Everyone wants a fast draw stroke. Whether you’re concerned with defending your life, winning a match or just looking a little more like John Wick, getting your gun out of the holster and on target quickly is pretty darn important. It’s certainly easy to see how when faced with an imminent threat a fast draw stroke could save your life, but even a lightning-fast draw is not the solution to every dangerous criminal threat.
When you’re able to detect a potential problem early, you would be wise to draw your gun covertly. For cops, this is a daily occurrence. Dispatched to a burglary alarm call at a business? Gun comes out as you approach the building. Stopped a vehicle with a violent, armed criminal occupant? Gun is out as soon as the patrol car is shifted into park. Approaching a vehicle on a “routine” traffic stop and the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Gun comes out and is positioned behind your leg, hidden from the view of the vehicle occupants, but at the ready. You get the idea.
Drawing covertly isn’t a skill that only cops need to develop. As a legally armed private citizen, you should consider scenarios where this tactic may be apropos. For instance, imagine that while in a convenience store a masked gunman flings open the door, jumps the counter and shoves the muzzle of a pistol against the clerk’s head. The robber shouts, “Give me the money!” He looks around frantically for witnesses or for those who would dare to stop him.
Now is definitely not the time to act like Quick Draw McGraw. Tempting though it may be to draw your gun as quickly as humanly possible, it’s not a good idea because the furtive movement would assuredly draw the attention of the robber, whose gun is already in play. The action/reaction phenomenon makes this a losing proposition.
When you draw overtly, you’ve essentially taken center stage, and the robber may feel that you’ve forced his hand. This might prompt him to shoot the clerk or turn his gun on you. In the case of the latter, you’d be hard-pressed to shoot the robber without the risk of inadvertently shooting the clerk.
As an alternative to quick-drawing against a robber, whose gun is in hand, consider drawing covertly. Something like this. When you see the clerk being held up, act compliant. If possible, slowly back away and seek escape, cover or at least concealment. Not only will this make it harder for the robber to keep tabs on you or shoot you, but also it will help to shield your draw stroke from his view.
But what if escape is not an option and there is no cover or concealment available? What if you feel that moving toward either would place you at greater risk? By moving slowly and minimally, you should be able to draw your gun without being noticed, even when there’s not much to hide behind.
When the robber appears distracted, slightly turn your gun side away from him to obscure your draw stroke. Rather than reach for your garment and lift it as high as possible, as would be proper when executing a fast draw stroke, slowly peel the garment away only enough to obtain a solid, three-fingered grip on your handgun. Then, while minimizing shoulder rise and elbow flare, draw your gun from the holster and hold it in a position where it is hidden from the robber.
This covert draw stroke enables you to maintain the ever-important element of surprise and gives you options. Do you intervene? That would depend on a number of factors, such as whether you thought the robber would shoot someone or take hostages, whether you were alone, whether there was likely a “lookout man,” the distance between you and the robber, the robber’s position relative to the clerk, etc.
Covertly drawing your gun does not obligate you to act, the way quicker drawing might, yet it affords you the tremendous advantage of having your gun in hand. In the unfortunate event the robber was to shoot the clerk and then turn his gun on you, you are in a much better position than if your gun was still holstered. Similarly, if the robber were to approach you, intent on taking you hostage, you would be on the right side of the action/reaction spectrum, as he won’t expect there to be a gun in your hand.
Drawing covertly isn’t just beneficial in the midst of a robbery. Let’s assume you were walking to your vehicle late at night in a dimly lit, sparsely populated lot (you should not have parked there, by the way) and someone approaches you in a manner that makes you uncomfortable. If you can position your vehicle between you and the potential assailant and covertly draw your gun, you will have a leg up should he produce a weapon or demonstrate intent to harm you.
A covert draw gives you the element of surprise, which is often the deciding factor in a lethal confrontation. It prevents you from betting your life on a successful full-speed draw stroke while under extreme duress. Best of all, since the whole point of drawing covertly is for your gun to remain a secret until it’s needed to overcome a deadly threat, if you don’t need to use it, nobody is the wiser.