather than faster.

    Your body "knows" how fast it can move. Do not try to make it move faster. Find the places you are wasting movement in your draw and change those motions. Then move smoothly and only as quickly as you can execute the motions EXACTLY correctly. Do it over and over and over and over again, with precise correctness and never, ever consciously striving to make your body go faster. The body needs something like 3000 repetitions to begin to burn a skill into long-term "memory." This is what will make you fast.

    This way, any aiming adjustments I need to make are more obvious as the sights are the brightest objects in the room, which means corrections come much faster.
    If you do it as I described, you will reach a point where you are not making adjustments after the gun has reached eye level but before the shot, but as the gun comes into view and as the shot is fired. You will reach a level where your eyes are only confirming the alignment that your well-practiced body has already achieved, with little or no correction necessary.

    It also means I don't have to focus on the sights nearly as much, which is something you don't wanna do in a self-defense situation...your eyes should be focusing on your target.
    And you know this based on exactly what wealth of experience and training, or is it just some stuff you read on the internet?

    Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, Chuck Taylor, John Farnam, Mas Ayoob, and other instructors can produce collectively probably hundreds of graduates who DID look at their sights in a fight - and won. The late Jim Cirillo would tell you the same, as would his partner Bill Allard. The latter man was once asked his secret to surviving something like a dozen separate gunfights on the NYPD Stakeout Squad. His answer: "My front sight has twelve striations in it."

    So don't swallow all the internet BS about being killed while using the sights. It can and has been done successfully, hundreds of times.

    We can, however, argue about how much visual indexing is required at a given distance ("seeing what we need to see") to get the hits needed to prevail.

    It's something to think about for practice if you have a UV light, or fluorescent tubes that can be replaced with UV bulbs. Muscle memory is formed very quickly doing this.
    That's nice, but how do you know you are inculcating the right memories in your muscles? Again, it isn't about gimmicks with trick lights - it's about hard work done correctly.

    Speed is five-sixths smoothness. - Ray Chapman

    Neither a bowler nor a slapper be, lost motion is thine enemy. - Jeff Cooper
    Last edited by Mike Barham; 02-14-2008 at 07:55 AM. Reason: clarity
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    Well Mike, let's start from the beginning with the draw:

    1. Lift shirt or overgarment with left hand to expose grip.
    2. I start with my right hand below the grip, drag it toward the grip, and curl my fingers around it.
    3. In the same fluid motion, draw the gun from it's holster and straight up to it's firing position, where it is met by my left hand to complete the weaver grip.

    Not sure how many counts that is...you can probably fill me in more on that. I'm not completely sure of the slapping and bowling, but I would guess the slapping slows the draw down as it's not a single fluid motion, and bowling is locking your arm before the gun is up, and swinging it 90 degrees up, which would slow the draw and aim down as well.

    The part about getting the muscle memory for lining my sights up instinctively does not mean I won't confirm their alignment, but I want to get to where only minor adjustments need to be made, if any. Yes, the sights should be visually confirmed, but I think it's important that the muscle memory is there so you're not taking all day centering the front sight inside the rears.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    We can, however, argue about how much visual indexing is required at a given distance ("seeing what we need to see") to get the hits needed to prevail.
    ^^This was my point about aiming. While confirmation is necessary and important, focusing too much on the sights could cause the target to blur, depending on how far away he is. The UV stuff makes the sights brighter so less visual focus is needed for confirmation (for training purposes and muscle memory).

    The psych book's not part of my training. I just thought it was interesting in its own right.

    I start with a very slow draw, focusing on technique and fluidity. Once I'm comfortable, I speed it up a bit. If I miss the grip, grip it improperly, or do anything else wrong, I start over with the slow, deliberant draw.

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    Come to think of it, I do slap the grip as I'm grabbing it to be sure I have a firm grip on it before unholstering it. As far as the bowling...the gun is pointed downward until set on target, it never points up before I'm on target. That might be bowling, or maybe not.

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    Unrequested advice...

    Mike really knows what he's writing about.
    If you are (relatively speaking) a novice to defensive (practical, combat, whatever) shooting and concealed carry, you couldn't do better than to read and re-read his post.
    I especially agree with his Chapman semi-quote, that smooth is faster than fast. Practice slowly and carefully, and go for smoothness. Speed only comes with extensive, slow, smooth practice, and it comes "automatically." If you actively try to be fast, you will end up dangerous to yourself and the innocent people around you.
    One thing I will add is about the use of sights. Focus your eyes on a spot on a blank wall. Now, draw your pistol and bring its sights up to your eyes. Adjust your pistol, not your head or eyes, until everything lines up. Do that again and again, until your pistol's sights come up to your eyes, lined up perfectly, every time. That'll be a start...

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    The one time I tried to do an insanely fast draw in my room, I almost lost my grip on the handle after it was unholstered. I learned my lesson about fast, and really fast.

    Already working on the sighting in...if the sights aren't lined up, the gun moves, not me. I'm actually getting VERY consistent in lining up my sights as I practice aiming at random objects all over my room (with the gun unloaded of course).

    Point taken on smoothness. It was the same when I was a kicker in high school and first year of college. On a PAT/field goal, you never rush your steps, and you never look up to see if the ball goes through. If the line does their job, you'll have plenty of time to get the kick off without it being blocked. And the refs are paid $100 a game to tell you if the ball went through. My kicking coach always told me to have a focus word on every kick. My focus word was "smooth." When I made a smooth kick, it went as fast as it could go.

  10. #9
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fivehourfrenzy View Post
    Well Mike, let's start from the beginning with the draw:
    One should always begin at the beginning.

    1. Lift shirt or overgarment with left hand to expose grip.
    Lift shirt WELL CLEAR of the gun, giving the strong hand maximum space for access. Both hands move at the same time.

    2. I start with my right hand below the grip, drag it toward the grip, and curl my fingers around it.
    Grasp the gun in a complete and correct firing grip, trigger finger extended. If your holster does not allow a firing grip with the gun still completely holstered, get another holster.

    3. In the same fluid motion, draw the gun from it's holster and straight up to it's firing position, where it is met by my left hand to complete the weaver grip.
    Here's where you're losing motion. The hands DO NOT come together at eye level - THAT is slapping! The hands join well below eye level, where the stance is actually established.

    Not sure how many counts that is...you can probably fill me in more on that.
    I'll start you with the Modern Technique, since you're a Weaver shooter, which uses a five-count draw:

    1. Grip. A firing grip is taken on the pistol, while the weak hand moves to intercept the pistol in front of the abdomen or sternum.
    2. Clear. The gun is pulled up and out of the holster. The muzzle is clear of leather/kydex.
    3. Click. The gun is rotated toward the target, and the safety (if any) comes off.
    4. Smack. The hands come together (with a "smack") well below eye level, approximately in front of the diaphragm or sternum. The finger may begin to enter the trigger guard here.
    5. Look. The pistol is raised to eye level and the sights come into view.

    Do it slowly, by the numbers. Grip-clear-click-smack-look. Don't press for speed! Just do it smoothly and correctly every single time. Eventually your body will do it at its natural top speed.

    The four-count draw, which is better suited to Modern Isosceles, is a modification of the above:

    1. Grip. Same as the five-count.
    2. Clear. The pistol is raised as far as it will go toward the armpit, ending approximately at the pectoral muscle. It is simultaneously rotated toward the target. At the end of this step, the pistol is basically in the "Retention" firing position.
    3. Smack. The pistol is thrust toward the target, the waiting weak hand intercepting it just in front of the sternum ("smack!"). The finger may enter the trigger guard here.
    4. Look. The pistol is pushed out (not so much "raised") to the firing position and the eye picks up the visual index.

    These techniques need to be modified slightly to take into account the clearing of the concealing garment. Once the garment is aside and the strong hand has a firing grip, the weak hand may release the garment and be positioned to await the "slap" part of the draw.

    I'm not completely sure of the slapping
    As we've seen, slapping is waiting to put the hands together until the gun reaches eye level. It's a total waste of time and motion, and by far the most common beginner's error.

    bowling, but I would guess the slapping slows the draw down as it's not a single fluid motion, and bowling is locking your arm before the gun is up, and swinging it 90 degrees up, which would slow the draw and aim down as well.
    You have the right idea here. Essentially, the gun should NEVER be lower than it was at any previous point in the draw stroke.

    I think it's important that the muscle memory is there so you're not taking all day centering the front sight inside the rears.
    Good shooters do not actually align the sights or used "aimed fire." Their eyes just confirm what the body has already done. There's no dithering around with a sight picture. It's just there, the eye sees it and says, "Yes, fire the shot."

    While confirmation is necessary and important, focusing too much on the sights could cause the target to blur, depending on how far away he is.
    Why is that a problem? Think you'll lose track of the guy trying to kill you a couple steps away?

    I'm not sure this is the best way to "teach" this. Let me know if pictures would help.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    I especially agree with his Chapman semi-quote, that smooth is faster than fast.
    Thanks for the kind words, Steve. Regarding the "semi-quote," I'd always heard it as "Smoothness is five-sixths of speed." Imagine my shock when I Googled it and came up with the quote I actually used in the above post!
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    mike:

    great post! no formal training here (planning on it soon though).

    all that makes perfect sense. i can see it in my head as i read.


    thanks

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    A VERY helpful post as usual Mike. Thanks!

    -Jeff-

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    Thumbs up

    That's telling it like it is Mike. Good job and thanks.

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    It's nice when you get some usable information! Thanks for the thread and the information Mike. You should start a sticky with this kind of information in it. It will save a lot of typing when this type of question get asked again..... and it will. I printed it out so I would be sure I had a quick refrence. Good stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    Thanks for the kind words, Steve. Regarding the "semi-quote," I'd always heard it as "Smoothness is five-sixths of speed." Imagine my shock when I Googled it and came up with the quote I actually used in the above post!
    My friend and mentor, Mike Harries, always used "Smooth is faster than fast."
    He credited it to Chapman, but he may have modified the original thought to suit his own way of saying things.

  17. #16
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    My friend and mentor, Mike Harries, always used "Smooth is faster than fast."
    He credited it to Chapman, but he may have modified the original thought to suit his own way of saying things.
    You are very fortunate to have studied under Mr. Harries. By all accounts he was a good man and a very capable instructor. I wish I'd had a chance to meet him before he passed.
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  18. #17
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    Quick Kill

    Off another website



    Handgun or Pistol Quick Kill [ QK ] Shooting Technique ©

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Handgun or Pistol Quick Kill [ QK ] Shooting Technique © TM
    By Robin Brown

    I was fortunate enough to have been involved with a group of men in the early 1980's, directed and led by one of the original OSS operatives whose function was to protect VIP's as well as establish security measures for major US corporations in and outside the US borders.

    Maj. Gen. Mitch WerBell, who was given that rank by the Afghanistan president for his efforts in fighting the communists and training security forces in Afghanistan, held training at his 66 acre compound in Georgia, USA. It became affectionately known as "The Farm" by many.

    The training center was known as SIONICS and was an acronym for "Studies In Organized Negation of Insurgency and Counter Subversion". Mitch brought men with military backgrounds, or those who had specific martial and "sneaky pete" skills to his SIONICS training facility. They instructed us in the finer points of staying alive under various adverse conditions.

    Not quite 400 private citizens were allowed to attend before the operation closed down due to his death in late 81 while working in Cal. for a major corporation where I was with the team. I say, "allowed to attend" as your background was checked and you were accepted once cleared that you were not affiliated with a terrorist state or subversive group.

    Former military personnel were given preference as well as people in the security profession but just about anyone could attend if they passed the background check. The course was intensive and lasted for 10 days at 18 hours per day. Only 10 individuals were allowed in each class. The cost in 1981 was $3000.00 to attend and it needed to be paid in advance.

    One of the instructors was Lucky McDaniel, a colorful figure who had developed his "Instinct Shooting" program which was later adopted and renamed the Quick Kill (QK) rifle technique by the US Army.

    Lucky demonstrated and trained us in the long gun Quick Kill as well as the pistol Quick Kill over two days of the 10 we were there at the compound. One day on long guns and one day with pistols. The long gun training started with bb guns and hitting aluminum disks varying from 3 inches to 1 inch in diameter which were thrown into the air. The rifle training regimen was also found in the US Army training text 23-71-1. From there we went to shotguns and shooting clays thrown from every angle using this long gun/rifle Quick Kill technique.

    In the pistol Quick Kill course, we went directly to 1911's that had the sights removed. We trained from 3 feet to about 36 feet. There was a different technique for less than three feet which was not QK, and which protected the gun from a gun grab or swipe.

    The following is how I was instructed and then executed/used the Quick Kill technique with a pistol or handgun based on that instruction.

    Find a light switch across the room. Any object at about that distance will do. Then with the light switch or object in your view, raise your arm/hand and point your finger naturally at the object, like you are scolding a dog. Looking at your target, you also should be able to see in your peripheral vision, the end of the finger that's pointing at it.
    When you point, you naturally do not attempt to sight or aim your finger. It will be somewhat below your eye level in your peripheral vision, perhaps 2-4 inches below eye level.

    Now, place the end of that finger about 2 inches below your target. Move your arm, NOT JUST THE FINGER. Then, lower your head and try to sight along the length of it. You will be on the object. Raise your head and you will see the end of the finger still about 2 inches below the object. The reference point can be different depending on the person and gun being used. Many handguns have different natural pointing abilities. Just start out at 2 inches below the target initially.

    If you find you are above the target when checking the finger, you may need to use three inches below, as the reference point for you initially. Conversely, if you are low, you may need to raise the reference point a little. Once you find the reference point for you, you can point at anything using this Quick Kill technique and know that you are hitting the object automatically, and when not looking at anything but the target. Your finger will be in your peripheral vision but not looked at.

    Now go get a handgun, make sure it's empty, and do the same thing on the same object across the room. Use the end of the barrel and/or the front sight now instead of the end of your finger in your peripheral vision
    .
    Once you have referenced the end of the barrel and/or the front sight about 2 inches below the target, DON'T MOVE THE GUN, and lower your head and check where the sights are pointing.

    As above, when you could see the end of the finger pointing at the target in your peripheral vision while focusing on the target, you will now peripherally see the end of the barrel and/or front sight while looking at the target. Once you have tweaked the reference point for that gun, you can repeat with follow up shots as soon as the reference has been reacquired peripherally. You have not looked at the gun or front sight, just the target. And the gun will be anywhere from 2-6 inches below your eye level, more or less.

    With Quick Kill, the focus is always on the target, never having to adjust ones gaze or focus even remotely on the near object [the gun or sights]. I don't have need to worry about 0-3 yards or 7-10 yards or beyond 10 yard methodologies, the commonality of one focal point in using Quick Kill with a handgun under the stresses of self defense is easier to ingrain into memory once it has been mastered.

    Some will achieve this immediately while others will have issues and questions. I hope that I have explained this well enough for most. It's much easier to show and guide one, than just describe Quick Kill. As with most things, practice can improve performance, and the same is true with Quick Kill with a pistol or handgun. You can practice at home or on the line. Draw, raise the gun up into your peripheral vision, acquire the referenced distance from the end of the barrel that includes the front sight to the target, and dry fire or blast it for real. Try different distances from 3 feet to 20 yards. The reference point can and should be tweaked up or down until you know where you need to keep it at those distances with that handgun.

    With one focal plane to worry about when utilizing the Quick Kill methodology, the older I get, the more I appreciate the way it works. Though admittedly, when I was enlightened I was still capable of quickly adjusting between focal planes.

    Lucky McDaniel never published or wrote about the handgun and pistol Quick Kill technique. The verbal information he imparted at SIONICS during our training had never been seen in print before. I’m aware of a few firearms and knife instructors as well as some in the private sector who have searched for over two decades for this technique with pistols and handguns with no success.

    Handgun or Pistol Quick Kill [ QK ] Shooting Technique ©, as described above, uses a very specific peripheral reference point from the end of the barrel and/or front sight to the target while ones conscious focus is on the intended target. That not only is different than any other method of sighting previously discussed anywhere but it is what makes Quick Kill continuously repeatable by utilizing a specific reference point between the end of the barrel and/or front sight and the intended object one wants to hit.

    I first wrote something similar to this on February 22, 2004 on the internet that also included the long rifle Quick Kill technique as shown to me that was referenced above in the army manual. I registered the copyrighted material and the document is filed with the Library of Congress, Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.

    I've carried this knowledge of the Handgun or Pistol Quick Kill [ QK ] Shooting Technique © since 1981 but had never put it into print until 2004.
    __________________

    The mind is the limiting factor

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    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Brownie's (as he's known on several forums) article does not address the draw, and like most of his articles and posts, is just a defense of point shooting techniques as practiced in the WWII era.
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    milquetoast is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post


    I'll start you with the Modern Technique, since you're a Weaver shooter, which uses a five-count draw:

    1. Grip. A firing grip is taken on the pistol, while the weak hand moves to intercept the pistol in front of the abdomen or sternum.
    2. Clear. The gun is pulled up and out of the holster. The muzzle is clear of leather/kydex.
    3. Click. The gun is rotated toward the target, and the safety (if any) comes off.
    4. Smack. The hands come together (with a "smack") well below eye level, approximately in front of the diaphragm or sternum. The finger may begin to enter the trigger guard here.
    5. Look. The pistol is raised to eye level and the sights come into view.

    Do it slowly, by the numbers. Grip-clear-click-smack-look. Don't press for speed! Just do it smoothly and correctly every single time. Eventually your body will do it at its natural top speed.

    . . . . .

    I'm not sure this is the best way to "teach" this. Let me know if pictures would help.

    I strongly advise spending $35 to get the Gunsite Tactical Pistol I video. It contains a description of the 5-step presentation, with excellent visual demonstration, so you can see it in action. Plus much else. Not the same as a $2,000 week at Gunsite, but you'll get your $35 worth, for sure.

    http://www.paladin-press.com/detail.aspx?ID=365

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    Mike's input comes from valuable training.

    Don't just take his word for it, go find a course and take it ASAP!!!

    I was taught the 4 step draw also, but the last step is to assess when pointing. Every instructor has their own style.

    And I hope everyone else that reads this thread, applies it to their personal technique.

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