Shooting Stances Explained: Weaver vs. Chapman vs. Isosceles
Written by Richard Douglas,
in Section Safety And Education
If you’re new to the world of shooting, or even if you’ve been around a while, there comes a time when you’ll wonder how you should be shooting your gun. No, not putting your finger in front of the trigger and squeezing. Nor mounting an AR-15 scope and practicing accuracy. We’re talking where to plant your feet, how to position your arms, and how to hold your head. Shooting stance preferences are different for everyone but it’s essential to learn them all. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to react no matter what circumstance you face. Here are the top three shooting stances favored by shooters everywhere.
Named for its creator, Jack Weaver, the Weaver stance limits personal exposure to your target by “blading” your body. Limiting exposure was the main objective when Jack Weaver, an LA County Sheriff, invented the position for his deputies. In this stance, your legs resemble the posture of a boxer. Your dominant leg is in the supporting position behind, and your other leg is just in front, both a shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders, chest, and abdomen are all angled to the left or right of the target, depending on your dominant, shooting arm. Your shooting arm will be extended out straight with a slight bend in the elbow. Your supporting arm will be deeply bent, so your elbow points to the ground.
The benefit of the Weaver stance is a complete balance. Due to the boxer-like position, a person can absorb force, such as a shove, and then break into a run in an instant. Because your body is on an angle facing your target, an opposing shooter has less surface area of your body to aim at. The disadvantages come in less ability to move quickly toward the non-bladed side, to address an assailant. Greater movement is required if repositioning to face an incoming side target. If wearing body armor, this stance exposes your less-protected side, diminishing the effectiveness of your body armor.
The Chapman stance is a copy of the Weaver stance with a slightly different arm placement. In this stance, you’ll stand as you would for the Weaver – dominant leg back, other leg forward, a shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Your shooting arm will be held straight out front and locked. Your supporting arm will be bent with your elbow pointing toward the ground. The benefit of this stance comes from the locked arm, which is better able to handle the recoil. A cheek weld on your dominant arm also keeps your position consistent for accurate shooting. The disadvantages of this stance are the same as the Weaver stance. Your side is more exposed to a shooter, and you’ll have a harder time adjusting to incoming assailants from the side.
The Isosceles Stance
The Isosceles shooting stance earns its name from the aerial view of your stance; from above, your arms form an isosceles triangle. In this stance, both arms are held out directly in front of your chest, gun gripped by both hands and dead center to your target. You can lock your elbows if dealing with higher caliber rounds or bend them slightly depending on your comfort level with the stance. Your line of vision is straight ahead and directly over your gun. Both legs are a shoulder-width apart and knees are slightly bent. This stance is often favored due to its natural feel, ease of movement, and ease of learning.
With body armor, this is one of the safest, because it protects your unprotected sides and allows for maximum mobility. The disadvantage to this stance comes if you’re actively engaged in a firefight without body armor. Because you are square to your target, you are a large target for your enemy to hit. While you are solid side-to-side, from back-to-front, you’re more easily shoved off balance.
Which Shooting Stance is Best?
There are definite advantages and disadvantages to each stance, making it not a question of which is best overall, but which is best for the situation you are in. This is why it’s good to learn all three.
If you’re in a firefight with body armor, you may be better with the Isosceles stance. If you’re not protected by armor, the Weaver or Chapman stances are your go-to options for maximum protection. Get to know all three and you’ll be ready, no matter the situation.