This week we’re going to work a very specific technique which will improve both accuracy and speed during the draw. Ironically, we won’t be drawing our guns at all during this drill!
This week we’ll work on press-outs. A press-out is simply extending the gun from your ready position to full arm extension (your normal shooting stance). Done properly, you will be aligning the sights and pulling the trigger as the gun moves into position, so that when you finally reach full extension the shot fires. You’ll have the shot fired at the moment when most shooters are just beginning to aim and press the trigger.
The drill is simple. Put up a large target (IPSC, IDPA, sheet of paper, paper plate) at a range of seven yards. From the ready position, slowly punch the gun straight forward to the target. You need to move slowly, because as you are punching forward you need to find the front sight, get it aligned, and begin pressing the trigger. This sequence is very important. Because you are going to be touching the trigger, you must be absolutely certain your sights are on the target. You must be certain your sights are aligned before touching the trigger.
The two main lessons from this drill are to begin lining up your sights before you get the gun all the way out, and to press the trigger as the gun is moving forward so the shot breaks right when you reach full extension of your arms. By sighting and pressing the trigger during the press-out instead of waiting for the gun to stop moving, you save a lot of time and actually spend more time lining up your sights for a more precise shot.
I’ll borrow an explanation that Ernest Langdon uses: pretend you had a string tied to your trigger, and the other end is tied to a button on your shirt. As you press the gun forward, the string pulls the trigger. Press forward slowly, and the trigger is pulled rearward slowly. At full extension, the trigger breaks and the shot is fired.
Now, you’re very likely to fire some shots too early when first practicing this drill. This is perfectly safe if you are also lining up your sights as you press out. The gun will fire before you are expecting it, but the sights are on the target and odds are you’ll hit the target, or at least come very close.
Our advice is to try this drill dry-fire about a hundred times before you try it with live ammunition. Remember, whenever you dry-fire you must still obey all of the Cardinal Rules of Firearms Safety. Make sure the pistol is empty (check it three times). Make sure there is no live ammunition in the gun, on your body, or in the room with you. Keep the gun pointed at something that will stop a bullet in case you have an accident. It’s also advisable to use a snap-cap to help minimize potential damage to the firing pin/striker and safety mechanisms.
Practice the press-out in dry-fire about a hundred times, focusing on precision rather than speed. As the gun moves forward you find the sights and get them aligned, then begin pressing the trigger. As the gun gets to the end of its movement and you are in your normal shooting stance, you add the last bit of pressure to the trigger press and the gun fires.
Then go to the range and practice the drill one shot at a time. Remember, like most new skills dedicated to improving speed, it’s critical that you go slowly until you are performing the drill smoothly and consistently. It’s counter-intuitive, perhaps, but going slow is necessary to going fast.
Training with firearms is an inherently dangerous activity. Be sure to follow all safety protocols when using firearms or practicing these drills. These drills are provided for information purposes only. Use at your own risk.