When teaching firearms I spend the majority of the time teaching fundamentals, it’s not the coolest thing to talk about to work on but it’s the most effective at getting tight groups on target, and that is the coolest thing when it comes to range time. Fundamentals are the basics because they work. Once you master them you can adapt them to the situation. Today we are going to illustrate this by talking about shooting stance and one of the reasons progressive trainers’ teach shooters to utilize an aggressive shooting stance.
When watching shooters on the range I see a lot of them try to shoot while leaning backward. I make it a point to ask them why. Invariably there is a pause as they try to find a reason why they are leaning backward. It’s unstable, uncomfortable, and it puts a strain on your breathing. No shooters ever say this, but I suspect it’s a psychological thing. I think the new shooter leans back while firing to distance themselves from recoil, and lacking training to resolve this, it becomes ingrained in the shooter’s style.
Since the majority of firearm students are adult learners, and one of the main principles of adult education is that adults have to contrast what they know with what they are being taught simply telling the shooter to stand up straight may work in the short time, but it will not be internalized as a true change.
What you need to do is show the adult shooter why we want them to lean toward the target. We do this by SHOWING them the benefits. A good way of doing this is to have two lines of shooters (or just two if your training with a range buddy) face each other. Have the two groups face toward each other, and have one group act as shooters and have them lean backward and put their hands together to form the deadly finger gun. The other group is the aggressors; I normally have them raise an invisible knife over their head. Explain to the group that when the aggressors step forward to stab the shooters, the shooters should take a step back and fire their finger.
As an instructor the looks on the students faces is priceless. The shooters pause a second as they realize they have to shift their weight to step backwards because their center of gravity is over their heels. Next the shooters lean forward and the exercise is repeated. This time the students are able to easily move and shoot.
So now the student actually sees that there is a reason they stand in a certain position. By leaning aggressively toward the target the shooter is much more stable, and having a balanced stance allows them to move easily if needed. It also gives a psychological boost that is much more positive than leaning backward as if afraid of the gun.
Stay tuned for more fundamentals, and we will eventually get around to talking about the reasons for all the other shooting fundamentals…