Orienting Yourself Towards the Threat

Posted on October 19, 2011 by


Last week we started a look at the fundamentals of combat shooting, specifically as they relate to the fighting revolver. We determined that combat shooting fundamentals are not the same as target shooting fundamentals, and defined the former thusly:

  • Orient yourself toward the threat
  • Extend the handgun toward the threat
  • Press the trigger until the threat has stopped

Today we want to look at the first of these: Orient yourself toward the threat. Put another way: Get in a position to fight.

When our bodies perceive that they are in danger, they will naturally orient themselves toward the threat. A simple example of this concept is that when we hear a loud noise (such as a gun going off or a stack of plates falling) we will tend to turn towards the noise to find out what it is.

Once we’ve oriented ourselves toward the threat, we can assess what it is and act accordingly. If that loud noise proved to be a gun going off, we are going to take a certain set of actions, provided we have the appropriate mindset and skillset. If it’s just a stack of falling plates, we are likely to naturally jump out of the way of any flying particles of porcelain.

For our purposes, this means two things:

First that orienting ourselves means different things in different situations. If we are seated at a desk, it may involve twisting in our seat to face where the threat is coming from. If we are lying down, it may involve an entirely different movement. So orienting yourself toward the threat does not always mean being able to assume a perfect combat stance.

Secondly, it means any shooting stance we practice should already integrate what our body does naturally: that is, we should be oriented toward the threat. Stances that angle or blade the body in some way (such as the venerable Weaver stance) don’t do this. As we’ve been able to see from footage of actual shootings, even armed professionals who have trained their entire career for a different stance, will, when ambushed, square their bodies toward the threat.

The practical application of this principle is a shooting stance known as the High Compressed Ready position. While I’m not sure where the stance originated, there are a number of good instructors and programs who teach it. The High Compressed Ready position makes use of the body’s natural inclinations, as well as keeping the gun in a safe, controllable position that allows positive weapon retention. And unlike many other shooting stances, the HCR stance can easily be adapted for seated firing.

The fundamentals of the High Compressed Ready stance are as follows:

  • Body squared toward the target as much as possible given the circumstances
  • Gun is held chest-high, tight to the body, with elbows out protecting the body and the gun
  • When shooting, push the gun forward to extend naturally along the line of sight