Presenting the Firearm for Concealed Carry

THIS GUIDE IS AN ADDENDUM FOR S.A.F.T. ACADEMY STUDENTS THAT HAVE ALREADY HAD TRAINING IN CONCEALED CARRY AND PRACTICED THESE SKILLS BOTH IN THE CLASSROOM AND ON THE RANGE. THIS IS NOT DESIGNED TO BE USED INDIVIDUALLY AS INSTRUCTION FOR NON-EXPERIENCED SHOOTERS THAT HAVEN’T BEEN FORMALLY INTRODUCED TO THE PRACTICE IN THE CLASSROOM. USE THIS GUIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK. BY READING AND PRACTICING WITH THIS GUIDE YOU AGREE THAT WE ASSUME NO LIABILITY OR RISK WHATSOEVER.

Presenting your firearm from a concealed carry perspective is drastically different from presenting on the range or when target shooting. It is important to understand the differences between how you shoot and practice on the range and how you shoot and practice when planning to defend yourself in a real-life situation.  It is also important to understand a few things about safety when practicing these steps. A few rules to follow:

  1. Never practice these steps with a loaded firearm unless you’re in a safe place to do so, paying special attention to your backstop and where your projectile can fly after leaving your barrel if you’re practicing with live ammo.
  2. While practicing the steps at home, consider buying something like an air-soft pistol made to the same specs as your actual firearm. You can get them for $10-$20 on Amazon any day of the week and you will get the same realistic drawing experience without having to use a live firearm.

When we teach concealed carry at the academy, we teach the same advanced steps we would if you were attending the NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home course. It’s more advanced than the standard “Grip, Clear, Center, Extend” method but it better serves the need of defending your life so we think it’s important you know the method. However, remember a couple things; First, we never teach this to beginners because we believe its important to have had enough practice using a pistol safely before going on to this method.  Why? What’s the big difference?

  • Depending on your mode of carry,  you are potentially lazing another human being during your draw (especially if you draw from something like a shoulder holster, or cross draw).
  • Eventually your goal should be to be able to perform these steps and put two rounds on target at 7 yards in less than 2 seconds, meaning speed is important. You should practice each step HUNDREDS of times in order to be able to do the entire process rapidly but safely.
  • When in a life-threatening situation it might become necessary to forego some basic pistol safety training elements in order to preserve your life. Example: When defending your life you don’t point the muzzle down-range for 30 seconds after a misfire. You tap-rack-ready and get back on target because your life is in danger. Elements such as this inherently create a violation of common safety rules you would otherwise employ on the firing range and add a level of danger that is usually mitigated during a training or practice session.

The Proper Sequence to Presenting your Pistol from Concealment.

Note: If you would like to download the entire presentation, I have made it available in two formats, PDF and PNG.

pdf Download the PDF zip_256 Download the images

 

The steps of the process are:

  • Access
  • Grip-Chest
  • Pull-Chest
  • Rotate-Chest
  • Join
  • Extend
  • Fire
  • Scan and Assess
  • Safety and Reholster

Now let’s go through them one at a time.

Access:

Accessing your firearm

The example below shows a shooter accessing their firearm from a concealed garment. The non-firing hand clears the way for the firing hand to access the firearm. If you were drawing from a different mode of carry you would adjust this step accordingly. Example; your non-firing hand would grip your purse if you were preparing to draw from it. If you were carrying in a fanny pack your non-firing hand would unzip the pack. Its important you get used to this step before all others. It would do you no good if you knew how to shoot but were unable to produce the firearm because you were fumbling while trying to get it out. Remember from your classroom training that you have little to no fine-motor-skills during a fight for your life, so these things need to be muscle memory.

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Grip-Chest

Your first actionable step is called Grip-Chest. Remember the first word is the command for your firing hand. The second word is the command for your non-firing hand. For “Grip-Chest” your firing hand would go to your holster and grip the pistol while the non-firing hand would lie flat on the chest.

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Pull-Chest

Pull-chest is the moment when your firearm clears the holster. If you have a safety on your firearm, this is the moment you disengage the safety. If you are practicing at home, it is IMPERATIVE you get familiar with your firearm’s safety features. You will eventually be disengaging the safety while the firearm is still in what would be normally considered an unsafe position because the muzzle is still close enough to you to get caught up in clothing or discharge into your hip, leg, foot, groin, etc, depending on your mode of carry. Do NOT practice this with a live firearm if you aren’t comfortable with the proper use of your pistol. No amount of practice does you any good if you get hurt practicing at home and a firearm discharge into your body from this range would most likely be fatal.

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Rotate-Chest

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Don’t forget to cant or angle the firearm away from your body ten to fifteen degrees during the rotate step. You can feasibly fire from this position if need be. You won’t be accurate at this point most of the time, but putting a round or two down-range towards your attacker might give you the added benefit of having them duck for cover.

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SAFETY TIP: Spatial awareness or situational awareness is key at this point in your defensive posture. (Basically that means paying very close attention to what’s around you and your target area at all times.) You CAN fire the pistol from this stage, so it is imperative that your brain be equally focused on what is between you and your target, what is around or behind your target, and where your projectile might fly once you pull the trigger that could have unintended consequences. Here are a few examples:

  • Your attacker is three feet away and there is nothing between you and him. You are in a parking garage with only concrete walls and a couple of non-occupied vehicles nearby. Would you shoot?
  • Your attacker is chasing you and you’ve turned to defend yourself. There are 20 feet between you. You are in a retail store and there are children in the vicinity that could run into your line of fire in a panic. Do you shoot?
  • Your attacker is approaching you in a darkened grocery store parking lot. No one is around but the retail stores are behind your attacker about 50 feet. Can you fire safely? What would happen to the people inside the building if you fired and missed your target? What kind of ammo are you carrying? (That matters a lot when it comes to determining if the bullet will pass through your attacker and still have enough velocity to penetrate a glass wall or door and possibly enter a human bystander beyond.)

A good way to practice this scenario is to simply use your fingers as a pistol, not a real gun. Have friends or family members stage a situation, placing good guys and bad guys in random positions. You turn and have 1 second to determine whether to fire or not to fire. If you can safely fire, say BANG. If you can’t safely fire, say HOLD! Discuss scenarios with your family and friends on how to better prepare for all kinds of situations that might arise.

Another idea is to practice with your spouse while going about in public. Do NOT even carry a firearm on you at all if you’re going to practice this outside. While you are going through your day, have your spouse pick random moments and position themselves as a potential “bad guy” and say “GO!” You have 1 second to decide based on where the person is what your decision is going to be. Would it be to draw and fire your pistol? Would be better to try to run a short distance to a safe position where there are no longer any innocent people surrounding your and your threat? Remember, running away is still a great alternative whenever possible to pulling a firearm on another human being. Practice these scenarios hundreds of times and you will find yourself much more able to unconsciously scan your area and be on the look out for places you can and cannot defend yourself.  This ability to position yourself automatically where you have a defensible position and are always cognizant of who is around you is called Situational Awareness. It’s a core component of our Refuse to Be a Victim course.

Join

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Notice this step isn’t called “join-chest” because from this point onward both hands are now on the firearm and actively engaged in presenting and eliminating your threat. Notice in the picture above that my hands are together AGAINST my chest, as far back into my body as they can possibly be and still have the muzzle pointed towards the target. This is the part that most people make a mistake on. Your hands should be against the body, not a foot in front of you. If your hands are out in front your attacker has a good chance to get himself between your body and your firearm and take it from you.

When you transition from the “Rotate” to the “Join” step, the outside of your shooting hand should remain in constant contact with your body, sliding up to meet your other hand. SLIDING, not moving, or simply raising. Practice sliding the gun hand up to meet the other hand.

On the firing range, more people mess up this step than any other. Practice it a lot to get it performed correctly.

Extend

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Notice in the photos above, my finger remains outside the trigger guard. At this point in the threat scenario you still have the time to consider NOT pulling the trigger. Until you are committed to the action of taking another human life to defend your own or the life of someone else, your finger has no business inside the trigger guard! Have a family member or friend watch you during practice or record it on your phone so you can watch yourself later. It sounds corny maybe but seeing yourself perform these steps will help you find mistakes you didn’t know you were making. If you can not get to the FIRE step 100% of the time without accidentally putting your finger inside the trigger guard, you don’t need to be carrying a firearm until you’ve had more practice. If you make that mistake in a simple practice session with no stress around you, you are more than likely going to hurt someone you didn’t mean to in a real life or death situation. Even trained police officers have accidents where nerves and stress cause their body to react and pull the trigger before they intended to. Keeping your finger outside that trigger guard until the last possible moment is the ONLY way to prevent that happening!

Fire

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Discharging your firearm seems like the easiest part of the entire scenario but there are a hundred things that could go wrong. Consider the photo above. This is Michael Walker, one of our academy students. He’s firing a Charter Arms Bulldog revolver chambered in .44 magnum. I couldn’t tell you how many thousands of rounds this man has fired in practice but I can tell you he’s an amazing shot. However, if this were you and your gun, what would happen to you at night if you had to fire your weapon in defense? Have you ever tried it? One thing you need to be aware of that you rarely get the chance to deal with is muzzle flash – the fire that shoots from the muzzle when you fire the gun. Traditionally speaking the smaller the firearm and the larger the caliber the greater the muzzle flash will be when you pull the trigger. The little 4 inch gun above shoots fire an amazing 18″ inches outside the barrel and about the same in all directions around the barrel.

Supposing it’s night outside, or in your home when you pull the trigger, what will a firearm like that do to your night-vision? Chances are, if you’re not skilled with night-shooting, your night-vision will be completely destroyed after the first shot. Your retinas won’t recover for about two minutes from the initial blast from the barrel. How could you compensate for that in your shooting?

How many shots does it take? This sounds like a joke and you often hear “How many do I have in the gun?” as a response, but it’s a serious consideration. Life is rarely like the movies. In fact, life is NEVER like the movies when it comes to firearms. Your target isn’t going to fly away from you and get jerked off their feet. They aren’t going to immediately fall down most of the time and end the situation in one or two seconds. Truth be told; they could likely keep on fighting for ten or even up to 30 seconds and not even know they’ve been hit yet. The same adrenaline, dopamine, and norepinepherine that is flowing through your body is flowing through theirs. They could literally be dead on their feet but their body hasn’t been told it’s over yet by the brain.

On the other hand,  you don’t want to be the one on trial six months after a shooting where you defended your life and have to explain to a jury why you emptied a magazine of 17 rounds into the bad guy. Too much IS a crime, and it’s a crime that could result in your lifelong incarceration.

The only answer that reliably works is: You shoot until the threat is stopped.

  1. If they fall down after one shot and try to pick up their own gun, is the threat stopped? No
  2. If they fall down after three shots and they aren’t dead but they’re obviously injured and no longer attacking you but are instead clutching their thigh where you just shot them, rolling on the floor in pain, is the threat stopped? Yes.
  3. They’re lying on the ground in obvious pain but there is still a gun in their hand, though it’s lying extended out on the ground. Are they still a threat? That’s up for you to decide. No instructor can answer that question for you.

I CAN tell you that a police investigative team is very good at determining where a person was lying when they were wounded, and can usually determine the position of both the body of the victim and the assailant with regards to each shot fired. With that information in mind, my advice is to shoot as much as you have to, but NO MORE than you have to step the threat to your own life. At that point you or someone else calls the police and you wait for them to arrive.

Scan and Assess

This is an important step to practice because rarely does life throw just one obstacle in your path. If you’ve had your home invaded, or been attacked and had to defend yourself with a firearm it is important to know when the threat is removed and not to simply break your defensive posture prematurely.

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Safety and Reholster

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This process is relatively simple if you’ve practiced the preceding steps enough. You simply reverse them. You do NOT simply fumble your firearm into your holster or carry device! You reverse the steps in the order you followed before firing. You should practice this until you can holster your firearm without looking at it 50 out of 50 times. Your eyes should NOT be on your firearm or your clothing, but should instead be aware of what’s around you, what’s about to happen, and responding to the inevitable arrival of the police.

Adhering to the three rules of gun safety.

  1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

All three rules of gun safety are important, but one stands out above all others.  ALWAYS KEEP THE GUN POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION is the single most important gun safety rule ever put on paper. If you fail to follow rules 2 and 3, but at least followed rule 1 then you might have accidentally discharged your firearm out of negligence but at least no one gets hurt. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS KEEP THE GUN POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION!

Author’s Closing Note:

I am providing this as a study-guide for students that have had proper training in all aspects of concealed carry. Many of our students ask for this material, or where they can practice it again later after class and its easier and less costly to publish it here than to constantly print out study guides for them to take home with them.  I encourage you NOT to practice these steps until you have had some proper instruction from a licensed and certified instructor. Understand when you read this guide that you will be knowingly violating a lot of the standard safety rules that we drill into you on the range. This is why we only teach this in a closed-environment to students we think capable of handling the material, rather than as a part of basic pistol shooting. When you are defending your life it may be happen that you violate some of the rules of basic gun safety in the precious seconds it takes you to perform these actions. However you must also understand that you are “responsible for every projectile that is fired from your firearm until it reaches its terminal resting place.” This is a basic law that applies in all 50 states. It doesn’t matter what you were trying to do or what you intended to do. If you discharge a firearm and hit anything except your designated target, you are responsible for where that bullet lands. Keep in mind also that 85% of rounds fired from trained personnel result in a complete miss of their intended target – so practice and working with a knowledgeable instructor is money and time well spent! 

 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. We sincerely appreciate your feedback!


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