As you may have noticed, men and women are not the same. Thank God. At any rate, these differences extend to learning how to shoot a handgun safely and accurately. Women have a couple of advantages, such as a lower resistance to accepting firearm education, and a general tendency to not make training assumptions. At least, that’s been my experience. Men, on the other hand, tend to do better with physical replication of technique and training endurance. There are some particular difficulties that seem generally peculiar to women and are worth a woman being mindful of during her training:

Women have dramatically more joint and muscle flexibility than men, and physically enjoy (I guess) hyperextending joints. What I mean by that is women will casually flex and lock joints, whereas men will avoid it. During shooting women will most often hyperextend the arms. This is a common enough problem for men but not as common as with women. Hyperextension almost always ensures over-grip and a bad (jerked) trigger press. The solution is a natural break in the joints. I recommend women who are self-coaching ought to exaggerate the break initially because most will not “feel” they are hyperextending when they slip back into it.

A problem common in tall, slender men is leaning backward. It is also common with women. Leaning backward exaggerates recoil and uses the handgun as a counter-balance causing extreme highs and lows during rapid fire, once the shooter has lost her balance. The answer is to stand straight with relaxed legs and slump the shoulders forward, causing the arms to hang in front of the body and the hands to land on the front of the thighs. Maintaining that position, simply lift the arms, bringing the hands up to eye level. The result is the appearance of bad posture. The crucial elements are no locked joints, and the shoulder carriage forward of the hips–do not bend at the waist, just roll the shoulders forward.

There is a horrible shooting posture that women often fall into, which I have dubbed “The Ballerina.” The ballerina occurs when a woman places one foot behind and inline with her lead foot, causing the hips to be canted and the upper body to square-on the target. Sometimes the rear foot is partially lifted and the shooter balances on the ball of her trailing foot. This stance often happens during concentration and the shooter may be unaware of it. The answer is a good natural position, facing the target with toes, hips, and shoulders facing the target, and loose, natural joint position.

Women, as shooting students, do better, in my experience, when they discipline themselves to rest every ten minutes on the firing line. A two or three minute break is sufficient. Limit the entire session to 45 minutes. Now, let’s be clear. I’m talking about the training as I describe in The Perfect Pistol Shot where concentration and perfection take priority over how many shots can be fired during a session. Women tend to have hand fatigue sooner than men but more importantly, they glaze over sooner than men–when female students are done, they’re done, and successful training disappears. I learned this the hard way as a law enforcement instructor.

Women have no disadvantage in learning how to shoot, provided they are properly instructed. Physical strength is not a factor in marksmanship and has absolutely nothing to do with handling recoil. The point is, each of us must train appropriately within our strengths if we hope to overcome our marksmanship deficiencies.

The new book is coming. Interested readers may sign up for advanced email notification at The new book is a comprehensive training plan for the sole defender. I hope it will provide the defensive shooter with whatThe Perfect Pistol Shot attempted to provide the aspiring marksman.

Thanks for reading.