David's Performance and Training Corner
With David Salthouse from APC, Inc.
Associate Director of Training & Program Development

Are You READY?

A Review of Often Overlooked and Undertrained Skills,
The Ready Position and 360 Degree Threat Scan

When we train, we tend to focus on launching as much lead downrange as we can get our hands on.  Now I love pulling the trigger as much as the next guy, but we often overlook many other important skills. Today we are going to talk about the Ready Position and the 360 Threat Scan. These are two of the most important skills for keeping you alive in a gunfight, and two of the most underused and misunderstood tactics.

On the range, almost everyone uses one target, directly in front of them. We have programmed ourselves to think that is how your moment of truth is going to play out. Good guy versus the bad guy in an almost wild west showdown, minus the tumbleweeds. In reality however, threats often come in multiple numbers and from multiple directions. While a single threat may cause us to take action, we need to stay prepared for more threats.

The ready position provides a strong, reactive position to respond to these threats.  The purpose is to drop the firearm out of your line of sight, allowing you to get a full field of vision. There are a few positions that would be acceptable.

The best and fastest response position is (A) to drop the gun down, while keeping the muzzle point downrange. Bring the gun into your center, also called a 2 Handed High Tuck. Not only do you have a full field of vision, you can accurately engage threats at close distances very quickly. This technique is my preferred method because of the speed, but it only works if we are able to keep the muzzle pointed up. In some cases, there are “friendlies” around us and we need to move without pointing our firearms at them. In that case we have two options. We can maintain our arm position, but drop the muzzle 45 degrees (B), or we can assume a Safety Circle Position (C), which I prefer as it gives us the best ability to cover 360 degrees with a higher level of retention and safety.

Once we learn and are comfortable with Ready Positions, we need to work on our Threat Scan. I often see people scan with the muzzle of their firearm, mimicking a tank turret. I suppose they are thinking that when they see the threat, they are ready to engage it instantly. The problem with that thinking is that the threat has a 1 in 360 chance in being where you are looking and have the muzzle pointed. That means you have to swing your muzzle to the threat. In the process, you WILL WITHOUT A DOUBT overshoot the target and have to readjust.

By maintaining a neutral hold on your firearm, and moving your body and head 360 degrees you have a higher change of moving your firearms into a shooting position without over shooting it, thus giving you a faster response, and we all know that the first accurate shot can end a gunfight. From a ready position, practice your scan. I find it helps new shooters to put their chin on one shoulder to start the scan, and then work to the other shoulder, being sure to cover the entire area. It is ok to move your body, but your feet should stay planted to maintain your balance. Be sure to be aware where your muzzle is pointed at all times. Once a threat is identified, move the muzzle to the threat and allow your body to follow, assuming the best shooting position you can before or while engaging.

When we teach law enforcement or security professionals to conduct a search of a person for weapons, we always teach the PLUS ONE RULE, this rule dictates that if you find a weapon, there is another one somewhere, keep looking. Once you find the second one, there is another, look even harder, so on and so on. I like to apply this rule to threat scanning. After you engage your threat, there are several steps to remember…

  1. Is He/She Hit & Is He/She Down?
    Is the threat hit and no longer a threat to you. They may have fallen to the ground, but if they are still moving and have a weapon in their hand, they are still an active threat!

  2. Does He/She Have Any Friends?
    Again, follow the plus one rule! Assume a ready position and threat scan 360 degrees looking for additional threats.

  3. Manage You Weapon!
    Once you have conducted a thorough threat scan, take the time to manage your weapon, conduct a tactical reload to ensure you are ready in the event this situation continues to go south.

  4. Check You Self For Injuries
    Once your heart rate skyrockets and the nasty cocktail of endorphins release in your body, you may not hear a gunshot. You may not feel a gunshot or know that you are bleeding. Just because you do not feel it doesn’t mean it will not take you out of the fight. Assume a one handed ready position and physically check yourself for leaks, look at your hand, is it covered in blood?

    At this point it is time to get help, call 911 or use your radio to get to help rolling your way. If you are able to, get out of the immediate area. Remember to continue to threat scan 360 degrees, not only for threats, but responding officers. Make sure you do not appear to be a threat to them, or you will be shot very quickly.

  6. Relax & Recover
    Self explanatory

This process, coupled with the proper advanced tactics will give you an edge when encountering a threat. Once you learn them, you can practice anytime, almost anywhere without firing one round, so there is no excuse not to train. I encourage you to come down and take one of our Advanced Tactics courses where you will learn these and other valuable skills in a safe, professional and fun environment. Our Instructors are not only highly skilled operators, but are also experts in passing that knowledge to you.

Stay safe and remember, Failing to Train is Training to Fail!
Email David at with comments, questions, or topics you would like him to cover in a future article.