Shooting Tip:
Find Your Slow Spot and Fix It

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I’m a big fan of the MantisX system. I’ve been using it since the original model came out years ago. The newest handgun iteration (they make an AR-compatible system, too) is small and discreet enough to mount on the bottom of a pistol magazine. If you stop and think about that placement, you’ll realize it’s now compatible with a holster. In the original iteration, you mounted the Mantis device on the pistol rail, which was fine for shooting, but ruled out using the system for holster-oriented practice. The company even makes a variety of replacement magazine base pads with an attachment point for the MantisX. If your pistol isn’t included in that offering, no worries; there’s a universal mount offering, too.

The MantisX X10 model offers a complete time analysis of five stages of the draw and fire motions
so you can identify weak areas for improvement.

Draw Analysis

Let’s jump ahead to why all this really matters. The motion detectors in the X10 version of the device, combined with some nifty software enhancements for the companion smartphone app, now analyze your draw in exquisite detail. By breaking down the complete draw sequence into five discrete steps and timing each with every draw, you can figure out where your technique is smooth and efficient and where you need work.

The “Grip” phase is the time that elapses from the buzzer to getting a firm grip on the pistol. The “Pull” stage times the vertical movement of the gun until it clears the holster. “Horizontal” tracks your rotational speed once the handgun has cleared leather until the muzzle points toward the target. “Target” measures the movement time from horizontal near the holster to eye level, and “Shot” tracks the time to fine-tune your sight picture and break the shot.

In my case, I identified trouble in the “Shot” phase. Aging eyes have resulted in my taking way too long to get the proper sight picture once the gun was near eye level and facing the target.

What to do?

My Partial Draw Drill

I could do more dry-fire practice of the entire draw sequence at home. I do this, but not as often as I’d like and not often enough to dramatically improve that portion of my draw-and-fire sequence. I wanted to develop a fun range habit that was not so boring it felt like work. The problem was the range where I shoot most frequently doesn’t allow holster draws.

No worries. Since the desired improvement area was at the tail end of my draw, I could make it work, range rules and all. Here’s what I do.

I start from the position in my overall draw sequence where the gun is horizontal and pointed down range. My support hand has just come off my chest and joined my firing hand and the pistol in a solid two-handed grip. Envision holding your pistol with both hands right in front of the bottom of your sternum, barrel horizontal to the ground or shooting bench, and the muzzle pointed at the target. That’s my starting position, and it’s perfectly safe and allowed at most any range.

The newer MantisX models are small enough to mount to the magazine base, allowing use from a holster.

Next, I slowly project my arms forward as if in the last stages of a normal draw, bringing the gun to eye level and raising the sights to the target. The key is to make the motion perfect, hence the focus on doing this slowly. The muzzle (and front sight) rises forward and up to a position of perfect sight alignment with the target. If I’ve done it perfectly, the muzzle stops right on target, and I am ready to break the shot. Once the pistol is at eye level and pressed forward into the shooting position, there is no readjusting. There is no lowering the sights back down onto the target because you’ve been too aggressive flinging the gun up and forward. I’ve raised it from the low sternum level to the shooting position with no wasted movement. By definition, that results in the minimum time to acquire the sight picture and break the shot.

I only fire one shot; ideally, at the moment, the sights get on target. If I’m shooting a single or double-action pistol, I either put it back on safe or decock and repeat the process.

To summarize, I’ll fire multiple magazines, one shot at a time, completing the last portion of a holster draw and firing the shot all in one smooth movement.

Slow Is Smooth ...

Here’s the nifty part. By focusing on perfect movement, with no wasted motion, and bringing the gun from low level to a forward extension perfectly on target, I’m burning this movement into muscle memory and training myself to move straight to a perfect sight picture where I’m ready to shoot, if required, at the precise moment the gun stops moving up and forward. Don’t worry about practicing speed — that part is automatic. Do this for a few range sessions focusing on technique; you’ll be shocked at the results when you perform the motion without thinking of it. The speed just happens, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nailed a perfect bullseye performing the exercise at full speed when I’m not thinking about it.

Practice slowly, and the speed will take care of itself.

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