The cloth poncho is awesome. Generally made of wool, these exist to keep you warm, or to block wind. I got one back in 2015 as a part of a costume, however, I ended up really enjoying it as a piece of utilitarian apparel. Now, what if we cross the poncho, with needing to employ a handgun? We see it all the time in Westerns, but how about in the 21st century? How much does a wool poncho affect your ability to shoot well?
Why a Wool Poncho?
Well, they look cool, as a starter. I'm a dork, but hey, if Clint Eastwood can make a rug with a hole for your head cool, I can attempt to replicate that. On top of giving you a +5 to your fashion and charisma stats, they help out with keeping you warm. The one I've used for nearly a decade is fairly long, and hangs down to my knees. With the wool poncho basically being a wearable rug, we've got a pretty comfy getup.
Aside from being warm and comfy, we can be ever-so-slightly covert with a poncho. You can hide your hands under it, which may be helpful in certain scenarios. I wear mine fairly often, and I wanted to see how much it would impact my ability to draw, and fire my primary carry handgun.
I devised some pretty basic, but even testing to see how much my poncho effected my shooting ability. What did I do?
The testing is quite simple; I shot a bunch of Vicker's Tests to compare how the poncho effected my shooting. For each drill, I shot them from AIWB concealment. I used the same gun for each specific duo of drills shot. For the first two runs, it was my Glock 17 Gen5, and for the last two, a Glock 45 Gen 5. I shot one Test without the poncho, and one Test with it. This was done four times, over two separate range trips.
On the first trip, I actually had a fluke. I shot both Tests, and shot better with the poncho on. Needless to say, I was kinda shocked here.
I shot a 7.44 Test, with perfect score wearing the poncho. My poncho-less score was 98, in .04 seconds more time. This was baffling. I shot video for this, however, my camera crapped the bed.
For the second run, I shot in a manner that lined up more with what I had expected.
For the poncho-less run, we scored 98, with a time of 6.90. The poncho run was shot with a score 98, in 8.4 seconds.
For the third set of Tests, we again had similar results to #2. Our rug-less run was shot with a perfect score, in 7.35 seconds. The rug run was also a perfect score, but shot in 7.85 seconds.
For the final run, our results were consistent. 96 points and 6.98 time for no rug, and 97 points and 7.74 with the rug on. What results can we pull from this?
I'm not the best "numbers guy", but I can try. Looking at the score, it was nearly the same for wearing the poncho or not. I'm not going to bother with scoring, as each drill was not only a pass, but generally high scored. However, I will look at the time, which was the biggest thing I thought the poncho would impact.
For shooting without the poncho, the average time (mean) was 7.18 seconds. That is time to pull cover garment, draw gun, present, and empty 10 rounds into the target.
For poncho'd shooting, the average time (mean) was 7.86 seconds. Again, we need to do all of the prior steps, but now we also need to work in clearing the poncho.
Looking at the time, the poncho shooting was nearly 7/10ths of a second slower than without the rug. Obviously, when we add more cover garments to clear, that adds more time to getting the gun out. On top of that, we have to clear the cover garment in a different manner. Unlike a jacket or coat, we have to sweep to the side to get the gun presented. This lead to a really strange presentation (at least for me), which made the shooting even harder. We are creatures of habit, and throwing a wrench in the works adds time.
So I was slower, and needed more brainpower to shoot well with the poncho on.
Is a Wool Poncho for You?
Well, I'm not here to tell you what you should or shouldn't wear. I'm not your mom. I like the comfort and warmth that the poncho brings, but it's up to you to decide if you wanna drape one over your shoulders.