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Be it in competition, plinking, or self-defense it’s the first shot that count the most.  Self-defense especially may only give the chance for a “first” shot.  A technique for making that first shot both quicker and more accurate is to practice “ready-ups”.  This simple technique requires only a few minutes per session, but can make a world of a difference in your shooting.

The goal behind ready-up drills is to train memory into the muscles of your wrists, shoulders, and hands.  We are teaching them where they need to be for your handgun to be at the correct height and orientation for you to make your shot with minimal adjustment.  As with any training that establishes muscle memory repetition is required.  This can be done both live-fire and not. 

Let’s go over the steps:


1.)   All safety precautions apply regardless of whether you know the firearm to be loaded or not.


2.)   The target should have a specific aiming point.  While a torso-sized target may be the end game, this drill needs a focusing point such as a 1” dot. 


3.)   Select a distance that is appropriate for your skill level.  Start close and work your way to further distances.  Remember that your muscles don’t know how far the target is.  The only difference is how fine the adjustments need to be.


4.)   Begin in your shooting position, with the firearm pointed at about a 45-degree angle away from you. 


5.)   When ready quickly raise the gun up and attempt to look down the sights.  Make a conscious note of how they were off, correct them, and lower the firearm once more.


6.)   Repeat the previous step until you find yourself bringing the gun up to the correct height and angle. 


7.)   Once the gun seems to come up naturally to where it needs to be (requiring only minimal adjustments) take a shot.  One, single shot.  The focus of this training is working on our shoulders, wrists, and hands.  After the firearm has cycled take your finger off the trigger and lower back down to the 45 degree angle.


8.)   Repeat.  I’ve found five rounds to be a good number.  Let the need to reload provide you mind and body with a break.


The video demonstration shows this method works.  When it gets too easy try for a farther distance, smaller target, or quicker shots.

“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel and blog on the side. Visit Graham on Youtube .