How to open your car door

I am super excited to take my first vehicle gunfighting class with QSI Training later this month. I was lucky to serve as a test student for some of the material that will be covered in the class.

I consider myself an intermediate student, and I’ll tell you this: adding a car and passengers into the mix upped my heart rate and anxiety. I was also the driver for a test drill, and so I also had to remember to do stuff like put the car in park before bailing out and shooting.

So! In the interest of passing on some knowledge as well as trying to prepare my fellow co-students who are going to read this before the class, here’s something you can practice at home.

seat belt draw

Why you need to learn this

“Oh, Shepherd, we have opened our car doors a hojillion times, we don’t need you to tell us how to do it.”

Possibly. But I will guess that the way you open your car door now, especially when it comes to managing the seat belt, is not going to be conducive to bailing out and drawing your handgun.

Prior to the learning this technique I would undo my seat belt with my right hand, and then fish my left arm out of the seat belt and sort of lightly pimp slap it into position. I’d open the car door with my right (dominant) hand and exit the vehicle.

There are several things “wrong” with this approach when it comes to exiting the vehicle under duress.

  1. Without controlling the seat belt it is possible to get your body or your gear caught up in it.
  2. I was using my right hand for things other than drawing, or getting ready to draw, my pistol.
  3. If I had to draw my right-side pistol while seated, engage while inside of the vehicle, and also exit the vehicle during or immediately after an engagement, I’d trained myself to use my right hand to get out of the car. You might think, “well, I’d just use my left,” but the first time I did this with a practice gun I kind of sat there for a moment wondering WTF to do.

How to open your car door

Okay, so the important thing to remember is that the hand closest to the door is the hand you should use to manipulate the seat belt and door controls.

If you’re on the left side of the car, use your left hand. If you’re on the right side of the car, use your right hand.

Driver’s side:

  • Put your left thumb underneath the top (shoulder) part of the belt.
  • Undo the seat belt with your left hand.
  • Control the seat belt with your left hand. Bring it up and over the steering wheel if you are the driver.
  • While retaining control of the seat belt, open the door with your left hand.
  • Depending on your situation, skill level, and carry position, you may draw your handgun with your right hand at this time. If you’re a lefty, you’ve got the same problem us righties do when we’re passengers. In this case, draw your opposite side pistol if you have one.
  • Swing the seat belt wide and let go as you exit the vehicle.
  • If you have not already done so, draw your handgun as your left leg swings outside of the door frame. Make sure you are exercising good trigger finger discipline and do your best to not sweep yourself or anyone else.

Passenger’s side:

  • Put your right thumb underneath the top (shoulder) part of the belt.
  • Undo the seat belt with your right hand.
  • Control the seat belt with your right hand.
  • While retaining control of the seat belt, open the door with your right hand.
  • Are you carrying a pistol on your left side? Smart bastard. Depending on your situation, skill level, and carry position, you may draw your handgun with your left hand at this time.
  • Swing the seat belt wide and let go as you exit the vehicle.
  • If you have not already done so, draw your handgun as your right leg swings outside of the door frame. Make sure you are exercising good trigger finger discipline and do your best to not sweep yourself or anyone else.

Safety first

Do this with a practice gun or Airsoft gun until you are under direct supervision from a qualified firearms instructor in an appropriate environment. You can even skip the handgun part and just open the door with the appropriate hand. Start doing this every time you get out of a car, and you’ll be better prepared for class.

 

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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