The proper stance – which provides stability, flexibility and mobility - is essential for fighting effectively with a firearm. A stable platform allows you to place accurate hits on target. A good stance provides the flexibility to move in any direction as dictated by the situation to create distance, get to cover, obtain a clear angle of attack on the threat and put the threat into a reactive mode.
I’m a big fan of consistency. My fighting stance remains the same regardless of whether I’m fighting with empty hands, edged weapon, striking tool, my handgun or carbine. My feet are shoulder width apart, with the left foot pointing at the target. The right foot is a little farther back and pointing slightly outward. The knees are bent, and I lean forward slightly at the waist to shift about sixty percent of my weight to the left leg. The only variation is when using a weapon with heavier recoil, like a twelve-gauge shotgun with slugs. In this case, the right leg falls back further and is a little straighter to absorb the additional recoil.
This stance allows me to move in any direction, as dictated by situation, and with the proper technique the ability move and shoot at the same time. The aggressive nature of the stance reduces the possibility of losing balance if someone pushes or strikes me, and it has my body’s mass helping me to recover from recoil of a firearm, providing quicker follow up shots as necessary.
The combative stance promotes the proper mental attitude. The mind tells the body what to do, but the body can influence what and how the mind is thinking. An aggressive physical posture helps us mentally plug into the fight. Stand up and get into an aggressive fighting stance. As you assume a fighting stance your mental attitude should shift.
Also, remember the majority of our communication is non-verbal. Your physical appearance transmits a lot of information to anyone watching. The threat sees you confidently assume an aggressive, combative stance. This may change their mind about what they thought they were going to do. Then again it may not, so make sure you’re ready to back up the stance with the skills needed.
“It ain’t gotta be pretty,” I tell students, “It just has to work.” Yes, it’s possible to use a firearm from any type position, such as on your back flat on the ground. Practice using different positions so you’re not trying to figure out something new in the middle of a confrontation. Your job, as with all aspects of fighting, is to figure out what stance works for you through practice and repetition. Then, remember that every day has opportunities to develop both the physical and mental aspects of your fighting stance.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 - . McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: