Shooting Stance: Isosceles vs. Weaver vs. Chapman

 Choosing the proper shooting stance is a bit like choosing the best way to tie a pair of shoes – there’s no wrong way. While certain stances fall in and out of favor amongst law enforcement and gun aficionados the Isosceles, Chapman, and Weaver stance still exist for a reason.

 Shooting stances are critical. Ultimately, the position of your feet, where they point, and the way you hold your arms determine if your round hits the target or not. A pro marksman will tell you that any stance is effective if used properly. However, it is paramount that you try each stance before deciding which works best for you. When trying out the different stances at the range, remember to pack your gun in a proper gun range bag when traveling to and from practice.

Those looking for a rifle, carbine, or pistol shooting stance can rest easy; these stances cover all types of guns. Below we’ll go through the mechanics of each stance, and why that stance might work for you.

Isosceles stance

  1. Body perpendicular to the target
  2. Legs parallel to one another and slightly bent
  3. Toes pointed towards the target
  4. Arms straight
  5. Gun raised to the eye level of the shooter

The Isosceles stance is what many know as the old-school, police-officer shooting stance. Although law enforcement does not currently favor this stance, it offers an excellent base for beginning shooters to learn proper technique and decent accuracy. For law enforcement, it ensures body armor is fully facing the target, protecting the shooter.

One of the major downsides to the Isosceles stance is the lack of balance the shooter has while shooting. A stationary Isosceles shooter is easily pushed over. This is an issue for firearms with heavy recoil, as shooters are at risk of getting knocked over. Also, those not wearing body armor, you risk more exposure with this stance.

Some may prefer the gun hovering evenly between the two arms to line up a target. However,  accuracy can be an issue for beginning shooters in the Isosceles stance since there is no shoulder for a cheek weld. Thus, this stance requires shooters to hold the firearm firmly with both hands to ensure accuracy.

Weaver stance

  1. Facing target, put the dominant foot back
  2. Bend knees slightly
  3. Raise gun, holding firing arm nearly straight out from the face
  4. The support arm is bent
  5. Weight forward towards the front foot

The Weaver stance is common and used by some law enforcement. It is versatile and provides greater all-around mobility. Unlike the Isosceles stance, the shooter’s base is stable in all directions. Many also consider this a more comfortable and natural stance for absorbing the weapon recoil. Also, you are standing almost sideways to the target, so your exposure is not as great. 

Ironically, despite widespread use by law enforcement around the country, this stance can put officers in greater danger. In the Weaver stance, body armor is facing away from the target. While the target presented is smaller overall, it negates the effectiveness of body armor. 

 This stance also offers less lateral mobility. For targets moving side to side, the Weaver stance forces the shooter to get out of their stance, move, and then resume the stance. Isosceles stance shooters do not have that problem.

Chapman stance

  1. Shooting leg back
  2. Toes facing forward
  3. Knees bent
  4. Shooting arm straight out from the face, cheek to shoulder
  5. Support arm bent

The Chapman stance is a hybrid of the Isosceles and Weaver stances. It combines the benefits of each while attempting to eliminate the drawbacks.  It isn’t perfect, but it is becoming more common amongst law enforcement due to its versatility.

When in the Chapman stance, the shooter’s feet are not parallel, but also not as staggered as in the Weaver stance. This allows you to fully face your target, which also increases body armor effectiveness. Mobility is available in both directions, and it is easier to move laterally in this stance compared to the Weaver.

Also, many claim accuracy with the Chapman stance is better than the Weaver because the cheek, and eyes, line up more easily with the sight of the gun since the cheek welds naturally to the shoulder in this position. Like the Weaver, this stance absorbs recoil well. 

While there are no specific drawbacks to this stance, some might find the Chapman not as comfortable as the Weaver. Since the feet and body are only slightly staggered, the tendency for your weight is to shift to full parallel like the Isosceles or staggered like the Weaver.

FAQs about Shooting Stances

What are the most common shooting stances used?

The most common shooting stances used are the Weaver stance, Isosceles stance and Chapman stance.

How can I ensure that my shooting stance is stable and comfortable?

When selecting a shooting stance for stability and comfort, ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart, your back is straight, and you have good balance. Additionally, adjust the distance between your arms to provide support while keeping them comfortable and relaxed.

What should I consider when selecting a shooting stance for accuracy?

When selecting a shooting stance for accuracy, consider how consistent it will be from shot to shot by evaluating factors such as recoil control and speed of acquisition.

How do different stances affect recoil control?

Different stances affect recoil control in varying ways depending on where the shooter’s weight is distributed throughout their body when taking aim at the target. For example, the Weaver Stance helps with recoil management due to its forward lean that shifts weight onto the front foot and arm – whereas an Isosceles Stance typically provides less recoil absorption due to its upright posture that distributes weight evenly between both feet/legs with no forward lean towards the target.

Is there an optimal combination of speed, stability, and comfort with any particular shooting stance?

Yes – finding an optimal combination of speed, stability and comfort with any particular shooting stance requires practice in order to become proficient in understanding what works best for various firearms or scenarios (e.g., precision versus close quarters).

Final thoughts

These stances can accept any type of firearm, and there is no clear winner in terms of best stance.  Try each stance with your firearms and determine what feels right. However, we recommend that once you find a stance you like, stick with it. This will help your stance to become reflexive, enabling you to shoot faster and more accurately.


About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

Leave a Comment

Master of the Outdoors

© 2024 master of the outdoors