knowing the shooting stances

Know The Basic Shooting Stances

One of the fundamental aspects of shooting is the shooting stances. There are 3 classic stances which are taught to most shooters, each of which has benefits and drawbacks.


Each is good to know in and of itself, but none of them are the be-all, end-all; they're tools; each with a specific purpose. Just like learning a few basic shooting drills, it behooves a person to learn them.


The Isosceles Shooting Stance


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triangle shooting stance

The Isosceles shooting stance is so named because the shape formed by the shooter's body and extended arms form - more or less - an Isosceles triangle. For a quick refresher, an Isosceles triangle has two sides of equal length. So does an equilateral triangle, though an equilateral triangle also has an additional side of equal length.


The Isosceles stance is the classic shooting stance and for very good reasons - it works and it's easy to learn. Competitive shooters like Brian Enos and Robbie Leatham have had great success with this stance in their matches, so there's definitely a lot of merit to it.


To shoot in Isosceles, the arms are extended with the pistol held with both hands at or near the centerline of the body. Some people advise to lock the elbows, some do not. Keeping one's arms rigid can help hold a pistol stationary but a bit of bend in the elbow allows for a bit more flexibility and therefore a tad more control over recoil, which is important when shooting more powerful rounds.


The Isosceles is fairly intuitive and thus easy to learn. Tactically it has advantages as the shooter must lean forward, shrinking the target as it were. The drawback of the Isosceles is that it doesn't control recoil as well as other methods and isn't the most inherently stable front-to-back.


That said, a number of police studies have found that officers that have been taught other stances when facing a threat naturally revert to Isosceles under stress due to its intuitive nature.


The Weaver Stance


weaver stance

The Weaver stance is largely credited to Jack Weaver, a deputy of the Los Angeles Sheriff's office in the 1950s. Weaver's shooting stance was adopted and popularized by Jeff Cooper, the guru of all things handgun and formed a large part of his "modern technique" of shooting.


The Weaver stance, along with other teachings of Cooper have been widely disseminated, along with other teachings such as the carry conditions and the 4 laws of gun safety.


The Weaver works by using opposing forces to control recoil and combat-ready foot position which gives the shooter the ability to rapidly transition from target to target. Weaver used it to great effect hence the adoption.


To assume the Weaver, the weak foot (usually the left) is placed ahead of the strong foot (usually the right) and the lead leg's knee is slightly bent; a lot like a boxing stance. The shooting arm is nearly fully extended, with a slight crook of the elbow. The support hand is brought to the grip with the support arm bent.


When employed, the Weaver stance imposes a "push-pull" on the pistol, as the shooting arm pushes against the gun and the support hand pulls it toward the body, with the end result being fast recovery from recoil. The trailing leg also steadies the shooter, further buttressing against the recoil force.


Unlike the Isosceles, however, the Weaver can be employed with a long gun as well as a pistol.


While the Weaver does confer advantages, it isn't perfect. Movement while maintaining the shooting position is difficult; pivoting to the left is easy but not to the right. It also isn't easily used by cross-eye dominant shooters.


The Modified Weaver/Modified Isosceles/Chapman Stance


chapman stance

The Modified Weaver, also called the Modified Isosceles or Improved Isosceles or the Chapman Stance, is a synthesis of the two. Unlike the traditional Isosceles, one foot is placed further ahead than the other, but only just, with the knees slightly bent.


However, the shooting arm is fully extended with the support arm bent. This confers the push-pull advantage of the Weaver stance but the solid foundation and easier movement of the Isosceles.


In this position, pivoting and other movements are much easier and it can be employed much more readily by cross-eye dominant shooters. In essence, the best of both worlds.


Just like the other stances, it's a good tool to have in the toolbox, so to speak, so a good shooter should learn all three.




Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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