Sideways Stance Advantages

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Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by Pistol Pete on 3/22/2018, 3:36 am

Hi All,
Competition pistol shooters (ISSF, Olympics etc) appear to exclusively use a stance sideways to the target. Why?
There must be an advantage to do so but what is it?

My stance was typically 45 degrees to the target 
1) One handed aiming seemed more relaxed and natural at this angle
2) By practice, live and dry firing, over many hours a week for several years I rose from abysmally bad to almost mediocre. (but still able to beat everyone in my local club who didn't put much effort at all into it)
3) Right handed, right eye dominant, but with corrected vision, I found that I could see best at this angle wearing progressive lenses.

Trying to progress I emulated the side on stance used in world championship level target shooting and read what very little I could find on the topic. I got single prescription glasses made focussed at the front sight distance and went back to dry firing practice.

At first it was strange and muscles needed to change but eventually I felt that I could keep the sights centered in the 10 ring as well as before.

Then I entered an ISSF 25m standard pistol rimfire competition, used a side on stance and made the worst score I have ever recorded.

So, will this stance lead to better scores for me if I persist?

Why do people use it? What advantage does it confer and how?

It's not natural, ask a child to point and they do it face on. 
Physically it appears to be easier to support a weight forwards rather than to the side. 
It requires substantial twisting and tension in the neck muscles to aim where as a face on stance wouldn't. 

Side facing might balance the body across the shoulders with the left arm being a counterbalance but this is then negated by tucking in the left arm which partially removes the hanging weight and brings it closer to the body reducing the remaining balancing torque on the shoulders beam.

Rocking on the heels introduces horizontal movement with a sideways aim but vertical movement in a forwards stance so splitting the difference with a 45 degree stance would balance the two into a more circular (and closer) range of movement? 

It's not for recoil recovery in a slowfire event.
It's not to "lock" the arm or body. The arm is held by muscle control unlike other structures (ankles, knees, hips generally stay put, the left arm can hang there, the spine & head is stacked & unless there is a corrective movement required they don't take in much muscle force to stay in position)

All in all sideways aiming introduces a bit of tension into the body but every competitor does it so it can't be just tradition. A more logical position would be standing 45 degrees between the two, tending more to face on rather than sideways.

Other answers I have been given when asking about this include comments which are perhaps related to combat/defense shooting;

"the smallest possible target" - not relevant as no one is going to shoot back in competition

"standing sideways is not used at all" - but it is in ISSF  & Olympic competition etc

"No advantage at all", "the disadvantages, however, are many", "shooting sideways has no advantages. None. Not one."- so why is it used?

"hasn’t really been used in at least a couple of decades. The reasons are many but most boil down to accuracy and speed" 

"severely reduces accuracy and rate of rapid fire" - but it is used at the highest level in competition as well as rapid fire events.

"a more continuous site picture" - Compared to face on?

"when you shoot you allow the recoil to push your arm back a little. This keeps your sights on target and allows more accurate and faster shooting." - is this a factor in low powered 22, airpistol and single shot events?

"superior target indexing, which results in greater accuracy and less muzzle drift" - aha! for one person but is this it for all the competitors?

"Olympic style pistol shooting comes from that tradition." - Unless the rules require a side stance, shooting one handed could be done in a number of ways.

One person said that by shifting my arm back as far as it would go I would effectively reach the end of its movement and thereby eliminate movement in one plane of wobble. I could move my arm back beyond my vision of the sights and this also induced some tension in my arm, twisted neck, shoulder etc which didn't help either. I also saw that in a Russian training manual the arm was described as being directly aligned along the shoulder joints however sample photographs of atheletes in the same manual showed them with the arm slightly forward of this line.

So what is the SPECIFIC advantage to aiming standing sideways when no one has to? What am I not getting or understanding about this technique? Why is it seemingly used **EXCLUSIVELY** in ultra high end competition?

Pistol Pete

Pistol Pete

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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by davekp on 3/22/2018, 7:16 am

Last year at the Dixie Regional in Jacksonville, I noticed all of the AMU shooters used a "mostly" sideways stance. I asked if they were taught that way and they said not specifically. Jim Henderson shoots VERY sideways, and his recoil recovery in CF and 45 are quick and he is back on target RIGHT NOW. With a sideways stance there is no rocking fore and aft. 
I tried it that way for a few months and it didn't seem to work for me, but maybe I needed to give it more time.


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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by Wobbley on 3/22/2018, 8:15 am

Just attended a Brian Zins Clinic.  He advocates that you find YOUR best angle.  Too face on, the gun has movement up and down, too sideways, the gun has movement sideways.  Somewhere in the middle the gun has just the wobble.  That is your natural arm to chest angle.  Then you adjust the grip so the sights are aligned to your eye when the gun is brought up from the low ready.  Keep your head erect but turned slightly to look square to the target.  Move your feet if you’re not aligned to the center of the target.

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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by LenV on 3/22/2018, 9:51 am

To find "your angle" you need to close your eyes. Take a shoulder width stance and then close your eyes. Start wind milling (empty hand) your shooting arm and then bring it down to smaller and smaller circles until you have brought it down to the smallest circle you can. This is where all your muscles find it the most natural to maintain. Adjust your feet to align with the target. There are 6 basics we were taught and drilled into us when shooting for AMU a million years ago. Stance, Position, Grip, Sight alignment, Trigger control and Breath control. Stance position and grip. Get those three right and you don't have to fight your own body to get back on target.


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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by Jon Math on 3/22/2018, 1:31 pm

Age, flexibility and physical strength have as much to do with your stance as anything.  I notice the older men and heavier men (of any age) in my league all have a more face on stance than the younger and thinner men do.  I’m kind of the exception in spite of being the youngest of the old men I shoot with the most side on stance in the league. I do come to Bullseye shooting from ISSF air and free pistol where a lot of the guys were combat or police practical shooters in years gone by which might go a ways toward explaining the differences
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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by Chris Miceli on 3/22/2018, 1:36 pm

I see a lot of thin sideways stance shooters blow around in the wind at Perry
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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by Jon Math on 3/22/2018, 1:54 pm

LOL that place has been known to blow pistol boxes and benches over.  
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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by CR10X on 3/22/2018, 2:04 pm

So you decided to change your shooting position to something that you had not trained with, then questioned the validity of the position based on your performance?

Just because you might grip a golf club like Tiger Woods does not mean you're going to hit it 385 yards the first time out.  Or even the 1,000th time.

Seriously though, I understand that you're searching to help.  And this list will give you some (probably a lot more than you might want).  Just stick with it.  It would help to know your location, if you are just shooting International matches, .22, CF Air, etc., or NRA matches (.22 / CF / .45) etc.    

For now, stick with what works and feels comfortable; but remember that your position can and probably should gradually change as you develop as a shooter.  At this point, getting more "sideways" has more issues than benefits for you.  Neck strain, arm strength, flexibility of upper chest muscles, even breathing will be an issue at this this point.   

"Forty-five degrees" with feet shoulder width apart and slightly pointed outward from parallel to each other is a good place to start.   Close your eyes, bring up the gun and see how everything lines up.  Move rear foot left or right to get lined up on target, rear foot fore or aft to get vertical on target.  Then start shooting.  

But the benefit of getting more and more "behind the gun" or "sideways, can eventually pay off in better balance time, less strength need to keep the gun up, better response to recoil and recovery to the target area, provide less leverage for recoil to rotate the body, get the eye better aligned with the arm, wrist, hand and sights, etc. etc.  And as the recoil of the gun goes up (think CF and .45 for one hand shooting) this becomes even more important.  But again this depends on your body and your shooting.   

And don't worry about crap on the internet if it isn't related to one hand competitive shooting.  There are reasons for even the military to say, "face the target", but we don't wear body armor.   



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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

Post by Ed Hall on 3/22/2018, 4:31 pm

What CR said!  When I was shooting better, I had a pretty sideways stance, but my neck and back won't allow me to use that stance in a full 2700 anymore.  To illustrate an exaggeration even further, there was one Marine Champion who would actually stand with his back toward his neighbor's bench and his arm as far rearward as he could extend it - Jason Meidinger.  But, that doesn't mean it's the best for any of us.

Everyone must find the most natural, relaxing, stable and repeatable stance for themselves.  And, again, as CR said, "... remember that your position can and probably should gradually change as you develop as a shooter."

"I see a lot of thin sideways stance shooters blow around in the wind at Perry"

Being the tallest BE shooter I know, I display that activity, even with a more angled stance these days.  There has only ever been one taller individual at Perry, that I have seen, and he was a non-shooting volunteer.

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Re: Sideways Stance Advantages

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