Drill of the Week: Press-Outs

14-Jan-08 – 10:28 by ToddG

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.

  1. 8 Responses to “Drill of the Week: Press-Outs”

  2. Are your drills ok to use with Airsoft pistols also? Meaning, where you don’t need to fire the gun for certain drills, like today’s, is it ok to use an airsoft gun instead of dry firing your real one? Is it better to just dryfire your real one instead and if so, why?

    By Spaniard on Jan 14, 2008

  3. Airsoft has its benefits and its disadvantages.

    The major advantage is that you are actually firing a “gun,” so you can see where you shots are going. Did you aim properly? If you break the shot too soon, were you still on target?

    The disadvantages are that (1) you aren’t learning the trigger on your real gun, you’re learning the trigger on your Airsoft gun, and (2) the tiny recoil of the Airsoft can lead some people to get sloppy with their grip and other important recoil management techniques.

    If you have access to Airsoft gear, perhaps try a couple hundred rounds of each (dry-fire and Airsoft) and let us know which you think helped you the most. We can all learn from your experience that way.

    By ToddG on Jan 14, 2008

  4. What are your thoughts on the use of press-outs in the law enforcement community? I was very resistant to practicing this technique because I did not want to train myself to put my finger on the trigger (let alone to begin staging it) every time I aimed my firearm at someone. Perhaps LE work is different in this regard. Am I missing something? Can practicing this technique be safe for a cop? Can someone perform two different draws depending on the level of threat? How would you (economically – money and time wise) train for that?

    By mark b on Jan 15, 2008

  5. mark b — I’ve taught this method to many law enforcement personnel, and that question gets raised frequently.

    The easiest way to look at it is to realize that pulling the trigger is a choice. Whether you pull it at full extension or you pull it during the press-out, you’ve made the choice to pull the trigger. If you are clearing leather to cover someone or simply to be ahead of the action-reaction curve, then you have not made the decision to fire. If you can practice drawing and shooting the “other” way (aim and squeeze at full extension) without fear, this is no different.

    Nothing about this technique supersedes the Cardinal Rules of Gun Safety. Don’t touch the trigger until you’ve made the decision to fire and your sights are on a target you have positively identified.

    By ToddG on Jan 15, 2008

  6. Todd;
    When you say start from the ready position,do you mean the position where the support hand has connected with the pistol?

    By The Fish on Jan 15, 2008

  7. Fish — yes, essentially. Different people use different “ready positions” but that’s the gist of it. It’s a position where you have a good grip on the gun but could stand there without tiring for 15 minutes if you had to. The gun has to remain pointed in a safe direction always, remember.

    By ToddG on Jan 15, 2008

  8. Todd,
    During the pressout, how do you align the sights? The pressout starts at step three of presentation with the sights well below eye level. So during the pressout, do we drop our head downward or so we pressout in an upward sweep? Or some combination or something else??

    By Troydobe on Apr 8, 2010

  9. Troydobe — My ready position is with the gun in front of my face, which is also where the gun goes during the draw when it comes out of the holster. The press-out involves getting the gun level as early as you comfortably can during extension between ready and the shot break.

    By ToddG on Apr 13, 2010

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