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Hendon Publishing

Modern-Day Quick Draw

In Louis L’Amour’s short story titled Booty for a Badman

, Tell Sackett’s father says to him, “Son, you ever need that gun, you’ll need it in your fist, not in no holster.”

As a teenager, I was a big fan of L’Amour. At one time or another, I owned every book he published. While his novels were works of fiction, I learned a lot about real life. In addition to lessons on courage, integrity and loyalty, I actually learned some things that aided me later as I embarked upon a career in law enforcement. Before I even stepped foot in the police academy, I knew never to sit with my back to the door, never to stand in front of a window and, most importantly, if I wanted to be “handy with a shooting iron,” I knew I had to practice…and practice a lot.

As a young officer, it did not take me long to realize that the “quick draw” was not some obsolete technique that had died off with the gunfighters of yesteryear. Rather, it was a necessary part of my survival repertoire and it was as important as the other fundamentals of marksmanship. I realized there might be times when an armed suspect had the “drop” on me and I would have to play catch-up in a hurry if I wanted to survive, so I spent countless hours practicing the seemingly simple act of getting my pistol out of my holster.

I practiced the quick draw in conjunction with live-fire drills and I made it a part of my regular firearms training at the range. I exercised economy of motion and focused on being smooth, while allowing the speed to develop with time. I incorporated shoot/don’t shoot drills into my quick draw exercises and I varied my arm extension, as I wanted to be prepared for armed suspects in close quarters as well as suspects who were threatening me from a distance.

I began acquiring the ability to accurately point-shoot from the hip and I supplemented my live-fire range time with home training, where I would practice the quick-draw in my living room every night. I also practiced the quick draw from a seated position in my cruiser, from various other positions, and while wearing plainclothes. If I could imagine being attacked in a certain position under certain circumstances, I would practice the quick draw with that scenario in mind.

Once I was recruited to my local SWAT team, I realized some of the techniques I had adopted from reading Westerns were actually taught in close-quarter battle training. As I grew into my position on the entry team and then later as a sniper, I also realized that Sackett’s advice did not have to be restricted to handguns.

As law enforcement officers of all levels, we can apply his advice to every weapon we carry. While the quick draw might seem to work obviously for all of the weapons attached to our duty belt, it can—and should—also apply to long guns, even sniper rifles. If you work as a sniper, you do not want to be fumbling with keys, doors, trunk lids or rifle cases while lives are hanging in the balance. Thus, you should continuously practice getting your rifle into your hands until you can do so without thought and as quickly as possible.

You should begin this training immediately, since you do not know when your next callout will be. Even if you are the greatest sniper to have ever walked this land and you are called to a situation requiring immediate action, your training and greatness will be for naught if you cannot get that rifle into your hands in time to save a life. As Mr. Sackett would say, “Son, you ever need that sniper rifle, you’ll need it in your fists, not in no Pelican case.”


BJ Bourg is the chief investigator for the Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office. He has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience and has served in various capacities, including patrol, investigations, training and special operations. He can be reached at

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2014

Rating : 9.0

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Thank you!

Posted on : Jun 24 at 8:57 PM By BJ Bourg

Thank you for commenting, Earl!

Good stuff!

Posted on : Jun 23 at 7:50 AM By Earl Staggs

Very interesting, BJ. I had no idea the quick draw was still important to lawmen, but everything you said makes good sense. All the best to you, my friend.

Thank you!

Posted on : Jun 3 at 9:57 AM By BJ Bourg

Thank you for commenting, Mr. West! It's always nice to meet a fellow L'Amour fan. I didn't have a dad growing up, and I've said many times that Louis L'Amour raised me to be the man I am today.

Same here!

Posted on : Dec 27 at 6:15 PM By J West

It delighted me to read your article, as I learned many of the same lessons the same way. What my father didn't teach me about tactics and wilderness survival, Louis L'Amour did!

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