Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shooting Stances Part 1

Shooting Stances and Positions Part 1:


This is a topic full of drama and hard feelings in the industry. Yes. LOTS OF DRAMA. I myself have been involved or caused some drama on this topic on occasions. I’ll do it again and again as frankly the facts don’t lie.

*I’m not discussing grip, but stance. Grip is a separate issue.*

Stances and a brief rundown on their history.
Target Shooting. I don’t know what to call this but it’s where you stand sideways to the target with your shooting hand side towards the target when shooting a pistol. The rifle variant is similar only it is the support side towards the target and the firing side arm out to the side in a “chicken wing” stance. It’s not a fighting stance, but a bullseye shooting  static range stance. Its to blame for people not winning gunfights as it had nothing to do with gunfighting as it was for competition or the square range. Fortunately this stance is not used any more beyond the target shooting sport. a

*The “Newhall” incident should be a reminder of the problems with square range mentality getting people killed. *

Weaver. The classic Jeff Cooper/Gunsite 45 degree blade “Weaver” stance. It was a major improvement over the other stance – Target Shooting – taught at the time. It is very efficient for a fast first round hit, but not that useful for multiple round engagements, moving while shooting or engaging multiple targets. Its impossible to effectively use rifle plates with this stance. Some say this stance is the same as the classic “dueling” or boxing stance used for 200 years or so.

Modified Weaver. So called modernization of the Weaver technique. It’s a 30-35 degree blade, which is somewhat more mobile and efficient than the classic Weaver. The arms are only partially extended. Much more conducive to movement and wear of body armor as well. Still not as useful for movement or multiple round engagements (reality?). Useful for an “all around” fighting stance – Long Gun, Pistol, Blade, Combatives.

Isosceles (ISO). A full on scare up to the threat stance. Commonly a full extension of the arms when shooting with a handgun. Most effective use of body armor. Slightly less effective than Modified Weaver as an all around fighting stance as it’s not stable for combatives.

Modified Iso. This is a slight blade variant of the Iso stance – 10-15 degrees. Not a full arm extension, but closer to full extension than found with the Modified Weaver. This has become more common than normal Iso as it allows for use with combatives. Its much more conducive to movement, engaging multiple targets and as previously mentioned all weapon systems.

Reality! In reality you don’t stand still and assume a perfect square range stance. You move, duck, use cover/concealment, run, etc. As such your stance will probably encompass some form of the Modified Weaver or Modified Iso while standing or moving However, when you are behind cover you’ll find your stance is dictated by cover, not by what train of thought you subscribe to.

This is a video of a three-officer shootout with one suspect. I don’t see any square range stances in it. Just moving and using what cover there is.

The two most common stances taught today are The Modified Iso (Most gunfighting oriented schools teach this) and the Modified Weaver (Mostly taught by schools that follow Jeff Cooper’s line of thought still). Both stances allow for something that in many instances is forgotten, close quarters fighting.

Last year I had the chance to take a CQR class from John Pierson of Eagle Guardian Solutions. In this class John did what has become the standard in gunfighting oriented schools and for a non-basic class doesn’t teach any 1 stance as the only way. John did push hard to ensure your presentation includes a good Index/Reference on your ribs for close quarters or “contact” shooting. This is best done by having some form of blade to your stance. In the class we had shooters who had been taught both the Modified Weaver and the Modified Iso stance and both did well because they were able to protect their firearm with their support hand side and rotate the firing hand side as needed to shoot. Having the slight blade also allowed a greater stability when later tested in informal Defensive Tactics training.
Example: What “stance” is this stretch kneeling position?

None in particular? Exactly. It’s a variant of the Modified positions put into a somewhat realistic situation. Throw somebody into a realistic situation where there is cover and you’ll see cover being used in a different manner than what is common on the “square range.”

The basics of shooting will remain the same in a gunfight. Sight Picture/Alignment. Trigger Control. Follow Through. Gunfighting changes the rest. Distance. Location. Weapon. Etc. Do remember that only hits count as your shooting. Make sure your stance will work for what you need it to do. I have been changing mine slightly to the “mission” in the last year and its different than it was a year before that or the year before that or.... You get the point. Don’t be afraid to change, its called progress. We don’t intentionally still fight wars or go into gunfights only armed with M1 Garands and 1911’s when the AR-15 platform and modern hi-capacity pistols are around.

To be continued in part 2.