The “Play Like You
Practice” Thing …

Realistic practice conditions are critical
; .

Mas drills on drawing and firing a GLOCK 26 from under a suit coat.

It’s axiomatic — we “play like we practice,” and therefore should be “building our repetitions” with the same gear, even the same clothing, and as much as possible the same conditions we’re likely to encounter on “game day.” If the game in question is defensive shooting then it’s really no “game” at all, and the stakes are very, very high.


These Florida Highway Patrol troopers are qualifying in uniform with their issue GLOCKs
— a realistic approach. In cold weather, practice drawing from under heavy coats and
shooting with winter gloves.

Dress for (Defensive Practice) Success

For concealed carry, it makes sense to practice drawing from what you’re likely to be wearing in an actual defensive situation. Quick draw from open carry can actually be counterproductive to the concealed carrier because it usually won’t incorporate the movement pattern you need to clear the cover garment.

Do you have to wear suits, as I do for court and such? A suit jacket, particularly in tropical weight, may not be as easy for the drawing hand to clear back as, say, a photographer’s vest. In hot weather, my typical casual garb is a T-shirt under an untucked, open-front Columbia style shirt. The light fabric will be slower for the drawing hand to clear than, say, the stiff canvas-like material of the Armadillo vest I might wear for maximum speed concealed carry draw in an IDPA match.

What about cold weather? Heavy weather clothing can prevent full arm extension for some who favor the Isosceles stance; the bent arms of a Weaver stance might work better. Have you worked with reaching under, say, the topcoat and suit coat you might use to cover your gun in Sunday-go-to-church garb? Leaving the inner jacket unbuttoned and the outer coat fastened no lower than the solar plexus will still allow strong side hip draw — if we’ve practiced it.

I remember about 30 years ago at an early National Tactical Invitation event when Jeff Cooper acolyte Mark Moritz competed wearing a suit jacket. He got an award for High Realist. Made sense to me.

Winter gloves make the pistol harder to hold. A finger with thick glove may apply trigger pressure early in a handgun with small trigger guard, such as a 1911, and may block trigger return on a double action revolver after the first shot. A gloved thumb may fumble with a manual safety or decocking lever. Gotta try it to know.


The traditional double action auto like this SIG Legion P229 9mm works well in those conditions.

Uniform Considerations

As a police firearms instructor, I always tried to get each officer to qualify in full uniform instead of utility fatigues or jeans and T-shirts at least now and then. A tailored Class A uniform can bind the arms in certain shooting positions, and even limit flexibility in kneeling and other types of “position shooting.”

Body armor can also limit range of movement. I’ve seen big guys whose ability to shoot from an arms-extended Isosceles was hampered by a frontal vest panel too large for them, or too rigid. Sometimes, a person’s build is such they can just barely reach a strong-side hip holster with their weak-side hand if the gun arm is taken out of play, and the body armor adds just enough girth they can no longer do so. If you were the officer, wouldn’t you want to find out beforehand and compensate with a backup gun where the non-dominant hand can reach it in a worst case scenario?

“You Play Like You Practice” is real. And, as noted, it goes beyond the guns and the holsters.

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