Carrying a gun, concealed on your person, facilitates a tremendous advantage if you are unfortunate enough to face interpersonal violence. The fact that the gun is concealed is the greatest asset. However, the majority of concealed carriers neglect to practice drawing the gun from real concealment to the point of predictable efficiency. If you spend any amount of time at public ranges, have you observed how many people are actually practicing from a holster? It will be a small minority. Far smaller yet will be the percentage of people practicing from a concealed holster, and the few that will work from the holster usually do so from an open holster.
The vast majority of defensive gun uses each year end without a shot being fired as the display of the weapon is often enough to send a criminal actor in the other direction. Therefore, it should be obvious that the single most important skill involved with the defensive pistol is being able to deploy the gun, from concealment. Yet, this is the skill least practiced. It also seems apparent that the reason this imperative skillset is ignored is because, quite frankly, it is more complicated than is drawing the gun from an open holster, or simply working with the gun form off the table at the range.
The above video on the Tier 1 Concealed YouTube channel shows the crew of that holster company, all of whom are very good shooters, doing a USPSA competition stage with a known Grand Master level competition shooter. They are, however, doing the stage from concealment, as that is the specialty of the Tier 1 Concealed crew. The Grand Master shooter notes in the video that, while running the qualifier stage from concealment, he is shooting at B class. This shooter was competent from concealment. He was not strictly a competitor who never worked from a concealed holster, but even so, working from concealment dropped him down several rankings in performance, at least on that particular stage. This is a great example of how concealment simply makes everything more challenging.
While modern shooters who train a lot from concealment, particularly from the appendix position, can draw and fire the gun at speeds that are not terribly behind the speed of drawing from an open competition holster, there still remains a difference, and the greatest challenge involved is the potential for fumble, as the need to clear a cover garment to access the gun adds an entire level of complexity to the process. Even shooters who train a lot will occasionally fumble the clearance of the garment, and the entire process required for a concealed draw is simply more demanding than that required for an openly carried draw.
Add to this the further complexity of reloading from concealment, and it becomes obvious why competitive shooters generally don’t compete from concealment. Even in IDPA competition, which requires “concealment,” the majority of competitors use the tactical fishing vest that is closely associated with that game, which is a garment that interferes the least with a traditional draw stroke. The reality remains that, to shoot from real concealment, means simply not being able to obtain a top level of competitive shooting. But, one should ask themselves, what is the priority? Even if shooting competition, is the individual’s priority to place as high as possible, or is the priority to take advantage of the skills development that the competitive environment offers, but do so with real defensive carry gear?
Since it is more difficult to shoot from concealment, most shooters, ranging from high-end competitors to average range plinkers, simply don’t. This is, obviously, the wrong approach to the challenge. We must simply accept the fact that drawing from concealment adds a level of complication to the deployment of the gun, but it is a complication that is an absolute necessity. Our modern society simply does not accept the open carry of handguns in most public locations. Further, open carry exposes the gun to common view, and the individual carrying it invites unnecessary and, potentially, nefarious attention. The vast majority of gun carriers do so concealed and should, yet the masses of concealed carriers are doing very little to hone the skill of this more challenging draw stroke.
Rather than shy away from practicing this skill, it should be prioritized. Casual and recreational shooters who frequent the range and do all of their shooting with an unholstered gun, or even a gun worn in an open holster, are practicing in a way that is not relevant to their life if they do carry concealed.
This author has, frankly, abandoned practicing from any sort of open holster entirely, save for the rare occasion of taking a class with an instructor who prohibits concealment. The classes that I generally take focus on concealment, what I teach revolves entirely around concealment, and what I practice for my personal skillset is strictly from concealment. Unless you open carry, which has extremely limited utility, you should be training with your pistol from a concealed holster. Working at the range from an open holster, when you actually carry concealed, greatly reduces the relevance of the skills acquisition from that practice session.
Yes, drawing from concealment is more complicated than drawing from open holsters, but this is the mandatory challenge placed on us if we wish to embrace the significant advantage of concealment as compared to wearing a gun openly. If you are not comfortable with drawing the gun from the real-world concealment that you carry, then take a class with a good instructor and apply yourself to extensive dry practice to gain proficiency. Then, if you have access to a facility that allows it, practice your draw, from concealment, in live fire.