Drawing A Pistol From Concealment, Part 2: Re-holstering And Apparel Choices
By Andy, Green Ops Instructor
Nothing is more important than firearm safety, and for that reason we’ll first revisit the NRA Gun Safety Rules. While training, especially for novices, I recommend using an unloaded firearm on the range or other prescribed shooting area. Never practice drawing from concealment in a public space, even with an unloaded firearm. Also, always be aware of your surroundings, and never point the firearm in an unsafe manner. Keep your muzzle downrange at approved targets only, even if you’re not pulling the trigger. Before holstering, check to ensure your gun is unloaded, and keep it unloaded throughout the exercise.
At this point, you’ve drawn your firearm and put sights on a target. If using an unloaded firearm and following the gun safety rules, you have either simulated a trigger pull or “dry fired” your gun, completed your post shooting ritual (i.e., follow target to the ground, immediate scan, deep scan, reload, press check, de-cock, or re-engage mechanical safety), and are ready to place the pistol back into the holster.
To learn the holstering process you need to learn this mindset first; therefore, we will do it together as a chant.
“Reluctantly re-holster, reluctantly re-holster, reluctantly re-holster… Amen.”
There will never be a contest on the planet to see who can get their gun back in the holster the fastest. You also don’t want to create bad habits of putting the gun away too quickly. There may be instances where threats are not neutralized by your initial shots, and additional threats may remain imminent. Therefore, don’t be so quick to put the gun away. In addition, this will provide an opportunity to feel any sort of irregular resistance that can be caused by clothing or other obstruction that could create a hazard.
Now that you understand that you need to “reluctantly re-holster,” the process of re-holstering is a reverse from the draw stroke. Your support hand should come back to your chest, preventing you from pointing a gun at your own hand when you start moving the gun back to the holster. The hand holding the gun should then insert the gun back into the holster.
Before you start pushing into your holster, rest your thumb on the back of slide or the hammer for both safety purposes and to ensure proper seating in your holster. If you are using a holster that features retention straps to retain the gun, you need to go around the holster and start the holstering process with the muzzle of the gun entering the holster from behind the straps.Once the gun is securely in the holster, then secure your straps.
Once you are able to do this from an open-carry position safely, you can begin donning garments to conceal the gun. There are basically two types of garments covering the pistol: an open-front (i.e., unbuttoned shirt), or a closed-front (i.e., buttoned up shirt, sweat shirt, untucked t-shirt). Many people who use open front garments will sew weights into the bottom of the shirt, so that when the hand sweeps the garment , the weights carry the garment away, clearing a path for your grip to the pistol. If the open front concealment garment is a jacket, adding items to front pockets, such as keys, will accomplish the same thing.
There are numerous techniques you can use to clear the garment away; I’ll cover three. One method consists of hooking the garment with the bottom two fingers of the shooting hand. Another technique entails making your shooting hand flat -- known in military circles as the “knife hand” -- and sweeping the garment out of the way.
The third technique, of which I am most comfortable, is a claw-type technique, or what I like to refer to as the “Indiana Jones Temple of Doom Kalima” technique. The tips of all the fingers (including the thumb) press into the center of the chest, sweeping the garment out of the way. Try all these and see which consistently works best for you to move the garment out of the way and give you the best position on your gun.
Closed-front shirts need to be lifted from the bottom out of the way to access the gun. Most people that decide to carry this way tend to ditch the undershirt, as it may get caught up in the draw stroke. When possible, both hands should to do the lifting. Special note for those that appendix-carry: you will need to lift your shirt high to the chest with the support hand.
Body structure and the potential restrictiveness of the clothing will dictate where one grasps to start the lift. With my particular build, I lift from the center with my support side hand. Smaller-framed individuals with more flexibility are likely able to reach a little farther across their body where their gun sits in the holster to lift the clothing with the support hand.
Professional shooter Karie Thomas shared the following tip for women: “Ladies, you may want to consider a camisole to wear underneath the closed front garment that you can tuck into your pants when practicing this on the range. This way you will not be exposing your sides, stomach, and other areas you would like to keep private. If you typically do not wear an under camisole in public, then you will need to practice this dry in your home without the camisole.”
A base layer or “second skin”-type athletic shirt may also accomplish the same effect as a camisole. Remember, you need to lift the clothing high enough so the gun can clear the holster. Rule of thumb: lift, then lift it more, just to be sure. Once you’re able to clear the garment, go back and start applying the draw stroke techniques mentioned in the beginning when you started out “running slick.”
If any of these concepts seem foreign or unfamiliar to you, or you feel you’re not ready to train on your own, consider enrolling in a training course! Find an NRA Training course taught by NRA Certified Instructors in your area by visiting www.nrainstructors.org. For those that have taken fundamental training or have baseline knowledge, consider training at the next level by enrolling in an NRA Personal Protection In or Outside the Home course. Lastly, for those ready to learn advanced concealed carry and self-defense principles, enroll in NRA Carry Guard Level 1 training. Good luck, and safe training!