Fast Draw 101 with Howard Darby
 
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Fast Draw Tips

This page has been developed to boil down the tips found in the Fast Draw 101 videos, and provide direct links to those specific clips. Click the video icon Watch the video to view more details on the tip.

In addition, you are invited to submit your own tips to help your fellow Fast Draw shooters grow in the sport we all enjoy. Your tip may appear here, and in Fast Draw 101 or Facebook Live videos, with appropriate credit to you.

Make sure to like or subscribe to the FD101 Youtube, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages to keep informed of the tips being added to this page.

TIPS INDEX

 Guns
 The Draw
 Practicing Without a Timer
 Wax Bullets
 Blanks
 Miscellaneous

 Submit Your Own Tip


Guns

 .45 caliber is the size to buy for your Fast Draw gun. Some organizations only allow .45 caliber so that all shooters are using the same equipment, and also because the host supplies the ammo at many of the large contests. In addition, when shooting blanks you'll want to have as much powder in the shell as possible to break the balloon, and the .45 is the largest shell allowed in the sport.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 You can still try Fast Draw if you already own a smaller caliber single-action revolver. You can buy shells and wax bullets for .30, .32, .357, .38 or .44 caliber revolvers, and try it with the equipment you already have on hand.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 4 5/8" (sometimes called 4 3/4") is the barrel length most Fast Draw shooters will want. It's the shortest length allowed in the sport, and the shorter the barrel, the faster your draw. However, you can compete with longer barrels, so if you already have one you can use it in competition.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 If buying a Ruger Vaquero make sure to get the "Ruger New Vaquero" (this will be stamped on the frame). It has a smaller frame than the original Vaquero, and will hold up better to the stresses of a fast rotating cylinder.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Make sure you know the rules on modifying a gun before you start working on it. Check the rules of the association you want to compete in. If you're using the thumbing style you won't want to do any changes other than a tune job and maybe smoothing the hammer groves and removing the front sight.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video


The Draw

 Minimize the motion of your hand, arm, and body to speed up your draw. The less unnecessary movement in your draw, the faster it will be.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Understand your hand creep. Record yourself or have someone watch you as you're waiting for the light to come on to know if your hand is creeping away from the gun, or the index finger is entering the trigger guard while you're waiting for the light to come on.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Learn from your shots - both the hits and misses. After you fire a very good or very bad shot, make sure you pause a few seconds to understand what you did right or wrong.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Make your training sessions as much like competition as possible. Wear your cowboy boots so you're used to the feel and slight differences from other footwear, and make sure to have background noise so you're used to blocking that out while waiting for the light.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Trust the draw you've practiced. I often see new shooters line themselves up when they get ready, miss a shot, then move around to compensate. Trust the draw you've practiced, and don't immediately change your stance on one miss.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Clear your mind to get the fastest times. If you can go into an almost trance-like state while waiting for the light you'll find you'll get faster times than concentrating intensely.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video


Practicing Without a Timer

 Use a random start signal to become accustomed to drawing on command. There are a number of ways to create a random start signal to practice your draw:

  • Use your cell phone to record a few minutes of video with a light going on and off
  • Use the scene changes on your TV
  • Have a practice partner give you the "Set" signal, then turn on a light
  • Use a blinker in the circuit for your light

      Howard Darby   Watch the video
      Grey Archer (Grey Gun)   Watch the video (cell phone recording of the light)

 Use a laser to practice your accuracy. A laser that fits in a chamber of your cylinder is a great way to know where your shots are going without actually having to fire wax bullets or blanks.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video


Wax Bullets

 Treat shells with wax bullets with the same safety procedures you would a normal round. Wax bullets can still cause a lot of damage when not used correctly, so please use all normal firearm safety procedures.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Many shooters prefer Rio 209 primers, but Fiocchi, Nobel Sport and Cheddite are others that often work well. You may find other types of 209 primers back-out and jam your cylinder, but buy a packages of 100 primers from different manufacturers to find what works best in your gun.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Don't bother making wax shells with black/gun powder - that type of shell will only be used in contests where the host provides the ammunition. Stick with practicing with 209 shotshell primers, as it's easier and cheaper than making powder loads.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 You can convert a Lee Handloader into a wax bullet loader - use the video link to view details. It makes loading wax a breeze, and eliminates sore thumbs from stubborn wax.
      Shawn Murphy   Watch the video


Blanks

 Shells for blanks should have an enlarged flash hole to prevent primer back-out that can jam-up the cylinder.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Use a .45 shell full of 1F black powder for your practice blanks. I've tested many different types and recipes of powder mixtures in my blanks, and tested on large paper targets to determine the effective pattern that will break a balloon, and there is no detectable difference between a blank with 1F powder, and one with a faster burning kicker. A blank with a kicker at the bottom may be slightly faster than a blank with only 1F, and many people use them in competition, but for practice you can stick with the 1F that's easier to manufacture.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Fingernail polish will keep the wads in place. In humid conditions a sticker can come lose in your blanks, but a few spots of fingernail polish will keep them in place.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Use a .45 ACP box for your blanks instead of a regular .45 box (sometimes called .45 LC) so the shells don't bounce around as much.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video

 Use wax bullets and a round target to practice blanks. Place the target centered at the same height as you'd shoot the balloon. It's easier to use wax bullets than blanks since it doesn't require you stuffing the balloon after every shot, and uses quieter and easier to make ammunition. However, make sure to try some practice shots with your blanks before going to a contest to get used to the louder sound, and to make sure your blanks will successfully break a balloon.
      Howard Darby   Watch the video



Miscellaneous

 Compete in a Fast Draw contest for a priceless learning experience. As Nick Quick says, attending a contest is like a hundred practice sessions.
      Nick Quick   Watch the video



SUBMIT YOUR OWN TIP

If you'd like to help your fellow Fast Draw shooter by sharing your own tips, please use the form below to submit it to Fast Draw 101. In addition to including it here on the FD101 Tips page, your tip may also appear in a Fast Draw 101 video, or a Facebook Live "Quick Shot" video, along with appropriate credit to you. With your tip you can also submit your personal or club website URL to be linked with your name or alias, along with the URL to a video if you have one that demonstrates your tip (although this is definitely not required). If you prefer, you can remain anonymous.

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