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Monday Morning Gomez: Five Year Old Kung Fu (Pistol Ready Positions)

Kindergarten age kung fu — what does it have to do with pistol ready positions? Today's Monday Morning Gomez will explain. Don't forget – one of the best training opportunities you'll see this year is coming up fast. Get enrolled soon.

Pistol Ready Positions

Paul Gomez

One thing I have not seen much of are more complete discussions of ready positions. There are guys who  use and promote a low ready, others who use variations of chest ready or high ready, but I do not see a lot of discussions of the variations, particularly of the high ready positions.

The classic ready position would be a low ready. The classic low ready gun slant would have the weapon all the way locked down, support side elbow against the body and the gun would be mounted to target from there. This form of low ready would have the weapon pointed at the ground in front of the target, not pointed at the bad guy, gun at full extension.

Paul Gomez Classic Ready Position

More recently another form of low ready has been taught. In this version the weapon is dropped low enough to see the hands or the waist of the bad guy, but no lower. Again the weapon is at full extension.

Paul Gomez - More Recent Ready Position

My problem with these ready positions is the location of the gun relative to the body. These ready positions put the weapon at full extension away from the shooter's body, creating issues with regard to weapon retention. Someone could come in from the side and get between the shooter's wrist and shoulder where they would actually have better physical control of the gun than does the shooter. The further the gun is from the body, the greater these weapon retention issues. The closer the gun is to the body, the more control the shooter will have of the pistol.

Paul Gomez - weapon retention ready positions

The closer to the body your weapon is, the more positive control you will have (i.e. ability to retain the weapon in a struggle with someone who wants to either take it away or redirect it).

I am not a fan of any extended ready position. For years I taught a ready position that had the weapon at count 3 of drawstroke, weapon in the horizontal. This is a very quick position to shoot from and a very quick position from which to get the gun on target. Depending on the range to the threat, the size of threat, the amount of movement required, etc., the shooter could begin engaging from there prior to the gun reaching full extension. Obviously for a smaller or rapidly moving target, a threat requiring a more precise shot, the shooter would not be breaking the trigger until the weapon is at full extension.

Paul Gomez Horizontal Muzzle Ready Position

More recently I have taken to using an elevated muzzle ready position.

Paul Gomez High Muzzle Scanning Ready Position

The reason I prefer this is that it is a both a scanning position and good moving position wherein the muzzle is not pointed at anyone. The weapon is not indexed on a threat; it is a ‘gun in hand' moving position for use in such situations as searching or negotiating an environment without an immediate threat (i.e., a bad guy that needs shooting). I look at this as a separate count 3 drawstroke.

When it comes to working from the holster there are only two reasons you are drawing the gun. First, you are drawing the pistol because the bad guy needs shooting now. The only reason you are not yet engaging the bad guy at that point is the weapon has not yet cleared the holster. In that case, as soon as the weapon comes up to count 2 of drawstroke you would begin working the trigger while driving the gun straight forward, continuing to work the trigger while moving the gun.

Second is drawing the gun to get it in hand as an escalation of force so you can move or engage the threat if it presents itself. In that case you would draw the weapon but extend it up into a high ready position, effectively an elevated or averted 3 (count 3 or drawstroke). From there, should you have to engage a threat,  the goal is to bring the weapon back down into the normal horizontal orientation while moving it into extension.  There are many guys who will work from there, working the trigger while they're driving the gun forward. Because the front sight begins in line with the eye it is a fast way of putting the muzzle on target at full extension.

This position is optimized for taking a precise shot at full extension but it is not well suited for a close quarters problem where you have to move the gun to an appropriate partial extension or compression. This is why I consider ‘elevated muzzle 3' to be a ready position, searching position or moving position.

One of my guiding concepts is what I jokingly refer to as “5 year old kung fu.” This is mine. The gun stays in close to the body unless I have to push it somewhere else to accomplish a goal. If the complexity of the shot requires the weapon at full extension from my dominant eye that that will be where I put it. However when that has been accomplished I will pull the gun back in to where I have better physical control of it.

To minimize weapon retention vulnerability, keep the weapon in tight.

More information in the video:


Photo credits unknown – used here with respect.

Any inaccuracies or awkwardness in “translating” the raw video to “article-like” format are mine alone. DR

The late Paul Gomez 2

Though the GTI YouTube channel has not been updated in years it is well worth reviewing (there's a reason it's called Gun Training for Thinkers). You can do that here. To continue in the tradition of thinking and learning the late Paul Gomez espoused (and to help support his children) you should consider checking out Paul-E-Palooza. 2015's event will the 3rd iteration of the memorial training benefit; it will be held near Garrettsville, OH August 15th and 16th. You can rest assured any money spent to get there and participate will be well worth the expense – instructors and attendees alike will be a wish list of industry professionals. Read an AAR of last year's Paul-E-Palooza right here. You can learn more about this year's Paul-e-Palooze here:

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