New Gun, Training & Handling

Shooting Stance For Women

There are a number of shooting stances and certainly, there are some strong opinions vouching for each! There are, however, some very important aspects of the shooting stance that are necessary for accuracy, speed, and safety. I will discuss the variations below and you can adopt the appropriate stance for you. However, don’t get too caught up with the formality of the “names” and the perhaps confusing “technique”. You will find that you naturally and instinctively gravitate to one particular stance or another. The key will be that you are competent in the key aspects of each stance.

I feel the best stance for defensive shooting is the Modern or Modified Isosceles Stance for a number of reasons. Therefore, I would recommend that if self-defense is your primary purpose, adopt as much of this stance as possible.

You do, however, want to be comfortable in a variety of positions or stances as you of course don’t know what kind of situation you may find yourself in and what physical constraints may be present.

Are you standing, sitting, on the ground? Are you injured and only able to use one hand; perhaps behind a wall, etc.? So it is recommended that you practice a variety of stances and techniques with both hands, dominant and non-dominant, so you can feel confident in any situation.

At The Well Armed Woman, we speak of being “Empowered, Smart and Strong”. Your stance and the incorporation of good technique is part of accomplishing that mission. When your safety and perhaps your life is on the line, an empowered, smart and strong woman is a fierce force.

You will inevitably make some adjustments to the stances discussed here, based on your body type, height, weight, strength, physical condition, etc. Just remember, practice is key. Remember, your ability to find your stance under great stress depends on it.

It really is most important to AVOID a few bad habits. Those that place you in a weaker position.

Some Bad Habits or Reflexes Common To Women Shooters To Avoid

For some reason, women tend to lean back and away from the handgun and from the target.  Your ability to recover is lessoned which does not allow you to prepare for another shot and handling recoil is awkward.

You very consciously will need to lean in and keep your weight forward and fight this tendency.

Another common bad habit or reflex is to lock knees straight. This is not a strong defensive position. You need to have some bend and/or “crouch” to provide stability and proper weight distribution.


The Isosceles Stance

above images from Women & Guns: The Basics Online Course –  Learn more about this online course here!

Most new shooters will take this stance almost instinctively. The shooter fully extends both arms towards the target, shoulders are kept perpendicular to the target and both elbows are locked. The name of the stance comes from how the shooter’s arms and shoulders form an isosceles triangle. Although common, in my opinion, does not provide the flexibility and speed of movement required for self-defense situations. The extended straight arms also make reacting to recoil a challenge for many women.

Modern (or modified Isosceles) Stance

above images from Women & Guns: The Basics Online Course –  Learn more about this online course here!

Your weight shifted forward, your feet are shoulder length apart, one foot slightly more forward than the other and pointing toward your target. Your upper body curls forward, and your arms are in line with your shoulders. This creates a strong grip that helps with muzzle control. When done correctly the arms move in and out with the recoil instead of up and down. You will need to relax your shoulders to help in recoil absorption. In addition, your head is more forward than in the traditional Isosceles Stance. With the head forward, your balance is further shifted forward giving a clearer view of the pistol sites in relation to the target.

The Weaver Stance

In this stance, your body is less of a target as one of your shoulders is turned toward the target. This allows you to pivot your body, rotate your arms for shooting, visually keep your eye on your target, adjust your shots, and stay better balanced.  In this stance,  you are shooting from your center core. Both elbows are bent with the dominant arm bent less than the support arm.

above images from Women & Guns: The Basics Online Course –  Learn more about this online course here!

The Chapman or Modified Weaver Stance

above images from Women & Guns: The Basics Online Course –  Learn more about this online course here!

This stance is identical to the Weaver Stance but has one important difference. In the Modified Weaver, you lock straight your dominant hand and arm. This can help with the trembling that some experience while using the Weaver Stance and you can still take advantage of the push/pull tension of the Weaver Stance to control the muzzle. This also minimizes the chance of your weaker, non-dominant arm from overpowering your straight dominant, shooting arm which can happen under stress.

The two Weaver Stances are popular and used in target and combat shooting.

Bull’s-eye Stance

This is a good practice stance in the event you are injured and only have one hand to shoot with. It is recommended that you practice this with both dominant and non-dominant arms.

Your feet are shoulder length apart, you hold the pistol in one hand with the arm outstretched, and place the hand not in use on your chest, hip, or even in a pocket. The advantage of the stance was that it allows the shooter to make himself a smaller target by turning his body to the side thereby presenting the minimum target possible. This stance would not be recommended as a preferred defensive shooting stance.


Continue Learning How To Shoot A gun here: Making The Decision: Part 4 – How Do I Use A Gun?

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7 thoughts on “Shooting Stance For Women

  1. Beth says:

    Between recoil fear & shooting stance, they sum up my shortcomings & where I need practice. Thank you!

  2. Mary Pace says:

    How can I print this? Thanks.

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      Hi Mary,
      You can try hitting Control and P together and this should bring up a print preview and if it looks good you can go ahead an print. When I do this, the layout is printer-friendly but this can be different on different devices. If that does not work you can copy and paste the article in a word document and print that way.

  3. Jim says:

    Didn’t see “right” picture. Each stance was not illustrated. Article hard to visualize and follow. However found content interesting.

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      Hi Jim,
      Thanks for the comment – we will work on updating these images!

  4. Sande says:

    Take a beginners class if any are available in your area. There are some for women only. It’s a great way to get comfortable with your gun.

  5. Brenda Andersen says:

    So Glad I found you! I need empowering! I recently inherited a
    38 Special 642-2 +P and I’m easily intimidated . Only been to the range once and youtube full of testosterone.

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