Shooting Stances the Right Way: Plus Aiming and Gripping

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Have you ever seen somebody at the range leaning so far back you wonder if they are shooting, or getting ready for a limbo challenge? The sad truth, so many of us have seen this that the real question should be who has not seen this happen. A lot of people (including shooting veterans ) do not know or have forgotten how to perform a proper shooting stance, and yet it is one of the fundamental pieces in shooting. 

Please never ​​shoot like this.


Other areas that both newbies and long-timers struggle with are  a proper grip, and how to actually aim a pistol. While trigger squeeze is significant, people do not forget about it as much as shooting stance, grip, and aiming. We took it upon ourselves to solve this issue and to compile all the critical information you will need into a quick and efficient guide. However, remember this, it does not matter how much you read and study these principles unless you practice them. So make sure you have the right gear for the range. If you do not practice them, this information is useless. 


Take a Stance


Weaver Stance


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Intro

The public first learned of the Weaver Stance from Los Angeles County deputy sheriff Jack Weaver at the Col Cooper’s Leatherslap competition in the 1950s. Those around Jack were shocked at his accuracy, and his new stances led him to win the match. The Weaver stance quickly became popular and is still one of the top stances today. Do not forget to practice with your best IWB holster.

How it's done

  1. 1
     Bring your non-firing side (supportive) foot roughly about 8 to 10 inches forward with the foot pointed towards the target 
  2. 2
     Next angle your shooting side foot at around 45 degrees angle away from the body
  3. 3
    Bring the gun up and extend (but not fully) the gun facing the target.
  4. 4
    The elbow of the arm holding the gun will be  unlocked and facing slightly outward.
  5. 5
    Next make the supportive arm's elbow angled down by 45 degrees angle. 
  6. 6
    Finally, lean forward slightly placing the majority of your weight over your supportive side's foot. 

Pros

  • Blading your body to the target (making it smaller) 
  • Staggered feet means better balance for the shooter and able to absorb recoil better 
  • The best stance to allow your torso to pivot
  • It gives you the sight picture faster than almost all other positions
  • Arms not locked means sights are closer to the eyes, allowing for a better target picture 
  • Good accuracy closes up and beyond 25 yards

Cons 

  • If in a combat situation exposed armpit to target and is a direct line to the heart. Body armor doesn't protect this area.
  • Hard for cross-dominate people to perform (e.g., left eye and right-hand dominate) 
  • Wrist absorbs the shock from firing the weapon because the elbow of the shooting arm and supportive arm’s elbow is not locked.

Chapman Stance

Intro

Thanks to Ray Chapman many moons ago, we now have the Chapman Stance that is considered the most accurate of the two-handed pistol stances. This is a modified Weaver Stance with the main difference being the firing arm is fully extended, and with its elbow locked. This results in the firing arm, acting like a rifle stock. Many people drop their cheek to their bicep, making a “cheek-weld.” Both the extending of the arm and cheek-weld allows for consistency in the stance that cannot be achieved in other positions 

How it's done

Setup into the Weaver Stance but fully extend your firing arm locking it in place. Your supporting arm will be bent. I know very detailed...I tried hard on this one...

Pros

  • Better for cross-dominant people
  • Excellent recoil management (body absorbs recoil compared to wrist)
  • Blading your body to the target 
  • Staggered feet means better balance
  • One of the best stances for accuracy
  • Does not require as much strength as the Weaver Stance

Cons

  • If in a combat situation exposed armpit to target and is a direct line to the heart. Body armor doesn't protect this area.
  • Slower to get into position  than the Weaver Stance 
  • Can strain your neck

Isosceles Stance

Intro

The easiest of all the two-handed stances is the Isosceles stance. It is the most natural stance and is very good for allowing you to maintain your peripheral vision. Your head is kept upright, making this stance a favorite among action-pistols match contestants.

How it's done

  1. 1
    Square your body to the target 
  2. 2
     Spread your legs shoulder-width apart
  3. 3
    Using a two-hand grip pull your arms up enough to where the gun is in front of your eyes
  4. 4
    Next, fully extend both arms

Pro tip: 

To help with recoil, move the gun-side foot back just a little and slightly bend your knees. Then push your weight slightly forward over your supportive foot. 


Pros
  • Easy to get into stance quickly
  • Allows the head to stay upright
  • Enables you to maintain your peripheral vision
  • Good for cross-dominant

Cons

  • Hard to keep balance due to recoil
  • Exposes your body thoroughly to your target

One-handed Stances

In principle, a two-handed stance is always superior. In the context of self-defense, that may not be a practical reality. The one-handed stances aren't going to take up the majority of your range time, but they're worth learning for sheer utility value.

Point Stance

Intro

The Point Stance allows you to shoot a relatively accurate shot (close range) using either your dominant or nondominant hand.  

How to do it

  1. 1
    Take the non-firing hand and ball it into a fist and place it across your chest
  2. 2
    Step forward with your foot on the side holding the gun about 10-20 inches
  3. 3
    Extend your shoulder, arm, and gun towards the target making sure gun, wrist, and elbow are in a straight line
  4. 4
    Do not lock your elbow but lock your wrist
  5. 5
    Shift your weight to the gun side's leg and slightly bend your knees

Pros

  • Blades your body to the target
  • Brings pistol sights in line with the shooter’s eyes
  • Accurate for a one-handed stance 

Cons

  • Can be difficult with a high caliber pistol 
  • For this to be an affective stance, you will need to practice using both your dominant and nondominant hand
  • To be the most accurate, the non shooting hand must be clinched and held close to the chest. However, if your non shooting hand is injured and you do not hold it to your chest, the stance becomes less accurate

Retention Stance

Intro 

Every other stance on our list allows for the sights and eyes to line up, for you to aim at the target. That is not the case with the Retention Stance. Instead, the shooter holds the pistol at waist-level  with his arm slightly bent. 

How to do it

  1. 1
    Stabilize your hand holding the gun against your hip and slightly bend it, allowing it to be a few inches in front of your stomach
  2. 2
    Level the barrel at the target (be sure to keep your hand not holding the gun out of the way)
  3. 3
    Foot placement is not a factor, but we recommend you at least keep your legs slightly bent and shoulder width apart to handle the recoil

Pro Tip:

 Most experts suggest balling up the hand not holding the gun and holding it across your chest, ready to defend your face or strike an adversary should it become necessary.  

Pros

  • Good for close-range combat
  • Hard for the firearm to be taken away
  • Easy to bring the gun into another stance
  • Allows for rapid reaction time

Cons

  • Literally shooting from the hip and not accurate
  • Per Shooting Illustrated, if using something like a compensator or porter barrel, high gases will blow in your face and eye

If You Can Grip This That Is Half The Battle


For a two-handed grip, what not to do

  1. Support the wrist of the firing arm with your support hand instead of placing it on the guns grip
  2. Teacup grip, I have a confession to make. There was a very dark time in my life that I would use this grip.... To perform this stance, the hand you will use to fire the gun is griping the weapon while the supporting hand holds the bottom of the pistol like a teacup. Here is why this grip is considered bad:
    1. The supporting arm does not help out with recoil.
    2. The firing hand will rise after every shot while the supporting hand is left behind. The result is you have to adjust your aim and grip after every shot, which makes you slower and less accurate. 

Now for the good stuff!

Proper Two-Handed Grip For A Semi-Auto Pistol

A common issue with semi-auto pistol grips is people have their hands too low on the grip, which results in inaccuracy.

  1. With the hand that will fire the weapon, make a U with your thumb and fingers   
  2. Place the hand on the gun so that the middle of the U is located high on the back of the grip at the back strap 
  3. This will result in the thumb and pointing finger being as high as it can go on on the grip 
  4. Place remaining fingers right up under the trigger guard  
  5. Take your support hand and make all your fingers straight with your thumb pointing up in the air to create an L  
  6. From a 45-degree angle above the pistol place the palm of your support hand on the open area of the grip on the opposite side of your other hand
  7. Wrap the fingers of the support hand around the shooting hand’s fingers
  8. Both thumbs should be pointed down range parallel to the slide  
  9. The supporting hand’s thumb should be in front of and below the shooting hand’s thumb
  10.  Finally, pull slightly on the gun with your support hand and push on it slightly with your shooting hand  
  11.  Be sure to keep your figures off the trigger and use proper trigger discipline  

Proper two-handed grip for revolver

If you try the same grip that you used for a semi-auto pistol on a revolver; you might find it painful for your fingers afterward. It is a must to avoid the cylinder gap when firing a revolver. 

  1.  With the hand that will fire the weapon, make a U with your thumb and fingers
  2. Place your hand on the grip so that the middle of the U is located high on the back of the grip at the back strap 
  3. Where the difference from a semi-auto starts is placing the thumb from the shooting arm facing down below the cylinder release button 
  4. Place remaining fingers right up under the trigger guard  
  5. Take your support hand and make all your fingers straight with your thumb up in the air to create an L  
  6. From a 45-degree angle above the pistol place the palm of your support hand on the open area of the grip on the opposite side of your other hand 
  7.  Wrap the fingers of the support hand around the firing hand’s fingers. Again the differences are in the thumb. 
  8. Place the supporting hand’s thumb across the thumb of the hand holding the gun.
  9. Pull slightly on the revolver with your support hand and push on it slightly with the hand that will fire the weapon. 
  10. Be sure to keep your figures off the trigger and use proper trigger discipline  


Proper one-hand grip 

This grip will feel funny at first.  Be sure to try it out with a lower caliber pistol when starting out .

  1. With the hand that will fire the weapon, make a U with your thumb and fingers
  2. Place your hand on the grip so that the middle of the U is located high on the back of the grip at the back strap
  3. Place remaining fingers right up under the trigger guard  and grip the gun frimley 
  4. Slightly pull on the trigger guard using your pinky and in ring finger. 

Something To Keep A Close Eye On

The Eye Test

Put your hands out in front of you and make a diamond shape with your hands, and focus on an object in the distance. Then close one eye at a time. One eye will make the purpose jump to the side, and the other will keep it still. The eye that's open when the object doesn't move is your dominant eye. You now know which eye is dominant...Great! 

Now What?

For all you "lucky" dominant right hand/eye or dominant left hand/eye people, you will aim using your dominant hand and aim with your dominant eye when shooting. Easy enough.  

For the majority of the rest of us that are cross-dominant (right-handed/left eye dominant, or left-handed/right eye dominant), there are a few options. There is a wide range of opinions from the gun experts on which option is the best. However, as somebody that "suffers" from cross-dominants these are the two tactics I use:

  1. Close one of your eyes. When you close one of your eyes, the other eye will become your "aiming" eye for the moment. This is better for shooting at ranges, not tactical situations
  2. If you are shooting with both eyes open (better for tactical situations). Just remember what works for one person may not for the next. Continue to try different ways for cross-dominant shooting, and go with the one that you feel the most comfortable with. 

Set your sights on the prize (target)

Pistol sights typically consist of three dots in a line, with the outside two on the rear sights and the middle one in front. The shooter's goal is to bring them into line in front of his dominant eye, or with one open eye with the target centered under the front sight. Perhaps the single most crucial piece of advice when sighting is to focus on the front sight. It should be clear and sharply defined with the target blurry behind it. Once the pistol is on target, you can prepare to fire.


Summary

Shooting stances are like English class back in high school (sorry to all my language art friends). It is not the most exciting topic when it comes down to it, but it is critical for all other subjects. The same applies to proper shooting stances. It is not flashy, but your stance, along with your grip, and aim are critical parts in the foundations to make a quality shot.

Whether you are just a beginner or a veteran at shooting, the fundamentals must be assessed and practiced regularly. Just remember, you must practice, because no matter how well and efficient we lay out the information for you, it will not help unless you practice. If you do not practice it, then it will be useless. For example, getting a Ruger LCP with a good IWB holster and practicing your stances. So what do you think? Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment below. Until next time stay strapped. 

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