The Weaver Stance

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 4 weeks ago

American Rifleman.

He’s in the Weaver stance because it is the most natural and logical way to shoot a handgun when the one-hand stuff is not mandatory. Shooters just fall into this position when they are allowed to use the other arm and hand, rather than stick it in a left side pocket or in the waistband.

As far as requiring a one-hand grip, it’s a cultural matter. I have long believed that using a single hand is an outgrowth of Civil War tactics, where the repeating revolver was a decisive weapon but couldn’t be helped by a left hand. That hand was working the reins of a horse.

[ … ]

Jack Weaver, a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff, started drawing his S&W revolver, raising it to eye level and shooting with two hands. Almost immediately, he started beating the daylights out of just about everybody else. They all started using it, and the rest is history.

Because it was so successful and so identified with the first guy to use it in these first competitions, the technique was acclaimed as the “Weaver Stance.” It was the evolved doctrine when Cooper opened the first combat shooting school at Gunsite Ranch in the late ’70s. Hundreds of thousands of civilian, military and police handgunners have been trained in the technique.

I know some folks love it, but I don’t find anything at all natural about it.  I use the Isosceles Stance.  Still, the takeaway is to use whatever feels comfortable and natural to you.


  1. On August 2, 2020 at 10:14 pm, Chris Mallory said:

    “Still, the takeaway is to use whatever feels comfortable and natural to you.”


    Personally due to neurological damage my left arm is much weaker than my right. I also have damage to the left shoulder. A modified Weaver is much more comfortable to me. If you want to use the Isosceles, go for it. If you can hit your target using a 19th century duelist one handed stance, be my guest. Heck, when I was 30 and competing in Cowboy Action Shoots, I got fairly decent with a pistol in each hand.

    Same goes for guns and caliber. Use what you like and are good with. A hit with a 22 or 380 beats a miss with a 45 every day of the week. Well, except for the ability of the 45 to steal the soul of anyone the bullet passes within six inches of. I kid, I kid.

  2. On August 2, 2020 at 10:19 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    No, not kidding. That’s a real thing. It’s why I shoot 45 ACP.

  3. On August 2, 2020 at 11:59 pm, Bad_Brad said:

    There’s a reason no competitive pistol shooters shoot Weaver. It’s taken me a considerable amount if time to unlearn the Weaver.

  4. On August 3, 2020 at 8:33 am, Longbow said:

    “…it is the most natural and logical way to shoot a handgun when the one-hand stuff is not mandatory.”

    Not so.

    What Bad_Brad said above. All top competitive shooters use an isosceles stance because IT is the most natural, also the fastest. Under the stress of competition (or combat), that Weaver stance gets lost in the wind.

    Take a look at this photo from over seventy years ago:

  5. On August 3, 2020 at 9:26 am, Fred said:

    “Isosceles Stance.”

    I had never heard it so named. Interestingly, while I was reading the article it came to mind that certainly, a triangle, or two point support is stronger that one straight support. The use of a more reliable support for any simple machine is pretty logical to the mechanically inclined I would think. So, two separate points of support would be better.

    It does make sense, and the first time I picked up a handgun I naturally used two hands simply to steady the weapon not to brace recoil.

    This part is important to new shooters, pay attention; you use two hands to steady the weapon for more accurate shooting, NOT to brace yourself from recoil caused by the explosion of (chemical) gun powder in the bullet casing that happens within the Chamber of the firearm when you pull the trigger. This is important because if you are bracing yourself for the recoil, you’re not going to shoot as well. Some call this anticipating the shot. Squeeze the trigger and when starting out; it should be a surprise to you when the striker or hammer falls. If your gun has too much recoil for you, for whatever reason, you won’t shoot as well as you would with a firearm you can handle. This is why I always encourage first time gun buyers to rent a variety of types and calibers to learn what you can hit the target with. Gun stores have a job to do; sell you a gun but don’t buy your first gun until you know that you hit the stupid target with it. Right?

    An Isosceles triangle has two even length sides (your arms). Another advantage of this is not turning or tilting your head to line up a shot. Men especially, see and understand better in hierarchical structure and standard even shapes. The more uniform a shape (firearms stance) the less work your brain has to do to compensate for odd or slightly off angels. Remember, you are lining up 5 points not 3 or four. Two arms, one gun, eye(s), and target. Sight picture matters. doing this as squarely as possible is easier for you brain.

    Same thing when I tell somebody to shoot at partially turned man target. Don’t picture it as 3 dimensional and turned, continue to picture it as two denominational, only 6 inches wide instead of 2 feet wide. This helps the mind to think in standard shapes and makes you a better shot.

    Placing one foot further back when shooting a handgun is not necessary and the desire to do so could indicate that the recoil may be too much for you. I make this statement about handguns only. YMMV with rifles, particularly hunting with large bore or shotguns.

    I can’t shoot 9mm or .40. The gun snaps too much. It’s uncomfortable. I suppose that I could spent $4K and get very proficient at it but why, when I can just hit with the .45?

    For education purposes only this is a brief and pretty good explanation, with pictures, of both the Weaver and Isosceles.

  6. On August 3, 2020 at 11:03 am, Quietus said:

    I think the operative word here might be “continuum.” Flexible, as opposed to static.

    IMO, an isosceles positioning of the arms is a good starting point. Advice posted on this site by Jerry Miculek some months back, to visualize the elbows as driving a pole into the ground, brings the elbows closer together and bends the elbows. That advice gets stronger, the more pushups a person does.

    To the continuum of “stances:” If the feet stay in place, rotating the upper body and the handgun clockwise as a threat is engaged, results in a Weaver-type position of the arms. Rotating counter-clockwise results in the so-called Chapman position of the firing elbow being straight and locked.

    The above thoughts come from Massad Ayoob’s 1986 book “Stressfire.” If the feet stay in place, body rotation is going to make your arms do things that you currently disown. It’s linear, not fixed.

    Same thinking goes to use of pistol sights: you see what you need to see in order to take a given shot. In the continuum between point shooting and gnat’s ass sight alignment, the gun appears in a linear way in its user’s peripheral vision. It can be the gross flash picture of the front of the slide, or a front sight aligned ‘way high above the too of the rear (Ayoob’s Stressfire sight picture), or it can be what is considered to be a “proper” sight picture. The bullet will hit in the same place, regardless of what you see.

    With the increasing urbanization of this country, actual shooting time may be increasingly difficult to get. Some trainers recommend a 10:1 ratio of dryfire presentations to rounds fired. I do it more like 50:1. And while doing the presenting and snapping in on doorknobs, wall outlets, and weed tops, I’ve learned that “proper” shooting stances are just background noise.

  7. On August 3, 2020 at 12:28 pm, Bad_Brad said:


    “I’ve learned that “proper” shooting stances are just background noise.”

    Yes. If you shoot a pistol a lot you soon come to realize what’s important and what gets hits. Particularly if your shooting and moving. Grip, site plane, and site Pic would be my list.

  8. On August 3, 2020 at 12:32 pm, Bad_Brad said:

    The addition of one of those laser rounds for your dry fire practice work REALLY WELL.

  9. On August 3, 2020 at 2:23 pm, Unknownsailor said:

    Due to an old skateboarding injury, I cannot fully straighten out my right arm, so I have to use a modified Weaver. I do not blade nearly as much as a pure Weaver stance might dictate, but I still do it.

  10. On August 3, 2020 at 8:31 pm, Tennessee Budd said:

    I tend to use a sort of modified Weaver stance, leaning toward, but not quite, a straight-on Isoceles. Being an old fart, I don’t even really know if the Weaver works for me because it works, or because I learned that way & improved with practice.
    I used to do a lot of shotgun shooting as a young man, and a Weaver-type stance helped with absorbing recoil; it became my go-to stance with handguns as well. I’ve been adjusting to more of an Isoceles, but old habits die hard: as one ages, change gets harder (or it does for me, at least). Still, one makes the effort. Learning what works & what doesn’t is a never-ending challenge, and always worth trying.

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You are currently reading "The Weaver Stance", entry #25046 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published August 2nd, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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