Shooting Stance – 7 Key Components Of The Upper Triangle

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Springfield Armory USA
Springfield Armory USA

Geneseo, IL (AmmoLand) — We all were told at some point in our training to “relax, squeeze the trigger slowly and let the gun kick freely”.

This makes sense when you're just starting out, but if you want to shoot faster and maintain a high degree of accuracy, this basic advice will have to evolve. You will have to do things differently.

That's where shooting stance comes in.

It's one of the most important fundamentals of being a faster, more accurate shooter. Stance covers everything from the ground to your gun (literally).

A proper shooting stance has a lot of elements involved. For sake of simplicity I'll separate stance into two parts. The “Upper Triangle” and the “Torso and Legs“.

This article is devoted to the “Upper Triangle“, which is your hands, arms and shoulders.

(This post first appeared on the Springfield Armory Blog)

Here Are The 7 Keys To A Strong Upper Triangle

1. Don't Stand Like Me. Stand Like You Need To.

Not everyone is built the same. I weigh a metric ton and am relatively strong in my hands, wrists and forearms.

If you are lighter or weaker than I am, your stance will differ from mine. The same goes for a shooter who is heavier or stronger.

The point is to be comfortable and confident in your own stance.

2. Grip The Gun Tightly.

Without exception, every great speed shooter has a very strong grip.

You aren't gripping too firmly on your pistol until you either hinder your ability to move your trigger finger freely or cause an otherwise abnormal tremor or flinch in your hands and arms.

Tension causes your muscles to become rigid around your joints. My hands are tired after a training session. It can be a physical workout but I can't resist the gun's movement in my hands if I relax.



READ my post about Getting A Better Grip On Your Gun 



3. Lock Those Joints. Be Strong, Not Comfortable.



The focus here is reducing or eliminating flex. Whether your elbows are straight or bent, resist the flexing of your joints when the recoil of your gun tries to bend them. The joints most responsible for movement are the wrist and elbow. For the elbow joint, many shooters use a technique called “Locking Out”.

My wife Kippi and many other champions, “lock out” hard. She straightens her arms to create a position where the elbow joint is at full extension. “Locking Out” isn't the only way to lock your elbow joint. It's ok to have a slight bend in your elbows when you shoot, just keep them very rigid.  Either way can work well.

4. Use More Than Your Hands. Pinch In With Your Arms.



Use your chest muscles to help stiffen your arms.

Pulling into your center with both arms will help create tension throughout the triangle and help “clamp” the gun in your hands.

5. Hold The Gun Steady.

Make the gun act like it is locked in a vise and cannot move. Keep it as motionless as possible when you pull the trigger. Don't just aim and fire. Not yet anyway.

6. Aim Throughout The Movement Of The Gun During Recoil.

Do this with the goal of quickly returning the gun to the position and altitude it was at before it was fired. While the actual amount of muzzle flip you will experience is going to be based on your skill and strength, avoid letting the gun just “lift up and stay there”.

Get the sights back on target.

7. Train With Live Ammo. 



Dry firing will not teach you the value of a proper “upper triangle”. You can't learn to control recoil without having to control recoil.

You can practice the strength building “isometrics” of gripping and pinching the gun with your hands, arms and chest muscles all day long, but the gun has to kick for you to learn to recover from recoil. Practice recoil control with the caliber you want to master.

Learning to “Lock Up” on your .22 while helpful, is not the same as controlling a much more powerful caliber.

Perfecting The Upper Triangle

Practice! Do not assume that because you understand these concepts and that you can do them properly during dry fire that you will be able to execute under pressure. You won't.

You should work on upper triangle rigidity every time you focus on skill building. It is one of the most important parts of shooting fast and being accurate, next to trigger control.

Stay tuned for my next post as we explore the torso and leg positions of the shooting stance.

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