Chapman vs Reverse Chapman shooting stance

Discussion in 'Tactics and Training' started by Emmett4glock, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Does one have an advantage over the other? For that matter, why is one bent arm preferable to two? I've searched this forum and googled the subject but neither will reveal the hidden secrets of this stance.

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  3. Bent versus straight/locked arms: some favor locking-out the joints to let your body-mass/skeletal structure abut and counteract recoil, others prefer to use musculature as a "shock absorber."

    It's just two different schools of thought. :) There's top-tier shooters that subscribe to either one of the two (and more) - there's no absolute right or wrong. Instead, try to find what works best for you by earnestly practicing each.

    #2 TSiWRX, Mar 25, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  4. Thanks for the reply and good advice TSiWRX. I understand what you are saying about the different schools of thought, but why does a shooter choose the reverse Chapman over the Chapman (or vice versa) to improve shooting ability. In other words, what are the advantages of having the "shock absorber" in either his strong hand or weak hand. This is the question to which I haven't been able to find an answer.
  5. Ah, I get what you're saying, now. :)

    Look at a free-runner. When they hit the ground from a jump, are their knees locked? nope, they're bent, to absorb shock, and they roll-and-tuck to further spread the shock, right? The same can be equated, for shooting: you're using your muscles to absorb the shock of recoil.

    The other view of this is that you can use locked muscles/tendons and your skeletal structure to "abut" against recoil. The idea here is that you use your mass and unyielding physical makeup to literally make it impossible (or, rather, more realistically, to make it least possible) for your gun's recoil to affect your fundamentals.

    But remember, there's subtle difference to *_ALL_* of this.

    Even when both shooters are using the "Reverse Chapman" presentation, how much "lock" does one apply on one arm versus the other? Look at Travis Haley and Bob Vogel. Both use what is a "Reverse Chapman" presentation up-top, but there's distinct differences in how they shoot even when they are both at full presentation. Now bring in Chris Costa and Todd Jarrett - again, big difference, even though their upper-body presentations are also "Reverse Chapman."

    To take an analogy, look at this frequently-cited reference on the modern thumbs-forward grip:

    Each of these top shooters is using what is ostensibly the same "thumbs-forward grip," but look at the details of the text, and you'll note that there's many subtle differences.

    I've yet to find a really good reference where I can, all in one place, point out that there are these differences (like I did in this thread on "grip," on - but having had near back-to-back classes last spring/summer with Vogel and Costa, I can tell you that hese two gentlemen and top-tier shooters definitely have their own unique takes on how they present the gun with their upper bodies, even down to what muscles they use or may feel are important or irrelevant.
  6. Arc Angel

    Arc Angel Deus Vult!

  7. Thanks for the very helpful links. I was hoping to find some overwhelming evidence that one stance would be the best so I could go into the Lombardi "perfect practice makes perfect" mode. But, as in all sports or physical activities, it has to be tailored to the individual. I really appreciate your help. TSiRWX. It's what makes this a great place for information and answers.
  8. Thanks Arc Angel; it was your glowing reports that prompted me to ask this question. Would you care to comment further on what you feel are the advantages of the reverse Chapman? To clarify, did you experience less fatigue, better accuracy, quicker follow-up shots, etc?
    #7 Emmett4glock, Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  9. Arc Angel

    Arc Angel Deus Vult!

    What have I done now? :supergrin:

    I can't approach this topic in the same way that D.R. Middlebrooks does; he is an internationally recognized championship-grade pistol shooter. Me? I am just an, 'old gunman' who, probably, likes ‘guns’ too well, and has done nothing more than to very carefully study this particular pistol shooting style.

    Events similar to those which Middlebrooks describes as leading up to his own adoption of a, ‘Reverse Chapman’ stance (or, ‘grip’ if you want to get really technical) have, also, occurred to me. Over the years, and along with everybody else in the sport, I went through the usual pistol shooting experiences: Started out shooting one-handed (postal) pistol matches, used the old, dated and muddled, ‘FBI combat pistol techniques’, and went on to follow Jeff Cooper’s, ‘Weaver Method’ of two-handed pistol shooting which Cooper’s gun club developed at Big Bear, CA.

    I found the Weaver Stance to work well with large magnum revolvers. It was, also, a vast improvement over the old one-handed hold. For speed shooting - and, again, like everybody else - I found an Isosceles Stance to be easier to manipulate a pistol with than the Weaver. The big problem with an Isosceles Stance, though, is the tension which builds up in your arms while you use it - especially on multiple targets. The Isosceles is too rigid, and can prevent a shooter from moving well with a pistol through a series of shots.

    The Chapman Stance, or, ‘Modified Isosceles’ provides, both, a lot more flexibility in the upper torso, as well as quicker and more fluid movement of the pistol from target to target; however, the existing high shooter fatigue factor is still present; and, in my opinion, this fatigue factor is primarily responsible for a lot of the misses and mistakes that end up showing on a target. As Middlebrooks sagely points out: You CAN train around it; however, it’s even better if you don’t have to deal with it at all! The question becomes, ‘What is the principal cause of shooter: fatigue, misses, and mistakes in (high quality) pistol shooting?

    Now I’m not, ‘the last word’ in pistol shooting - OK. :winkie: So let’s remember that you’ve asked me for my opinion: In my opinion, increased (or, ‘hard’) tension in the muscles AND along the tendons of the gun hand’s upper forearm makes a significant contribution to the most commonly occurring pistol shooting mistakes. The less, ‘management of’ or, ‘working around’ this tension and fatigue a pistol shooter has to do, the better he’s going to: aim, fire, and control his pistol; AND, a shooter is going to be able to do this for a longer period of time, as well.

    Let’s take the specific example of a right-handed pistol shooter who consistently, ‘drops’ his shots and hits, ‘low left’ @ between 9:00 and 7:00 o’clock, over and over again. (Yes, I know that this area covers a variety of different pistol shooting mistakes; but - for a particularly, ‘dense’ reader like that, ‘devildog’ fellow I ran into on this forum the other day - THAT IS NOT THE POINT!) :freak:

    Assuming that his grip is what it should be, and trigger technique is, at least, adequate then: If a right-handed shooter with a bad, ‘left and low’ problem were to straighten out his support (left-side) arm, slightly bend his gun hand elbow, and slightly cant his gun hand wrist in a downward direction, do you know what’s going to happen WHEN that pistol shooter pushes his gun hand into his grasping support hand (and arm)?


    Now, the, ‘Reverse Chapman’ stance is NOT a, ‘panacean cure-all’ for generally lousy pistol shooting. A shooter’s: grip, front sight management, and trigger control still have to be correct and what they should be; however, the use of a, ‘Reverse Chapman’ stance allows an experienced pistol shooter to have one less problem to overcome while he’s manipulating a pistol. What is more, I have found the, ‘Reverse Chapman stance’ to be increasingly useful as the pistol I’m using becomes smaller and smaller.

    NOTE: I don’t want to address the subject of, ‘quicker follow-up shots’ in this reply. That would require me to expand my answer more than I care to get into right now. I hope I’ve been able to help you out. :)
    #8 Arc Angel, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  10. ^ As with Arc Angel, I also had my "moment of clarity" after exchanges (online) with and viewing of (both online free-YouTube as well as in buying) DRM's Fist/Fire DVD series.

    In my outlink to the "Proper Grip/Recoil Management" thread (whose OP was DRM, I remarked that DRM's presentation on "the power of the pinky" was what finally gave me *_consistency_* in terms of recoil control, and that's the honest truth. For someone with my experience-level and time in the sport (~2 and 1/4 years, currently), I actually can shoot decently accurately, decently fast (no, I'm no Top Shot material, but I'm not too shabby, either), and I honestly attribute that to the effort I've devoted to the grip and stance/presentation portions of the fundamentals.

    In taking things a step back.....

    At the beginning of my trek, a good friend of mine "gifted me with the "Mod-Iso" stance. Prior to that, as a pure "fun range day" kind of shooter (I'd usually only go to the range once a year or maybe once every two years with gun-owner friends; my last range trip prior to having purchased my first firearm, back in November of 2010, was actually some time in 2002 or 2003! :wow: - no joke! :rofl:), I'd always simply emulated what I saw in popular media: i.e. "the classic Weaver."

    For a guy my size (6' ft. tall, on a medium frame, a rather chunky :embarassed: 250 lbs.), the "Mod-Iso" stance really allows me to back up the gun with *A LOT* of mass, and this, in and of itself, really helped with recoil mitigation.

    From there, I really simply did my homework and experimented with different upper-body presentations.

    Over time, I found the "Reverse Chapman" to work best for me, in terms of physically battling that recoil, simply because I was able to really back up the gun with my body-mass.

    I push to full-lock on both elbows when I want a surgical shot as I'm also cross-dominant (left eye, right hand), and pushing out to full-lock on my dominant elbow forces the gun over to the left just that little bit more, and also gives my right chin a natural "cheek" on my right bicep. My left shoulder rolls inboard, with my left deltoid forcing my left cheek/jaw to be sandwiched with what I'm doing on the other side. While this means that my head appears "turtled" when I shoot at full-extension, that's actually not quite true, as it's more my shoulders are rolled further up than my head is ducked. I've also found that I default to this head/shoulder position naturally due to my years in martial arts - my natural "fence" or duck reaction to sudden threats puts my shoulders very close to this position, too.

    The rigid skeletal/tendon lock means that I will always have a consistent platform to fire from, when surgical shots are demanded of me, and that, along with grip refinements ("flagging" the strong/dominant thumb, when taking such precision shots: a lesson from Chris Cerino, former FAM and Top Shot runner-up), really have given me very, very good and consistent results in that arena. In this way, I've simply taken all the "muscling" variability out of the equation.

    Again, this is simply my preference: different shooters will do it differently. Look at Howe and Costa's dynamic pistol shooting upper body presentations, and that's close to where I am. Vogel's arms/shoulders are also quite high, but Vogel uses considerable pectoral tension in his presentation that is absent from Costa's. This is versus, say, Jarrett's much more shoulder-neutral position or Burkett's, which seems to be a hybrid of "Reverse Weaver" with "Reverse Chapman" and uses quite a bit of musculature in his shock-absorption. It's just personal preferences.

    That same friend also gifted me with the modern thumbs-forward grip.

    As I've detailed above, DRM's "power of the pinky" presentation - in how that specific portion of the support hand counteracts muzzle-rise during recoil - was what finally brought it all together for me, in terms of grip: that it wasn't just about having your "thumbs pointing forward," but it was about what moving, in particular the support/reaction hand thumb in that direction, translated to in terms of my anatomical alignment with the gun, in terms of actually countering the recoil forces at-play.

    However, I found that even after having optimized "my" grip (and again, look at the innumerable differences that I pointed out in that out-linked thread on, when I looked at the various top shooters' subtle grip alterations) and upper body presentation, I was still having trouble when pushing yardage and/or during exercises which specifically focused on one thing - trigger control (including my current experimentation in using "back tension" on the dominant forearm). Similarly, I still am working on establishing a consistent lower-body stance, too (several top instructors have taught me to be able to divorce my lower body from my upper body: however, I recently found out that in doing so, so early, I actually had never established good fundamentals in terms of actually having a solid lower body stance :rofl: ).

    To me, the secret to being able to shoot fast and hard rests mainly in the realm of having a really, really good grip on the gun, with a bit of overlap to upper body presentation (in my view, your lower body is "what gets you there," as well as is a further optimization of your upper body presentation - shooting on-the-move as well as from various positions both, to me, underscore the importance of upper body presentation over that of lower body stance). It's a matter of knowing what you can get away with - and what you cannot - at any given range or in any given scenario. To wit: several top-flight instructors/schools execute a drill with their students at the 3- to 5-yard line, where the students are instructed to get a "100/100" grip on the gun, with an aggressive lower-body stance, but with their finger out of the trigger guard (i.e. a "four finger grip" on the grip of the gun); the instructor then proceeds to actuate the trigger with a pen/pencil/screwdriver/chopstick or other similar tool, cycling the trigger as fast as possible. What happens? Virtually every one of those shots go into that IPSC A-zone or the IDPA -0. For me, I know that at certain distances, to hit "combat effective" shots, I can simply death-grip the crap out of my gun - just as I would if I were taken completely by-surprise in the real-world - and it doesn't matter if I'm gripping the gun so hard that I can see a visible shake in the sights as I put them on-target: I know that under such a circumstance, even if I run the gun just as fast as I possibly can, I'm still going to be on-target with every one of those shots.

    Similarly, the secret to precision/accuracy lies more with trigger control (and that's regardless of speed - as demonstrated by the Haley/Avery Trigger Stripe Drill). For me, I cannot get that degree of fine trigger control when I'm in my "death grip" mode: I need to back-off on muscular tension - and I will need to, at-distance, even back off that dominant thumb. And that's where that balance of speed-versus-accuracy comes into play, and we can only understand that if we train, and can only improve on it with diligent practice. My BSA is not the same as that of a beginner shooter's. It's also not the same as Sevigny's.

    As for fatigue, it's something that we all have to deal with. We will all reach that point, based on our experience level and our abilities. The only thing to really do is to work up your endurance level, no matter what your chosen stance/presentation is. Even then, it's still a matter of knowing when are approaching your personal limits. Now, I can go 8 hours for 3 days or so without reaching my point of mind-melt and before body-fatigue really sets in: two years ago, 6 hours, and just one day, was about my max. In terms of physical specifics, I know that I can only sustain that 100/100 grip for a limited amount of time: it's not something that I would do, for-example, when I'm doing static range-work, trying to perfect my marksmanship fundamentals - I'm doing the death-clench more when I'm practicing dynamic shooting at close range or when I'm going Force-on-Force with an airsoft gun. On the other hand, I'm not going to be playing around with my grip "percentages" or trying to break shots on my natural respiratory pause or really hard-focusing on that trigger path when I'm engaged in an unscripted Force-on-Force "ECQC" scenario. It's about knowing when to execute what, to get the right results.

    It's all fundamental, and it's all important. :)


    No thanks needed, I'm a relative beginner, myself - and I also consider myself a life-long learner. To have the likes of DRM and other instructors have told me that they think I'm a true "student of the gun" is one of the greatest honors that I could ever have hoped for, and it's an ideal that I really hope I will be able to live up to in the years and decades to come. :) I'm just glad to share what little knowledge and know-how I have, with others who are on the same path!
    #9 TSiWRX, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  11. Arc Angel and TSiWRX thanks again for this very helpful information! This is exactly the kind of information I was hoping to read. You both offer highly valuable contributions to GlockTalk and I appreciate all that you do here. Arc Angel, may I suggest that you add your response into your blog section?
    #10 Emmett4glock, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  12. Arc Angel

    Arc Angel Deus Vult!

    You read my mind! :supergrin:

    (I just put it under, 'Pistolcraft'.)
  13. ^ I've just now discovered your Blog. Thanks! :)

    Yeah, I'm pretty new to GT. :embarassed:

    Again, no thanks needed. I've just been lucky to have had the time and funds to devote to paid professional training - I know that there are shooters who may not have the time and/or money to take live lessons from the pros. So I try to share what I can. :cool:

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