Stance, Posture & Balance
The reason for including these three under a single heading is simple; they are intrinsically linked and form the foundation of a solid shooting technique. If any of the three are wrong then good shooting is compromised. If all three are wrong then good shooting is impossible. Get them sorted and train properly to keep them that way. And like so many things in shooting, good work can be done to improve them without firing a single shot (see Dry Training)
Before going further let’s put this in perspective and remember that we are talking about being prepared to devote a lot of time and effort to shooting, because if you are not then it’s best to leave the Olympic disciplines alone. You will only be disappointed.
Stance refers to the position of the feet relative to the expected target or targets. In the diagrams they are neither too wide (no wider than the shoulders) nor too narrow (difficult to maintain balance). The knees are ‘soft’ not locked. Once in the stance the hips and shoulders are then allowed to adopt a natural and neutral position, with no twisting. If you close your eyes and just allow the body to find its natural position you will find yourself standing in a perfect position, without tension.
Note that with the Skeet stance, for right handed shooters, on any given station the stance ‘neutral position’ position and the high target kill position coincide. In the Trap stance the ‘neutral position’ will naturally point the gun towards the correct hold point, ready to move in either direction.
Posture refers to the position adopted by the body when in the correct stance. The ‘stomach and backside out’ position is to be avoided at all costs, as this encourages disconnection between the upper and lower body. It is indicative of poor core strength, (often accompanied by being overweight) and is a sure sign that the shooter needs to get fitter and stronger.
In the correct posture the pelvis is rotated forward and upwards. This removes the hollow from the back, draws in the stomach and creates a far better shooting posture. To find this position we can employ a typical Pilates method, preferably at home not on the shooting range! *
With a pillow under your head for support lay on your back on a comfortable mat or carpet, your arms relaxed by your side. With your feet flat on the floor and shoulder width apart, draw your feet back towards your backside, so your knees are raised and bent at about 90 degrees.
For many people this will result in a hollow in the small of the back where your hand could fit. The idea is now to rotate the pelvic area upwards, until this hollow disappears, your spine now touching the mat in this area. This is the back position when in the ideal shooting posture, but it requires good core strength to maintain it naturally when standing.
This Czech Skeet shooter
demonstrates great balance
& upper body posture
There are many methods to improve core strength, and the shooter with serious intentions will address these requirements right from the outset.
A line through the points of the shoulders should be parallel with a similar line drawn through the hips. This is so at address and also during shooting. At no time should the shoulders turn without an equal turn of the hips. Twisting of the shoulders, with no or minimum hip movement, must be avoided.
The posterior is tucked in, not being allowed to stick out like a duck. The groin is pushed forward and up (pelvic tilt), the stomach is pulled in and the spine is kept relatively straight. This does not imply tension, but good simple posture. Many shooters who stand in a poor posture do so because of weak back and stomach muscles, and also because they are probably overweight. This is easily corrected with core conditioning, exercise and a sensible diet.
The arms should just fall from the shoulders, not be tensed. The shoulders must also be allowed to drop naturally, not be hunched up. Elbows drop into a natural position, not pushed out from the body, and this creates a natural and strong shoulder position for the gun to mount into.
In this basic position the shooter is centred, both physically and mentally. Get used to the feel of it, as it's the starting position for every shot.
The fixed triangle
Viewed from above the arms and gun form a triangle. The angles of this triangle must not change, either at address (by pulling the gun across the body) or during the shot (same).
Good balance starts with a good stance and correct posture, and it is a vital part of total gun control. Note the green zone on the diagrams for Skeet and Trap. This is where the top shooter’s centre of gravity is located both at address and throughout each shot. It allows for a limited amount of weight transference, but essentially the centre of gravity remains in the zone between the feet.
To achieve this during the shot involves a clean turning movement about this centre, not the series of sways left, right, backwards and forwards as seen in the techniques of most average to poor shooters.
Copybook position from this
British Skeet Shooter
Always in good balance the top shooter’s centre of gravity will remain near the centre of the green zone regardless of where the target or targets may be heading. This is why top shooters look totally in control when they shoot. This is one of the reasons they are top shooters.
Most average shots find their centre of balance regularly straying outside of this green zone into the light gray zone. Poor shots will often lose all balance and control because their centre of balance enters the dark gray zone, frequently drifting into the area beyond the leading foot. Once this happens the shooter is struggling not to fall over, often reying on recoil to maintain balance. Extreme examples will be seen taking balance-saving steps after each shot.
*Please note: before attempting any exercises always check first with your doctor that you are in good enough shape to exercise!
Good stance, posture and balance are absolute essentials of good shooting - get these right before attending to other areas of your shooting technique