The Draw, Muscle Memory and Mindset

The Draw, Muscle Memory and Mindset
The Draw, Muscle Memory and Mindset

You Gunna Skin That Smoke Wagon, Er Just Stand There And Bleed?  Remember these famous words? This was the making of a classic quote, in a classic film. But have you really ever placed yourself in a similar situation (figuratively)? Simulated other situations or at least …thought of them? Sure! Most everyone has done some pondering as to ‘what if’ or ‘what would I do if…There was a time when I would not carry IWB because I was unsure if put to the ‘moment of truth’, I could clear my holster without getting my finger on the trigger too soon. Would this happen on the range? Not likely, because anything is possible to achieve on the range. Where we want it to ‘work’ is in our home against an intruder. In the alley against an attacker and everywhere else! I fixed the confidence with diligent practice. Let us look at some realities about being put on the spot and not being READY.

How important do YOU think the draw could be? I know what everyone says about this. I have been an instructor for CHCL in Arkansas for over 9 years and everyone thinks it could be extremely important! Possibly the difference between life and death! Fortunately, I have asked those that come to me to renew their license “Do you practice your draw on a regular basis?” Unfortunately what I find is only about 5-10 people out of 1000 practice their draw on a regular basis. Are you one of these folks? Be honest with yourself because of your lack of training most likely won’t affect me….It will only affect you and yours! Most people honestly say no or probably not enough.

Two LEO friends of mine, (1 is no longer LEO) were sent to a situation at a residence and arrived around the same time (being told to me by one of these gents). Together they proceeded towards the house on the walkway when all at once a pit bull came charging them from the house! One cop starts back-peddling quick, the other immediately sidestepped, drew his pistol, fired into the charging canine approximately 5 feet in front of him, headed straight towards the officer desperately trying to back up, with hands in front to block an attack! At this time the other cop drew his pistol and started nervously walking forward to put a few LATE rounds into the dying beast, when the friend that fired  said to the other “Don’t shoot, he’s already down!” He said a little later he asked the other “Man what happened? Don’t you practice your draw?”  The reply was “Maybe not enough…” My friend that was telling this event did tell me he checked his gear every day before he walked out the door and drew his pistol several times to get the ‘feeling’ back. He also did not tell me who the other officer was.

An attack can happen fast!! If you practice, but maybe not enough, you may or may not survive, (there are no guarantees) but how much of a difference could one minute a day have made? I’m sure you’re starting to see the ‘big picture’ here.  It is proven that the trained prevail more than the untrained. The idea is to attend the training necessary to practice the proper techniques, and then to practice!

As far as practice is concerned, how much is enough? I know some folks that practice their draw from 5-20 minutes every day. I try to practice my draw almost every day, and usually, only 5-10 draws each day. Sure, when I got serious about my draw, I practiced much more in the beginning. Once the muscle memory was set, it took less practice to keep the muscle memory tuned. (One of those things you can lose if you don’t use). Question-If you practiced your draw 2 minutes every day for 1 week, how much better would it be? For 6 months? This is where we begin to build the muscle memory that allows us to be able to draw without ‘thinking’ about how and what to do during the draw.

The cop that drew and fired had practiced his draw nearly every day, building muscle memory and instinctive values. The other officer didn’t practice nearly as much (if any) and thought he would do what needed to be done because …well, it needed to be done, and his instinctive reaction was to back away in an emotional turmoil without having time to think of drawing his weapon. The more you practice, the more likely you’ll react in the ‘proper’ manner, the more likely you will instinctively react the way you have trained, the more likely you will remember what needs to be done!

If you were put into a situation with a BG threatening your life and had practiced your draw some, I mean every time you went to the range you practiced your draw and shooting (once a month?), and it was just YOU and the BG, you might have the confidence to try your defensive tactics. But, if the same scenario arose and you were with your family, would you still have that same level of confidence? Or would the idea of ‘putting your family in more danger IF you failed’, diminish that level of confidence, and convict you to go hands up to the mercy of your attacker. Man or beast!

The above story is true. The cop that did not draw his sidearm has left the LEO employment. He is a friend, and after leaving the force, came to one of my classes to get his license to carry concealed. I tell this example in every class and after the class, he caught me outside and told me ‘he was that other cop’! I said “I probably wouldn’t have told anyone”   He tried to say the reason he didn’t draw his gun was that he hadn’t practiced his draw while backing up! I immediately started backing up, drew from appendix carry and said ‘It really isn’t any different’. But what is different is mindset and muscle memory. Muscle memory is the stuff that ‘kicks in’ and takes over when other things aren’t working in a fearful, life-threatening, combat situation, as the lights…the sights…and the ability to think clearly and quickly!

Grossman said a Marine in Iraq told him ‘about combat, my Sargent said: “son, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”.  Friends, if you don’t practice, or know what/how to practice, get some training. There are many avenues and many types of training. Doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about… I am a believer in Suarez International training and techniques. Start with Defensive Pistol Skills. This is where the ‘proven’ techniques are taught/learned to build the skills most desirable. With the proper techniques, you’ll be able to achieve a higher level of skill, and attain it faster/sooner than by practicing the incorrect or less than proper method. The Force on Force training is where you want to get to, at least! This is the inoculator for the gunfight and includes all the stuff mentioned here and MORE! If you’re not ready for the aggressive plunge of combat, the great news is there is training to prepare you for this class. Train strong to remain strong! What is your default move?

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Scott Vaughn has been teaching CCW classes in Arkansas Since 2002 and has been shooting since 1965. He is also a Suarez International Staff Instructor. "Trained people prevail more than the untrained!" You can visit his training site and contact him at Vaughn Firearms Training
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Good article.  Get’s you to thinking, “…do I practice enough, and how often is often enough…?”  When I went through the LEO Academy, they had us practicing instinctive point shooting, because being a LEO, that is more often than not the distance you’ll be drawing from, close quarters.
Thanks for the article, it really get’s you to want to be ready, really READY!


Practicle- thats what you have to be. You have seconds to act. Know your state and local laws. They must be followed, you have seconds to asses the situation. If you have practiced with your weapon both on and off the range and know – deadly force is called for- draw and shoot. There is no such thing as ” wing him’ you shoot at body mass. You dont have to be LEO to know the law, in fact most CCW folks I know are way ahead of local LEO in the legal area.Practice- but know the laws or youll be on the wrong side of the bars. No one is your friend in this scenario- only you and your weapon can be counted on!


Agreed! Perfect Practice, makes Perfect Performance, you only perform as you practice. If you are sloppy in practice, you will not make it when you need it.


I know some people would disagree but I like to use a airsoft gun for practice. I run threw realistic scenarios in my house. That is a heck alot cheaper then sending down a 50 dollars worth of ammo down range, but I do practice at the range once a month (try to) when I afford the ammo.


There is nothing wrong with practicing with Air Soft pistols…
Practicing to get the muscle memory conditioned is essential, handling the recoil and possibly increased weight of the real thing can be done as you do, once a month or more often as funds allow.
Practice is practice. No different than doing dry-fire exercise to get the trigger control down.


i just wish that the airsoft guns could last though. i have gone threw a few of them    =( =)