Update, some thoughts on stance and a few links

Posted: June 1, 2012 in Handgun, How To, Information, Myths and Misunderstandings, Rifle

Hey guys! I just picked up my compact XDm 9mm last night, and I’m planning to take it to the range this weekend. So far, I’m completely impressed with the design. They managed to include the interchangeable backstraps, which I haven’t seen on some other subcompact-size guns. I’ll take pictures and do a proper review after I get a chance to shoot it a little. I’m excited!

Also, my friend Isaac sent me this link, as it pertains to a discussion we were having yesterday: The retired marine and the robbers It’s an article written by Mas Ayoob, who is seriously one of the very best sources for information on defensive handgun shooting in the world. I’ve read a number of his books, listened to him on the ProArms podcast, and I never get enough of his eminently practical advice.

Anyway, my friend and I were talking about how many times, people who work at gun shops and ranges are kind of dickish. We’d both experienced it to varying degrees, and were discussing why it might be. I then brought up the issue I had with range officers giving shooters misguided advice based on internet forum expert opinion or whatever. Anyway, the issue was about stances. You get some argument one way or the other still, between Weaver and Isoceles. I talk about them both and give my thoughts in my post on the fundamentals of marksmanship, if you want a refresher. Anyway, one of my recent trips to the range involved a wait for a lane, and while waiting with my father-in-law, I heard an RSO (Range Safety Officer) giving a truly asinine justification for the Weaver stance. Here’s a summary: You want to angle your weapon side away from the target, preferably as much as possible, to present a smaller target to your enemy. An added bonus is that your support arm then provides a barrier between your opponent and your chest.

Okay, here’s why that’s asinine. For one, if you think about it a little deeper, showing your side to your enemy (which is what the RSO was advocating) just means that if you do get shot, the bullet has a much better chance of hitting both lungs and your heart, or two out of three. Not ideal. Also, your arm is not protecting your chest. Your arm, unless you’re much cooler than I am, is made of flesh and bone. What are most bullets designed to penetrate? Flesh and bone. So while technically it is possible that the bullet might hit and glance off your humerus, it’s far more likely that it will just shatter the humerus and continue on into your chest cavity unabated. So now you’ve got  bullet wound to the chest and an arm that doesn’t work so good. See what I mean about thinking these things through? Something can sound pretty reasonable on first glance, but you have to think about it a little deeper sometimes. Unfortunately, the inexperienced shooters he was talking to were just eating up all that nonsense. The orange vest or red shirt or yellow cap or whatever that designates an RSO can often grant the wearer an aura of authority, even if they don’t know their muzzle from a hole in the ground. So take their advice with a grain of salt. Hell, take my advice the same way. There’s no expert whose advice I will accept as gospel without at least trying to think through it critically first. Mas Ayoob and Rob Pincus are pretty close, but even then I don’t necessarily buy into everything they say just because they say it. And I certainly don’t buy into the crap spewed by the average gun store or range employee. As I mentioned a few posts ago, you do occasionally come across a real gem who can help you a great deal, but that’s pretty rare.

Here’s the thing about stances, if you want my unsolicited opinion: For one, they’re kind of a moot point unless you’re standing on the firing line of your local range, where the ground is flat and level, the lights are on, and you’re pretty sure nobody in there is trying to shoot you. If you’re doing some kind of defensive-style competition (IDPA, USPSA, 3-Gun, etc) you’re going to be using cover, moving and shooting, etc. The stances may influence your movements and how your shoulders relate to the target in a general way, but you’re not just standing and shooting very much at all. If you’re actually fighting for your life in the blood and piss and broken glass of a street encounter, you’re going to be even less concerned about your stance. So if you want to think about them, think about them in terms of general schools of thought, not in the way that you believe you will actually be able to attain and maintain such a stance during a fight. Also realize that the goal of your stance when shooting should be to help you get your rounds on target as fast as possible. If Weaver does that better for you, then by all means go with it. But don’t use some kind of wacky “silhouette minimization” justification for it.

So how does the article tie into all this? Essentially, it’s a real-life example of a guy who had to pull his gun to save his life. He specifically says in there that he felt his accuracy suffered because he wasn’t able to get into his normal firing stance (which for him is a modified Weaver). He was still effective, even in a different stance, because of his skill, and because of the very short ranges at which defensive shootings usually take place. So even though he wasn’t able to get into his stance, he still used the gun effectively to save his life. If you have a range which would allow some non-standard shooting positions, I’d recommend giving them a go. Try shooting from a crouch, or leaning over, or on one knee, or leaning way forward or to one side. When you watch dashcam video of police officers involved in shootings, or security footage of armed citizens defending themselves, that’s overwhelmingly what you see, rather than people in perfect, firing range stances. The stance depends on their use of cover, where they are in relation to their attacker, etc. They also tend to do most of their shooting one-handed, which is a great reason to train one-handed more often than most of us do.

Okay, that was just a little rant. The same friend also shared this excellent link with me, which I will simply share here without commentary: Bolt Manipulation in Offhand Position

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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