Skip to main content

Posted on December 3, 2020 by in Training

Teaching Movement In Concealed Handgun Classes


Master handgun instructor Dave Spaulding wrote an article titled “Shooting on the Move” in which he paid homage to Paul Howe. Howe was in the United States Army’s First Operational Detachment Delta and involved in multiple gunfights that took place in Mogadishu.  Spaulding wrote: In his article “Training for the Real Fight, or Avoiding Gunfight Fantasy” Howe addresses shooting on the move as follows: “It is a skill that all shooters aspire to learn and spend a great deal of time and effort trying to master. I have never had to use it combat. When moving at a careful hurry, I stopped, planted my feet, and made my shots.  When the bullets were flying, I was sprinting from cover to cover, moving too fast to shoot. If I slowed enough to make a solid hit under fire, I was an easy target, so I elected not to.”

The reason that this resonates with me is that much of the focus in many concealed handgun classes is on prevailing in gunfights. In my opinion, prevailing in a gunfight with one or more armed robbers, a carjacker, or a home intruder, as well as an attempted assault by multiple street criminals, does not necessarily mean that I need to shoot them until they stop.  It may take some effort on the reader’s part to draw a parallel between this objective and what Paul Howe described in his encounters with an armed mob governed by amoral warlords, but upon further examination it may become apparent that tactics that he used successfully included quick movement.

Instructors who may think that I have stumbled across something or who were already of the same opinion may wish to take a moment and ask themselves if they believe that movement drills might have a place somewhere in their concealed handgun classes. The main reason that I think that they might is that is if we concentrate solely on teaching students to remain in place, draw their handguns, and then focus on making good hits at  reasonably high speed we may be teaching them that this is the only one way to handle a life-or-death problem when perhaps better options are available.

There are multiple ways that students can move contingent upon the circumstances, including not limited to the following:

  • The student steps rapidly off-line one or two steps as they draw the handgun in order to perhaps catch the criminal offender off-guard who is only a few yards away. I think this tactic has merit for an intermediate-level student, but caution against teaching this to students who are still having to put much conscious effort into how to grip, draw, and get the concealed handgun into position where they could actually shoot it accurately.  Teaching this too early can turn a slow presentation from the holster into a really slow presentation from the holster. It is extremely important in my opinion that we make it abundantly clear to the students that they may be better off not using this as a tactic in a real-world situation until they have cleaned up their draw.

  • The student turns and runs laterally while drawing the handgun. Once the proper grip is established the student stops and plants their feet and turns while completing the draw and prepares to engage or actually engages the target. The objective is to create distance as quickly as possible and becoming a harder target to hit until such time return fire is possible. I think it would be applicable to a situation in which another person is still approaching who already has a gun in his or her hands, or is in the act of drawing a gun, or perhaps already shooting. This is a drill that Dave Spaulding teaches in his Adaptive Combat Pistol and Advanced Covert Pistol classes (and possibly other classes). Note: this is a drill that needs to be performed in dry-fire mode until such time it can be safely done in live-fire mode if more than one student is on the line.  If in doubt, instructors should always err on the side of caution.

  • The student runs to cover as quickly as possible without drawing the gun. Once cover is achieved, the student takes a position behind cover at least a full arms-length away (more is better), draws, and keeps as much of the body and head behind cover as possible while continuing to keep track of the position of the attacker using the eye closest to the edge of whatever object is being used for cover. The student can then engage from cover, remain in place until the attacker has left the area, or move to an even better position.

As both a long-time student and instructor, I find myself putting nearly as much time and effort into becoming a better tactician as I do a shooter. One of the things that I have discovered over time is that students, and especially new students, respond extremely well when exposed to simple tactics that make sense to them. Running away from danger of any kind is already a normal human default response. As instructors, all we are doing is making a few tweaks that can go a long ways in terms of increasing the chances that our armed students will “prevail” on the day that they might encounter that person or those persons who could care less if others are injured or killed by their actions.

Steve Moses

Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 26 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.