USAMU World Champion ISPC – Mechanics of The Speed Draw

Mechanics of The Speed Draw

by SSG Travis Tomasie
United States Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) (Website)

IPSC World Champion

IPSC world Champ SSG Travis Tomasie (USAMU) Explains the Speed Draw. If you can’t see this video you can click here to watch it on YouTube.
Ready position. Make sure the gun is empty.
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Position 1: Two points of contact between your hand and the pistol.
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Don’t take your grip on the pistol for granted. Be concious of your points of contact. It is the foundation of a positive draw.
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Position 2: The pistol is not in muzzle up or muzzle down position. Safety is off.
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Position 3: You have presented your pistol to the target and your eyes are starting to pick up the sights.
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One fluid motion without antagonistic tension is what you are going for. Make sure that your holster is adjusted properly for rake and height. In my experience a straight up and down position is the best for the holster as opposed to canted forward or back.

There are few techniques associated with the Action Shooting sports that are as impressive as the speed draw. Executed properly it can be done in under a second all the while firing an extremely accurate shot. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my tips and strategies to make your own draw, a speed draw.

First and foremost, before you attempt to practice your draw, make absolute certain that your firearm is unloaded. Anytime you participate in dry fire training verify that there is no ammunition in your area. Even with an unloaded pistol, always practice safe muzzle awareness. I’d like to begin by breaking the draw down into 3 separate positions. Position 1 is with your firing hand gripping the pistol while it’s still in the holster. It’s important to use 2 points of contact between your hand and the pistol, to ensure you get a good firing grip. The first point of contact should be the web of your hand (the area between your thumb and pointer finger) as high on the rear of the pistol frame as possible. The second point of contact is the top of your middle finger underneath the trigger guard. In addition, your support hand should move in unison with your firing hand to a position just in front of your stomach area, awaiting the pistol to be drawn.

Position 2 is the high-ready, where the pistol is up at eye level ready to be presented to the target. In this position, the support hand has assumed its grip on the pistol and you’ve switched the safety to fire. It’s important during this step that the muzzle of the pistol be pointed in the general direction of the target and not be in a muzzle up, or muzzle down position.

Position 3 is where the pistol has been extended and presented to the target. Here you should begin to align the sights and prep the trigger. Out of all the steps in involved in drawing the pistol, this is not the time to hurry!

Now let’s discuss the path the pistol should take during its travel from the holster, to being aimed at the target. It’s important that you use the most efficient and economical range of motion. The pistol should come out of the holster and up to your line of sight, and then out to position 3. A common mistake is to draw the pistol out of the holster, and bring it down and then out. This will result in a slower first shot as the shooter will not see the sights until position 3. By bringing the pistol up and then out, the sights can be more quickly acquired in the shooter’s peripheral vision, or during position 2, and produce the quickest draw possible.

I typically see a lot shooters tense up on the draw. Be aware of any antagonistic muscle tension, as the more relaxed you are, the faster your hand speed will be. Additionally, make certain that you’re listening for the very beginning of the start signal, or the “B” in “Beep”. Most timers on the market produce a start signal that lasts .50 seconds. If you wait until the buzzer expires before you begin to draw the pistol, you’re already behind!


The draw stroke should be one fluid motion. Although you’re achieving your shooting grip while the gun is still in the holster, it’s important to note that you’re not stopping there. The firing hand should obtain the two points of contact and then immediately draw the pistol up and out of the holster.

Within the last inch of your final extension, you should be starting to shift your focal point from the target, to the front sight. If you attempt to pick the sight up any earlier within the draw stroke, it will reduce the speed at which you are presenting the pistol to the target. There should be a slight pause at the end of the draw that allows you to stabilize the front sight on the center of the target. Ideally you should use binocular vision, as closing your non dominant eye will reduce your peripheral vision, and make it more difficult to transition to additional targets.

With the advent of the kydex and polymer holsters that now abound in competition shooting, breaking in the holster is no longer a concern. It is important to note however, that you set it up with the proper rake and height. I recommend that the holster be adjusted so that the pistol sits parallel to your leg and not angled back or forward. This will insure you have access to the grip regardless if you’re starting from surrender position, or hands at sides.

The speed draw is an excellent technique to include in your shooting repertoire. By integrating these tips and techniques into your training, you can develop both a fast and consistent draw. Until next time, stay Army strong!

SSG Travis Tomasie
IPSC World Champion

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Adam McIntosh July 23, 2012, 6:02 pm

    Good information but the title of the story should read USAMU World Champion IPSC – Mechanics of The Speed Draw rather than USAMU World Champion ISPC – Mechanics of The Speed Draw. IPSC stands for International Practical Shooting Confederation which we in the US rarely shoot anymore. We shoot mainly USPSA competitions here in the states.

  • Dan May 1, 2012, 1:30 pm

    So who needs a double stack? Hell, who needs a machine gun?

  • octavio valerio April 30, 2012, 8:39 pm

    puedo conseguir con ustedes partes de una pistola luger /watherp 38.

  • KeviN End April 30, 2012, 8:35 pm

    I heard hits every round!

  • KeviN End April 30, 2012, 8:34 pm

    HOLY S—!
    Great demo!

  • Jhmc0302 April 30, 2012, 10:31 am

    what pistol has the same action as a colt 45 cal.?You cuoud pull the side back and lock the barrel. Then throw in a clip and release the slide at the same time,so as you didn’t know if there was a round in the chamber. Russian Roulette in Nam.

  • DAVID BAKER April 30, 2012, 8:58 am


  • jerry April 30, 2012, 7:44 am

    very good article.i would like to know what type and brand of holster you are useing.

  • billy396 November 14, 2011, 8:05 am

    I’ve been a shooter for 40 years, but I’ve just taken up steel plate matches. I have the exact same CR-Speed holster pictured for my SIG X5, and I’ve been having trouble developing a consistent fast draw. My worst problem lies in releasing the safety quickly while tryign to continue 1 smooth movement. I suspect that it will simply be a matter of repitition and more practice, but I’m open to any other suggestions. Thanks for the article.

    • Paul Bowers November 14, 2011, 9:00 pm

      Being of age, and remembering playing cowboys and indians with cap guns, I can remember fast draw “competitions with my brothers. The fastest was not always the winner, I hit you first was. an interesting concept. I retired in 2005 with 20 years as a part time Police Officer. My usual score in qualification was 95 and up, I even got 100 one time. No speed draw holsters allowed. Although the idea is the same for basic practice. DRY fire is good note the dry. Rules of gun handling are imperative. Start slow, and pick up speed as you progress. No matter how fast you get you still need some live fire to be sure you are still hitting the target.

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