Footwork: Competition vs Gunfight


Whether we are in a combat environment or competition setting, one of the few skills that transfers across is footwork. We are going to look at this starting from the competition stand point and then combat.

First though, we need to know what is stance, how does it work and what are the components. has it as the following:




;the way in which someone stands, especially when deliberately adopted (as in cricket, golf, and other sports)

For us, this would be shooting/ gunfighting. We need our legs to transport us places and also to employ a solid base to make accurate shots when static. A vital outcome from employing the correct stance is that it allows us to absorb recoil much better, and make faster and more accurate follow up shots. This is regardless of whether it is on the pistol or carbine. Correct stance also allows us to maximize and more effectively employ motion and movement.

“You stop mobility in a gunfight, you die” - RSM (ret.) Lam SFOD-D

We will get to survivability in a gunfight in a little bit but for competition shooting, beating the clock and high scores means survivability - you avoid getting knocked out of the round and continue on. This is best achieved through correct economy of motion (as discussed in our civilian Gunfighter Clinic and LEO MMS-P program) and stance. The majority of competitions involve stages. Each of these stages requires static engagements where stance and grip is vital.

So what makes up the ideal stance? The integration of combat sports and a mid stride.

Fig 01 - The ideal stance, especially for combat.

Fig 01 - The ideal stance, especially for combat.

Combat Sports

If you are a seasoned boxer, MMA fighter or grappler, this light bulb moment will happen quickly. For the rest of us - how does a fighter survive? Through being quick on his feet, launching hard strikes from a well executed base and through having a stance that allows for rapid change and adaptation of travel - getting off the line. If you are a competition shooter, it may be for fun and scoring a high count but make no mistake, you are still employing the core skills of combative sports.

Fig 01 and Fig 02 highlight the most dominant stance allowing pivoting and driving between targets. If you are utilizing cover or need to “stretch” then I guarantee if you try this stance and over exaggerate it to make the shot - you will feel 100x more confident and secure.

The Mid-stride

Incorporating the mid stride in stance allows a few things.

  1. It allows the most absorption for recoil management. As we stand still and shoot, the recoil wants to push us back. Use your musculoskeletal structure to your advantage.

  2. Maximization of our ability to drive the gun in between target transitions rather than pivot at the waist creating a turreting effect. This allows you (the shooter) the ability to move and adjust your line of travel very quickly with minimal disruption to your sight picture, if necessary.

The other benefit of the mid stride being examined and incorporated into stance is that it is the most common position we find ourselves in when using our legs i.e going about your day, to and from work, the grocery store, gym, night out on the town etc. Admittedly, a mid stride will differ for everybody, just like no two fingerprints are the same but the concept and application is the same.

Fig 02 - The ideal stance for competition and definitely combat. When I run the carbine, you will find my right toe line will be closer inline with the heel line of my left foot to adopt a larger stride and wider base.

Fig 02 - The ideal stance for competition and definitely combat. When I run the carbine, you will find my right toe line will be closer inline with the heel line of my left foot to adopt a larger stride and wider base.

Note: Hip injuries, height, degenerative disease of the spine and other soft tissues all effect the mid stride. This is addressed in our programs and we will find your “sweet spot” on the range with a simple tool and method.

Transferring to combat (the hunting of man, not a high score or timer) - the mid stride, when in motion, is where our work zone is. After a lot of engagements and practice you begin to adapt for when your feet hit the ground as you simultaneously pull the trigger (Run Phase). For now though the Crawl Phase for a new shooter is learning to shoot mid stride.

Once again, the mid stride is our work zone and incorporating it into our static combat stance is where we are maximizing our economy of motion, this allows us to turn, pivot and attack in any direction we want, in a precise and fluid manner without interruption of our flow of aggression and force.

In combat though, this is where stance starts to develop a reduced importance due to the environments a shooter will find themselves in.

Realities of Combat Shooting

As previously mentioned, unless you are in a static firing position on the enemy, the traditional stance has no bearing on your overall combat performance. This can get confusing after everything mentioned but let's look at the various components of combat. Engaging from cover, mid squat, kneeling, around vehicles, posting, or within a rear tray of a vehicle requires a different skill and stance for each component.

What carries through to each of these firing positions is the concept and it is something that should be regularly practiced to maintain standard and maximize performance.


  • One thing you should never focus on is the 60/40 mindset. This is a poor and overused term. Weight distribution is up to the end user and the individual shooter should consider their physical state (injuries etc) to find their balanced position.

  • Different positions and platforms will require wider stances. Don’t be afraid to go deep and wide.

  • Regardless of position when on your feet, you never want to have your lead knee over your lead foot toe line. Your base stability will be non-existent and fatigue will build rapidly. Longevity of performance and health is the name of the game.

Our Overall Stance On The Subject

Supported by thousands of data points collated from studies through USASOC and AWG, we agree and promote this stance as the most ideal for competition shooting and combat. It allows all of the following:

  • Maximize economy of motion

  • Strong base for driving/ transitioning in between targets

  • When running and utilizing upright (standing) cover, it is the easiest and most stable position to adopt when stopping behind cover/ concealment to engage threats

  • Maximizes recoil management on both pistol and carbine

  • Increased overall performance and reduces fatigue of the individual shooter

  • Scalable across all weapon platforms - including blade albeit it is an over exaggerated stance

  • Stance paired with correct grip, can maximize his shooting performance with no concern or worry of “trigger jerk” concepts


Enjoyed the read? Give us your feedback so we can tailor content and templates to suit our audience or, better yet, we’d love to hear how it worked out for you. Want to request something? Hit the submission form in the shooter section and we’ll address it as soon as possible. Still need help? Hit our training packages and book yourself on one of our courses ASAP.