Safety, What We Do and What We Don’t Do: Holstering

When people have their pistol go bang when it’s not supposed to, it tends to happen at a few distinct times.

  1. When holstering.
  2. When drawing.
  3. When cleaning (specially Glock).
  4. When pointing the pistol at someone/something (this is a unique case for civilians/law enforcement).

One of the great things about being a police firearms instructor was that we had 1000+ people with varying degrees of skill, training and genetic ability all receiving the same training. They received that training year after year. It was a great laboratory for the how and why things happen.

My general theory about a negligent discharge of the pistol is:

  • We place multiple procedures in our brain for one physical act.
  • We develop unconscious procedures for physical acts that need a conscious procedure.
  • We have poor, not well thought out procedures.
  • Rarely, we have equipment issues.

Let’s go down the list:

  1. Holstering: my procedure for holstering is as follows:
  • Remove my finger from the trigger and place it on the slide of the pistol (feel the finger in its spot).
  • Clear the cover garment. I use the same position for the draw and holster to make sure the clothing is out-of-the-way.
  • Look into the holster to find the foreign object such as empty shell casings. Remove objects if necessary.
  • Place the pistol into the holster up to the front of the trigger guard.
  • See my straight trigger finger outside of the holster.
  • Tilt the pistol muzzle out and away from my body, but not so far that the inside of the trigger is touching anything.
  • Finish holstering.

This is a good procedure. It will work well to keep clothing, foreign objects and your finger from obstructing the trigger. If you miss something and it goes bang you will not put a bullet in your body. But most shooters create a second unsafe procedure. They do so inadvertently by using block training.

When I see people practice their dryfire routine they usually use block training. Block training is good to initially learn how to perform a task. So if we learn the draw we will draw and then check the grip. Then holster and do it again, and again. But once my draw is consistent there is no value to block training. But there are problems that can arise if I continue to do it. Usually block training on the draw leads to fast draws and then fast holstering twenty or thirty times in a row. We do this because we, “Know” the pistol is empty. But our brains just turns it into a procedure. So when on the range you may consciously holster the pistol. You should do the same thing during dryfire. I like to use chaos/interleaved training. This allows me to draw, holster, reload, move, target transition, etc like it is the first time I did it that day but still get reps in. This allows me to concentrate on each procedure/task properly while still getting in repetitions.

Under stress the mind sometimes has a little short-circuit. Sometimes it will pick the wrong procedure and you will do it. This is specially true for unconscious procedures. So imagine that you get into a shooting and when you need a good procedure most, your mind has you just cram that pistol into the holster using your inadvertent dryfire holstering procedure. It’s better to have just one, proper procedure.

Next post will be for drawing…

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