Examples of a good shooting stance

In the wake of the now out of control Tactical Turtle post, many readers have asked for photos of what we consider a “good” shooting stance. Ask and ye shall receive, my friends.

Max Michel Single Stack Nationals

Note that despite the fact that Max is shooting a major power factor .45 ACP, he still doesn’t have his head buried in between his shoulders and his elbows aren’t locked. He is however leaning into the gun more than you’d see him do at Steel Challenge, because a full power .45 ACP does have more recoil than a light 9mm load for Steel Challenge. But this is still an example of excellent shooting position, because it maximizes recoil control without sacrificing mobility and vision like the turtle.

Todd Jarrett Single Stack Nationals

Here’s Todd Jarrett in the same stage, same target as Max. Notice the difference in their stances – Todd isn’t leaning as hard into the gun as Max, so his head is more upright, but his knees are more bent. Todd’s a big advocate of using the knees as “shock absorbers” for recoil control. Keeping the knees in a more aggressive bend like this allows a more erect posture.

Rob Leatham Single Stack Nats

Our last example is Rob Leatham, the 2013 National Champion at Single Stack. Rob is using a more upright stance than Todd, but less forward lean than Max. At this stage in his career, Rob’s had some knee issues, and so he can’t use a lower crouch like Todd, but his upper body strength and mass allow him to have less of a forward lean than Max does.

What we’ve presented are three examples of how to stand while shooting that offer all of the benefits of tactical turtle and exactly none of the drawbacks. Rob, Max, and Todd all have excellent recoil control, mobility, and vision in their respective shooting positions, and not a single one of them has to bury their nose between a pair of locked out elbows to do it.

We call that a clue, my friends.


  1. Caleb, I just want to say that watching your videos is the only reason I ever turtled 😛

    1. I know there are probably some people that turtled when I was doing it, and I feel bad for that. Following my own shooting evolution has been a wild ride, going from weaver to iso to turtle to whatever I’m doing now, and I hope that people are learning with me.

      1. Hehe, I got better. The real sticker since then has been “to press out or not to press out.” 🙂

        If we don’t learn then what are we doing?

  2. I’ve never been in a gunfight, but I’d think that they’d alter their stances just a bit if bullets were flying back at them while they were shooting. I’m guessing that I’d automatically duck my head down a little lower if a bullet goes whizzing over my head. I may also urinate a bit. Probably bit something

    1. (touchscreens. Sometimes I hate them.)
      …probably wouldn’t urinate or duck my head down in a competition unless it gave me a competitive advantage.

  3. Again, I agree the “gamer” stance is a better overall shooting stance. However, you’re still completely ignoring the fact that these guys are advanced shooters who do this for a living. Joe Schmoe CCW holder who takes one “tactical” or “self defense” class and then shoots 100 rounds a year when he brings his handgun along with him to sight in his hunting rifle is a different story.

    Trainers have to teach these people techniques that they can be safe with, learn quickly, uses their body’s natural reactions. They can’t say “here’s how the pro’s do it – now go shoot 10,000 rounds this year and/or spend 200 hours dry firing in your basement and you’ll be all set.” They have to give them the best opportunity to defend themselves tomorrow.

    We all wish Joe Schmo CCW holder trained more and took it more seriously, but he doesn’t. That’s just the way it is.

  4. You don’t have to train to develop “natural, instinctive, reflexes” — because they are built in.

    You train to OVERCOME your monkey reflexes that interfere with getting the job done (whether it is driving a car or shooting a pistol).

    There are absolutely NO advantages to the hyper compressed “Tactical Turtle” — NONE. Not for newbies, not for pros. Training for an aggressive forward crouch is NOT the same, has advantages, and will mitigate the counterproductive instinct to hunch as tight as you can. Even for newbies (SOME mitigatation is better than NO mitigation).

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