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. 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.
For a number of reasons, I feel the best stance for defensive shooting is the Modern or Modified Isosceles Stance, which is described first. 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. Practice is key. 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.
For some reason, women tend to lean back and away from the handgun and from the target. This is not a stable, empowered position and makes handling recoil more awkward and lessens your ability to recover and prepare for another shot. The photo to the right is NOT correct!
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
Simply About Guns
Most new shooters will take this stance almost instinctively. The shooter fully extends both arms towards the target and your 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 makes reacting to recoil a challenge for many women.
Modern (or modified Isosceles) Stance
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 the 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 relationship to the target. (photos courtesy of ww.simplyaboutguns.com)
In this stance, your body is less of a target as one of your shoulders is turned toward the target. In this stance you are better able to pivot your body, rotate your arms for shooting, visually keep your eye on your target, adjust your shots, and stay better balanced because you are shooting from your center core. Both elbows are bent with the dominant arm bent less than the support arm.
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. Also, It 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.
This is a good practice stance for 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 recommend as a preferred defensive shooting stance.
Shooting from this position allows new shooters to concentrate on shooting fundamentals, especially sight alignment and trigger squeeze, without having to worry about supporting the firearm. Also, shooting from the benchrest position benefits disabled shooters and gives them the proper training and muscle memory to come away from the bench and into a seated position for shooting.
For experienced shooters, using a benchrest allows them to test the accuracy of their firearms without the additional variables that arise from using an unsupported standing position.