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In the heat of battle, who knows what “shooting stance” you’ll adopt? The chances of shooting from a “classic” stance in a gunfight are about as low as the chances I won’t link to an Israeli model for an analogy. Remember: a gunfight is a fight with a gun; not a simple test of marksmanship. You won’t know the who, what, when and where of it until you do. And then an armed citizen’s gotta do what an armed citizen’s gotta do. Even so, anyone who fancies using a gun for self-defense should adhere to some basic training principles to save their tochas in a life-or-death lethal force encounter . . .

For example, get off the X. Move and shoot, shoot while moving or just move. (Do try this at home with a triple and independently checked unloaded gun and ammo safely stored.) Another basic: lean forward.

Like many new or poorly trained shooters, Krysta [above] holds the .357 as far away from her face as humanly possible. To do that, she’s leaning WAY back. It’s the worst possible stance—if you want to call it that—for recoil management. Notice the muzzle flip (despite the death grip). Sure, a shooter can learn to adapt. But accuracy’s always gonna be an issue.

Never mind that. The bigger problem: passivity.

To get a move on, to move forward and away from a lethal threat, a backwards leaning shooter has to transition from leaning back to leaning forward. The easiest thing to do: not do it. Either stand still or back up.

Tactically speaking, standing still sucks. It sucks so bad I often wonder if regular static range training is counter-productive. It teaches shooters not to move. Again, anyone who’s got their basic pistol craft together is better advised practicing moving and dry firing at home.

Backing up can be even worse. Not to state the glaringly obvious, but you don’t have eyes in the back of your head. Backing-up is an excellent way to bump into something at a time when bumping into something could be your last mistake on this earth.

Nope. You’ve got to follow Devo’s advice. Go forward. Move ahead. To do that, you have to follow the old British aphorism “start as you mean to finish.” If you start a fight leaning backwards you could well end it in the ultimate backwards posture (i.e. lying flat on your back).

I know from backwards to forwards seems like a simple change. Yes but—in a potentially lethal encounter every millisecond counts. More than that, leaning forwards puts you in “go” mode. It enables the most advantageous self-defense strategy: speed, surprise and violence of action.

When it comes to self-defense, you’ve got to lean into it. Even if you’re moving away from it. By all means, practice shooting off-balance. But make leaning forwards your default stance.

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  1. Sound advice. Even more sound when you start dealing with shoulder-mounted arms (ie, long arms) that present real recoil.

    When you’re firing one of those big African double guns, or a heavy-recoiling magnum, lean forward into it. Even a 12 ga with a field load – when you’re out shooting in the field, take the short, extra moment when you’re caught “off stride” to put your left foot forward (if you’re a right-handed shooter) and lean into the shot a little bit.

    Next tip: You’ll notice newer shooters hunch their shoulders up when they’re shooting a handgun in a standing position, as the young lady in the video is doing. This burns up a lot of energy. Even some experienced shootists do this. I’m not picking on any gentleman who has the machismo to wear a kilt, but you can see an example (a bit) in how Mr. John Hollister is holding his shoulders in the picture in the upper right of the blog screen. He’s hunching them up. That, over a few minutes on a practice range, burns up a terrific amount of energy.

    If you look at some of Mr. Colion Noir’s videos where you can see him shooting, look at how relaxed his shoulders are. He’ll be able to shoot all day by being that relaxed.

    • I have a female friend who’s just getting into shooting, and I’ve had to correct the “lean back” thing a few times. The good thing is that when she started, I had to “remind her” every third or fourth shot. Now it’s down to maybe every 15th or more.

      Thanks for the shoulder hunch thing. I think I might do that, so I’ll have to watch for it, and I’ll look forward it on my friend, as well.

      • My wife was doing that lean back thing. I told her that it seems that this is because of fear of the weapon, trying to get as far away from it as possible. I told her that it doesn’t really get you farther away since the length of your arms don’t change. She, being an intelligent person, learned the error of her ways and tries to remember the proper stance. Of course I’ve had to remind myself to do this a time or two as well.

  2. When I teach new shooters, I make the point to put their weight on the balls of their feet. As a check, if your weight is correctly forward, you can lift your heels easily. While we’re shooting, if I start to see bad posture, I’ll prompt, “Lift up your heels for me.” Almost impossible to do in the “question mark leaning back” stance, and it forces you back into a weight-forward stance..

    • Good idea about lifting the heels. Something easy to do and potentially instructive for the shooter who won’t even admit that they are leaning back in the first place.

  3. She definitely was not prepared for the weather. Depends on situation, I would back up and give extra space between myself and an armed intruder but I would sweep my feet back one at a time. Continued contact with the ground (while leaning forward), moving forward in a DGU might be considered an aggressive act, depending on your local laws take cover and stand your ground might be the best option, just remember concealment is not cover.

  4. Backing up, the retreat, exposes you to all sorts of potential problems. Assualt out of an ambush. No gaurantees either way. But the bad guy thinks of himself as the predator, the aggressor. I have messed their day up by simply moving forward when they figured I would run or root.

    It’s something to see, the look in a predators eyes when he suddenly realizes he ain’t the only predator out there. We sometimes refer to ourselves as sheepdogs here. And what’s a sheepdog but a predator with a purpose.

    • Fair. But it’s a mistake to train only to move laterally and forward. Sometimes safety and cover is only available in your rear quadrant; sometimes you will need to move rearward to protect others as they move away from the visible danger to the front.

  5. MSNBC: Lean forward except if you’re trying (and we don’t know why you’d try) to save your life. Do what we at MSNBC preach: roll over, play dead and hope the bad guy doesn’t kill you anyway.

  6. “Backing up can be even worse. Not to state the glaringly obvious, but you don’t have eyes in the back of your head. Backing-up is an excellent way to bump into something at a time when bumping into something could be your last mistake on this earth.”

    I must disagree, as walking backwards may be the only option available to the defender. The first time I reached for my carry pistol it was against an advancing adversary who was 3′ away. At that distance I would have barely had room to draw the piece, to say nothing of actually getting a shot off before he got the better of me. While stepping backward during a draw isn’t my idea of a great time, the alternative was much worse. Chances are if someone tries to kill you they won’t be doing it from 30 feet away.

    As to the “leaning forward” debacle, I think the link above is a poor example because women have a different upper body balance / center of gravity then men. While leaning forward isn’t a difficult thing for a man to do while shooting, ive found women initially don’t find it a natural position to shoot from. When I’ve coached women to shoot, every time I ask them to “lean forward” the boilerplate retort is “it doesn’t feel right”. While do I see pros like Tori Nonaka shoot ‘proper’, ive yet to see an amateur female shooter do it in person. The wife of a friend complained that she felt like she was going to fall over when I coached her to stand in the iscosoles position leaning forward. The ladies ive seen shoot managed to hit the target just fine leaning backwards and all, so I’ve held my peace on the matter.

    • Please check out some of my new shooting videos on YouTube! Just look for “Krysta Blade” I am a much better shooter today then what you see in this video! That video was the first time in my life ever shooting handguns!!

  7. FYI that day at the range was my very first time EVER shooting a handgun in my life! I am much better now but still have a long way to go. I’m an 18 year old new shooter and I just got my first gun. I hope to be a shooter for the rest of my life!!

    • You did great on your first time out, Krysta. I thought you did especially well managing the gun’s muzzle flipping upwards on each shot, which can be a challenge for new shooters.

      Out of curiosity, were you leaning back because the gun was heavy, making it challenging to support at arms length? I’ve heard that from a number of new shooters trying larger pistols for the first time.

      • Thank you and yes that was part of it but for the most part it just felt right. Hey check out my new video showing me shooting the 1911 45ACP and I think you will see that I am shooting a lot better. Just look up my name on YouTube and you will find me… 🙂

  8. You do this to me everytime. I start reading the story and then on I to click on the HOT Israeli girls, and then I forget what the hell I was reading and have to start over.

  9. I’ve seen trained female military members shoot like that. (Ok they were Air Force lieutenants) .

    Easiest way I ever found to explain how to stand is “stand like you are going to punch someone”. That puts the feet close enough to a weaver stance that their groups tend to go down in size by a factor of 3 at least.

  10. Well, we all know most new female shooters lean away from the gun anyway. its mostly from being scared of the loud sound and muzzle flash.

    Obviously a noob mistake, but can easily be corrected with training. Now, moving forward while in a gun fight or being attacked, not so sure. Aren’t you supposed to get away from trouble, not towards it?

    I would counter-suggest moving sideways instead.

  11. Leaning backwards is something we women have to overcome–that is our natural way to balance the extra weight being held out front(not necessarily trying to get away from it)
    She also was committing several other “errors” that no one has mentioned–her finger was on the trigger at ALL times-notice when she brought the gun up the first time–her finger was already on the trigger before she rolled the cylinder in. Also, she wasn’t keeping muzzle downrange after shooting-and had not checked to verify empty


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