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The number one mistake I see new shooters – and plenty of experienced shooters – make: they don’t stick their butt out when they shoot. The “standing tall” position is a loser on three major fronts. First, it makes a shooter susceptible to recoil, which pushes them backwards, which knocks them off-balance, which makes it difficult to maintain the stance and makes it harder to bring the gun back on target. Simple physics folks; the higher your center of gravity, the easier it is to disturb. Try this simple test . . .

Put your hand out in a standing tall shooting stance. Have someone press up on you hands. Then try it with your butt out. See? Second, the butt-out stance makes it far more likely you’ll move. As we’ve discussed here many, many times, movement is life. Unless you’re target shooting, you want to train yourself to get off the X (as the gun gurus say). When you’re crouched down – even a bit – your muscles are primed to GO! And third, bending your knees, crouching down and yes, sticking your butt out make you a smaller target. What’s not to love?

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  1. You only need to stick your butt out for balance when you shoot with an isosceles stance. Chapman and Weaver shooters are already balanced without the silly-looking I’m-taking-a-dump gymnastics. Shooting with a “baseball” stance only requires shooters to flex their knees for mobility purposes.

    Regardless of stance, stiff legs mean immobility. And in serious situations, immobility can mean death. So flex those knees, people, and be prepared to move.

    • One additional point given to me by my pistol instructor, a retired SEAL:

      Weaver stance is excellent for target shooting – it is stable and allows quick recovery from recoil, BUT…

      In a gunfight with pistols using isosceles it is possible to absorb one or more hits to the chest, assuming they do not impact vital organs such as the heart, or severe your spine, and continue to fight. With prompt medical attention (assuming you win the fight) such wounds are often survivable. Not so much with the Weaver stance since you are presenting the side of your chest to the direction of incoming fire. A hit from this angle has a much greater chance of penetrating to the heart, through one or both lungs, and to the spine and even if you win the fight is less likely to be survivable.


  2. And here I thought the “isosceles” referred to the arms being extended equally, making an isosceles triangle with your chest, whereas the Weaver stance involved one arm being fully extended and one being slightly bent. Learn something new every day!

  3. Weaver was da nuts forty years ago. I loved and adopted it the very first minute I saw it.
    Nowadays we know what works thanks to experimentation, trial under pressure, and the use of competition to sort the winners and losers. And, to the development of easy video so that we see what people actually do.
    Weaver is slow, it compromises movement by requiring multiple body position changes for every simple one-move operation, and it’s slow. Really slow.
    I’m sorry not everyone like the appearance of isosceles, but when you are attacked unexpectedly, your body will assume an isosceles position anyway. Don’t fight it, practice it.

    • Weaver works more naturally for me because I’m cross-eye dominant, and Weaver allows me to more naturally sight with my dominant left eye while shooting with my dominant right hand

      • I’m the same way. The first time I ever picked up a handgun, I just instinctively aimed it in a quasi-Weaver way, because it naturally brought the sights in line with my left eye. I’ve been told I’m doing it wrong, but my targets seem to have holes in all the right places, so screw ’em. I’d rather use an “old-fashioned” method of shooting and hit what I’m aiming at than miss using the latest “tactical” innovation.

      • I am cross eye dominant myself and started with the Weaver.

        The more I compete the more I realize that the Iso stance is just faster.

        One of the best shooters in the world, Dave Sevigny is cross eye dominant and he shoots Iso with great effect.

        Just something to think about.

      • You use Weaver stance because you are comfortable with it. It is no easier to get your off eye lined up with the sights with either stance.
        I use the forward facing crouch stance so I can move laterally much faster.

        • Just to say, you can change your eye dominance. I’m also right handed left eye dominant, or at least I was. Last time I went to the optometristhe said I was right eye dominant and I had look through his files of my previous visits and he was surprised that I had always been left eye dominant before. He said he didn’t know you could change it.

          You basically just have to reduce the quality of the vision in your left eye by either closing it or squinting it a bit, or some people put some scotch tape on their eyepro lens or scratch the lens.

          That way it forces you to use the other eye more and over time it will change and you won’t have to do that stuff anymore.

    • “Nowadays we know what works thanks to experimentation, trial under pressure, and the use of competition to sort the winners and losers.”

      Actually, in real gunfights, all this fretting goes out the window.

      That’s the “experimentation” I look at. Stances for competition are ok as “training aids,” but some people put far, far, far too much emphasis on one vs the other. We’ve even see people argue over “elbow angle” and suchlike.

      Trigger time and pressure testing your shooting are the biggies, in my opinion.

    • when you are attacked unexpectedly, your body will assume an isosceles position anyway

      Sure, but only if you’re so scared that you’ll need to evacuate your bowels.

      Look, no stance is natural if it requires squatting for balance. You cannot move while squatting. Which is why baseball hitters use a baseball (Weaver) stance. Basketball shooters don’t squat — they have a leading foot and a balanced, dare I say Weaver — shooting stance. A leading foot provides great fore and aft balance and, along with bent knees, excellent mobility. With an Iso stance, mobility is sacrificed for balance.

      Having said all that, when I teach I let the student determine his or her own stance based on what’s most cofortable and works best for them. OTOH, Isophiles are too arrogant to allow any other stance to exist.

      • “when I teach I let the student determine his or her own stance based on what’s most cofortable and works best for them.”
        I’m the same way, with one caveat. They have to be able to walk safely in any direction while they maintain that position. I was a weaver shooter until I had to start moving while I was shooting, then I switched to isosceles.
        Well that and the notion that if I was going to get shot I wanted to take it in my front plate, something that most civilians should not be concerned with.

    • It doesn’t matter as long as you use a Glock brand Glock in .40. Not some silly 1911 in a fat slow caliber like 45.

      • .40? Because you like compromise on both ends? 🙂

        I admit, I finally switched away from a 1911, mostly because I got tired of the weight. I switched to a Springfield brand GLOCK, in .45.

        • Same here…I also realized I had not had my 1911 out of the safe in 10 years. When I retired I also got rid of all my Glocks…except my service G22 that I was given when I retired. Even though I shot over 20,000 rounds w/o a failure I never liked the Glock grip angle. I now only carry Springfield XD’s! Love the grip, grip safety, trigger and reliability. It also seems to be more accurate and is definitely smaller than the Glock 45….and I love 45 acp.

  4. I’m not so sure about some of the dudes that come up to the range, where I shoot, especially the ones wearing lots of pink, with a smile on their face.
    With me sticking my butt out, and all that noise, I probably wouldn’t notice one of those funny walking dudes, slip up behind me and…………………….

    • Isosceles stance, knees bent, shoulders in front of his hips, head up. I wish I could be that perfect. Alas, I am not.
      The “stick your butt out” is the wrong way to think off it. Leaning slightly forward, pressing forward into an aggressive stance is more of the way to think of it.

      • I like chris, ever since watching top shot. But, you know this thing looks like it was stolen from an SNL sketch. Gay shooting instructor teaching a group of students the “stick your butt out” technique.

  5. I’ve always taught a progressive lean…. Not “butt out”:

    Knees unlocked but not bent/crouching, hips in front of ankles, shoulders in front of hips. Weight should be on the balls of the feet. Not the heels, not the toes.

    From ankles to shoulders you’re straight, but leaning forward to absorb the recoil.


  6. Chri’s input is good and valid. I might say it is not as much sticking your butt our but keeping your upper body forward may be more accurate. Damn sure looks like sticking your butt out, though, so why quibble?

    My problem is this infernal drive toward some one right answer to everything from caliber to weapon type to stance. This is some SERIOUSLY old school thinking, as in the 1911 is your only choice so you had simply better adjust to the weapon. Folks, there are hundreds of choices because people needed them. No two bodies are the same. Hand size, eyesight, strength, etc. All can vary. “Isoceles is proven to be better by experimentation!” “Weaver is traditional!”

    Bull hockey! Here’s a good qualifier. Isoceles works well if and ONLY if you have two functioning ankles and legs. Guess what – not everyone has two functioning ankles, nor even two complete legs! I am a right, below-knee amputee. If I’m in an isoceles stance, I cannot move side to side worth a damn. I can only move straight forward or backward quickly. Crossing legs in a move? You’ve got to be kidding. How do I know this? Because I tried it. A lot.

    I use a Weaver stance because I am both more stable and have more fluid side-to-side motions than any other stance. Blading my body to the target gives me more stability as a gun platform and more defensive movement capability. I can drive off my (mostly) missing leg and be sure that moving left or right I will be stable when my foot hits the ground. Stability is good. Falling down in a gunfight is bad,

    You know what you need to shoot accurately? Sight picture, breath control, a good trigger press. Everything else is open and variable. Sure, for defensive shooting you’d add movement, use of cover and concealment, and speed reloads and stoppage clearing. Everything else besides that is open and variable.

    Dear lord, but I’ve actually had some young guy who learned about shooting by watching videos on youtube correct me at the range because my modified Weaver stance is silly because I need to keep my plate carrier square on to the threat… I don’t even know anyone who owns a plate carrier!

    Pick the stance that works for YOU. Pick the weapon that works for YOU. Pick whatever you want that works for YOU. And sooner or later, your success or failure will revolve around sight picture, breathing, trigger press, movement, use of cover/concealment, and maybe reloads and stoppage clearing. That and practice your ass off, whether it is sticking out or not.

    • I’m sorry, sir, but you are far too reasonable and intelligent for an internet comment section. We’re going to have to ask you to throw your computer off a bridge.

      Everyone know that there’s only ONE TRUE WAY to do anything, and that no matter which way you’re doing it, it’s wrong.

  7. If all your shooting is at the range, that might be okay. I remember when the FBI taught that stance and it was all the rage among us old cops. Then, along came reality. If you wear a gun for a living, you are taught to turn the gun away from the person you are dealing with. This basically puts you in a martial arts stance at about a 45degree angle from your opponent with your gun a bit farther from his reach. In a situation, time is essential. Sometimes, draw and shoot from the hip. Sometimes, draw, extend and shoot. In QCB, there is no time for crouching and aiming. Things are happening fast and close. If you think the horse stance is the ultimate shooting position, you might want to revisit your martial arts training once again to see what works best for you.
    As for me, I might be Behind a car or something that will slow a bullet down a bit. When covering exits from buildings, I used to look for drainage ditches and fire hydrants. Don’t look for me to always be standing upright. My goal is to make me as small a target as I can be and use cover whenever possible. The low crouch position, as it used to be called, places your body directly in front of your opponent with your chest being the main target.

  8. It’s not “stick your butt out”. It’s “move your shoulders forward”. You *lean* into the gun and the recoil. But always keep your knees slightly bents, never lock them. You should be like a coiled spring. Not a bent piece of wire. Square your shoulders and keep them at least over your balls of your feet, not your heels. Maybe even slightly forward if you can. You want the recoil to act against your body weight and travel down your frame into the ground. Sticking your butt out does not help this path for the recoil energy and maintain balance at the same time.

  9. No.
    See, is what you do is, you face away from the target at about 45 degrees. Standing upright, extend your dominant hand with the pistol toward the target.
    Your off hand is placed in your front pants pocket.
    Stand proudly and bang away!

    Pay no attention to the mall ninjas. Everybody thinks he is an expert.

    • Good comedy! It is certainly fun to see the hackles get raised, isn’t it? My opinions, expressed previously, are not from competitive shooting competitions; rather, they are from 7 years of military combat training during the Asian war games and 5 years as a police officer in a metroplex of 7.2 million people, some of whom were not too nice plus a lifetime of shooting and thousands of hours of studying actual shootings. Not all of us are armchair warriors and mall ninjas—some of us actually performed under duress and stress. My friends used to call me Rambo to which I would respond, “Rambo was a fictional character; I was the real thing!”

  10. “If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly.” – Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting

  11. I have the best groupings when I put my left leg in.
    Then pull the left leg out.
    Then put the left leg in and shake it all about.
    I think that’s what it’s all about.

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