Shooting from retention or from the clinch is an under appreciated skill that should honestly see more practice from the shooters who conceal carry a pistol routinely. There is a good chance that a concealed carry self defense based situation will occur within extremely close proximity to the target, a fully extended shot may not be possible or at the very least ideal. When it is preferable to shoot from retention, it must be done in a manner that negates self inflicted damage and optimizes shot placement on the target. To accomplish this effectively, the individual should train thoroughly in the required techniques or risk inadequate performance in the face of real world violence and ultimately failure with it’s attached consequences.

First and foremost, shooting from retention is an advanced technique and before attempting any “high speed shit” the individual should have a subconscious grasp of the fundamentals. To begin the technique the shooter should have a solid grasp of drawing a weapon smoothly and safely.  On a side note, wrist strength and forearm exercises are a great way to make tight firearms motions easier and aid in “locking down” the gun when firing in such an unorthodox position. The gun should be canted or held away from anything (including the shooters body) that may prevent the weapon from cycling correctly.

To start the technique the shooter should execute a draw as they normally would; up until the pull from the holster step. Instead of extending out at the target as you would with a standard draw and shoot, the gun is held tight to the body in a manner that orients the muzzle towards the target and clears the shooters extremities. Remember, if you don’t carry condition one (round chambered) then add an extra step in there, e.g. rack the slide in a confined manner, therefore making the weapon actually  dangerous. By “locking down” the gun (often to the shooters hip) and preventing any motion other than the recoil impulse, not only does the shooter stabilize the weapon into a repeatable state but also prevents the target from misdirecting the weapons line of fire (or at the very least makes it a more difficult task). It also makes it much harder to wrestle the weapon out of the shooters hand/s during a struggle if one should occur. This clinched state of the physical body is also a natural response to physical external influences attempting to grab or snag you; think slipping past a hole in a fence, you tend to “scrunch up” to make your profile smaller.

The technique of shooting this way, once perfected, can be paired with physical techniques (or several) often involving the offhand (or non-holstering hand) and sometimes the draw hand. Strikes, grabs and shoves can all be incorporated into the technique of drawing and shooting. To be honest, it will probably be required in a real world situation that requires retention based shooting. Of course after the initial shots are made, it is at the shooters discretion to “create space” or maintain distance. As always, situation will dictate. Just remember to train on the fundamentals of any given technique, especially marksmanship, more than anything because a strong foundation is more important than fancy maneuvers.

Some possible applications for this technique are in a vehicle, bathroom stall, chimney, a crowded area, closet, bunker; I don’t know use your imagination. There are a million “what if’s” out there but as long as you practice the fundamentals and keep an adaptive mentality you will be a fairly well rounded shooter. Just remember to keep positive situational awareness and train for reality.

Pictures supplied by the Author