Sunday, August 3, 2014

Long Pants

Ankle holsters fill the bill for several functions.  

small 5 shot back up revolver
Typical backup gun

The CCW crowd needs to carry concealed but other than practice seldom draws and fires.  For them the ankle holster is easy to conceal, comfortable to wear, and still relatively accessible with a little practice.  It absolutely shines when you have to draw from a car seat or in a booth in a restaurant.

For the police, faced with greater danger, it serves as a great backup weapon in uniform and off-duty.  Again, it’s easy to conceal, comfortable to wear, doesn’t fall out if you have to run, and for special circumstances, like off-duty or plainclothes, it is perhaps the only concealable weapon you can carry.

To introduce shooters to ankle carry and to motivate them to get a little training, we set up a three stage fun course just for ankle guns.  We scored it like IDPA and offered to loan holsters and equipment out.  All the strings were limited to 5 rounds max, no reloading.

First String involved remaining seated at a table and engaging two near targets with one head shot each (don’t hit the no-shoots) and then stopping the target at three yards with two center of mass hits.

seated at the table engage the shoot targets
String One

Shooter has engaged the first two targets and is now shooting the third, more distant target under the watchful eye of the SO.

String Two had shooters drawing and engaging the three-yard target with one head shot and two center-of-mass hits to each target at four and six yards.  Again, don’t hit the no shoot.

shooter has drawn and is engaging the three shoot targets
Shooter has options of standing or kneeling, depending on their draw.

The shooter can stand or kneel as they see fit.  I found remaining kneeling to be the fastest.

String Three was different.  Three shoot targets stretched out over 9 yards.  The shooter moves between the targets shooting at least one with a head shot and the others with two to the center of mass.  The shooter picks distances to shoot at based on their abilities and confidence levels.

draw from ankle holster and engage one target with ahead shot, the remaining with two body.
String three.  A simple set-up but with surprising results.

Most shooters chose to advance on target 3 after shooting target 2 instead of shooting from there.

All of these courses of fire reflect my paradigm that using an ankle gun will be a relatively up-close and personal thing.  I suspect you will not be taking sniping shots at a target 20 yards away.  The five round limit forces you change your typical response of double-tapping everything.

What did we find out?
The right pants are a requirement!!!  Jeans and slacks with form-fitting legs, including some 511s, took more effort and gave more trouble than looser pants.  I had Tru-Spec on and had no trouble. Just so you know, the Tru-Spec people don’t know I exist.  I just like their pants!

There are few graceful ankle draws, so get over it.  The draw is slow and looks off balance with one exception.  Drawing from a seated position can be done so smoothly nobody realizes you have a gun in your hand.  In a car or restaurant while seated, the movement is almost undetectable.  The holster comes up to the dominant knee while the shooting hand slips under the table, pulls the pant leg up and accesses the gun.  Of course, the right pants make all the difference.

Not all ankle holsters are created equal.  You want to avoid those holsters that secure the weapon with a strip of Velcro attached to the outside of the holster.  Avoid holsters that take two hands to unsnap and the draw the gun.  Some holsters cant the gun to better conceal it or to insure you don’t need to roll your pant leg up to the knee.  Your preference, unfortunately, must be found out by trial and error.  I prefer to have the gun parallel to my tibia.

Several people didn’t want to kneel to draw.  I do.  With one knee down you’re more stable, your head is upright and scanning for more danger.  You’re a smaller target, but in any case, you are less mobile and you should consider moving to a different location.  If you need to shoot immediately you can; you don’t have to straighten up.

If you choose your spot right by using cover and concealment, you could become significantly less visible.  Done in the open, you’ll stand out from the rest of the people no matter what you do.

We also saw that pushing the gun out and onto a target 18-30 inches away works fine.  This is a specific form of point shooting.  Both front and rear sights are visible in your vision, but you are more pointing than aiming.  This is not the elbow-on-hip point shooting that Bill Jordan is famous for but the style of shooting that Bill Fairbairn developed while cleaning up the Crown colony of Shanghai before WWII. 

With increased distance it becomes important to use your front and rear sights, but the quick transition from point shooting to using both the front and rear sights was difficult.

Several people used a laser to find their aim point.  It was slow and time consuming especially since most laser dots at that distance were hidden by the bulk of the gun.

The limiting factors on all the strings appear to be the speed and smoothness when drawing from the ankle holster.  This is governed by the equipment and your skill level.  Practice, Grasshopper.

String three caused most shooters to run up to the target and shoot it.  This was unexpected behavior.  The COF specified all three had contact weapons, so perhaps violence of action would have worked.  What I had in mind was a balancing act between the time to takes to cover a distance and time spent not shooting.  Understand? 


I played with a lot of numbers, made assumptions and when I finished, still had nothing I would want to pass along other than a concept. 

If the targets were real bad guys they would experience and react to the passage of time just as the shooter does.  The .38 Spl covers 9 yards so fast both you and the target are essentially frozen in time the instant the bullet leaves the barrel.  Taking two or three steps may make the shot easier, but it gives the last target/bad guy time to utilize lethal force.  Perhaps the optimal solution is superior marksmanship with the weapon at hand.  

The decision to waste time to gain an advantage on a target at 9 yards distant is completely negated by being able to hit at these distances.

You cannot argue that fast, accurate shooting has no relationship to survival in a lethal force encounter, period.  If fast time is related to survival, then a second faster makes a difference.

And then again, as one shooter said “If I was the bad guy and just saw our victim (you, the good guy) step up and shoot my buddy in the head, turn and start shootin’ the other guy, I’d get my ass out of there!”

Drawing from the ankle holster.
The first and most obvious step is to get the pant leg out of the way. Grab the fabric on both sides below the knee.  If one hand slips off the fabric the other hand insures getting the fabric out of the way.  The knee should be straight.

Pull the fabric up as high as possible. 

White sock not required!

If Cole Porter thought a glimpse of stocking was something shocking, you want to blast them with a lot bare leg

Now you need to let go of the fabric with just your shooting hand and grasp the gun. Let the non-shooting hand hold the fabric out of the way.  You need to pop open any retention devices.  I kneel for this because I can shoot from the kneeling position.  If I bend over, I need to straighten up first.  In any case it is import to get your best possible grip, because you may not have time to change it.

Get your shooting grip before your draw.

Pop the gun straight up out of the holster.  Remember, you have been in this position for several seconds making yourself a fixed target for incoming rounds.  Consider moving to a new location, even if it is just a step.

Since the holster goes under the sock, some people find wearing the holster against skin abrasive.  You have to be truly dedicated or slightly kinky, to continuing doing something that becomes painful.  

Note liner sock under holster and concealment sock over holster.

One trick is to double sock it.  Wear a thin liner sock under the holster and then your normal one over the holster.

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