Speed Up Your Draw

  • Beau Doboszenski, Owner/Lead Instructor

  • Originally published January 24th, 2018

A quick internet search will turn up dozens of videos about how to make your draw faster. Some of the information will truly make you faster, but it may also lessen the effect of your draw for defense. And just because your draw is fast, doesn't mean that it's useful for a real encounter.

To develop the fastest defensive draw possible, here are just a few critical elements to work on:

Get Fast by Starting Slow

A fast draw comes from the development of a solid and deeply ingrained neural pathway for performing a draw. That pathway gets laid down not by multiple fast repetitions, but by hundreds and hundreds of slow ones.

What you really need is for your arms and hands to move in exactly the correct way, at exactly the correct time. Once that coordination is deeply ingrained, the speed will come because the neural path it is following is perfect.

The big caveat is that to form this "perfect pathway" you need good instruction from the start. Hundreds of poorly executed draws will develop an ingrained neural pathway that won’t help you toward a fast, accurate draw, and that will take significant effort to undo.

Watch Out for "Hitch" Spots 

A "hitch" is a place where either your primary or support hand stops during the course of the draw to wait for actions by the other hand. Any pause in your motion will slow your draw. A couple times in the draw where this is common:

The Rock Hitch

This happens in two places: the support hand can stop, waiting on the belly or the chest for the firearm to come out of the holster. Or, it will reach down to the handgun that has rocked and stopped, before the whole group will begin coming up to presentation.

The Belly Peek Hitch

This happens with concealed draws, where the shooter clears the cover garment and rocks the firearm, and then the support hand quickly re-covers the belly of the shooter. It's kind of like watching a little kid doing "peek-a-boo" with their belly button. Shooter clears, snatches and rocks, peek-a-boo goes the belly, then quickly covers up. Once you notice yourself doing it, it will be glaringly obvious that the gun is just hanging in space waiting for you to cover your belly, wasting time.

Last Second Sight Alignment

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This error happens a lot with shooters that have a secondary problem called "Cutting the Corner." The shooter is presenting the firearm from chest level to eye level by punching the firearm straight out at an angle, like a 45 degree line from chest to sight line.

The trouble with this common draw stroke is that the shooter won't get sight alignment until the last possible second. And when the shooter starts pushing for speed, they'll likely punch the firearm out and misalign, then lose a quarter beat to find the sights before breaking the shot.

The cure for this is to work on a proper Hockey Stick Position 2 and really utilize the arms length traversing from the compressed to full Position 1 Presentation.

Digging for the Firearm

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It stuns me how often people work on their shooting fundamentals (stance, grip, sight picture, trigger press and follow through) and then totally abandon everything they worked for in grip when they go to snatch the firearm out of the holster.

When the shooter digs at the firearm in the holster, the biggest sign is the thumb trying to push between the handgrip and the body. That digging puts the grip in entirely the wrong place and also completely stops the momentum of the draw.

The solution is to focus on both sides of Position 5 – The Snatch, that is: the downward drive of the webbing between the thumb and index finger into the tang of the handgrip while keeping the thumb up like you're hitchhiking, and then the upward rebound following the successful depression. If this Snatch is done right, the belt should be seen to press down and then the firearm to suddenly "spring" up and out of the holster, almost of its own doing.

Lack of Training Inter-muscular Coordination (Muscle Speed)

Aside from those genetically gifted few, most of us are not that quick in turning on and turning off our muscles used in the draw. If you diagram a draw, you can identify each muscle that is involved. Then someone with proper fitness expertise can help you condition those muscles to activate then deactivate, and therefore move faster when recruited.

Once you know the difference between fast recruitment of muscle and slow recruitment, it can be clearly seen. The fast ones look like they're suddenly flying and very smooth. The slow recruiters look as if they're swimming in oil.

This kind of focused training for defense was entirely the goal of creating the gym I co-own, Life Strength Fitness. My partner designed a fitness system to make you more capable of defending yourself when it counts. That includes faster muscle recruitment, and more power.

Take a look at this sample from part of my workout. Don't worry about the details and nuances, just get a feel for the fact that there are four moves with specific directions around them.

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The first move is a Reactive Bench Press, where 'm actively pulling the bar down as fast as possible and then firing it back up as quickly as I can, trying to get the movement completed in under 1 second. That exercise will develop my Draw Position 1 speed and performance.

The next is a Kettlebell Split Jerk. That move develops my shoulders, aiding in the speed of Position 1, Position 2, and Position 5 of the Draw.

Next is a Cuban Press, which develops the motion of the Rock and Draw Position 2 - The Hockey Stick.

Finally, the Dumbbell Single Arm Row, which will increase the speed and effectiveness of my Snatch, Rock, Elevate, and Final Presentation. 

These four moves, designed within the Defensive Fitness method are conditioning my body to move faster, recruit more muscle, and use more power in every movement in a draw or a punch or with knife work.

If you don’t live near enough to Hopkins, MN to engage in Defensive Fitness in-person, know that the entire LSF system is available as an online digital training membership. You'll not only have a program customized to you that will improve your capability overall, but access to hundreds of videos that show exactly how each move is done. Check it out at Life Strength Fitness. I guarantee that you'll see results, because I have been living those results for three years of faster shooting times, tighter groups, and more power in martial arts practice and scenarios. 

If you’re engaging in perfect practice, you remove hitch spots and last second sight alignment, you grip the firearm properly, and you improve your muscle speed to its max capacity, you’ll see exponential improvement in your draw speed. And we’re here to help you, every step of the way.