Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Four Point Draw

After my griping in FTQ, a reader has asked me to clarify the four point draw, so here goes...

There are a couple ways of teaching the four point draw. One is what I would call the hip draw or the tilt draw, the other is generally called the FBI draw.

The method used for the hip draw (As used at my club):

1. Place your hand on the gun, and establish your grip

2. Draw the weapon; immediately as the muzzle of the weapon clears the holster, tilt the muzzle forward. This puts you in hipshooting position.

3. While maintaining forward orientation; keeping your elbows tucked in, bring the weapon to the midline of the body in the center of your chest, meeting it with your support hand and establishing your support hand grip.

4. Push the weapon straight out from your body with your support hand in position.

I have a few problems with this draw pattern:

First, it involves an unnatural and unsupported motion immeditately from the holster.

Second, and for me worse, it assumes a stance with your feet and sholders square, and naturally positions you into modified isoceles.

Finally, it assumes a strongside outside the waistband holster positioned at or just in front of the midline of the body, with a holster mouth at or below your beltline, and without a strong forward cant. These attributes are common in duty and competition holsters, but concealment holsters typically ride higher, and are closer to the body, making this draw awkward.

This is a draw pattern frequently used by competitive shooters because it IS slightly safer on the range (the muzzle is pointing downrange instead of at the ground, or behind the shooter), and because it establishes their grip and stance for them as they draw; good things all.

I prefer a different 4 point draw technique entirely called the FBI draw, or the armpit draw.

1. Establish your grip on the gun, confirming the hammer and safety position by feel as you do. Grab your shirt under your strong side pec with your support hand and pull it back tight to or across your body. This will both clear the shirt away from the holster, and position your support hand for later.

2. Draw the weapon straight up, until your arm is folded double, keeping the weapon, and your elbows tucked into your body, you dominant elbow behind you, not to the side. Some people call this "drawing into your armpit".

3. Pivot your whole arm from the shoulder, which will bring the gun up into line with your pec, pointing downrange, just in front of your chest. As you pivot your arm, release your grip on your shirt with your support hand. Your support hand will naturally tend to meet your dominant hand, and being to establish your support grip. Sweep the safety off as your support hand comes to bear.

4. Push forward, indexing your support grip as you go, and establishing your thumb index.

This draw is designed with a few things in mind:

First, it is meant to be performed from the standing combat stance, or the combat crouch. In the standing combat stance, you place your body at a 30-45 degree angle to your subject, and off his midline to your weak side. Your knees will be bent, your torso positioned slightly forward with your shoulders over your knees. This presents a smaller target to your attacker, and allows for more balanced, rapid, and stronger motion on your part. A combat crouch simply exaggerates this position.

Second, it keeps the weapon closer to the body at all times, and reduces the ability of a subject to hook an arm, or knock a weapon from your grasp (weapon retention).

Third, it allows for behind the point of the hip, and very high carry, as well as IWB carry

Fourth, and very important to me, it naturally puts you into a modified weaver stance, which is how I prefer to shoot.

Finally, it is a natural and supported motion in each step. There is no wrist pivot at an unnatural angle at some difficult to feel point. You dont have to think about when your gun is actually clear of the holster, because you are bringing your gun as high as you can right away. This has the added benefit of clearing obstructions.

It has two disadvantages as compared to the hip draw. One, the gun spends more time close in to the body with the muzzle pointed at the ground. If there is an AD/ND/UD at the point, it could cause you to be hit in the leg or foot. Also, if your holster has a strong forward cant, the muzzle will be pointing behind you for the initial phase of the draw (though it will be pointing straight down a fraction of a second later). This is not as safe while on the range as pointing downrange from the hip, though in a potential mixed threat environment it is SAFER.

I don't like the hip draw, I don't use the hip draw, and I dont practice the hip draw. Generally speaking I practice the FBI draw, and I have established muscle memory in that pattern. I mentioned this to the instructor at the club, who still wanted me to do it the clubs way.

I also often use another draw type, called the speed draw, slap draw or natural draw. It's a fluid motion draw that is hard to quantify into discrete steps, but it's a little something like this:

1. Reach below and behind your weapons grip with your palm and fingers slightly cupped, "slapping" your hip or ass

2. Sliding along your body, pull up, establishing your grip, and checking the safety with your thumb. Make the same sympathetic motion with your support arm.

3. Pivot your arm out, allowing the weight of the gun and your natural motion to extend your arm, so that you are in shooting position by the end of your arc. You support arm will naturally tend to make the same sympathetic motion, meeting your hand just before you establish sight index, allowing you to establish your supporting grip.

This draw pattern has only one real advantage, it's fast. It is definitely not as safe, as secure, or as consistent a draw as either four point draw. It relies on natural motion, which is both comfortable, and fast: but it's not necessarily consistent.

In order to ensure both speed, and consistency of any of these draw patterns, muscle memory must be established. This taked a minimum of between 1500 and 5000 repitions to begin establishing, and will not be firmly set until from 20-50,000 repitions have been performed.

The problem is, one you have established muscle memory, you will tend to do it that way every time (which is the point). If another method is asked of you, you WILL be awkward and slow in performing it, and your results will be sloppy and inconsistent.