The Proper Shooting Position

By Kellene Bishop
While far too much emphasis is put into which caliber a person should carry, an issue significantly more important is the one that deals with the shooting stance. This article isn’t intended to be an exploration of all of the various stances that have been put out there by one camp or another, instead it’s written with the intent to ensure you put everything to your advantage as possible should you ever need to defend yourself. Continue reading


The Science Behind the Stance

Understand that first and foremost I’m concerned primarily with a woman owning a firearm and having the knowledge and willingness to use it to defend herself.  However, beyond that there’s also additional expertise available to help you when you do need to use the firearm.  One of those aspects is the science behind a proper stance.

There are three stances that the shooting world advocates—the Weaver, the Isosceles, and the Modified Isosceles. However, scientifically speaking there is only one stance that is ideal for accurate, self-defense shooting.

Isosceles Stance

Isosceles Stance

Many shooting instructors will advocate the isosceles stance.  This is when your feet are spread apart about shoulder width and center to your body.  Usually the shooter is crouched down a bit.  The problem with this position is that you are not properly balanced and it’s not a natural stance for your body to go into in a moment of threat. If you positioned yourself in an isosceles stance, I could usually come by and lightly push you off-balance either forward or backwards.  Next.

Weaver Stance

Weaver Stance

The next stance that even over-priced instructors advocate is that of the Weaver stance.  This is one in which you make your body less of a target by pointing one of your shoulders towards the target and shooting the firearm across your body.  You’re essentially standing sideways to your target.  There is SO much wrong with this particular stance that it frankly shocks me that any professional would teach such a position nowadays.  One, it’s not a natural “fight or flight” stance.  Two, your muscles are contorted.  Muscle tension is what creates tremors and stress.  For many years the military and law enforcement throughout the U.S. taught such a stance.  However, they discovered that the hit ratio declined dramatically while use such a position.  The primary theory behind using this stance is so that you make yourself a smaller target.  While I don’t advocate getting shot, I firmly believe that if you are the one doing the shooting, accurately, then you don’t need to be concerned about getting shot.  Chances are, if you’re being taught to use the Weaver stance, it’s because someone was taught that in the military and can’t let go of something that was ingrained in their mind so intensely.  But it is not the proper science consideration behind a successful stance.

Modified Isosceles Stance

Modified Isosceles Stance

The third stance is the one I strongly recommend and is the modified isosceles.  Experiment for yourself.  If I hold my fists up as if I’m going to deck you one, what would your natural body reflex be?  It would usually be a modified isosceles stance—with your feet shoulder length apart, with one foot slightly more forward than the other.  This is your body’s NATURAL reaction to an attack.  You don’t have to think about it.  You immediately go into it.  Anytime you can utilize your body’s NATURAL instincts to defend yourself, the better.  Not only that, but this position is a stronger position for you mentally—squared up to the target, I’m ready to fight, I’m ready to win.  It’s a lot better than trying to make yourself a small target.  When you do that, you’re actually telling your brain “Holy @&#$, I’m going to get shot.  I’m scared.  I’m crouched, etc.”  When you confront your attacker head on, you’re sending a completely different message, one of defiance and defense.  Which message would you prefer to use?

In the modified isosceles 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 you’re better balanced.  Even with the one foot just slightly forward, I’m less able to push you over with a slight poke.  Your stance is more firmly planted.  When you’re shooting, you’re shooting from your center core. This enables your brain to help you with the targeting and assigns  a  great deal of the shooting to your gross motor skills whereas the Weaver stance requires fine motor skills.

When you are shooting from your center core, you’re also shooting in such a way that your two strongest bones on your knuckles (your first and second knuckles) which go from your knuckles, up your arm, are taking the brunt of the recoil.  These are the same two knuckle bones that you would want to use when having to punch someone because the rest of your arm supports the action thus giving it more strength.  Shooting with all of your knuckles pointed towards your target will make you a much more accurate shooter.

While the mindset of being as small of a target as possible may initially make sense, it’s forgetting a key component of “war.”  There are 2 parts to a fight.  Offense and defense.  The offense is how you win (stay alive) because you can only play defense for so long.  At some point you’re going to have to shoot.  How accurately you shoot will be determined by whether or not you have to be on the defense.  So ensuring your BEST shooting position is the most critical part of fight.  A stance should be about the effectiveness of your hit ratio AND present the least probability of being hit—in that order.  If you promote a confident shooting stance you’ve got an advantage over your attacker as you will be mentally stronger AND you will be more accurate.  If your more accurate, then you’ve eliminated the problem of being shot as well.  You see, there really is a science behind the stance.

One last aspect to mention in passing.  Many instructors will tell you that foot placement isn’t important in your shooting.  I thought this too for many years of shooting, until my husband and I conducted an experiment.  We were using our quick-draw method but closing our eyes right after we sighted the target and just before we pulled our firearms from the holster.  We would take the shot with our eyes closed.  WHEN our forward foot was aimed towards the target, we hit the target every time, even with our eyes closed.  When our forward foot was placed even slightly towards either side, we were off on the shot.  Pretty interesting theory to practice on your own.  Let me know how you do with it.

Copyright protected all rights reserved by Kellene Bishop 2009. You are welcome to repost this information so long as you credit Kellene Bishop