Weaver vs. Isosceles, continued much to my great annoyance

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Exactly one week ago, I wrote a post revisiting the frequently hotly debated topic of weaver vs. isosceles. If you don’t want to read it, here’s the tl;dr version: with the exception of a very, very, very, very small portion of the shooting populace, it doesn’t matter which stance/grip/thing you use.

Caleb Area 3 with Colt 1911

Of course, “nuance” is difficult for the internet, so my comment section flooded with people talking about how “lol weaver suxx” or “Iso is for gamers” and a bunch of other nonsense. However, one argument stuck out at me in particular, to the point where I feel the need to actually defend the Weaver stance and its users. That’s how stupid this argument is, it has me actually defending the position with which I nominally disagree.

This argument was repeated multiple times on the blog, and I even addressed it a bit on my FB page. It goes like this:

You shouldn’t shoot Weaver because it’s been proven in gunfights that you’ll automatically go into an isosceles stance so lol weaver is dumb and gay”

That argument is stupid. It’s stupid because if you replace “Weaver” with “sighted fire” and “isosceles” with “point shooting” it’s the exact same argument made by point shooting smacktards about how you’ll never see your sights in a gunfight so you shouldn’t practice with them. Those arguments are stupid because they encourage a culture of mediocrity instead of a culture of excellence.

The entire point of training to use a gun for self-defense is to overcome our reptile hind-brain’s reaction to fear and danger. Think about how stupid this argument is when you apply it to other areas of your life: “You shouldn’t go to defensive driving school because under stress you’ll just panic brake” or “you shouldn’t study for the test because under stress you’ll just forget everything you studied and fail.” It’s utter nonsense, but it’s the kind of utter nonsense that people want to embrace, because it saves them from being challenged to do something difficult. Getting better at stuff is work. Getting better at shooting is work. Just talking about Weaver for a moment, ask anyone who has ever been to a Gunsite 250 if there were parts that weren’t challenging. Of course there are. That’s because the act of training yourself to overcome the fear response is difficult.

We have millions of years of evolution that tell us to crouch, cower, and run away from danger. It’s the smart thing to do. It’s what we did until we figured out how to make tools, weapons, and fire. Then we trained ourselves to stand in the face of the bear/mammoth/thing and say “naw, I’m going to kill you with this spear.” If your entire argument against a technique is “don’t use it because of your fear/stress response” then you fundamentally misunderstand the entire point of defensive firearms training. It’s not to embrace our fear, it’s to conquer it. Lewis Hamilton isn’t afraid to throw his F1 car into a corner at 100 miles per hour because he’s trained to overcome that part of his brain that’s screaming at him “TOO FAST YOU’LL DIE FOR SURE.”

21 thoughts on “Weaver vs. Isosceles, continued much to my great annoyance”

  1. I love it when you throw these out there and then sit back and watch the blaze. My 2 cents is that your body will do what the situation dictates. Neither stance is 100% right 100% of the time, that’s why we train to shoot from so many different positions (if your not, you should). I’m a police officer so I try to train to keep as much of my vest facing forward as possible. However that’s not always possible in an evolving situation. Caleb’s article about training with Craig Douglas was a good example of just how well things go south. So don’t worry about which stance is best, train to win!

  2. This article reminds me of the role of the ego and the delusion of merely having a gun makes you capable of defending yourself.

    The argument of “When you’re in a gunfight you’ll forget ______ so it doesn’t matter.” is one of the few things I’ll respond with “That’ll get you killed on the street”.

  3. Caleb, is there any way you could add a line to the page or post telling us who the author of each post is? I have been reading Gun Nuts for years now on both Android and iPhone and I have never been able to tell who writes each post.

    1. Economist, Author is under the title of the post. Also look above the Title to see if Caleb is being funny when he says he carries a claw hammer under his shirt for his EDC. There is a subject heading above the title.
      If I did not know if Caleb was being funny I might have asked him if I should use a 12oz claw hammer or a 16oz framing hammer for self defense. One is fast and lightweight but the other heavier hammer can hit harder. Too bad I still can’t decide which is better. : P

    2. Uh, I will have to take a look at the mobile theme. It displays on desktop, but I’m not sure how it looks on mobile. Thanks for letting me know!

  4. Choose what stance works if Bob can hit quarters at 50 fifty yards holding in under a second holding it gangster style who am I too tell him that’s not a good method. I use the weaver for no other reason that I have a shoulder injury that make isosceles painful with my weak arm, I can hit my target just fine.

  5. WHAT?!?! This isn’t TROLL! I came to read TROLL, DAMNIT! U R not to make sensible argument! So disappoint!

  6. This topic is like a zombie… it just won’t die. These topics are the mental equivalent of arguing Ford vs Chevy.

    So here’s my bottom line.

    There is no substitute for training. Gunfighting is about mindset, tactics, and decision-making under time and emotional pressure. My first-ever FOF training was the most important lesson I ever received. I was doing fine, using cover and range (and the Weaver) right up to the part where I got shot (twice) at close range with my gun still in my hand by the bad guy who had dropped the knife. My legs felt like lead, my brain was racing, and my heart was trying to get out of my chest. And right there I learned that my above-average gun-handling and marksmanship skills were not enough. It was humbling, but in one of my (infrequent) flashes of brilliance, I also realized I was on the right track.

    It was the moment in the Karate Kid where Daniel-san learns that waxing the cars and painting the fence and sanding the deck was part of a much bigger picture.

    I learned that stress is something that must be addressed, that fear is manageable but useful, and that my body will do what it was trained to do if I’ll get out of the way. I learned that it may be my first armed encounter, but that it’s likely my adversary’s career choice. I learned that the encounter started before I recognized it, and that tactics are more important before bullets fly than after. I also learned that many of my pre-conceived notions were wrong.

    To stick with my movie motif, you can choose the blue pill and everything will go back to the way it was. You can go to the range, shoot small groups, and read/watch the internet to learn everything you need to know and then repeat it over and over (and over). Or you can choose the red pill, get some serious training, read a book (or 5) on how to improve your software, and then get some more training.

    Me? I’m going to go try and get shot again.

  7. Why stand still? I practice shooting over my shoulder while running! Is there something I should know?

  8. Quit talking and just shoot the bad guy in the face.

    I don’t care what you do so long as you do it well. ’nuff said.

  9. Have to call bull$#it on the premise of your annoyance Caleb. The facts and informed opinions on the negatives of the Weaver stance are relevant because Gunsite clings to Weaver as THE preferred stance. The facts and informed opinions on the positives of Isosceles generally supported the point I thought you tried to make initially in the Weaver vs. Isosceles Revisited discussion about not getting hung up on which stance is THE proper stance, a hang up that Gunsite apparently can’t get past.

    There’s a reason that most top shooter use Isosceles or some variation of it, and like it or not, there’s many reasons that the Weaver stance is no longer taught by most LE training program and evidence that even Weaver trained shooters tend to go Isosceles or some hybrid variation under stress is one of them.

    Message received loud and clear that any observations or opinions on the topic of Weaver vs. Isosceles from anyone other than Caleb or the short list of those in his circle are unwelcome.

    I’ll leave you one more fact and informed opinion; some young competitive shooters are arrogant thin skinned little man syndrome know-it-alls obsessed with constantly marking their territory, and some aren’t.

    1. You know what’s funny? You very clearly didn’t understand the point of my post, which actually has nothing to do with Weaver or Isosceles. I’ll give you the tl;dr version: “the point of defensive firearms training is to overcome our natural response stress, not give in to it.”

  10. There is a famous book on shooting, called “Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge”, written by Bruce Siddle back in 1995. It references an FBI study looking at performance in actual gunfights. This was done back in the era when the FBI taught the Weaver stance. What the study showed, according to Siddle’s book, is that most trained in Weaver did not use that stance under stress. Siddle went on to author a 1998 paper that collected up additional data showing that people trained in Weaver reverted to some variant of Isoceles in force on force exercises. The paper is here http://www.hfrg.org/storage/pdf/Applegate%20abstract.sciencepointshting.pdf
    Siddle’s book was an important point in the transition of mil and LEO training from Weaver to Isoceles.

    I propose a new rule: if you have an opinion on Weaver v. Isoceles and you haven’t done at least 3 of these things:
    1) Shot drills (timer and target) measuring your own performance comparing both techniques
    2) Shot competition using both techniques
    3) participated in force on force using both techniques
    4) been in a gunfight
    5) talked to anyone who has been in a gunfight about what stance, if any, they used
    6) trained anyone who has won a gunfight
    7) trained with anyone who has won a gunfight and trained others who won gunfights
    8) studied the history of evolution of pistolcraft going back to Jelly Bryce, Bill Jordan, Applegate, Fairbairn, Askins, Cooper, Weaver, Chapman, Ayoob, Cirillo, Rogers, Shaw, Leatham, Enos, and Barnhart, including studies like and including Siddle’s work.

    …then you don’t have enough information to have an opinion of any value, so please shut the hell up about it.

    1. So if you’re like, say 7/8 on your list it’s safe to assume that you’re speaking from the position of all moral authority and only those who have a clean 8/8 can tell you to shut up?

      Asking for a friend.

  11. Uhhhhhhh…I’d like to point out than in the documentary on Col. Cooper’s life, A MAN IN FULL, I’m the guy running the Fun House at GUNSITE, shooting from isosceles. Nobody’s head exploded. Have shot through the GUNSITE 250 using isosceles with both 1911 .45s and 9mm plastic guns and again shooting a revolver from a Weaver. Nobody seemed to care as long as I shot to standard. Shoot a lot of big boomer revolvers and you’ll appreciate Weaver, even as you sink deeper and deeper into carpel tunnel syndrome. What the hell, it all works.

    Michael B

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