Sunday, September 8, 2013

Teaching the Weaver stance...

When I was growing up, I made a lot of hard-earned money working on the farm.  I spent an unbelievable amount of time sitting on a tractor seat doing the necessary work of the day like planting, cultivating, and mold-board plowing. All of those activities required some hands-on instruction, practice, and constant attention to detail or you'd mess up those amazingly straight dead-furrows and planting rows any good farmer takes pride in.

These days things have changed and progressed in the world of agriculture.  Those straight-planted rows are accomplished with the assistance of GPS, which sometimes even takes care of the steering altogether for you. Round-Up ready soybeans and other herbicides let you knock almost every weed out with mass-chemical application so hours spent in the field cultivating beans and corn are a thing of the past.  Finally, mold-board plowing has been done away with by chisel plows, low-till, and no-till farming techniques that save money, labor, time, and conserve the land better... in some folks opinions.

Can you still farm the way we did thirty and forty years ago? Sure you can, but the new ways are definitely better.  Back in the 1980s when I worked in law enforcement and did a lot of bullseye, action pistol, and bowling pin shoots... and began teaching folks as a firearms instructor, I taught the Weaver stance.

Now before all you on-your-knees-worshipers of whatever stance you're swearin' by jump my case... remember, back in the 1980s police departments were just switchin' over to Mel Gibson's Lethal Force 9mm's with million round capacities that the .357 Magnum revolvers just couldn't keep up with... or so the theory went. I've held onto the ol' 9mm as my primary carry gun for years and now many folks and agencies are switchin' back from the .45ACP and .40S&W to the 9mm for the same reasons I held on to it... but that discussion is for another day.

Now the truth be told, I personally used a modified Weaver stance quite successfully for years, but definitely didn't have much luck with the straight-armed Chapman stance. In the 1990s, I started working on the Isosceles stance for defense and competition, and teaching it. My personal Isosceles stance is actually modified as I still keep my shooting hand foot slightly off from my non-shooting hand foot rather than "squared-up" or perfectly perpendicular to my target.

Why did I lose my Weaver stance religion? Well, one factor was participating in more practical-type shooting competitions, but a large part of it was watching all the dash-cam videos on VHS, then DVD, and the last few years on YouTube. I've seen a lot of law enforcement officers who were trained to shoot with the Weaver stance end up in shoot-outs and almost without fail, when the bullets start flying and the stinkin' stuff is hittin' the fan, they naturally go to a "faced-off" position with the target in an Isosceles stance even though they've been trained and practicing a different stance... sometimes for years.

Now wait a minute, you say... folks will shoot how they train and practice... muscle-memory, repetition, and all that jazz. Well, I'm not always so sure about that and I think there are now about two decades for anecdotal video evidence to prove otherwise. Yes, I think you can train your mind and body to do certain things that will be instinctive when necessary, but what if you've trained your mind and body to do something that is not instinctive? Then stress of a crisis hits, will you revert to gross motor skills, tunnel vision, and maybe naturally instinctive tendencies take over?

I've been training with, practicing, and teaching the Isosceles stance as preferred over the Weaver and Chapman stances for about ten to fifteen years now. I still demonstrate the various stances to students and explain pros and cons of each, but I have to say that in the end my recommendation is Isosceles for being the preferred stance to use. It's instinctive, easily repeatable, requires less "muscling" of the gun, particularly guns with mule-kickin' recoil, and in many, many classes I've taught... new shooters in my courses and other activities have consistently better results with the Isosceles stance.

So in case you're wondering after catchin' the title of my post... I haven't been doing so in a long time, you know... Teaching the Weaver stance...

Kathy Jackson over at the Cornered Cat has a good article on the various stances if you're interested. Feel free to fire back with your comments.


  1. BINGO! Somehow I got to the right blog!

    For 40 years, I've done nothing but the Chapman stance. It just comes naturally to me. When we switched from revolver to 9mm, it was even easier. Now that I'm retired and hitting sixty, suddenly I have intense pain in my right elbow from the Chapman stance and my tendency to lock my elbow.

    A blogger suggested the Weaver stance, but I can lock my elbow even easier in that position. Any Youtube video or stance recommendation? I'm in PAIN. (plus my aim is off when I change stance)

  2. I'll echo that Dann. I shot modified Weaver...well basically forever. Decades of muscle memory and inculcated bias. Then I started shooting USPSA and my guru has switched me to Isosceles. I'm a convert. It's tough to acquire the habit, I still occasionally end a stage in a classic modified Weaver, but I'm getting there. Slowly. For anyone who is still uncertain, give it an honest try and I think you'll see it's advantages.

  3. I use a modified Weaver as well - both elbows bent.
    Hey, whatever works!