My dad taught me how to shoot a rifle. But I learned how to shoot a handgun from the late Colonel Jeff Cooper in the Complete Book of Shooting. That initial learning combined with training from the police academy, martial arts and advanced instructor courses, has led to the solid platform I have today. I like to keep things simple and consistent, especially when it comes to shooting. Remember that in a life-or-death situation, when the adrenaline is pumping and your mind is racing, you will revert to your lowest level of training. Simple and consistent is key in your shooting stance too.
Popular Firearms Form
California Deputy Sheriff and competitive shooter Jack Weaver developed what we know as the Weaver shooting stance. It replaced all previous one-handed shooting methods and became the standard handgun technique. Instead of crouching low with your feet directly across from each other, you drop your strong foot back and push the handgun away from you and toward the target with your strong hand. You then wrap your weak hand around the strong one, creating a push-pull tension on the gun that locks it on target.
The other common shooting stance taught to both law enforcement and in concealed carry classes is the isosceles stance. When viewed from overhead, your feet form the base of a triangle with your arms becoming the apex. To set up an isosceles stance, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, squarely facing the target. Then extend your arms straight out in front, gripping your handgun at a central point.
The isosceles is a great shooting stance; however, in my 40 years of law enforcement, I’ve never cleared a building or covered a suspect in anything resembling it. From this stance, you can’t do anything other than shoot. You can either step out of your stance or be easily pushed or pulled to the ground.
The IFS Stance
Since becoming a certified police firearms instructor in 1986, I have taught the “interview, fight and shoot” stance. It’s based on the concept that only one foot placement is necessary to perform a law enforcement officer’s three main duties. This stance allows officers to quickly transition to any of those responsibilities.
The physical position is one typically used in boxing and more pronounced than the original Weaver stance. This basic boxing stance stabilizes you and locks your feet to the ground. Officers can get into this position without arousing suspicion or appearing threatening. It is easy to draw and deploy pepper spray from this point, and you won’t need to waste time getting into a specialized stance if a firearm is called for. Standing in IFS also positions you to be ready to run should the opportunity arise.
Why Is Shooting Stance Important?
Nothing is more important than keeping your feet under you during a deadly force confrontation. While it’s an easy thing to do while standing on concrete and firing at a stationary target directly in front of you at an indoor range, things are very different and difficult in the real world.
Adopting a stance that remains situationally flexible for the threats you could encounter is critically important. You don’t want to be moving into a shooting stance as the bullets are flying. Using an IFS stance allows you to be more ready for what can happen in the real world.