By: Tom Perroni
According to Max Joseph & Alan Brosnan the inventors of Position “SUL” it is the one “ready position” that ensures team safety & handgun retention, even in CQB! The name Sul is taken from the Portuguese language. It simply means “south” since that’s where the muzzle is directed in this position.
Mr. Alan Brosnan describes this position this way: Position SUL, is not a classic "gun ready" position, but rather a "gun safety" position. It was primarily designed for the Brazilian officers as they poured Out of their SUVs on missions in the slums. Their muzzle control was atrocious, and since Max and I were in the SUVs, it did not take much brain power for us to create a solution to this evident problem -- be it right or wrong for many of the US instructors and critics. I think most of them thought it was a substitute for a classic "gun-ready" position and that is where the confusion came in.
The position has taken off among the law enforcement and military training community. After they understand the concept, it's hard for them to disagree with it, especially since it affects safety - predominately their own!
I teach the position because in any firearms class I teach we have a 360° “HOT” range. All too often trainers and students get marred down in the square range mentality, or the idea that threats only comes from in front of them. Now more than ever we need to train our officers, operators and students that threats come from 360°.
“SUL” is an alternative to the ready or low ready position, perhaps better suited to crowded environments. With correct technique, a weapon held in this position is less likely to violate Safety Rule #2 by pointing at people unintentionally.
The properly applied SUL also prevents the muzzle from pointing at the shooter’s feet and legs when scanning 360°. It is essential that the following checkpoints are strictly followed:
1. The support hand palm should be flat against the solar plexus, with fingers extended and parallel to the ground. The support hand thumb is pointed towards the shooter’s chin. (Elevation of the support hand may vary but most shooters find that they are able to maintain correct hand position without undo stress on the wrists when the hand is held about naval level.)
2. The strong hand maintains the grip on the handgun. You must also keep the trigger finger off the trigger and on the slide.
3. The muzzle of the weapon is pointed directly at the ground between the shooter’s feet. The slide/barrel of the handgun is held against the back of the knuckles of the support hand. Care must be taken to ensure that the muzzle does not point outward to the front or to the side of the shooter. The muzzle MUST be straight down.
4. The strong hand thumb is extended towards the support hand thumb so that both thumb tips are touching.
5. Elbows should be relaxed against the shooter’s sides.
Should a threat requiring the use of the handgun appear, simply push the handgun out away from the body allowing the hands to pivot at the thumbs as the two hands come together in a firing grip. Trigger finger is straight until the sights are on the target. With practice this becomes extremely smooth as we press the handgun towards the threat.
To return to the SUL position, pivot at the thumbs as the direction of motion is reversed.
When scanning 360° in the SUL position, it is inevitable that the weapon’s muzzle will point at the shooter’s feet if the feet remain stationary. To keep this from occurring, it is necessary for the shooter to step while turning, rather than simply turning at the torso.
Muzzle discipline is of the highest importance on the range or once you have finished the fight so that you can move around other officers, operators or good guys without jeopardizing their safety but still maintaining your combat mindset.
I hope that explains this fantastic retention position. I would love to talk more about Position “SUL” but this is all the room I have. If you want to learn more come to class and I will teach you!
Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!
Remember "Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option".
I would like to thank the following People who contributed to this article or that I quoted:
Max Joseph, Alan Brosnan, Gun’s & Weapons for Law Enforcement.
(typo correction "of" changed to off)
"You must also keep the trigger finger of the trigger and on the slide."
SUL is a wonderful concept, especially when working in a group.
Phil Singleton of the SAS taught it--albeit one handed---in a room combat class that I took with him in 2007, and it is the only technique that forces one to keep his finger off the trigger.
Suarez utilizes this technique as well.
I like the concept and practice it whenever dry-firing. At the range I don't get to use this much; ranges are getting busier and busier and range 'instructors' don't tend to like Sul because they view it as, ironically enough, unsafe.
For Tom or anyone else who teaches this position, should this be a default position when drawing from the holster? Instead of the basic steps to the perfect draw (here), wouldn't it make some sense to just grip, draw up/out, and come to Sul instead of pivoting the muzzle to point 'downrange'? I think this might apply more to response teams and maybe not civilians, but wouldn't this reinforce safety if the group is all trained to immediately come to a safe position upon drawing a weapon (when not being shot at)?
Originally Posted by BAC
Good to hear from you! How are things in FLA?
Position Sul is used when we want to TURN 360 degrees and check for threats. Think of when you were at my school on the range and you were doing Failure to stop drills. Once done you compress to retention scan left & right and breath then put the handgun in Position SUL turn completely around to check you rear or 6 o'clock position and then face back down range.
Or when moving with a handgun deployed while in a group of good guys. The idea is that you can have your handgun at the ready while not covering or flagging someone with the muzzle.
Hope this helps!
Ah, okay, so not there's no need to have it as part of the draw at all since it's movement related. Good to know.
Good to see you around here, too! Things are going pretty good down here. School classes keep me from taking any more handgun classes, but that should change by next summer.
Take care and stay safe!
any pictures? Sounds like an interesting concept.
It's not necessarily movement related (for the private citizen, at least). I wouldn't use it when moving downrange, for instance. As Tom said, it's primarily used to allow you to turn around and look behind you during a drill. Basically, Sul helps make the 180 degree experience on the range closer to the 360 degree experience of real life.
Originally Posted by BAC
Bad wording on my part. That's what I meant. Should've said scanning or turning, I guess. I won't be stacking up for entry work any time soon. :wink:
Edit: Pics for PaulJ
I first started using a one-handed SUL in 2000 when I was a patrol K-9 handler. It enabled me to move tactically with gun out in strong hand and leash in support hand. If I pointed my gun a certain way, my dog took interest in that direction, so SUL worked in keeping the dog working. To this day I use it in movement. It's a great technique to know.
Here's a picture of sul as taught by Joseph.
Note the direction of the barrel. Not good with others on the firing line with you.
Here's the variation of sul that I have been teaching.
Note the barrel is straight down. Also, the bore line is just in front of your own feet.
Good, but get those elbows in. Thumbs usually touch as an index point.
The elbows could be tucked. Elbows out will keep your body a little farther away from a wall (think skip fire).
Thumbs may or may not touch depending on the person. There's nothing gained by doing that.
A comparison between muzzle directions was the intent of this picture.
I agree with Semperfi 45 ( Happy USMC birthday, BTW) about the elbows.
Chicken wing elbows are just the thing trained unarmed combat men look to exploit in a fight.
Control the elbows and control the body.
Just a suggestion, FWIW.
I also prefer to have the thumbs touching, since it creates a simple reference point for consistency.
BTW--the British S.A.S. were using "SUL" three decades ago.
I teach elbows in for all weapons work. IMO; it is the way for handgun shooting and ready positions and transitions well to H2H, shotgun, subgun, etc.
Matt, we should get together & shoot sometime.