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Is Your Shooting Stance All That Important?

Typically, shooting instruction includes strong emphasis on where the shooter should place his or her feet in order to ensure accurate shot placement. You’ve heard it all before: feet shoulder-width apart. Knees slightly bent. If you are right-handed your left foot should be slightly ahead of your right foot. Lean forward a bit at the hips. Weight on the balls of your feet.

Is there more?

Does it really matter?

If you are gasping right about now, shaking your head in disbelief, or thinking I have to be the stupidest firearms trainer in the history of the world, consider this: the bullet will impact directly in front of the muzzle, no matter what. It does not matter how you are holding the gun. It does not matter where your feet are positioned. It does not matter if the gun is perpendicular to the ground or held at some acute angle. The bullet will exit the muzzle and travel in a straight line to the target no matter what.

Yes, some of you right now are saying, “Well, it’s not a straight line. The bullet will drop. So it’s not truly a straight line.” Lighten up. We are talking about combat distances; 25 feet at the most. The amount the bullet will drop is negligible. For all intents and purposes, the bullet is going in a straight line from the muzzle to the target. Let’s not get bogged down in the minutia.

To get the muzzle pointed at the target, we use sights. We line up the sights. If the gun is built and adjusted correctly, the sights point the exact same direction as the muzzle. Where the sights and the muzzle are pointed is where the bullets will go. The pointing is done with your hands and arms.

Once you have the sights on target, you will need to operate the trigger without adding any additional movement to the muzzle. There will always be some movement, because the human muscle system cannot hold perfectly still. Your hands and your arms will be moving a little bit, but you must move the trigger and that means you might move the gun. Still, you can see this has very little to do with your feet.

So why does everyone talk about shooting stance and foot position? It’s very likely that the idea of the importance of a good shooting stance is a holdover from basic rifle marksmanship instruction, where a shooter is standing still and supporting a rather heavy rifle in order to maintain a good sight picture. Rifle shooters aim at targets a long way off. Combat pistol shooting is short-range work and gunfights are very dynamic.

The first rule of a gunfight is to not get shot. That means if you are involved in a gunfight you need to be moving—making yourself a more difficult target—and heading toward cover. During this dynamic movement, you may be required to fire. At that point, it doesn’t really matter where your feet are. What matters most is that your sights are aligned with the target and you operate the trigger smoothly to keep those sights on the target.

You can shoot on the move. All it takes is a steady hand and smooth trigger press.

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