Why Not to Use the Weaver Stance

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Duration: 5:06

For defensive shooting, there’s no question that a good athletic stance, generally squared off to the target, is the better way to go. One of the most important things in defensive shooting is recoil management, so you can fire fast follow-up shots and get the threat stopped quickly.

Yet Rob Pincus sees people coming to handgun training courses wanting to use bladed stances, upright stances, stances that might be great for precision shooting or might work in areas where you’re doing limited strings of fire, but aren’t good for rapid, multiple-shot strings of fire into the high center chest area.

Why Not the Weaver Stance?

Rob is on the range with Christina, who normally shoots with an athletic stance, but Rob coaches her into using a stance that is inappropriate for defensive shooting, the Weaver stance.

The Weaver stance was very popular in the past and there are controlled circumstances under which it works well, but for shooting rapid strings of fire into the torso of a threat, the Weaver stance has several failure points. Rob and Christina demonstrate this with some shooting drills using the Weaver stance first.

How It Looks

In the Weaver stance, the strong-side leg takes a step back and the shooter’s body is bladed toward the target. Driving both arms out causes a bend in the support-side elbow, allowing for some isometric tension. Recoil management is difficult using this stance. Christina places four shots in an extreme vertical spread that is definitely not ideal for defensive shooting.

Next she takes an athletic stance with both legs parallel and the body facing the target squarely, knees slightly bent, shoulders in front of the hips. With this stance, the shooter has a lot of weight behind the gun. Christina is able to fire four rapid shots into a closed-hand sized group.

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31 Responses to “Why Not to Use the Weaver Stance”

  1. muddog15

    I’m also old enough that I was taught the weaver stance. I learned the iso stance and my shot groups improved drastically. When I was younger I was also taught to shoot with one hand instead of two.

  2. Dan Cain

    Totally disagree with this. There are numerous reasons and Rob hit on them but that’s the problem. Shooter fatigue will happen from his stance and wont be able to fight or even step backward very well.

  3. Col. Phil McDaniel

    this is entirely wrong. Many shooters shoot better with the Weaver stance. Most women do NOT because of their Breast muscles push them of target after a long string. In some defensive positions it is not advisable to have the gun extended all the way out in front, it is very easy to take her gun in that position. I teach weapons and we teach to shoot with a stance and without a proper stance when necessary. We also teach Weapons retention which I think should be included in any Handgun class. .

  4. John Hansen

    In most force on force cases, stances are not all that important to shot placement. I can move around dynamically and be just fine. I shoot 12″ plates at 10 to 25 yards standing still with rapid fire and do fine, I prefer the bladed stance over being squared off.

  5. patrick keating

    Short and sweet. Are they getting ready to shoot at you, or have already shot? I would want to give them as little ‘target’ sight picture as possible, (smaller) which would only be the weaver. Broadside makes a lot bigger target.

  6. Mike Pickle

    It is the best stance to prepare for a fight PERIOD. When you use it, if you shoot a long gun you do not have to learn a new set of techniques that actually put at least 6 groups of muscles into play therefore potentially allowing much greater opportunity to shake or quiver. It only takes one muscle to contract to pull the shot off target, I have done it when in a rest position but one far from natural. As a martial artist, you never face an attacker square if it there is anyway to avoid it. In the Weaver I teach, the body is far more relaxed even in a tense situation. I have taught students that were not able to shoot square to the target leaning forward slightly, head dropped forward, etc. The age and injuries to their bodies would not allow it. When teaching anyone to shoot, if you style cannot be adapted to fit the shooter’s body and limitations, you need to keep studying positions. BTW, I have tried every position that has ever been written about in the last 40+ years. I tried isosceles, but could never get completely comfortable with it. Just saying . . .

  7. Tom B

    While this demonstration illustrates some points that are important regarding a solid stance, I don’t agree with the basic statement, “Why Not To Use The Weaver Stance”. I think it should be worded, “Why the Weaver Stance may not be right for you!” I use a modified Weaver stance and it works best for me, for accuracy and for rapid fire. I have one leg shorter than the other due to an accident many years ago, and the Weaver is the most comfortable and solid for me.

  8. Eldred

    My normal stance is the Weaver stance. I wasn’t taught that, but it just naturally felt comfortable as it’s similar to my starting stance when bowling(which I’ve done for YEARS). But I can see a couple of possible advantages to the ISO stance – easier to lean left while shooting around cover(I’m right handed). Easier to drop to either knee if needed. With the Weaver stance it would definitely be easier to drop to my right knee. Since I’ll be trying my first competition later this month, I’ll work on the ISO stance more during my range sessions, to at least become more familiar with something that may help…

  9. Gordon

    Why did the shooter not have at least one round solidly in the center of the chest when shooting from the Weaver stance? At minimum the first round should have hit center even if the stance caused vertical stringing on follow up shots.

    • Eldred

      I agree, unless she was just so off-balance in an unfamiliar stance that her mechanics failed her…

  10. Adam S

    I have seen this instructor before and he seems competent, but loses credibility on this one. He takes a shooter trained with the combat stance, then spends 30 seconds teaching her a new stance (Weaver). Am I supposed to be surprised that she shoots significantly better using the stance that she trained in? What he should have done is taken a shooter trained in Weaver, then spend a few minutes teaching the combat stance. Then, if the shooter was better in the combat stance, he would have made his point. I am a big believer in learning as many different stances and techniques as possible from different instructors that have different philosophies. Then use the one that best fits you and the situation you are in.

  11. rickm51

    There are reasons to use WEaver (modified), and reasons to use ISO.
    IF you have BP vest, iso will protect you better due to not exposing the openings to critical areas of the body.
    Nonetheless, I like the modified Weaver as a more a natural stance, and can control better. also believe you are a smaller target. With ISO, you are likely NOT going to be wearing BP protection unless you are military. the Weaver allows a natural stance for pistol and Shotgun/rifle, same platform. in a defensive situtation, you will likely be moving anyway, therefore, you can step into the ISO if that opportunity presents itself.
    I am not an instructor, per se, but have had several who want me to show them basics. i let them choose what works for them. Too many, especially older ladies, want to stand straight up, which is unstable, and recoil is worse if your arms are extended/locked.
    Either way, you need to understand both, and train with both, IMHO.

  12. Gary

    What was demonstrated here was not a Weaver stance that I’ve ever taught; I was the former division chief of staff safety and tactics at the statewide academy for the largest state law enforcement agency in one of the top 5 largest states. I have taught basic recruits, street survival, riot squads, and SWAT teams.

    The proper Weaver stance is the same stance we use when standing talking to suspects, when using hand-to-hand tactics, when using a baton, when using a shot gun, and when using a rifle. We want to make the body a total weapons system platform. I have taught hundreds of shooters using the proper Weaver stance, in multiple shot, timed fire situations, at various ranges, and I’ve never had a single person shoot their target as this woman did. All were center of mass, not going up and down.

    Proper stance is with legs spread to shoulder width and the strong leg SLIGHTLY to the rear. Knees are flexed, and body weight is lowered and SLIGHTLY forward. This blades the body only slightly. It is a VERY athletic stance, yet very balanced, allowing for much more recoil control. It will allow for the full extension of the arms for shooting, or one can also shoot with the elbows flexed and the weapon in close to the body in certain tactical situations, still allowing for good weapon control and maintaining accuracy.

    The second stance demonstrated in this video puts the person way off balance, and in a tactical situation which might require movement, or where you might get bumped or knocked, you could lose your balance and be easily knocked to the ground.

    And when put in a defensive position, where you might have to shoot around cover, or pop up from behind cover, the shooting stance demonstrated above will not work. You can not kneel and shoot using that stance and grip, but you can using a Weaver. You can not shoot around a corner using that stance, but you can with a Weaver. You can not crouch down behind a wall or a vehicle and return fire with that stance above, but you can with a Weaver. You can not go from shooting a shotgun to your sidearm and then back to a shotgun with that stance, but you can with a Weaver.

    I know that a lot of law enforcement has moved away from Weaver, citing wanting to square up to place the ballistic vests more center to the threat, thinking that it will provide more protection, but, again, with only the slight blading, you don’t really jeopardize coverage, and you don’t give up stability. But what they are giving up by abandoning the Weaver is the seamless integration of their tactics and making that body a single weapons platform.

    Rob and PDN share a lot of good self-defense tactics on here, but sometimes their advice is just off. When the defecation hits the oscillating rotor, the body goes into fight or flight and gross motor skills usage, not fine motor skills. You want to keep things simple, and not confuse stances across situations, as the mind body will simply go into what it has been trained. You’d never try to deal with a person who is close in and advancing aggressively, perhaps with a knife, using that stance above. You would be way too off balance, and soon find yourself knocked to the floor. But that isn’t the case if you are using a proper self-defense stance, which IS comparable to the Weaver stance.

    This is true for law enforcement officers, and the civilian on the street. I’m retired now, but going shopping, out for an evening downtown, to the theater, or even off to a formal event in a tux, I do not abandon smart safety tactics. I watch my surroundings and never take any situation for granted, and I always know that if something bad happens that it might not be as simple as shooting at a target in a controlled situation.

    KISS. Practice like you play. Focus on the details, but keep in mind the big picture. Integration is key. Perfect practice makes perfect.

    And do not abandon a PROPER Weaver stance, and do not do either of the two stances that were shown here in this video.

    • macmic6

      Thank you Gary for this post. I teach women and we teach the same stance as you. First I have them take isosceles just like the young lady took. Then I push them and they see how easy it is to lose their balance in a fight situation. Next we do the Weaver you described and push them. The light bulb immediately goes on in their head. They understand why they need to be in that “boxer” like stance. Great discussion.

      • Tim

        You Have obviously never wrestled, the stance shown in the video is close to a wrestling stance, try pushing or pulling a wrestler off balance, the squared stance allows you the fastest movement and best balance if you understand it.

    • Carl Jefferson

      I agree with you 100%. What you have described is the exact way in which I was tought to shoot many years ago. It is the way I shoot to this day some 35 years later. When I took my CPL/CCW class we were taught that the straight up stance presents a larger target for someone shooting back at you. Why would you do that? The Waver Stance presents less of a target to be shot at and if someone is confronting you they have to reach across your body for your weapon giving you a chance to use your arms to fight back. Use what works for you but, I choose the weaver because it works.

    • Dan

      Perfectly stated. I just saw that this was an old video but I’ve been trained and teach exactly like you stated for that very reason. That is a ridiculous stance for defensive shooting or even self defense for that matter. Touch her softly on her chest and she would fall backwards.

  13. John M. Buol Jr.

    This demo shows why a scored exercise can be useful. The first string yielded 22×40 points with a shot missing the the entire scored torso are. The second string of fire held closer to the intended point of impact and yielded a 38×40. Based on these results, the second effort is better for defensive purposes for exactly the same reason it’s better for competition.

    Also, this test was choreographed and shot under very controlled, ideal conditions. Eliminating other variables is what makes the comparison valid.

  14. Dave

    A little unfair! When using the weaver you should still bend the knees and not have the arms so ridge. That cuts down the recoil bounce.

  15. Marge

    I thought you did a great job demonstrating your point here. This was very helpful and I plan to use this information as a firearms coach myself when instructing. I am a steadfast weaver stance user and can’t wait to try this drill out.

  16. Carlos

    Good info to know. There are a few other positions I’d love coach Christina into, hee, hee.

  17. Jerry Y.

    I agree the weaver stance is not always the best way to shoot for defensive encounters but the one pro that out ways all others is making yourself a smaller target if you have adequate cover then by all means don’t use the weaver stance, if you’re in the open adjust your stance to minimize target size, also learn to shoot single handed both right and left to allow yourself the most cover

  18. Eric Loden

    If you don’t know how to use or teach Weaver there is really no reason to bag on it. I am saddened when I see “big names” in the industry speak poorly of a technique that they don’t like but admit it works for some people. Simple logic question “What perfect stance do you want to be in, during a gunfight?” Stance indicates a static position, and is a luxury not often afforded in a situation where you might want to be a moving target.

  19. rob wesson

    the first problem with this is that THAT WAS NOT A WEAVER STANCE. It sorta/kinda look a little similar, but it was NOT a weaver stance.

  20. Jim Bloyd

    I shot IPSC competitively in the late ’70s and early ’80s and have had to unlearn many of the things I used back then. Weaver was one of the first to go. Shooting in no particular stance, shooting left or right while moving, shooting after falling backwards, or laying on your side, etc. The whole concept of a shooting stance is only relevant in competitions or if you really have the time to assume one (preferably behind cover).

  21. Matthew

    One thing you messed up on, modified weaver witch I teach for defense, you can’t drop to one knee with out changing. Also you used a person who is only used to shooting in a forward stance, also some people can’t stand square bad shoulders or joints. There is no (in reality) a perfect defensive stance and with that in mind a sure shoulder stance is a bigger target and no manuverability compared to a modified weaver stance.

  22. Brad

    Maybe if you taught the Weaver CORRECTLY, your shooter might have better results.

    My experience has been that properly instructed Weaver shooters have BETTER recoil and muzzle flip control than isometric shooters. Proper isometric tension on the gun, which is more difficult with iso and much easier in Weaver, leads to MUCH better trigger control. Weaver IS an athletic stance when properly balanced and utilized. It is NOT an upright stance. It is not an excessively bladed stance as with your student in the video. Only about 15°-20° is appropriate. Also, in my experience, shooters with less upper body strength and less frequent practice opportunities do better with the Weaver than iso. It also translates better to long weapons such as rifle and shotgun.

    There is room in the shooting world for BOTH stances and will depend on proper instruction, the physical limitations of the student, and the tactical environment in which they operate. It is clear to me you don’t fully understand Weaver and this dogmatic approach of iso, iso, and only iso leads me to question your abilities as a firearm instructor.

    • webproquo@hotmail.com

      This was my observation also. You took the words right out of my mouth. If Rob doesn’t know what the Weaver stance is, he can hardly teach it. I have had occasion to use the weaver stance in real world gun fights and found it to be superior. As an instructor I teach both methods, and my students find the weaver to be superior in recoil control and rapid target reacquisition. This only makes sense, as the iso stance offers control in the horizontal plane only, why don’t the weaver offers control in both the vertical and horizontal planes.

    • James Russell

      I was trained in Weaver stance as well, ‘way back when’ (I was born the year Sputnik made news), and I must remind you that the Laws of Physics, cannot and will not, be obviated, without severe consequences!

      Your 15 degree to 20 degree range is correct for the style I was trained in, and the result of that range is an Open Hip deviation to the stronger geometry of that which you seem to detest, the Isometric.

      Open Hip opens one up to the laws of physics resulting from firing a weapon, from terrain (uneven mild to severe inclines/declines), and those aspects’ impacts upon the physical deficiencies of the shooter (I’m physically impaired, and so poor geometry will very greatly affect me, compared to a healthy individual).

      I’ve watched only a few videos Mr. Pincus has made, having just jointed PDN today (May 28th), but have already found his training to be Real World Based, rather than theory, or for ‘limited uses’ environments.

      Despite my severe, chronic daily pain levels, I still prefer being on THIS side of the ground, which is one of the reasons I’ve always been an empirically based thinker, rather than leaning on mere theory to made my decisions, or even a preponderance of theory, compared to concrete facts and evidence.

      You’re entitled to your opinion, as everyone else is, but making the statement that you question Mr. Pincus’ ‘abilities as a firearms instructor’ based on your disagreement concerning Isometric Stance vs Weaver Stance, resides deeply, I would argue, in the midst of your personal biases, rather than supportable empirical evidence.


  23. Dave Dargo

    There’s an old video of Jeff Cooper explaining the Weaver stance and the first words out of his mouth are “square to the target” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se3W-kV6d9g). They’ve changed their instruction since then to include a more athletic stance – flexed knees, slightly leaning forward, etc. Looking at early photos of Jack Weaver at the leather slap competition shows him square to the target and not bladed. I’m not sure when the blading started or how it became part of the definition of the Weaver stance but it’s not what I learned when learning the stance. As Cooper explains in his video, “The essence is the isometric push-pull between the right hand and the left.”

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