As a lad, I anxiously awaited the weekly episodes of “Gunsmoke,” strapped on my toy six-shooter and attempted to out-draw the U.S. marshal of Dodge City, Matt Dillon. I never won—Dillon was good—but, still, this early practice led me to understand that a gunslinger needs a smooth, fast draw.
The draw stroke is the act of presenting the pistol from the holster to the target, both efficiently and smoothly. That is, we must eliminate unnecessary motions while bringing the pistol into alignment. We also must avoid jerky, uncoordinated movement.
Set up for dry practice (be sure your firearm is completely unloaded, have no ammunition nearby and observe all NRA safety rules).
When drawing from concealment using a strong-side holster, use the fingers of the dominant hand to sweep the jacket or covering garment back and out of the way. Your support hand comes to the chest and your strong hand obtains a firing grip on the pistol. (Move both hands at the same time.) What about wearing a shirt or sweater as a cover garment? For that, your support hand lifts the cover garment clear as your strong hand obtains the firing grip. Note the support hand in this scenario is still against your body as you begin the draw.
Immediately get a solid firing grip on the pistol. (If your holster doesn’t allow you to get a full firing grip, you need to change holsters.)
Pull the gun straight up out of the holster and rotate the muzzle toward the target. If the pistol is equipped with a manual safety, it is clicked off at this point.
Bring the hands together, obtaining a two-handed firing grip.
Drive the sights into the target and touch the trigger.
Returning to the holster is a reversal of the draw stroke. While there might be very good reasons for drawing the pistol in a hurry, holstering should always be done slowly and carefully.
Before re-holstering, look around for other targets. Once you’re sure it’s safe to do so, reload the pistol (in case of other threats arriving).
When it’s time to re-holster, take a deep breath, ensure your finger is off the trigger and reset the safety.
Push the coat or shirt out of the way while keeping a firm grip on the pistol.
Carefully, slowly, safely holster.
The danger here is in rushing back to the holster. Should you fail to take your finger off the trigger, or reset the safety, or if a piece of clothing or gear intrudes into the trigger guard, you might inadvertently fire the pistol. While holstering, if you feel resistance, stop and figure out what’s going on. Never slam the gun into the holster.
One other note: Carrying concealed means dressing around the gun. It’s a trade-off between concealment and access. Maintaining a concealed-carry lifestyle requires some creativity in how to dress while providing access to your firearm. And, while drawing from concealment may be slower or more awkward than drawing from open carry, with time, practice and thoughtful clothing selection, your skill and confidence level will improve.
Maybe then you’ll be ready to go up against Marshal Dillon.