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The Low Ready Position

The low ready position lets you to see danger and be prepared to handle it.


The low ready position is one that we use when we have not identified a specific violent threat, but we know that one may exist in our immediate area. You may use the position when you exit an area where a threat might exist, or as you move through your house, checking for the source of the noise that woke you up. The low ready position is, quite frankly, a very useful position for when you feel that danger may be close by.

Imagine that you have your defensive handgun in a two-hand hold, in either the Weaver or Isosceles position, and are aimed in on a target. The low ready position is accomplished by lowering the gun and arms to an area below the target without bending the arms. Should the target suddenly become a threat, the handgun can be quickly raised to the vital zone and a shot can be delivered.

How far you lower the handgun in the low ready position depends entirely on what is going on around you. Should you encounter a person in a highly suspicious situation, it would be advisable to have your defensive handgun lowered enough so that you can clearly see the hands and any item that he or she might be holding. In a house clearing situation, it would be advisable to keep the handgun low enough that you do not lead with it as you negotiate corners. That sort of move could give your position away and make it easier for the bad guy to take the gun away from you.

The most important thing about the low ready position is that your finger should be off the trigger and straight along the gun frame. You are using the low ready because you do not have a clearly identified threat, so there is no reason for your finger to be on the trigger. When an immediate threat is realized, there is plenty of time to go to the trigger as the gun is being raised to the target. Stumbling around a dark house with your finger on the trigger is not smart. Too many bad things can happen.

Now, I know that we've all seen the TV guys using the ready position where the handgun is being held right by the shooter's head, with the muzzle pointed up. The only place this works is on TV. In fact, there are some things that are really wrong with this position.

To begin with, we learned long ago that it is quicker and more accurate to bring a gun up into a target zone than to bring it down to the target, and it is much easier to focus on the target and not have it obscured by the movement of gun and arms. In addition, we let gravity help us stop the upward motion of the gun at the precise point that we want to deliver our shot.

Another weakness of the TV-ready position is that the crook can easily stiff arm the gun hand of the shooter and prevent the lowering of the handgun. Even a small woman can block a large man from lowering his handgun simply because her whole body has become part of the block.

In the low ready position, should a crook jump out and attempt to block the shooter from raising the handgun, the proper response is to just start shooting. The bad guy will quickly figure out that he has feet, shins, knee caps and other vital body parts in the general area that the citizen is delivering bullets. Even a really stupid bad guy can be expected to let go pretty quickly.

The low ready position also lends itself to movement. As you exit a bad situation, or as you move through your own house, remember to move your handgun in the same direction that your eyes move. Then, should you see an immediate threat, the gun is quickly raised to the vital zone and a shot can be delivered, if necessary.

Just remember to maintain a proper shooting grip when using the low ready position, but keep your finger off the trigger and straight along the gun's frame. With some practice, you can get on target and deal with a violent threat quickly and effectively.

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10 Responses to The Low Ready Position

Roy wrote:
May 03, 2012

As Bob Cat said, the compressed ready is good for extreme close quarter, and when you need to use the support hand to open doors, and such. The low ready is good for more wide open spaces, with less confinemen. Both options can be used as appropriate.

Ross wrote:
May 03, 2012

Jamie, Please don't consider the upward muzzle as safer. It is often called Hollywood, because it makes for great close-ups with the gun in frame. In the real world, it's called the suicide hold. It is unstable and any sudden impact to your body causes the gun to whip in your hand, often toward your own head. It's hard to gain your sight picture without first blocking your view falling, takeaways and everything else bad can be attributed to upward muzzle carry while clearing a house.

Bobcat wrote:
May 03, 2012

I prefer the compressed ready, as I was taught via the Valhalla method. It better protects against being stripped of your weapon, brings the sights to eye much more cleanly, and keeps the muzzle directed at the perceived threat at all times. Plus, I don't have to bring the firearm up using what are now two long levers; rather the firearm is brought to ready via a thrust forward. If extending is not possible, the firearm can be discharged from the compressed position with better effect than one directed at the floor. The one con is, particularly under stress, it's a dagnabbit uncomfortable position to maintain...

Jamie wrote:
May 03, 2012

My concern is that I have children in the home. If I am clearing the house, having the firearm pointing up instead of down 'feels' safer. Especially since there is only attic space above the main floor.

Greg Shepherd wrote:
May 03, 2012

Recently we have been taught to go to a “Compressed Ready” position when there is no known immediate threat. This is basically the point of aim position with the weapon drawn back to the body so the elbows can support on the body and the weapon remains level at the point of aim, finger off the trigger indexed along the frame. This position allows for very rapid reaction to any sudden threat by indexing the trigger and pressing. If time allows the arms are thrust directly forward toward the threat as sight alignment / sight picture is obtaine and the trigger is pressed. With very little practice this is a rapid deployment process from a combat ready position.

Brian wrote:
May 02, 2012

Good tips. Perhaps a follow up regarding position SUL could be next?

m-14 sniper wrote:
May 02, 2012

As a former police firearms instructor, I was instructed in teaching Weaver which I still belive to be the combat stance since you use the same basic stance for pistol,rifle,shotgun and is the almost identical to the tae kwon do sance. So I am copletely comfy and confident with a low ready for all sorts of situations. It is my automatic response to a lot of situations. What troubles me is just yesterday I watched a show with a clown 'expert' was extolling the virtues of the 'Hollywood Ready' which holds the gun along side your ear. The really bad thing is that people new to guns see this crap and also see there favorite T.V 'action hero' doing this and are convinced it's the right thing to do..I've seen so much garbage on.some of these shows it's scary. If you watch these shows on other than the outdoor channel be very carefull what you chose to use. Listen to Sherrif Jim Wilson & Mr Clint Smith. Smith was one of my instructors when I was a police officer. These two men know which way is up,unlike so many others.

Mike wrote:
May 02, 2012

Low ready has been around a long time, but has been replaced by what is known as the 'Suhl' position. You position your handgun pointed downward with gun hand rotated 90 degrees, with your support hand palm down underneath it. Your gun and both hands resting on your solar plexus or upper stomach. To get into action, just rotate your hands as you thrust your arms out. Faster, takes less time. Most Law Enforcement has been teaching it for several years now. Low ready is old school, and is being phased out.

Rick W. wrote:
May 02, 2012

One may also consider placing the support hand under the wrist of the shooting hand while moving to ensure not "shooting yourself in the foot"....literally

clint pirtle wrote:
April 30, 2012

I agree with low ready, good tactics. I teach the pelvic hold on a possible armed subject. You still see the waist and hands, trigger finger indexed until a threat presents itself. Fire until threat is not longer a threat. Pelvis, center mass and head can all be targeted quickly.