February 27, 2018
It seems like everyone who tries to sell something these days needs a gimmick. This is no less true of shooting instructors than of designers of iPhone apps. A new technique is seized upon, and suddenly everything that went before is dismissed as hopelessly dated, if not downright hazardous.
The latest victim of this trend is the Weaver stance: the venerable two-handed hold used in practical handgun shooting. The favorite stance du jour is the so-called "isosceles," or triangle, in which the shooter plants both feet firmly apart, sticks both arms straight out, and grips the gun like sure death. Some IPSC matches were won with it, so it became de rigueur not only for IPSC and the like, but also for practical training for self-defense. Anyone now who prints a photo of someone using the old Weaver stance is sure to get a raft of nasty emails.
Recently, I wrote a piece for Shooting Times about teaching a friend of mine to shoot a handgun for defense purposes. Chris is a petite lady in her early 50s and has a few hand problems to deal with, including arthritis from years of martial-arts training. Someone had tried to teach her the isosceles, and she found it unworkable. I switched her to the Weaver, which was comfortable for her and allowed her to handle the gun properly. The response from the self-appointed experts was predictable, insisting the isosceles is the only "proper" way to hold a handgun.
Why the Weaver Works So Well
Well, I beg to differ. I've shot both the Weaver and the isosceles, and I do not believe the isosceles is a good stance for real-life combat situations, any more than a trap stance is good training for driven grouse or that firing a .458 off a bench prepares you for buffalo in the long grass. Certainly, it is not as natural and flexible as the Weaver, no matter how many IPSC hot-shots have used it to win matches.
Before Jack Weaver came along, handgunners had tried various methods of two-handed shooting. Weaver ingeniously took the age-old human "prepare to fight" position and adapted it. The Weaver is, essentially, the stance used by boxers. It is also the stance used by top wingshooters on wild birds. A right-handed shooter stands with the left foot forward, feet about 18 inches apart, body angled, weight on the balls of the feet, but mostly on the forward foot. The shooter is leaning into it, eyes focused like a wolf on a caribou.
This boxing stance is the most natural human fighting position. Modern attempts to discredit it as being "outdated" have proven misguided, as witness an aging Floyd Mayweather's almost laughable demolition of MMA Conor McGregor last August.
The isosceles is praised as a "rigid platform," but in most tactical situations rigidity is not nearly as useful as flexibility. You never know what you'll be faced with. You might be carrying a child on one arm and have to shoot one-handed. You could be on the ground, shooting under a car, or having to shoot around the corner of a building. Once you learn the Weaver stance, you can adapt its principles to almost any situation.
In case anyone is wondering, I shoot using the Weaver occasionally, but mostly I practice handgunning one-handed- usually the old Bullseye stance, but also instinctive shooting with the gun pushed out in front and reaction shooting from different angles. After 50 or 100 rounds Bullseye-style, hitting a target with the Weaver is a breeze.
Sometimes at the range, I'll watch guys using the isosceles. Usually, their goal is to spray a full mag downrange in as short a time as possible. Occasionally, they hit the target. Mostly they don't. They do make a lot of noise, and they sure look fierce practicing their pump-action isosceles point. Personally, I prefer to hit the target when I squeeze the trigger. And by the way, I had my money on Floyd Mayweather.