I introduce a new person to firearms every week or two. Usually, we cover the basics of rimfire pistol and rifle. I teach the stances and positions learned in courses I took. Every so often, the learners stump me by adopting positions that are unorthodox and seemingly inefficient. For example, this right eye dominant shooter used a variation on the conventional sitting and kneeling positions that I have not seen before. It didn’t look stable, but she made 75 yard hits on sporting clays with it, so it worked well enough.
I asked more experienced friends and they all responded with: “Standard positions work for most people. If unorthodox stance or hold works for a shooter, then it’s not wrong, just unconventional.” So there we have it — if it works well, it’s not wrong. So much for the dogmatic approach based on Major Plaster’s holy book. Then, again, Plaster as well as Jeff Cooper advocated using every advantage, including improvised supports, to get on target better. Forms are like martial arts katas, good for learning and occasional use. True mastery requires individualized approach.
I also start people out with sound-suppressed firearms (or, when not possible, using quieter ammunition), on the theory that the basic skills should be obtained without the distraction of noise and recoil. I find that a few new shooters don’t view the muzzle blast and the recoil as a bug but as a feature. Such shooters are usually slightly built women, for some reason. That doesn’t mean I would start them out with 458SOCOM, but that they won’t be limited to what I consider “mild” firearms on the first range trip. If the new shooter is comfortable with larger and more powerful guns, bring them into the mix…just watch for the signs of flinching. Double or triple hearing protection (plugs, muffs, sound suppressors) really help. Usually, people who use effective stances have little trouble with recoil. Again, letting new shooters try 12 gauge or 7.62x54R on the first range day isn’t standard…but if it works and puts smiles on their faces, then it’s effective. Not everyone shoots for results: some people are also into the fun of the process and handling the kick is part of that process.