Saturday, December 5, 2015

Drawing from a Side Holster: Information for Writers

Hi ThrillWriters,

I just watched a movie with hubby, and as you might guess, the
person wielding their weapon was doing a pretty scary job of flagging (letting the barrel of the gun pass over) all the good guys, putting them in danger. 

And I would swear that he shot himself in his own hand  a few times.

But AMAZINGLY every single bullet out of his gun hit bulls eye. WHOOP! LOL

So I thought I'd go over the steps so if you're writing a heroine drawing her gun - that you can keep everyone safe.

BTW I put this picture up here at the top to tell you this little story. In my holster class (regularly required at my gun range in order to use the tactical ranges.) we are required to shoot from this position in one of the drills. It's actually #4   in the progression (we'll get to that in a second). The idea is, the villain is charging the heroine, and she doesn't have time to get her gun into position. So one shoots two bullets from here, then steps back for the rest of the steps.

Can I just say, this is very scary. Not so much for the men in my class, but having a pistol fired right beside the girls that way? Terrifying. Luckily, our instructor is a woman and she taught me how to cant the pistol a bit. Still. . . I close my eyes when I pull that trigger. 'Cause you know, closing my eyes will keep me safe.

written for a right-eyed shooter (not the same as a right handed person) reverse if your heroine is a left-eyed shooter.

1. Decide to draw.
Please note, I'm about to draw from my right side. As my hand descends toward the gun, 
my LEFT HAND isn't waving in the wind.
Your heroine makes a fist and puts it on her chest.

2. Position hand for the draw:

Right hand to grip (the handle) Left hand to chest. 

This is actually really important, how you place your heroine's hand on that gun in this moment will determine how well she's positioned to take the shot and get it on target.

See how far up the webbing between my thumb and forefinger I shove my hand up under the lip?

See that my trigger finger is NOT reaching for the trigger. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. Lay the trigger finger along the trigger cage.

3.) Pull
Right hand pull. Left hand on chest. 

If the heroine is using a safety holster, this is the point where your heroine would release the safety device.

Draw the gun straight up by bending the elbow. 

4) Rotate to Target
Right hand turns the gun toward the target. Left hand to chest.

Release safety in case your heroine needs to shoot from this position.

Putting the gun on target prevents your heroine from flagging and possibly shooting the wrong thing.

If required, your heroine can shoot from this position. That works best, of course, if the target is very close. This is, for example, the position your heroine would shoot from if the target was right up on her. 

This position would also make it much harder for someone to get your gun from your heroine and turn the gun on her.

5.) Extend
This is the first time the left hand leaves the heroine's chest. The right hand extends and the thumbs come together on the grip.

The finger is STILL off the trigger, resting on the trigger guard.

The heroine will then punch out. Her eye is on her target and remains on her target as she brings the sights up. and she can line up her shot.

THE SHOT(S) is taken. If necessary, your heroine has changed magazines (which holds the bullets). The villain has fled or the threat is otherwise removed.

6) Sweep and Assess
The heroine turns her head and looks around her to make sure there are no other threats. 

Being trained, she will have her go-to means of doing this. She may:
a. Sweep with gaze and gun together
b. Sweep with gun held in front ready position
c. Sweep with her hands in low ready position as I am here in this photo.

Once the heroine has decided that the area is clear of imminent danger,

7.) Re-holster
Right hand returns gun to the security of the holster. Left hand returns to chest.

And as E.A. Lake kindly pointed out in the comments, if your heroine's gun has a safety, she'll want to make sure it's reengaged before her hand comes off the gun.

Now, can your heroine do this after reading my blog?
Can she do it after a quick class up at the range?

In order for your heroine to have these movements available to her in a threatening situation, she needs to have committed the moves to muscle memory. Muscle memory is stored in long term storage, yep, that means she needs to have practiced for at least 21 days. My master at TKD says that until you throw a punch correctly a thousand times -- most of that in very slow motion so each movement is correct -- then you cannot throw a punch.

A thousand times. That's a lot. She'd have to draw that gun 48 times a day for 21 days to get this down. See what I mean? It's not an "okay, I've got this" deal. You don't have to write that your heroine knows what she's doing. She could just wing it. But -- you can't make her a novice at one aspect and a master at another. She may be able to make perfect bulls eyes on the range, but doing it from a draw where the hands have to be precise, and the target needs to be acquired very quickly, that's a whole different skill set.

The nice thing about writing is when things aren't easy then the story becomes interesting.

Hope this helps! Happy writing.

And as always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


  1. Very well done, Fiona! All with pics to boot. I like it.

    Just remember to reset the gun's safety somewhere in the final steps, right? Or maybe it missed it.

    Keep up the great posts!