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Isosceles VS. Weaver Shooting Stances

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 37 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1989) Pages: 55-64
H Westmoreland
Date Published
10 pages
Shooting experts disagree which of two stances is superior in pressure situations, the Isosceles Stance, recognized in combat, or the Weaver Stance, developed for competition.
The techniques that are applicable to the street officer and used by him under stress are critical to police firearms training. The data for this study of shooting stances are derived from textbooks, professional journals, videotapes, and personal observations of "Practical Training Exercises." Because lower body position breaks down first under pressure, the focus on the study is on the upper body and whether it faces front or to the side. Ninety-eight events were studied; 66 were spontaneous (officer had no prior warning and weapon was holstered) such as routine traffic stops and domestic calls and 32 were non-spontaneous (officer had warning and weapon was not holstered) such as high risk traffic stops and building searches. Although most of the officers involved had been trained in the Weaver Stance, only 12.2 percent used it, while 78.6 percent used the Isosceles Stance. Under stressful conditions, the Isosceles Stance is preferred because it is a gross and open motor skill which can be performed in a constantly changing or moving environment, in contrast to the fine motor and closed skills used in the Weaver Stance. In addition, the natural stance used by all animals when attacked in close quarters is to face the opponent squarely with hands and arms extended in front. The propensity to crouch and to keep moving also favors the Isosceles approach. Officers under stress also tend to shoot with one hand and to point shoot, rather than use the sights. Both stances yield accurate shooters, and the failure rate of officers in this study may be due to training that emphasizes an unnatural stance. Future research on subconscious prioritizing reactions and training officers to function under stress is recommended. 16 references.