Beginners Guide: Got Proper Stance?


By Robert Farago via The Truth About Guns

Shooting a gun – while standing still without facing incoming fire – isn’t complicated. There are four basic components: sight picture, stance (which includes grip), breathing and trigger control. That’s a bit like saying playing the blues isn’t complicated. While a non-musicians can learn the three-chord blues progression in minutes the blues takes a lifetime to master. To begin the journey to firearms mastery, a new shooter needs to learn the four rules of gun safety. After that, there’s an important principle to keep in mind, one that will save you time and money and help you avoid frustration . . .

Any bad habit you develop will take a thousand rounds to “unlearn.” To re-program yourself to shoot correctly, instinctively. And that’s the goal: to shoot properly without thinking about it. So you can concentrate on other skills, such as, I dunno, hitting the target. Or learning to shoot accurately on the move, which is critical to armed self-defense.

I repeat: if you start shooting with a lousy stance like the girl above, it will take you a thousand rounds to completely eradicate your natural desire to lean away from the gun like it’s got rabies. (Which is why it’s best to start with a low-caliber gun with minimal recoil.) The more you shoot with an incorrect stance, grip, breathing pattern or trigger technique (i.e., “slapping” the trigger), the more deeply ingrained the habit becomes.

Which means you really need expert instruction from the word go. Not to put too fine a point on it, don’t learn to shoot with anyone who isn’t an expert instructor.


When it comes to a “proper” shooting stance, it becomes a little more complicated.

There are two basic shooting stances: isosceles and weaver. The video above explains the difference between the two – and shows you how something that seems dead simple is extremely difficult to master. Here’s the problem: both stances have their adherents and detractors. An expert instructor will favor one or the other. Again, if you start with one, switching to the other will take a good thousand rounds to “correct.” So . . .

You should discuss the pros and cons of the isosceles and weaver stances with your teacher, who should know the pros and cons of both. If you teacher responds to your questions about stance – or grip, breathing and trigger control – with “trust me, I know what I’m doing” or “because I said so,” wrong teacher. A good instructor will tell you what to do when shooting and why you need to do it.

Your shooting stance is no more of less important than the other shooting basics. Yes, you can be an excellent shooter with any stance – a lot of pro shooters adopt what looks like a fully erect posture – but the trick to mastering your shooting is to make it as easy as possible to shoot the gun properly. No matter which way you go, trust me, shooting well is a lot harder than it first appears. Wait, did I just say that? You know what I mean . . .

Categories: Beginners Guide, General, Video
About Brandon Curtis | View all posts by Brandon Curtis

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady…

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster.

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  • Sufferfortribe

    Being new to shooting, this is very informative for someone like me. I have a tendency to pull to the left. so I will try some different stances, adding that with variations in trigger pulls, to see if that will help to correct my issue.

    • Dan Weymouth

      practice and be sure your pistol is lined up straight with your forearm. when you have your arm out there and your hand bent off somewere else. its very easy to miss and not even know why. Also beginners tend to have the “flinch”. You expect it to go BANG! so you react instinctively to that. In short it will make you flinch. And toss off your aim in the process. Relax. Slow breath. Around about the middle of your exhale you pull your trigger. This jedi zen sounds like a bucket of poo. But it will help you to relax and hopefully, with practice. You will get better and overcome your flinching and jumping about while trying to make an accurate shot. Good Luck =)

  • El Conquistador

    The best thing for rookie shooters to do is to start off with a .22LR. Very little recoil, cheap ammo. After you master that you can move up in caliber. A cannon does no good if you cannot hit anything.

  • Dan Weymouth

    Well here we go again. This will get you killed. So sorry, many many of us are NOT police. I don’t have and cannot afford an uber expensive bullet resistant vest. These stances are great if you have one. That is why they shoot this way. protecting the vulnerable side of the armor. If not. Consider shooting from the classic duelers stance. SIDEWAYS to your enemy. Present as little of your body as possible to the opponent. Shooting from your main hand. And have a spare magazine or moon clip for revolvers in your off hand ready to go. As with anything this requires PRACTICE. No stance will be perfect in every situation. But aw common and gimme a break. Yanking and shooting like a CHIPS pro is really dangerous to you, if you don’t have this expensive BR armor. Get some cover if you can. Present as little of yourself as possible so you don’t make a big juicy target for the bad guys. just sayin.

    Dan Weymouth HT1 (Surface Warfare Specialist) United States Navy Retired.