Strict and Rigid Shooting Stance? Is there a "Perfect Model?"

When I first started dating my fiancé we went shooting at a local range for our 3rd date. I noticed her stance was very unnatural in appearance and form. She was taking a standard isosceles triangle position but was leaning so far forward she looked as if she was going to fall over. Her shoulders were tense and she nearly shook with tension each time she pulled the trigger. Her groupings were all over the target and she really seemed to be struggling.

When I questioned her about it (gently) she let me know the backstory; her ex (divorced 10+ years now) was a firearms instructor who had done contract work firearms training for the US military. When they had started dating she had loved shooting and could out perform him in accuracy and speed. Well, he started telling her all the things she was doing ‘wrong’ in her form, posture, and position, and started grilling her or mocking her if she shot poorly from that point forward. The bad habits he pressed upon her and the (I’m not joking) PTSD she still had from that previous relationship made her a poor and very anxious shooter.

Upon hearing the story I had her shoot through another magazine then gave her some pointers of my own. I told her to relax, stop leaning forward, ease her shoulders downward (they were by her ears), and flex her knees a bit in a far more comfortable position. “But that’s not how XXX told me to do it. He said to do it this way,” she said hesitantly over her shoulder. “Oh yeah? Well how’s that workin’ out for ya?” I asked not too assertively as I nodded down range at the target. She shrugged and saw my point, followed my guidance into a far more natural (for her) stance and fired away. Her groupings were MUCH closer and her handling of the firearm from fire to recovery were much smoother and appeared far more comfortable. She has a lot more work to overcome the bad habits, but it got me thinking (and yeah, I’m kinda finally to my point)…

I’m not a firearms instructor and, in fact, have never been formally trained, but I feel I shoot smoothly and comfortably in a “street taught” position. I feel that each individual shooter should shoot from a comfortable and natural stance and position, and that there’s no strict “you have to shoot this way” perfect posture “because that’s how the pros do it” or the like. Now I’m not saying a slumped over, weak-wristed firing style is the way to go…I understand that there are some parameters, posture, and position sets that provide optimum shooting results, but I would argue that even within those sets there’s not a one-size-fits-all variable set for all shooters. In short, every shooter is unique and they need to take the best stance-per-performance specifically for them to achieve their goal. “Professional” trainer-be-darned, but sometimes the student’s form is best discovered by the student (Now…disclaimer…I’m not at ALL knocking professional trainers…just that ONE! And only because he had a literal personal vendetta involved in his instruction. I have no doubt most professional trainers and instructions are top-knotch and nearly ALL of them are registered with the USCCA! lol).

So, what are the thoughts from the hive-mind? Is there a one-size-fits-all posture and stance shooting position that people should take regardless of their personal physique or comfort level? Or should a shooter be allowed to do what ‘feels best’ when shooting? Or…third option, is it a combination of the two?

Open discussion welcomed, please.



(short version, I think you’ve got it, deep doing it!)

Long version:

To put it in popular quotes language: What we’ve seen from police dash cams and now regular security footage is that, generally, people are less likely to “fight the way they train” than we like to think. So what should maybe actually be done, is “train like you fight”. And how are you going to fight? Probably in your natural/comfortable stance. So, “stand like you stand”.

That said, or as you said, actually, there are some parameters to consider, big picture

For me, if I’m going to give specifics, it’s going to be simple and general. For pistols.

Slight bend in the knees, comfortable and not locked is all
Lean forward just a little (push lightly on their front shoulders to demonstrate if needed, just enough lean they don’t rock on their heals)
Probably by then their feet will be placed well, if not, suggest moving strong side foot back just a touch in the event they are totally squared off

And to get to the next step, shooting while moving (everybody should practice this, even if it’s dry fire or laser or just a finger gun)…it doesn’t need to be fancy crouched special forces high speed low drag stuff. Can you walk with a full cup of coffee and not spill it? Pretty much walk like that and you’ll minimize your sight’s movements. “Walk like you walk”. Maybe give a small primer about going heel-toe forwards and toe-heel backwards but most people will do that if you tell them the coffee thing


Pretty much described me, including “groupings we’re all over the target.”
The CCW instructor told me to relax a few times.

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When I first started shooting pistol I used a modified weaver stance. It worked. When I REALLY started to lean how to shoot it was full isosceles as were were wearing armor and vests. It took me YEARS to unlearn the modified weaver. Now I teach isosceles as ergonomically it makes more sense especially if you have to shoot on the move. Folks are built different and some positions just don’t work or they force themselves into those positions because “instructor X” said so. Have a standard but be competent and confident enough to change that standard if it is unsuccessful. In general shooting stances should be comfortable, repeatable, maintainable and focus on NPA (Natural Point of Aim) IMHO.




Pick the topic and we can play this game. I go through it all of the time at track days. There are techniques that can help people, but they should ride in a way that they ride well (safe, fast, predictable). People have injuries, different lengh arms/legs, neck pain, bad knees. The list is long. I think you did great.


For me proper shooting stance is the same as proper sitting in car’s seat. It has to be comfortable, safe and good enough so I can keep the steering wheel and control the car.

Did your driving instructor tell you how to seat? :wink: I don’t think so. He definitely told you what to do to have a full control of your car, but the way how you actually seat is on you.

The perfect stance is a “fighting” one. Is it isosceles? Maybe yes, maybe not. I don’t care. It is just a stance that works best for a lot of shooters (me included) and we don’t even realize we use it. This is a natural stance that everyone uses to prepare the body for an action.

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There are many different goals one might have when shooting. In target shooting, one is trying to hit the bullseye, and stance, posture, grip, etc., are important in achieving the “perfect shot”. In defensive shooting, which is what most here are likely training for, “bullseye” is not needed, nor wanted. We want “combat accuracy” and “fast”. One is not likely to be able to get into a target shooting stance in a self-defense incident, so the most important aspects are pointing the firearm well enough to get shots on “target” and a good grip to help make that happen. I do not recall seeing any videos of self-defense incidents where the person was in a target shooting stance.

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That is a good analogy. But, some people’s driver’s ed instructor did tell them how to sit/where to put the seat. Some, mostly because it was a thing they thought looked cool at the time, wanted to put their seat way back. I’m talking, ideally, you’d see them through the back seat window. Instructor would have to say, you’re going to have to slide the seat up and tilt the headrest forward to drive with me in the car. Otherwise these individuals would be leaning back with their arms fully extended trying to turn the wheel.

Kind of like some shooters will need to be told to lean forward a little, especially women or smaller/weaker/older shooters who want to get the weight of the gun closer to their body (by leaning their shoulders back) because they have a hard time holding the gun out in front of them.

That is where an experienced shooter/instructor determines on a case by case basis what/how much to tell another shooter/student. If they get it on their own, no need to bombard them with the info, just let it do. :slight_smile:


That’s the point. There is no need to correct something that has been developed for the years. New shooter eventually discovers what needs to be changed in the posture to dominate the firearm. If not - there is the time for instructor to make a corrections.


Thank you ALL for the feedback. It’s much appreciated it. And @Nathan57 - I will certainly keep “deep doing it” whenever I can. :rofl:


I see very little or no comments about practicing self defense shooting in the prone position. What’s your opinion on that.


For the purposes of this post I was really just addressing beginner stance and positioning, but to your point, expanding to prone would all depend on that position, too. There’s not too much you can adjust while shooting prone, whether from the belly or side(s), and there’s not much to say about comfort while shooting prone. :smiley: I suppose I can add a pillow to my EDC for those times (tongue in cheek comment right there).

Should you practice shooting from prone (and kneeling), yep, but that’s more advanced and I’d seek advice from a trainer or an experienced shooter before I gave it a try, myself.

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Not advanced if you carry for self defense is it. Point is anybody can shoot standing up. Ask how many ever shoot prone :question:Try shooting prone and people will see why it just might be a good idea to hit the deck in a safe way.

I don’t see much probability to using a pistol defensively from the prone position. Can’t say that I recall seeing any videos (ASP, etc) of anybody needing to do it, either.

On your back, different story. Seen plenty of that and have been trained in doing so. It’s also more risky/possibly benefits even more from training, because there is so much risk of shooting yourself when on your back which isn’t really a thing when prone. Safely standing up from on your back is also more difficult to do, particularly safely with a pistol in your hand


Likewise. :+1:
Whatever works is fine if it produces acceptable results — safe good shooting is never wrong.

If results are not satisfactory, suggest changes (ideally one at a time) toward more tried and true, stereotypic, “ideal image” form in stance, posture, grip, trigger, etc — and see what adjustment helps. Start with focus on the thing which makes the most pronounced and immediate improvement, and practice that until it’s habituated. On to the next suggestion when ready.

For a brand new or totally adrift shooter, demonstrate. “Do like this.” Let them see where their body falls naturally and how well that works before getting all didactic. If the demonstration is something they can’t follow or process or understand, then “prop” them into “proper” form — and again let that settle into a position of personal comfort and accommodation.

Forcing a learner into matching some classic ideal or fine-tuning the advanced shooter — those are things way over my pay grade (and I’m not convinced everyone in that pay grade can really drive in that lane).

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For me, prone seems like reloads — very, very low likelihood of need in the already very, very low likelihood of need for civilian defensive shooting of any kind. So, I think pretty low, optional, advanced. Simply shooting well from prone is enough to subtract from attention to other practice, and it raises issues related to shooting at an upward angle, immobility, long-range accuracy, target acquisition, etc.

Position shooting is not a bad thing to know. But if folks are too bored or too good at stand-up shooting, mobility, and barriers — I think some more important topics for defensive shooters would include:
• knocked down (short-range supine)
• without corrective lenses
• without dominant eye
• without support hand
• without primary hand
• no-shoots, malfunctions, tactics, laws
• non-shooting defense


As long as I got people thinking outside the box I’m happy. There are advantages to shooting from a phone position ( safely ). Did you watch the video ?

@Blacky I personally have found “KNOWING” how to shoot prone very helpful. It kind of goes along with KNOWING how to shoot sideways.

For instance:
Open street. Fire coming from houses above, curb is the only cover.
Bad guy 2 cars down. Shoot under the car to stop/disable the threat. (Do you know where to bounce the bullet?)

Some may consider these to be "IPSIC or IDPA trick shots but they are all based on reality. If you have never turned your gun 90* and tried to hit a target that you were just punching the center out of you may wish to have that knowledge in case you find yourself stuck to the ground.



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