Determining The Best Individual Shooting Position (Stance)
The two most important elements of any standing pistol shooting position (stance) for target shooting is balance and comfort.
You need to have your weight evenly distributed on both feet and the stance has to feel comfortable to the point you can move from that position easily. The three shooting positions I have students experiment with are the Isosceles Stance, Modern Isosceles Stance , and the Weaver Stance.
Lets start with the Isosceles Stance where the shooter stands facing the target with the feet spaced shoulder width apart and toes pointed straight at the target with both feet an even distance from the target. The body weight is then shifted to the balls of the feet by slightly bending the knees and leaning slightly forward so the shoulders are ahead of the waist like your are trying to reach out and touch the target. The head should be slightly in front of the shoulders and the shoulders should be in alignment with the toes. This is the most commonly taught shooting position because it is a slightly crouched position with the hands reaching forward as the position you would subconsciously assume in response to someone catching you by surprise in personal attack. In this stance both arms are fully extended when gripping a pistol with a proper grip and in a low ready position (the pistol pointed at approximately a forty five degree angle to the ground or as low as you can lower it below the shelf on a firing lane at a range). The elbows are both pointing at the ground at about a forty five degree angle when raised to a firing position. Close your eyes and bring the pistol up to where you perceive it is at the proper height to aim at the target in a firing position. Open your eyes and look down the sights without moving the pistol and see if the front sight is close to being level with the top of the rear sight blade or notch and centered in the notch of the reach sight. If it is not move the non-shooting side foot a little backward, and/or adjust the distance between your feet slightly, and repeat the exercise to see if the sights are in better alignment to the target when opening your eyes.
The second shooting position is the Modern Isosceles Stance and the only difference in it and the Isosceles Stance is the shooting side foot is pulled back four to six inches behind the non-shooting side foot (if you are shooting right handed then the shooting side is your right side and foot). Staggering the shooting side foot slightly gives better balance in managing the recoil of larger caliber pistols and may allow you to move from that position slightly faster than from the Isosceles Stance. Repeat the exercise of closing the eyes and bring the pistol up to a firing position and open the eyes to see how close your sight are to being properly aligned to the target. Again shift your stance slightly and repeat the exercise to see if you can improve the sight alignment when you raise the pistol to the firing position.
The third shooting stance is the Weaver Stance. The setup for the Weaver Stance starts the same as in the Isosceles and Modern Isosceles Stances. When facing the target with feet shoulder width apart and toes perpendicular to the target line you pull the shooting side foot back about six inches behind the other foot and rotate the body about 30 degrees to the right of the target for right handed shooter or 30 degrees to the left of the target for the left handed shooter. It is important that you don’t pull the shooting side foot back any further than the toes of the shooting side foot being even with the heel of the non-shooting side foot. Make sure your shoulders are also shifted thirty degrees to correspond with your adjusted feet position. Shift the weight to the balls of the feet by bending the knees slightly and lean slightly toward the target so the shoulders are in front of the waist and your head is slightly ahead of your shoulders. Fully extend your right arm properly gripping the pistol and let your non-shooting elbow drop to where the elbow is pointing straight to the ground and relaxed. You are shooting from a bladed stance and the barrel of your pistol should form a straight line with the shooting side forearm. Repeat the exercises of bringing the pistol up to a firing position with you eyes closed, then determine how close your sights are to being in proper alignment. Repeat with slight adjustments to the stance to see if you can improve the sight picture.
With all three of the shooting stance exercises you are trying to determine which is most comfortable for you and which stance will enable you to bring the pistol up to firing position with the least amount of sight alignments necessary to get proper sight alignment and a quick sight picture on your target. These exercises will help you find what is call a “natural point of aim” and a shooting position best suited for you individually. There is no perfect stance for any one shooter but in any stance your weight must be balanced on both feet, front to back, and side to side to enable you to hold your pistol steady on target and to minimize the recoil and muzzle rise of the pistol when firing so that you can get back on target quickly for any follow-up shots.