How fast is fast enough?

Speed in a real gunfight… How fast is fast enough?

By Will Farrugia – Training Director for Florida Firearms Training.

Jack Wilson is a former firearms instructor who on December 29th 2019 shot and killed a murderer in mid-rampage at the West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas. It took Jack (a seasoned shooter) 6 seconds from the bad guy’s first shot (that killed another security guard) to get his own pistol into action; take aim; and fire one perfect shot into the bad guy’s head at 45 feet, as the bad guy walked away from Jack.

A respectable shot indeed! Done under extreme stress on a moving threat. However, Jack had the distinct advantage that the bad guy was walking away and was unaware of Jack reaching for his own pistol, aiming and ultimately shooting at him. The bad guy was otherwise occupied targeting other innocent parishioners and thus giving Jack that extended amount of time he needed to get his own shot off. We thank God that this was the case.

As students of gun fighting we have to ask, what if the bad guy was walking towards Jack from 45 feet away? How much time would Jack have had to observe the threat; decide on a response; draw and shoot?.. No one knows, but I think we can all agree that it would have been a lot less than 6 seconds.

Is this something you train for? So what can you do in 1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds, or 6 Seconds? From the concealed carry…

History proves that to win pistol fights you need to 1. Be quick. 2. Be accurate. 3. And Be WILLING to do what needs to be done without hesitation.

Food for thought eh!


Me and a friend often compete with each other with a timer drawing from the holster and firing a set number of rounds. Penalties for misses…


Even though I think speed is important (when paired with an equal part accuracy), I sometimes get uncomfortable in 2A circles with the emphasis on quick draw. The odds that you’ll find yourself facing Trinity at high noon are extremely rare. And being the quickest means Jack Squat if you miss, or worse, hit the wrong target.

From that perspective, I’ll answer the question with the old adage “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Focus on having a good draw and a good hit. One slow hit is better than 6 fast misses. “Fast enough” depends on the situation, so train for realistic situations.


Perfectly said and couldn’t agree more


The speed vs accuracy is why I like this drill. We usually do one or two targets around 7 to 10 yards. Set number of rounds to be fired, often with a reload.

When the timer goes off, you draw and shoot the number of rounds at the specified target. We have silhouette steel targets with smaller targets for center mass and one for head shots. Shots inside the lines, no time penalty. Out of the target, but on the steel, -1 second. Miss is -3 seconds. Gives you a good idea of how important that .25 or so second pause (guessing on time there) to acquire a good sight picture is.

So, if you get 3 super fast hits, and 3 misses, you loose 9 seconds in scoring… Fun practice drill. I also practice drawing on target and NOT shooting, just so I don’t always pull the trigger when I draw.



We can discuss how fast is fast enough… but there is no clear answer… until we have to shoot :grimacing:
I’d say staying alive is more important, so lateral movement out from the line is going to be first step.
Then we follow: “slow is smooth and smooth is fast” taking a shot.


@Chris3 - that is a cool drill :ok_hand:


You touch on another sore spot I have, that in the race to shoot faster, some coaches ignore the feet. Get to cover. Move out of the line of fire. Don’t stand there like Wile E. Coyote watching the train approaching. Maintain your distance- it’s not running away, it’s buying time.

I’m not saying that speed is unimportant, or that there may be times you need to stand your ground and shield those behind you. I’m just saying that learning to shoot fast is incomplete training, unless you’re a trick shot at the circus.


@Ouade5, just have just written the most important thing - “buy your time”.
Speed is important, but with speed we loose accuracy. Buying the time gives us opportunity to take the shot accurately.

We should practice the speed, but gunfight is not a race track. We have to trick the assailant at the very beginning to win the fight. Unexpected move is the best friend. :point_up:


Improving our situational awareness, will likely buy us additional time.


Excellent points. I just don’t have a range I can do much moving and shooting at all. I do some dry practice while moving.


I absolutely agree. I see these guys in TV shows getting shot from behind, or suddenly from right in front of them. There is NO WAY I could draw anything fast enough to defend myself in those cases. If, however, I see a reflection of the guy behind me I can turn to let him know I see him. And if I notice the guy in front of me reaching into his pocket and leaning into my path even slightly, I can lock my eyes onto his. In either case, I might be ready to draw in the event of an assault.

There is a fine line between paranoia and situational awareness, but there might be no way back from a lapse in attention.


In my humble opinion, we are not gunfighter nor we ever be. Being astutue to the comings and goings of other people is key. I very good point was made about staying mobil, move you feet, find cover and if needed draw a fine bead on the target and fire if that is the last thing. At 72 years old my days of the 4 minuite mile are over, but making myself into a small target is still possible. defense of my family is paramont, but I have found that Old Men cheat, we use Lasers and lights. Nothing says TARGET like a laser shineing on somebody’s torso. By the way I like green lasers best. I have had to use the laser effect one time years ago, worked then I am sure it will work now. Laser on target, target gone, problem solved.



Anyone watch Active Self Protection on youtube? The host John Correia calls it “waiting your turn” where you effectively wait until the attacker’s attention is turned elsewhere for a moment and then draw. You will never outrace a drawn weapon pointed at you. Never.

IIRC he says about 2s is a good standard for a civilian CCW, 1.5s is a good standard for LEO/MIL (holster w/retention), and 1s and below is competitive shooting level. Those seem like pretty decent goals to keep in mind.

In several of his videos I’ve seen him say things like “if you had a 1s draw, the defender could have drawn here, but he doesn’t so he has to wait for the attacker to turn further away”.


The wisest words I ever heard are “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast!” It basically is saying practice, practice practice. Start slow and stay smooth. With practice slow will become faster but stay smooth.


A SIRT pistol is great for training for movement. It’s also safe for 360 degrees and while they are expensive to purchase, over the long haul, they save a ton on ammo expenses.


This is just an opinion. We all know opinions are like noses, we all have one.
First you have got to have and constantly work on situational awareness, that
is key in my opinion. Second I do not believe if you got to the point where
you are drawing your weapon you would try and target acquire. The bad guy
is already upon you - when you draw you would bring the weapon to the center
of your body and squeeze the trigger. Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch would
say, even if you wound the attacker they are now bleeding - that is a good thing.
This one shot may change the attackers mind and leave, if not you now have
time to target acquire and stop the threat. The key part here is stop the threat.
Just my 2 cents. Keep your head on a swivel, carry, be safe. Mike_T


yes…yes…situational awareness, be prepared to move away from if able, dry fire, trigger memory, no time for target acquire…seconds count…or milli seconds…stop the threat! As larry84 stated, the 4 minute mile is over for me…Clint Smith great fellow!

The mrs and I have trained in high stress, high adrenaline situations. Each of us will handle stress and adrenaline different. The mrs was more methodical and smooth, yet accurate, than I. The point being each of us handled and performed the drills differently, yet having the same end results.


In the majority of situations simply going for your gun is the wrong decision. Moving is almost always the right decision. While it is important that you are able to draw and shoot in a timely matter, it is important to understand that shooting with both hands at full extension is likely to be unrealistic. better to train for a one handed,gun close to body draw stroke and be able to hit consistently out to 3 yards. If you have time you can always extend and join. Obviously your carry method will dictate what type of draw stroke is feasible which is why strong side hip is the most flexible safest method to draw from.