The story about Police Chief David Counceller’s negligent discharge due to a stray windbreaker drawstring in the trigger guard brought to my mind a recent article written by firearms trainer Pat Rogers (above), who tackles the issue of after-action holstering in the April 2014 issue of SWAT Magazine (pages 53-57). Don’t waste time trying to look cool, the former Marine Chief Warrant Officer says: take a glance and make sure you’re not about to do something stupid . . .
To some, speed holstering looks cool. It shows mastery of man over machine, and style points are important in some endeavors. But herein lies the problem. Numerous negligent discharges occur when holstering. The main reason is of course a Rule 3 violation – finger on the trigger when sights are not on target. A secondary cause is when a piece of clothing or equipment insinuates itself into the trigger guard, causing the weapon to discharge—probably into your leg.
While some make an issue of teaching that you should holster while keeping your SA up, consider this: the pistol should only go away when the fight is truly over. Not when your opponent is down, but when he is incapacitated and handcuffed or otherwise restrained or covered by others. Once that happens—once you are positively sure the threat is no longer a threat—then you can reholster. Caveat: if you are a civilian or off-duty cop, it’s never a good idea to have your blaster in your paws when the police arrive.
I’m not advocating spending 30 seconds to put the firearm properly in your holster. What I am saying, though, is take the time to glance down, holster and prepare for the admin/legal issues that will follow in the aftermath of a shooting. Taking the time to glance down may spare you a lot of grief.
I have accumulated a little less than one hundred fifty hours of firearms training over the past few years, and many of the instructors I’ve worked with have thought that situational awareness is paramount, and that one should train to keep one’s head and eyes up, scanning for potential threats when holstering. Only one – Scott Reitz, of International Tactical – specifically advised that since holstering should only take place once the threats are down, glancing down to ensure that one is holstering safely is a good idea.
That said, I find it hard to disagree with either Chief Rogers or Mr. Reitz. I’m an ordinary citizen who happens to carry a concealed firearm. That means that my sidearm is either in an OWB holster under a jacket or shirt, or (for more formal occasions,) it’s in an IWB holster underneath a tucked shirt and suit jacket. If it’s been drawn in anger, when it comes to holstering, odds are good that it’ll need to go back in underneath some rather askew, possibly torn, clothing. Holstering when the gun is still hot, when the adrenaline is flowing, when the heart is pumping fast, when fine motor skills are at a low ebb, and when I may be injured is probably not when I want to be holstering a gun without looking. And dame fortune would doubtless be cruel enough to ensure that I would prevail over bloody-minded street thugs in combat, only to suffer a life-threatening wound from a negligent discharge because I wasn’t paying close enough attention while holstering afterward.
Practice doesn’t make perfect – it makes permanent. Whatever you do on the square range is probably what you’ll be doing when the balloon goes up. Seems to me that there’s less chance that a glance downward to make sure you know what’s going on when putting the iron away is less riskier than the alternative.