Weaver vs. Isosceles, revisited

Ain't nothin' sweet about how I hold my gun
Ain’t nothin’ sweet about how I hold my gun

Now once upon a time not too long ago, a blogger like myself wrote a series of posts comparing the Weaver stance as associated with Jeff Cooper’s Modern Technique and the Modern Isosceles stance. Actually, pretty much everyone has fought this battle over and over again. Back in the day, I was a staunch defender of the Modern Iso that’s used by literally every top competition shooter in the game. These days? I don’t think it matters at all for 99% of shooters.

weaver stance

That’s the Weaver stance that they’re teaching at Gunsite as of the last time I was there. If you go to Gunsite’s FB page, you’ll see countless photos of people shooting a Weaver stance that looks pretty much exactly how I’m standing in this photo, and that’s just fine. See, here’s the thing: the longer I’m around the shooting sports, the more I’ve come around the realization that outside of Bianchi Cup and Steel Challenge, how I’m standing isn’t really that important. In fact, if I’m in any kind of definable stance during a USPSA stage, I’m probably going too slow.

What’s really important about all this is that people actually go and get the training. Is the Weaver a bit dated? Sure, but who cares? People using Weaver have put plenty of bad guys in the ground, and they’re going to keep on putting bad guys in the ground. We get wrapped around an axle a lot about the best technique for this or that, and often forget that just because a particular technique isn’t the fastest or the new hotness means it doesn’t work anymore. The reality is that a person who goes to Gunsite and takes a 250 course is in just as good a position (if not better) to successfully defend themselves using their gun as someone who took a hotrod course from a “name” tactical instructor.

What really matters is getting training, and practicing to keep your skill levels up.

16 thoughts on “Weaver vs. Isosceles, revisited”

  1. Caleb, whatever you’re drinking keep drinking it and tell me what it is. I’d like to buy bottles for the kool aid drinkers. A nice “clickbait” title to a good article. Once again you’re taking the high road, thank you. I do fear your next article is going to be about fundamentals! Of course with a thoughtful but clickbait title.

  2. Always did irritate me when someone would criticize the way Bill Jordan shot (as if they could do as well). Keep up the common sense.

  3. FYI, the reason that teaching the Weaver Stance went by the wayside in most law enforcement firearms training programs is that once video of real world police shootings became increasingly common and available for review starting in the 80’s, trainers noticed that even Weaver trained shooters involuntarily go to an Isosceles stance or some hybrid variation when under stress in a real world gunfight. A good portion of those Weaver shooters you credited with putting a bad guy in the ground did it in an Isosceles stance, and then probably quickly recovered to a proper Weaver stance once the shooting stopped.

  4. Very good article. We have found over the years, that hand-to-gun size is the predominant factor in whether or not a person should use a Weaver style shooting platform or an isosceles type of shooting platform. Additionally, eye dominance is also a concern. Congratulations on taking a big step towards handgun shooting enlightenment.

  5. You know a long time ago an old TO told me “if your stance, sights and grip are perfect you’re doing it wrong”… That kinda sounds a lot like ” In fact, if I’m in any kind of definable stance during a USPSA stage, I’m probably going too slow.” to me.

    Just saying.

  6. The Weaver stance feels right for me. The isoceles feels a tad bit forced. But yeah, I don’t think it matters very much.

  7. I loved the Weaver when it came forth many decades ago. It was an enormous improvement over most of what had come before and has some structural good points that bear up tolerably today. I might even get slightly better static (standing) accuracy with it and would probably revert to it for hunting if standing still.
    That said, the Weaver has been solidly discredited in every way imaginable, via timing, video, and most of all, results on targets shot at speed.
    As a gunfighting technique, the Weaver is so wrong that it’s borderline irresponsible to teach it.
    If the shooter has to move, it’s way slower and less accurate.
    If the shooter needs to pivot, it’s slower and less accurate.
    If there are two targets with relative bearings more than about fifteen degrees apart, it’s very slow.
    But even more important, the points cited Mr. Unlis above should spell death for the Weaver. It’s not what you will do when confronted with unexpected danger. You can’t help yourself and your reaction: you’ll go isosceles. You’ll square up and put your hands high up, almost in front of your face.
    Training away from what your body is going to do just makes no sense.
    Watch the very best handgun shooters, the fastest, most accurate. They got that way from enormous amounts of work, an incredible number of reps, years of study and experimentation with what actually produces more and better hits on more targets, faster.
    You won’t see Rob Leatham or Nils Jonnasson or Jerry Miculek going Weaver when they want to shoot fast.
    If you’re in a fight for your life, won’t you want to shoot fast and accurate, too?

  8. Most trained and experienced shooters of either camp typically exhibit the “soft” versions of each technique as reflected in your photos which, I agree, renders the point of contention between the two styles more or less moot. And what I mean by “soft” is that with each technique pictured you are in a semi-relaxed condition; neither fully locked-out in isosceles or at maximum isometric tension in Weaver. It would behoove anyone to become familiar with both styles. My default position is isosceles however there are situations were a barricade or other use of cover does not provide effective standoff to rail-out in isosceles. When your down on one knee, cramped in behind cover, a “compressed Weaver” may be your best option for returning fire while keeping as many body parts from being overexposed as possible. Good post. It may seem like clickbait but people are still talking/arguing about it after all these centuries.

    As an aside, I’m looking forward to your post on foot placement. You know, where grown adults have to relearn how to keep their feet underneath themselves and remain upright while shooting a gun. So much for evolution. If you’re in a fight for your life and you have to think about where your feet are, your out of the (OODA) loop.

  9. You nailed it, and I appreciate you saying it. As they say at Gunsite, “we’re a gunfighting school.” They teach Weaver, they have a lot of after action reports from alumni, and they freely admit they are slow to change.

    At the end of 350 I had a major epiphany… gunfighting is much much more about mind than body. Mindset and stress inoculation are 90 percent of gunfighting, and the gunhandling and delivering shots on target are easy compared to tactics and decision making under stress.

    It all boils down to training. Weaver is a technique, and if you’re bogged down on technique you’re missing the point. Gunsite 250 is a fantastic experience, and an indispensable intro to gunfighting. But it’s the beginning of a journey that never ends. Gunsite teaches what works and explains why it works, but it’s the mental aspects of what they teach that is worth every penny.

    1. I’ve no doubt that Gunsite is top of the line training, wish I had the time and money to go, but if they’re teaching Weaver, they’re not teaching what works in a real world gunfight since it’s well established that most Weaver trained shooters will involuntarily go Isosceles in an OH $#it encounter. They’re teaching Weaver because by God that’s what Jeff Cooper taught. The Weaver stance might work, but it doesn’t work best, that’s why it’s now obsolete in modern firearms instruction.

      1. You’re missing the point. There is no unifying theory of gunhandling. When you speak in absolutes and refer to non-existent data in defense of a dubious statement which has nothing to do with the argument at hand, you’re missing the point.

        Gunfighting is about mindset, tactics, and decision making under enormous time and emotional pressure. Weaver vs. isosceles? It’s the very definition of a sophomoric argument. That was the writer’s point and I’m in complete agreement.

        1. The point is that it defies logic to waste time and effort teaching and training a method or technique after it’s been well established that Weaver is not what you are likely to go to in an OH $#IT encounter. It’s just not practical or natural, might feel natural for target shooting or hunting, but with the majority of folks it’s an unnatural stance for an instantaneous use of a firearm for self defense. The reason you practice and train is to maintain perishable skills so that muscle memory kicks in like auto pilot in a real world situation. Gunsite should take note of the writers opinion and not get hung up on a preference for the Weaver Stance.

  10. All of the debate about Weaver, Isoceles, Reverse Iso, etc. goes right out the window as soon as you find yourself non squared off to the target. No matter how closely you adhere to one school or another, if you are squared off to the north and suddenly find yourself engaging a target to the left or right – without moving your feet – you’ll be in a hybrid “stance” that has elements of both Weaver AND Iso.

    I subscribe to an old statement of Brian Enos about “floating the gun” – just keep a stable shooting platform and don’t be overly concerned about the mechanics of getting it in that position. Stances are primarily about teaching people to learn to shoot from a repeatable, teachable position.

  11. Teaching humans anything in a one size fits all “best” manner is folly. We are all a little different and what works better for a majority who are no more than couple standard deviations from the mean may not be so hot for the rest of us. That said, I’ve shot weaver all my life and when I’ve tried Isosceles I suck. Not that I’m any hot shot competition shooter or anything to begin with. I could put in the effort to retrain and get back to where I am now and possibly surpass but that’s a lot of effort with no guarantee of success. At the end of the day Isosceles just doesn’t feel like a “fighting” stance to me and I feel vulnerable and out of control when I’ve tried to train using it. Maybe it’s just a case of you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

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