Skills Check: Present Arms

Effective self-defense requires being able to perform a well-executed presentation from concealment.

posted on September 29, 2022
shooter at the range

Combining accuracy and speed, Gunsite course curricula teach students to present their handgun from the holster and make multiple hits on target within 1.5 seconds.

We refer to the draw stroke as the presentation at Gunsite. It’s a better explanation than simply “drawing” the pistol, because it describes the act of presenting the pistol from the holster to the target or threat. In our “basic,” five-day pistol class we expect students to present the pistol and make hits on targets from 3 to 7 yards away in 1.5 seconds. Most students can do this in two or three days of training.

While it’s true it would be best to have your pistol in your hands when confronted with a lethal threat, it’s also true you can’t wander around in public with a gun in your hand without justification. The solution is, of course, discreet concealed carry. Now the issue becomes whether you can present your pistol in time if confronted with an immediate deadly threat, and that’s why we train our students to respond in 1.5 seconds or less. 

Here’s a drill to help you improve the speed of your response, and I hope it inspires you to work on practicing your presentation from concealment. You’ll need a timer or a shooting partner to time you, a silhouette target, your carry pistol and holster.

Here’s the Drill
Stage 1
At 5 yards, starting with the pistol held in two hands at low ready, muzzle depressed, fire two rounds on the start signal.

Stage 2
At 5 yards, starting with one hand on the holstered pistol, fire two rounds on the start signal.

Stage 3
At 5 yards, starting with hands down at your side, pistol holstered, fire two rounds on the start signal.

Total:  Six rounds

Clearly, your slowest times will be on Stage 3. Having one or two hands on the pistol is a big advantage when speed is of the essence. Thinking about this, you should see that being alert, and seeing and avoiding a deadly threat, is the way to go. But, if you’re forced into a confrontation, having one or two hands on your pistol could make a big difference. In many cases this may be all it takes to make a violent offender have a change of heart and decide to seek a different victim, one who is not alert, armed and ready to act.

You can’t defend yourself unless you’re alert and see it coming. Don’t allow yourself to be taken by surprise and continue to work on practicing your presentation.


Safariland tiger stripe duty holster
Safariland tiger stripe duty holster

First Look: Safariland Tiger Stripe Holsters

Go "old school," but still have all the latest innovations from Safariland to keep your firearm safe at your side.

HAVA Holds 13th Annual Family Day

Live entertainment, gifts, food, prizes and shooting exhibitions were just some of the highlights.

Can Perception Determine Reality?

How you appear to others can affect your safety.

BallistiClean 00 Buck Review

There’s less training conducted with the defensive shotgun than with any other defensive firearm. This is partly because shotguns recoil the hardest, and recoil is not something shooters typically enjoy. It’s also partly because shotguns—at least compared with handguns and carbines—are a bit expensive to shoot, especially if you’re training with 00 buckshot.

First Look: Anderson A4 Series with Picatinny Rails

Classically styled rifles, carbines and large-format pistols from one of America's most-popular AR builders.

Fightin' Iron: Those German Semi-Automatic Pistols

There are gun collectors who admire the craftsmanship and ingenuity of arms from other countries.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.