Is Your Shooting Stance Wrong?

Did you know that the shooting stance is actually an extension of a fighting stance? You set up your base, sink your weight into your heels, and then point yourself towards your target.

That’s why many people feel like the isosceles shooting stance is actually an inferior stance.

Take a look at it.

Your feet are planted shoulder width apart, parallel. Your shoulders are square, facing your opponent.

What do you notice? You are making yourself a flat, wide target for whoever is shooting at you. And your foundation is fairly weak. You could be shifted off balance with just a nudge in the wrong direction.

Luckily, you have options for fixing this:

The 3 shooting stances: Which one’s right for you? No matter how good your other skills are, if your stance doesn’t provide you with a stable shooting platform, you’re destined to be inconsistent

May 3, 2016

By Kenneth DeCicco The TacticaList Contributor

Stance is a crucial element of shooting that can at times be overlooked. Perhaps the best way to emphasize the value of a solid stance, which provides the foundation of your shooting platform, is to look at other examples in different activities where a strong foundation is important.

Have you ever observed a new home being constructed? In the Northeast, where I’m from, the majority of homes have basements. When the builder is constructing the basement he goes to great lengths to ensure that the footings are strong and level.

Creating your strong foundation When attempting to accurately shoot a handgun, no matter how good your sight alignment, breath control and other skills are, if your stance doesn’t provide you with a stable shooting platform, you’re destined to be inconsistent with your shot placement. Consistency in all aspects of shooting is the key to accuracy.

When it comes to shooting stances, you have three choices:

1. Isosceles 2. Weaver 3. Fighting

In the past, the standard taught was the Isosceles Stance. The shooter faces the target squarely, the feet are set shoulder width (or slightly wider) apart. The toes face the target and are aligned. The knees are flexed at an angle that varies somewhat and the shooter leans forward from the waist towards the target. The shooter’s arms are extended and form an isosceles triangle, hence the name.

Pros: The positives include the fact that it feels like a comfortable and natural position to most shooters. In addition, the body positioning seems to have a positive effect on accuracy.

Cons: The predominant problem with the Isosceles Stance is that while it has side-to-side stability, it lacks front-to-rear balance due to the positioning of the feet.

The Weaver Stance has become very popular and replaced the Isosceles as the standard taught to most new shooters. The shooter blades his body, placing the foot on the firing side back and turning the support side towards the target. The shooter’s strong, or firing side, arm is extended and the support arm’s elbow is bent. This allows the shooter to employ a very stable push-pull grip. The shooter pushes with his firing arm and pulls with the support arm to stabilize the weapon.

Pros: The biggest plus is the push pull grip which is effective in controlling recoil and weapon control in general.

Cons: A major problem with the stance for the law enforcement community is that by blading the body, an officer is exposing an area of his torso that isn’t completely covered with body armor. A right-handed shooter exposes his left armpit, which is an entryway to the heart. In fact, many officers have been fatally shot in this area in spite of body armor.

Another problem with the Weaver is that movement while attempting to maintain the bladed position is awkward and problematic. Additionally, post shooting studies have shown that the majority of Weaver shooters reverted to a form of the Isosceles Stance during actual shootings.

The last stance has a variety of names. Some instructors refer to it as a modified Isosceles or Weaver. Others call it a fighting, boxer or tactical stance. For our purposes we will refer to it as the Fighting Stance.

The Fighting Stance was developed in the military in the special forces community. It made its way into law enforcement training and became popular because it allows officers to defend themselves with their hands, baton or firearm all from the same platform.

It’s also a great advanced technique for civilian shooters. In the Fighting Stance, the shooter is square to the target. His feet are shoulder width or slightly wider and the firing side foot is slightly behind the support side foot.

A good landmark is for the toe of the shooting foot to be at the instep of the support foot. This offsetting of the feet eliminates the forward-rear balance issue of the Isosceles Stance.

The knees are flexed to absorb recoil and to act as shock absorbers when moving in any direction. The shooter leans slightly forward and extends the arms straight out, bringing the sights to the eyes. The head is kept level to maintain balance, especially when moving.

Pros: Any weapon can be fired effectively from it this stance, although a case can be made for the traditional shotgun stance due to the recoil.

Cons: With the fighting stance, there really isn’t a downside. By modifying the Weaver and Isosceles stances, it eliminates the common drawbacks of the other two stances.

Try the different stances, see which one is most comfortable and fits your needs. Once you have made a choice, practice, practice, practice. You don’t need to be on the range or have a weapon in your hands to practice your stance. Muscle memory is real. Make your stance second nature and watch your shooting consistency improve.

This is just one example of how shooting has improved over the years. Techniques that were taught for years and considered the best in the land now seem dated and useless.

Shooting, at its core, is the extension of a fight. You want to give your opponent the least amount of target you can.

Sometimes you need a paradigm shift to ensure you haven’t fallen into bad habits.

Chris Najong realized this as well. A former Navy SEAL, he even wrote a book on the mechanics of shooting, using what he taught for years in the field, both as a SEAL and an instructor.

But one day, he looked at what he was teaching and he thought it was wrong. So he “tore the manual up” and created new rules. He realized he was only doing what he was doing because the old guard had taught him the same way.

It doesn’t always have to be that way.