Concealed Carry Corner: Is Retention Shooting A Good Idea?

Matt E
by Matt E
Concealed Carry Corner: Is Retention Shooting A Good Idea?

Welcome back to another edition of Concealed Carry Corner. Last week, we talked about the best carry positions based on your daily tasks. If you missed last week’s episode, be sure to click the link here to check out the article. This week, I wanted to talk about a training I did with some local trainers about handgun manipulation in tight spaces. They went through how to properly draw a firearm from retention as well as how to clear rooms with less-than-ideal entryways. Let’s take a closer look at the answer to the question “Is retention shooting a good idea?”.

Concealed Carry Corner @ TFB:

The Point of Shooting From Retention

The idea of shooting from retention is not a new one. Back in the days of the Wild West, cowboys and gunfighters would do quick draws from their holsters and shoot from the hip. Fast forward 200 years and shooting from retention is still a concept being taught. The basic concept of shooting from retention is the concept of not being able to fully draw your firearm and only being able to shoot close to the body to get the threat either away from you or stop the threat. The basic concept is understandable but there are some rather serious safety concerns.

The Pros

Shooting from retention can be a real asset in certain situations but it’s not a catch-all for self-defense and there’s a specific time and place to use this technique. Certain police departments are starting to teach their officers how to fire their firearms from retention in an effort to keep their officers safe. Having the knowledge to shoot from retention can be an incredible life-saving tool if used correctly.

When put into a corner or into confined spaces, it sometimes is an option to pull your firearm and push out to a proper shooting stance with your arms. If an attacker is up close and within the space, having the ability to draw your firearm and confidently fire your handgun in defense can certainly change the outcome of a dangerous situation. Even if the shots from shooting retention hit in the stomach or lower abdomen, that will hopefully give you enough time to make distance and allow you to put shots on target from a distance with a stable shooting stance. In the right situation, shooting from retention can at least give you enough time to put distance in between you and your attacker to then fire accurate shots to stop the threat.

The Cons

With the inclusion of retention shooting in John Wick and other films, people seem to think it’s plausible from a distance and use it as a technique when it’s really a niche tool that’s applicable in a very specific situation. One of the biggest issues with shooting from retention is the dangers that come with shooting from the hip. I’ve shot for over 25 years now and I still felt uncomfortable shooting from retention. If you’re going to try shooting from retention, it’s important to have either a qualified instructor or a competent person with you to walk you through it.

Making shots on target can be tricky as well but running the drill without live ammunition can be a huge help instead of just jumping in with live fire and trying it with no prior knowledge. The second issue with retention shooting is the fact you have to be extremely close to hitting roughly where you intended to fire. People watch movies now and expect to hit from 10 yards or more when in reality this is when you’re stuck in a corner with no way out and the attacker is within one yard. It’s a last-ditch effort to earn space from you and your target and not the first thing you should go to in a self-defense situation.

When is it OK to Use

As stated earlier in the article, shooting from retention should be within 3 yards from the target with no other way to back up. This technique is only useful at extremely close distances as a last resort. I would recommend fighting with your hands rather than drawing a weapon at such close distances. Realistically, I know depending on your age or physical level this may not be an option.

It’s certainly an option but being so close to your attacker, it could go bad for the person trying to defend themselves if the attacker grabs the gun. With enough training and practice, shooting from retention can be a valuable skill for situations. it’s important to remember, that pulling your firearm in self-defense is unlikely throughout your life, and being cornered is even more unlikely than that. Shooting from retention is good to learn once you become an advanced shooter but it’s something you will probably never have to use. I would practice it once just to understand the concept and then go back to doing more mainstream training since that will help in any situation.

Overall Thoughts

For most people, shooting from retention can offer more problems than actual solutions. It’s important to understand that while it’s a valuable tool for close-range attacks, retention shooting offers its own set of risks. If you’re confident with a firearm, learning how to shoot close range through a reputable trainer isn’t a bad idea. If you’re just starting out with carrying concealed or new to firearms, I would steer clear of retention shooting for now. It’s such a rare occurrence in the real world, but it’s not a bad thing to know down the road. Overall, I’m happy I learned it but I won’t practice that skill very often personally.

Let me know your thoughts on shooting from retention. Is it a valuable skill to practice or do you think there are other skills you should be practicing instead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you have questions about carrying concealed or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there and I will see you next week on another edition of Concealed Carry Corner.

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Matt E
Matt E

I'm an avid shooter and love educating whether it's at my job or in the shooting community. I'm an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions.I'm active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator.

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2 of 30 comments
  • Joe R. Joe R. on Oct 01, 2023

    Use a shoulder holster and you don't even have to draw to point your weapon at somebody's head.

  • Xtphreak Xtphreak on Oct 01, 2023

    I'm .... well let's postulate, over 65.

    I've got a bad right shoulder (motorcycle crash, then structural repairs with titanium, then Desmoid tumor, then surgery to remove said tumor and the hardware, then 56.5 gray of radiation to kill remaints of said tumor, then 2 cleanup rotator cup surgeries because the radiation cooked the cartilage).

    I went to cross draw until I got to where I can lift my wing high enough to draw strong side.

    I've got a bad disc L3-L4.

    I walk with a cane because occasionally my sciatic nerve lights up and my left leg isn't stable.

    My cane is a solid aluminum rod 7/8" tapered to 5/8" powder coated black for obscurity with a solid aluminum derby handle.
    It's known in my family as my "Whacking Stick".

    Rather than join in fisticuffs at close range with an assailant, I'll always go to weapons.

    That may be my cane or it may be my Sig 938 w/ 150 gr HSTs or my old Hinkle folder with the "Flickit" I bought thru an ad in Easyriders magazine back in the 70s.

    Shooting from retention with the Sig in cross draw means blading my left side to the attacker, countering a rush with the cane while drawing and shooting under my over shirt/jacket from waist level.

    No "going to hands".

    That's why I carry weapons.

    I've got a t-shirt that says

    Too slow to run
    Too old to fight
    I'll just kill you and be done with it.