If you want to shoot quickly and accurately, you need a proper shooting stance. A shooting stance refers to how you hold your body, specifically your legs, core, and arms, while you shoot a firearm. The best shooting stance lets you accurately align your sight, control the trigger and firing, and manage your weapon's recoil.
No one stance is best for every shooter. You may have to change your stance according to the size and weight of the pistol you are firing. The most effective way to determine the best shooting stance is to practice at the range until you find a position that feels good and makes your shooting exceptionally accurate.
Here are five stances for you to try with your pistol next time you hit the range.
1. The Isosceles
One of the easiest stances to learn and hold, the Isosceles makes your arms come to a point as you hold the pistol two-handed, and, if viewed from overhead, the stance looks like an isosceles triangle.
The benefit of this stance is that it is easy to get into and hold while you shoot. It’s one weakness is that it is not great for recoil.
To get into the Isosceles shooting stance, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and face your target head-on. Raise your arms to full extension and hold the pistol two-handed in front of you.
With an upright head position and full peripheral vision, the Isosceles became popular in the 1980s when action-pistol competition became more prevalent. It is easier for the shooter to move between multiple targets with the Isosceles, much more so than the Chapman or the Weaver.
However, in most of these competitions, competitors were shooting light target loads, but once you shift to a full-power load, the Isosceles may fail you. This stance does not handle recoil well and can make even the beefiest, and sharpest shooters lose their position.
2. The Weaver Stance
A Los Angeles lawman named Jack Weaver made this stance famous when he created it in his capacity in the L.A. Police Department. Jeff Cooper, who popularized the four laws of gun safety and is credited with many handgun techniques, adopted this stance as well, popularizing it.
This is a fast stance to assume once you’re familiar with it. It provides one of the most accurate positions for close-range shooting and is still exact past 25 yards, which is unusual for two-handed stances.
To assume the Weaver, place your support side (or non-shooting side) foot, 8 to 10 inches in front of you, with your toes pointing at the target. The leg on your strong side, or shooting side, is behind you a bit and canted out at a 45˚ angle.
In this two-handed hold, neither arm is fully extended with the elbow locked. Your strong-side arm is unlocked with the elbow angled downward, toward your feet. Your support-side elbow is pointed out. Your support hand pulls into your body while your strong hand pushes, resulting in an incredibly rigid grip.
The benefits of this stance is a fast sight picture and broader arc than the Isosceles or the Chapman. When shooting, do not move your feet or bottom half. Instead, you must pivot, like a gun turret on a fighter jet. This stance allows for a much wider swing since the unlocked elbows do not present an obstruction to the movement.
3. The Chapman Stance
The Chapman looks like a cross between the Weaver and the Isosceles. The support foot isn't placed quite so far forward, and the support-side shoulder isn't pushing toward the handgun.
The main difference is that the strong-side arm is fully extended, becoming a human version of a rifle stock. Indeed, many shooters drop their cheeks to their bicep for steadiness and accuracy as they would a rifle stock.
This stance is slower to assume than the Weaver, but it offers some advantages. It does not need as much upper body strength, and those shooters who find the Weaver uncomfortable may find this stance a great compromise.
With a less rigid head position, those with cross-dominant vision can adjust their head to align their sight correctly.
4. Strong Hand Retention
In certain situations, like in the instance of a home invasion or attack, extending your shooting arm makes it easier for a perpetrator to take your weapon away from you. In these cases, you want to retain your strong hand close to your body while still maintaining accuracy and trigger control.
When you're unsure of what's out there or if your assailant has moved into arm's length, leading with your pistol is a terrible idea. The Strong Hand Retention is an ideal solution.
In this stance, where you put your legs doesn't matter, it's what you do with your arms that makes it effective. Tuck your strong elbow tight against your torso, with the gun a few inches out from your stomach and pointing straight ahead.
Your support hand should be held across your body at your strong shoulder. This clears it from the muzzle and frees it up for a counter-attack if your assailant approaches.
In this stance, you can swivel and bring the pistol to bear in a moment. If a long-range target appears, your support hand is free to lock onto your gun for a more accurate, two-handed stance.
The greatest strength of this stance is that the pistol is close to your body, making it challenging to take it away from you.
5. The Power Point Stance
Although a two-handed stance is the most accurate and is often considered to be the best platform for speed and power, sometimes you can't use both hands. The Power Point Stance offers deadly accuracy with fast close-range shooting in either your dominant or non-dominant hand.
On your strong, shooting side, place your foot 10 to 20 inches in front of your body with the knees flexed, like a boxer's stance. The hand that is not holding the pistol should be held in the center of the chest and in a fist to afford better trigger control by keeping the support side shoulder muscles clenched.
Much like a boxer throwing a tough punch, you should drive the pistol in your hand toward your target with your strong shoulder pushing into the gun, providing uncommon accuracy in this one-handed stance.
The Final Word
When you're wielding a pistol, you need trigger control, recoil control, power, and accuracy. No matter if you're shooting one- or two-handed, these stances can afford you power and precision and are easy to learn.
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