The Drill: Many of us who carry daily will modify our carry style, position, firearm and holster depending on both the clothes we wear and the time of year. The carry method highlighted in this drill is the shoulder holster. The main point I make and reason for this drill is to emphasize the importance of regular practice of all the carry styles you use in your daily routine. Consistency and familiarity are key.
The Setup: For this drill, you need a cleared firearm, blue gun or training pistol; shoulder holster; and cover garment such as a jacket, suit coat or vest. Note: Incorporating what you wear daily will help to create a more realistic training session. As with all dry-fire training drills, safety is of utmost importance. If you use your everyday carry pistol, which I tend to recommend for most people when it comes to dry-fire training, ensure the firearm is clear and that all live ammunition has been removed from the room in which you are training. Select a wall that you designate as your safe direction.
The Skills: The significance of this drill is to emphasize the importance of practicing the steps required to safely — and efficiently — draw/deploy the firearm from an alternative carry position.
The Details: Start with your cleared firearm or training pistol in the shoulder holster and face a designated safe direction. Your hands should be down at your side or in such a manner that coincides with your normal posture. The first step is to grab or sweep the cover garment away from the firearm with your support hand, using the fingers or thumb to do so. Ensure that the support arm is raised up with the elbow high. The reason for an elevated arm (think chicken wing) here is to be sure that in the event of a negligent discharge, you’re not going to be putting a round into your support arm (thus immobilizing you in the fight). Next, use your strong hand to secure a firm grip on the firearm, simultaneously disengaging any retention strap that may be in the way. From here, in one smooth yet quick movement, pull the firearm from the holster and acquire a good sight picture. Once on target, take up the trigger slack and maintain trigger finger discipline, sending one round “downrange.” Reverse the steps back to the beginning of the drill, re-holster and begin again.
Safety Considerations: As always, you should apply the four universal safety rules whenever you’re training with a firearm, be it live fire or dry fire:
1. Treat all guns as though they are loaded. 2. Never point your gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. 3. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are on target and have made the decision to shoot. 4. Always be sure of your target and beyond.
Confirm physically and visually that your firearm is clear of any live ammunition. If possible, have a training partner confirm clear as well.
Closing Thoughts: No matter which carry method we choose to utilize — whether carry method is based on our body type, our physical limitations, the seasonal climate in our area or the clothes we wear — it is imperative that we practice, practice, practice. Practicing drills will increase our chances of being able to effectively and safely deploy our firearm in a self-defense situation when we need it most.