How To Shoot Faster: 4 Tips To Increase Your Draw Speed

Being able to quickly draw your gun, acquire your target and fire is a valuable skill which comes in handy for both competitions and self-defense situations. Far too many gun owners have one routine. They go to the gun range and lackadaisically load their guns, aim and shoot. They prioritize comfort over technique, but the reality is a self-defense situation isn’t going to be comfortable. If you’re facing a life-or-death situation, you need shooting techniques you can rely on. Increasing your draw speed is the single-most important part of shooting faster. Follow these tips to see dramatic improvements in how quickly you draw your gun.

1. Develop Solid Fundamentals

Courtesy of James Williamson of Teufelshund Tactical, via GAT Marketing

If you’re an experienced shooter, you can probably skip this step. But if you’re still learning the ropes, you’ll want to make sure you have your fundamentals down before you start worrying about how fast you can draw your gun. There are a few key elements to shooting that should be second nature.

The first is your stance. When shooting, you want to have a slight forward lean to your body with your arms almost fully extended.

Your grip is very important. You should have as firm a grip on the gun as possible without gripping it so hard that your hands begin shaking. It’s a good idea to grab the gun as high up on it as you can with your shooting hand, and then wrap your support hand around the other side of the handle.

You should be able to line up your sights enough that you can shoot accurately from at least 10 yards away. Finally, your trigger squeeze should be a smooth process where you don’t jerk the gun at all in anticipation of the recoil.

2. Reduce the Number of Decisions You Make

Cutting down on how many decisions you need to make is critical for increasing your draw and shooting speed.

Now, at first glance, shooting may not seem like a situation where you make many decisions. However, most shooters make quite a few small, split-second decisions. The problem is that each of these split-second decisions makes your shooting a bit slower. And in a life-or-death situation where you’re dealing with an adrenaline rush, these decisions can become even more of an issue.

What kind of decisions are we talking about here? Here are a couple:
How are you going to draw your gun?
How will you release the slide?

Let’s look at these examples, one at a time.

There are two main options for drawing your gun: the draw stroke and the close-quarters draw stroke, also sometimes called the right-angle draw stroke.

The draw stroke involves drawing your gun, holding it pointed down in front of your waist while you put your support hand on it, and then raising it up to acquire your sights. This won’t work if you have an object in front of you that blocks you from raising the gun, and it will take you an extra moment to acquire your sights upon raising the gun when you use this draw.

With the close-quarters draw stroke, you draw the gun and keep it tight to your body as you bring the support hand over to it. You then acquire your sights as you extend your arms. Not only does the close-quarters draw work in all situations, but it helps you acquire your sights more quickly.

Given the advantages of the close-quarters draw, that’s the only draw you should train. You don’t want to wonder which draw you should do in a self-defense situation.

When your slide is locked back, you can either use the slide lock to release it or grab the slide and rack it.

The only time you’ll use the slide lock is in this situation, whereas you’ll need to grab the slide to charge the gun otherwise. Since grabbing the slide will work in any situation and using the slide lock will not, you should eliminate using the slide lock from your toolkit. It’s also smart to always do a tap and rack no matter what action you’re performing with your gun. Loading, reloading, clearing jams – since the tap and rack will work for all of these, stick with that and reduce your number of decisions.

Keeping decisions to a minimum is one reason we recommend guns without manual safeties if your focus is on quick drawing. A safety just takes more valuable time.

Two excellent choices for quick drawing are the Ruger LC9 Pro, designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers in high-stress situations, and the M&P9 SHIELD with No Thumb Safety.

3. Practice Slowly and Smoothly to Start

One of the biggest problems you could encounter when working on your quick draw is trying to do it quickly. Many shooters are so focused on speed that their movements become jerky. There’s a common saying used in shooting, martial arts and likely many other areas. It goes “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” Even when your aim is a quick draw and fast shooting, don’t try to practice that right away. Instead, work on minimizing your movements.

Make sure you’re drawing your gun correctly and you don’t have any excess movements during the process. As you go through this procedure, you’ll develop muscle memory and you’ll naturally start to do it more quickly. If at any point you notice your form is starting to suffer, slow down.

Here’s a good anecdote demonstrating how beneficial it is to be smooth instead of fast:

A shooting instructor set up a course with around 10 targets, and there was quite a bit of movement between shooting positions for each of these targets. The students, who were all experienced shooters in their own right, ran through the course, trying to do it as quickly as possible. The instructor walked through the whole course and had the best time by several seconds. While everyone else was focusing on speed, he was focusing on smoothness.

4. Practice Different Drills and Scenarios

If you use the aforementioned techniques to develop a quick draw while you’re at the range, then that will likely be the only place where you have a quick draw. Obviously, your typical self-defense situation won’t be anything like standing and firing at a paper or steel target. You’ll be moving around. You could end up shooting from awkward positions. Maybe you aren’t able to get in your typical firing stance – you’re on your back, or your knees or one hand is occupied so you can only shoot one-handed.

If you truly want to be good at shooting quickly, you need to practice in different situations. A video simulator is one way to practice what a real self-defense situation would be like. You can also take classes that focus on shooting in self-defense situations. Other options include incorporating movement into your shooting, shooting while a partner times you or yells instructions, or shooting in a competition.

Developing Your Skills

When you get your fundamentals down pat, keep your decisions to a minimum, focus on smoothness and practice often, you’ll see significant improvements on how quickly you can draw and fire your gun.

Having the right gun is also important for a quick draw. While you can improve your draw speed with any gun, certain guns are much easier to draw and fire than others. We mentioned guns with no manual safety earlier, but we also like compact 9mm guns for quick drawing. The compact size makes the gun easier to draw. The 9mm caliber means there will be less recoil so it’s easier to keep your shots on target. The Gen 4 Glock 19 is a popular handgun for women [and men] who want a gun for quick drawing because of its lightness and easy-to-use ergonomic design.

Whichever gun you choose, get proficient with it until using it feels like second nature.

Do you think these tips will help you with how to shoot faster? Let us know in the comments

9 Comments On This Article

  1. This is stuff that you should have figured out before you ever started carrying full time. If you are justusing the holster for a container, “which most peole do”, there aren’t many places you can practice with a loaded gun. this should be done at home with a full length mirror and a timer. People who never were shot at will not think this is very high on their list.

  2. Sound advice and a good reminder for all of us. Nothing beats range time to improve our shooting skills.Having a good training routine that covers the essentials of CQ defense is useful only if we actually do it. Having a dummy round near the top of the mags makes quickly clearing a malfunction part of the training routine.

  3. All very complicated, and about half of it useless imho. Look at the photo. The shooter is so close to the target that he could almost kick the thing. Why in the world would he need a support hand to steady the pistol? Answer — he does not need a two hand hold. And it wastes time, which is time he does not have. About a lifetime ago, as a teenager, my father’s good friend, a FBI agent, spent a couple of days with me, teaching me how to draw and shoot a 4 inch barrel revolver. The targets were 7 yards away, and 15 yards away. I am right handed. Mr. Lash taught me to turn toward the target and point my right big toe at the target while leaning into it a little bit, while simultaneously bringing the revolver up in my right hand, singlehanded, to point the muzzle of the gun at the target. Focus eyes on target and then your front sight blurs. Shoot center of mass. All this was done in a single flow movement. Slow at first, then faster. No thinking is needed, only muscle memory. We graduated to shooting live rounds after a couple of days dry firing practice, and at 7 yards, I never missed (well… maybe once or twice, my first day, on the 15 yard target). It’s not complicated, you just have to develop the muscle memory. The writer does correctly note the evils of having safety catches on pistols (they slow you down needlessly), and how constant repetition of the slow beginner’s drill turns it into the fast. One last comment from an old coot. A year or so ago, my eldest son and I went to a fancy 3 day shooting course, where police trainers spent almost the whole time banging the wonders of the SLOW two handed Weaver/Isoceles pistol shooting holds into us… only to admit, in the very last hour of the course, that having watched 200 police dash cam shooting videos, nobody ever actually used the two handed hold because there was no time to do so. Only then did we devote an hour to shooting one handed, the way Mr. Lash taught me all those years ago. Ridiculous! Use what works, guys. Over and out —

    • The safety does not slow you down, you release it as the pistol is coming out of the holster. i always carried duty pistols on safe and always qualified without a problem. There are numerous instances of officers being saved because someone got their pistol but could not make it work in time but no instances of an officer being shot because he couldn’t get the safety off.

  4. Very good advice generally, though I disagree with the suggestion that experienced shooters skip Step 1 on the fundamentals, which are the foundation upon which new skills are built. The first step for experienced shooters should be to review the fundamentals (stance, grip, sight alignment & picture, breath & trigger control, follow-through) to see if you aren’t inadvertently overlooking or forgetting something.

  5. Terrence J. Maguire

    Do you think a 5 shot revolver like a Ruger LCR (no safety) is a viable weapon? I like revolvers due to their simplicity.

  6. Does the preson in the picture open carry with that rig? If not then he should be drawing from concealment using his normal carry rig or the “training is no more realistic than bullseye slow fire.