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[Guide] Shooting Stances: Isosceles vs Weaver vs Chapman

Quickly learn the pros/cons of the Isosceles, Weaver, and Chapman stances through tons of pictures and videos. Become a better shooter today.

    Don’t laugh, but chances are if someone just gave you a gun, you would end up leaning back like me.

    Leaning Back Shooting Stance
    Leaning Back Shooting Stance

    Having a proper shooting stance and grip gives you a strong foundation for all the other shooting fundamentals.

    But don’t worry, we’ll go over the most popular shooting stances, from Isosceles to Weaver to Chapman (aka modified Weaver).

    And then cover how to have a proper handgun grip that gives you maximum control and recoil dampening.

    Table of Contents


    Isosceles Stance

    The isosceles stance gets its name from the arms and chest making an isosceles triangle.  Kudos if you remember from geometry that isosceles means two sides are the same.

    Isosceles Shooting Stance, Top
    Isosceles Shooting Stance, Top

    Configuration of Isosceles

    Shooter faces the target squarely, feet are shoulder-width (or slightly wider) apart with toes pointed at the target.  Arms are full extended with the gun in the middle of the chest.  

    Isosceles Shooting Stance, Front
    Isosceles Shooting Stance, Front

    There’s a slight lean forward and some bending of the knees.

    Isosceles Shooting Stance, Side
    Isosceles Shooting Stance, Side

    Pros of Isosceles Stance

    • Easier and more natural stance since you are merely “pointing” at the target.
    • The body acts like a turret for easy movement to side targets.  This stance is very popular in shooting competitions for easy transitions to different targets.
    • Doesn’t really matter what eye dominance you are.
    • If wearing body armor, you are getting more protection since you are square to the target.

    Cons of Isosceles Stance

    • Potentially less stable if you are pushed foward/backward (pretty stable for side to side), but this is minimized by bending your knees and putting your weight a little more forward.
    • If not wearing body armor, you are exposing a bigger target.

    Weaver Stance

    Developed in the 1950’s by LA County Sheriff Jack Weaver and since popularized by Jeff Cooper and his firearms school, Gunsite.  The shooter is more at an angle to the target and the arms are bent.


    Non-dominant leg is forward of the dominant leg with a slight forward lean (“nose over toes”).

    Toes are pointed forward and the firing-side arm is extended while the supporting arm is bent.  

    Weaver Shooting Stance, Side
    Weaver Shooting Stance, Side

    The shooter employs a “push-pull” grip by pushing with the firing arm and pulling back with the supporting arm.

    Weaver Shooting Stance, Top
    Weaver Shooting Stance, Top

     Pros of Weaver Stance

    • Smaller profile to target (“blading” your body”)
    • Better recoil management with the push-pull method
    • More stable since the feet are now staggered.  Natural stance if you need to balance yourself.

    Cons of Weaver Stance

    • Harder to rotate to your non-dominant side since you feel like you’re binding yourself up.  For example, the Gunsite instructor above would have a harder time rotating to his left.
    • Harder for cross-dominant shooters (eg right hand dominant and left eye dominant) since the two are now no longer matched up.
    • If in body armor, you expose your side which normally isn’t armored.

    Modified Weaver Stance (Chapman Stance)

    Pioneered by competitive shooter Ray Chapman.  Very similar to the Weaver Stance except your shooting arm is fully locked out with the support arm bent downwards.


    Same as Weaver above except the shooting arm is fully extended, almost like a rifle stock.  

    Chapman Shooting Stance, Top
    Chapman Shooting Stance, Top

    Some shooters will also create a cheek-weld on their upper arm (like me)

    Chapman Shooting Stance, Side
    Chapman Shooting Stance, Side

    Pros of Chapman Stance

    • All of the Weaver Stance
    • Consistency of your arm “stock” and “cheek-weld” to be always the same, instead of hovering in the air with the Isosceles or Weaver.
    • Better recoil management since the firing arm is fully extended
    • Better for crossed-eye dominant shooters since by having a cheek-weld, the opposite eye is more in line with the firearm

    Cons of Chapman Stance

    • All of the Weaver Stance minus cross-dominant shooting
    • Might strain the neck muscles

    Verdict of the Best Stance

    Another of my standard answers…it depends on what you like best and your application.

    You can choose based on what comes more naturally to you, if you want to compete in shooting sports later, or if you have eye dominance issues.  And in many cases, what your instructor prefers when you take a firearms class (you are going to take a class right?).

    I prefer the Chapman stance because of our crossed-eye dominance issues.

    Chapman Shooting Stance, Side
    Chapman Shooting Stance, Side

    I also like the feeling that my “rifle-stock” is always the same.  And even though I do some competitive shooting, I don’t really see the moving side-to-side binding issue that much.  But don’t take my word for it…try it out for yourself!

    Additional Learning

    Check out more articles full of helpful pictures in our Beginner’s Guide to Guns such as How to Grip a Pistol and Proper Trigger Pull.

    High Grip Missing Area on a Handgun
    High Grip Missing Area on a Handgun

    Or for a lot of gun stuff…videos are the best learning tool.  That’s why we created Gun Noob to Gun Slinger…our beginner handgun course to teach you the important stuff…without the attitude. 

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    25 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Nader Shokry

      Thank you fir the article; spot on

      March 18, 2023 1:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      i use none of these stances, as i fire with one hand. the 148grain 357 rounds don't put me on my arse or whatever because i stand right foot at 1 o'clock left foot at 10.

      October 31, 2022 4:20 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Excellent article with great photos.

      October 28, 2022 9:41 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Clive Dredge

      One of those discussions that no one will ever agree on.... For my 2 cents worth... I spent 10 years in the army and all combat was with an FAL (7.62 NATO) or an MAG... If you did not have a weaver type stance you will be sitting on your arse... From hi powered rifles I started on the Colt 1911... Again - if you are using a 44, 357 or a 45 - you need to be using the weaver or Chapman stance... Just a thought...

      October 2, 2022 10:49 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David Gay

      You've obviously never been to gunsite the blading thing was never taught..law enforcement started that

      June 30, 2022 3:57 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      bob barker

      Oh so you're cross eye dom

      March 18, 2022 10:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Very good article comparing the three stances. I was taught by Ray Chapman at his practical shooting school in the 80's and adopted the Modifies Weaver Stance from that time until today. I too demonstrate all three stances to my students, teaching the pros,and cons of each. Then, I allow my students to choose the one most natural to them. Thank you for your articles and instruction. My students have Pew Pew listed as one of their online resources.

      July 10, 2020 9:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      One overlooked benefit to the Weaver and Chapman stance is that it is much more natural to shoot from cover -i.e., behind a wall - as long as we are able to use our dominant hand. One disadvantage of these stances is that we become very dominant-hand oriented, and it's harder to switch to our non-dominant hand if we need to.
      Tim, I completely feel your frustration about classes. After taking my initial training at Smith&Wesson, then being told I had to change all that at American Small Arms Academy, then having yet another experience at FPF training, I have learned to ask in advance if anyone is going to have a problem with my Chapman stance, Israeli grip or Viridian laser, BEFORE I plunk down another $600 and have somebody tell me I'm "doing it all wrong" again.

      February 4, 2020 9:06 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        Absolutely agree that Weaver/Chapman stance is superior to shoot from cover or concealment. Only eye and a very small portion of head plus shoulder and shooting arm is exposed. Practice shoot reversed from other side. 35 years ago, I set up several local IDPA/IPSC Matches with a several second penalty to not use cover effectively e.g. shooting right handed using left cover. Some complained, I was match director and Chief Range Officer for match.
        I was over ruled at State Match.

        I was parachute infantry in RVN, 173rd ABN BDE LRRP

        March 31, 2022 4:12 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Don't use the older military 'Teacup' grip... really... when milliseconds count this may be the only grip you'll have time do. Unless of course you tell the bad guy to wait while you make sure your right thumb is above the left and your fingers are positioned so the slide doesn't rip five layers of skin and knuckle. Truth be told, whatever technique allows you to put at least 3 rounds in a tight group, where you aimed, in the least amount of time is what's important. Oh BTW... as a former Marine... if I'm standing in one place longer than it takes to fire 3 rounds then I'm in one place too long.

      January 24, 2019 10:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Thanks for the article Eric. I just completed a conceal carry class here in TN and the instructor required that we all shoot from the isosceles stance. I've been shooting in a Chapman stance for 15+ years and switching was so uncomfortable to me. Between that and some minor differences she forced in the grip, I'm lucky I passed the test (and this was at 7 yards!). I went to the range the next day, assumed my normal stance/grip and was shooting 3-4" groups at 15 yards. I think a part of what feels so off for me is the fact that I do muay thai kickboxing and am used to staggered feet and a more upright position. Anyway, thanks for pointing out that there isn't necessarily a "right:" stance, it's what works for you!

      August 10, 2018 2:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jerry Gautier

      Col Applegate taught the Army in the 40s and from his book to shoot in his kill or get killed. After soldiers were taught the basics he went into practical shooting from three positions. The prone which he used from 50 yrds because it was the most stable, Next was kneeling from about 25 yrds and last standing one handed square to the target and it was full arm extended point shooting. He would pivot from left to right and not swing the body or shooting arm. that was from 15 yrds or less.

      July 17, 2018 9:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      what about Center Axis Relock (CAR)?

      July 13, 2018 8:37 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        We looked at CAR in another article :)

        July 13, 2018 9:17 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Hey i'm 20 y/o and been getting into guns quite a bit. Your articles have greatly expanded my knowlage on guns and ammunition. I actually am joing the Air Force soon just waiting on a couple of waivers. Anyway despite growing up in a very conservative county and with extended family all in East Texas and Fortworth i've had a lot of exposure to firearms but never really shot any myself. So these articles are slowly heloing me move past my noob status and i'm actually having fun learning all of the technicalities. I won't purchase a firearm before being shipped out, because i don't know enough to teach myself how to shoot so i'll leave that up to the combat arms trainers. Anyway thanks for all the info!

      April 6, 2018 10:16 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Eric, Great article and time have changed on what is the correct way to fire a weapon.
      As far as tea cupping or one handed fire the old WW2 vets we deadly accurate with these types of fire because of the training. Case in point was my father. I could beat him using the rifle because his eyes were older but he could still take me at 5 yards with a pistol up to his death. He was taught the tea cup and one handed shooting but he preferred the on handed technique.

      Again great article. I work best with the Chapman or Fighting Stance along with one handed.

      February 14, 2018 6:45 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Great point Ray! And thanks for sharing that story about your father.

        February 15, 2018 10:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Excellent and obviously very useful information. THANKS!

      February 3, 2018 10:43 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        You're welcome!!

        February 13, 2018 9:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chris Manley

      Didnt see a mention of the fighting stance (aka modified isosceles etc etc) It's taking out the cons of both the isosceles and weaver stance, developed by special forces (i think).

      Arms like isosceles but feet like weaver (in case you don't know what im talking about).

      April 11, 2017 6:46 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Nelson B Cabral

      The grip shown here looks like the slide would destroy your hand. I don't use a teacup but I suppose I use a modified teacup. Thumb forward the right hand in that pic just seems like the thumb is out of position, no?

      March 20, 2017 6:01 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Hey Nelson, if you mean the 1911 in the last pic it might be the angle. I'm resting the thumb on the thumb safety and I haven't had slide bite yet.

        April 5, 2017 4:23 pm
        • Commenter Avatar

          For everyone who doesn't understand what was said, many guns have parts that can slice flesh and break bones if held improperly. I have a few scars. If you aren't fully confident, ask about how a particular gun should be held when you buy or borrow it.

          August 5, 2017 10:53 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dan Maloney

      Great Site!!! Answers all the questions, I want to know.

      Can you talk about internal safeties such as for the S&W M&P 9mm or Glock pistols and how can I gain confidence in carrying a gun with this type of safety system.

      September 10, 2016 5:46 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Hi Dan, good idea for a future article on internal safeties. For carrying I'd suggest something that covers the trigger guard and for yourself, check out my trigger discipline article (http://www.pewpewtactical.com/trigger-discipline-control-guide/). The best safety is yourself!

        September 11, 2016 11:05 am
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