What’s Your Stance On Stance?
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
First, a little history. In the good old days of outlaws and six-shooters, the only shooting stance ever conceived was standing with your body heavily bladed toward the target, the gun in your strong hand, thrust sideways towards your target. The theory was, at least in part, to present a thinner target to your dueling opponent.
Somewhere along the line law enforcement (in particular the FBI) and militaries decided that weak side hand could be put to use. So was born the “cup and saucer” stance/grip. The body is less bladed ~45 degrees to the target, the strong hand grips the gun and the support hand cups the butt of the gun. The problem is this does nothing to control recoil any better than the one handed grip and serves only to create a secondary pivot point 3”-4” below the recoil force. Here is a photo from the Army’s Fort Lee’s Facebook page in 2017, demonstrating this sadly outdated method.
As with most ill-conceived ideas, Hollywood played a large part in perpetuating it.
In the 1950, Jack Weaver, a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, began winning most of the freestyle pistol competition in Southern California using a new technique he developed. Jeff Cooper widely publicized the Weaver stance in several of his books, as well as in articles published in Guns & Ammo magazine. When Cooper started the American Pistol Institute firearms training school, now the Gunsite Training Center, in 1977, his modern technique of the pistol was built around a somewhat formalized “Classic Weaver Stance”. It entails the feet in a boxing stance, with the non-shooting side foot ahead of the shooting side foot. The strong-side hand holds the pistol or revolver while the support hand wraps around the shooting hand. The shooting arm’s elbow is slightly bent (almost locked out) while the support elbow is noticeably bent straight down. The shooter pushes forward with his/her shooting hand while the support hand exerts rearward pressure on the firearm. The resultant isometric tension from the support hand is intended to lessen and control recoil. The Weaver Stance became the industry standard for the following decades.
With the advent of dash-cams and security cameras, law enforcement was finally able to cast an unbiased eye on how trained officers actually behaved when the stuff hit the fan. What they found, time after time, was that regardless of how well an officer was trained, they reverted to human instincts. They place their feet roughly shoulder width apart weight evenly distributed between heels and toes with hand thrust out in front of them (hopefully with their gun in them).
The smart people in charge realized that, if this is how officers were going to react in an unexpected, high stress situation, that is how we should train them. At least that way they have trained on the other shooting fundamentals from this position, and the Isosceles Stance became and remains the industry standard. At this point you must be saying to yourself, “Self, stance must be very important?”. Meh, not so much. Stance is important to learn and practice the shooting fundamentals (aiming, hold control, trigger control & follow through). However, in a defensive shooting situation, if you are standing still, you are dead. Move. Get off the X. Get to cover. Better yet, move and shoot. So, use a good solid isosceles stance to learn and practice the shooting fundamentals and increase your accuracy to the limits of your capabilities. Then train to move and shoot, in all directions, while maintain 1 minute of bad guy accuracy. Practice getting combat accurate hits while on the move to cover and from behind cover. If you’re moving, you’re not worried about how your standing