The importance of footwork
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
The purpose of these blogs are to give you information worth researching, trying out and implementing into "your recipe". Please understand everyones recipe is different, if you try anything mentioned in our blogs that doesn't work for you, feel free to go back to your original shooting style.
Best of luck shooting!
What can footwork changes do for me?
Footwork change from post-to-post is critical, every post will have 5 different angles thrown, we call the angles as such: 1-hard left, 2-medium left, 3-straightaway, 4-medium right, and 5-hard right.
Each post will have its own target difficulty..from post 1 to post 5, you'll see hard left targets to hard right targets, and everything in between. How your footwork is positioned will change from post to post to make it easier for you to swing to those targets without your knees breaking down, or muscles getting tight.
To begin, it all starts from the ground up. You want to have a solid base, typically that is shoulder width apart, to slightly wider than that. In every sport, whether baseball, football, golf... top athletes all have something in common, their footwork plays a huge role in maximizing their ability to stay consistent. Take golf for example, to get the most distance out of driving a ball, the golfer must have a solid base with proper footwork that allows him or her to drive with their hips, giving them the most power and consistency. If the stance is too wide or too narrow, the driving distance is drastically cut.. coincidence? Not so much...
Top shooters rely on keeping their footwork (base) in a position where they can swing with ease to keep movement consistent, driving with their hips, rather than just arms alone. This keeps the barrel moving in the most accurate and consistent swing possible, from the start to the end of the follow through. Obviously using your arms to move up to the target is necessary, but if you can keep your body moving as one, everything works together to help you get to the target and follow through in one fluid motion.
Your stance also determines how you see the targets, your visual perception. This will be explained more in a different blog. However, if your body is turned too far to the right (for a right handed shooter), the amount of strain on your eyes could be quite drastic, and you could limit the amount of sight that is in focus vs a clear image shooting. This is why we try not to preach the "hunting" or rifle shooting stance too often.
Keep your footwork about shoulder width wide, and try practicing with different stances to see how changing footwork will change your reaction and follow through. You might notice a narrow stance makes you unbalanced, where a wide stance makes it tough to drive/swing with your hips.
When we talk about a fluid movement or good flow to the target, here is what we mean: We want you moving to and through the target at a good speed that feels comfortable to you. Everyone's speed to the target is different, typically there is a sweet spot that many shooters find that works for them. The biggest key is keeping everything consistent...for example, there is a difference shooting fast with fluidity vs fast and jumping at the target.
Here’s what to look for:
Does your knee break down when swinging/follow through?
Does your face come off the gun or your follow through slow down getting to the bird?
Does your barrel movement stay in a consistent direction?
If any of these things are happening, look at a slight change in your footwork as a starting point. When your footwork isn't correct for your post and the swing it needs to make to get to a target, you'll max out your swing.
This is, simply put, where your body cannot go any further, and will resort to using just your arms to move, or break down the knees to swing further in that current movement/motion. First, you'll feel pressure on the inside of your knee. This is your body relaying a message to your brain at 268 MPH telling you that it doesn't want to get hurt.. your knees will bend to let you continue moving in that same direction/speed..however, next your shoulders will dip as a result of your knees bending. When your shoulders dip, a lot of things change in your mechanics. Your arms will take over more to raise the gun when your shoulder dips. This motion quite often results in your face changing on the gun as it can potentially be canted one way or the other, and the barrel movement will be much harder to control. A lot of times we will see shooters shoot over top of the clay target at this point.
It sounds like a lot going on..well it is.
Luckily, there are some easy fixes for you to try!
1: Visualize when you get to a post. One thing Matt and myself will always do is visualize angles when we get up to a post. Can I get to my number 1 target, can i get to my number 5 target? If not, we make a change in our footwork so we can move that way easier.
2: Flare a toe. Many shooters think they need their toes straight out in front of them, which is not the case. For every inch you flare your toe, you get approx. 6-7 degrees of extra rotation before your knee sends that signal to break down. Now obviously we don't want shooters thinking they have to go out with their feet completely flared out.. but its a good tip to remember when finding "your recipe" within your footwork.
3: Don't be afraid to make small changes per post. Many shooters think once they are locked in for a post, they cannot move.. that is not the case, make small changes from post 1 to post 5, its all about finding and fine tuning what works for you. Once you find something that works, write it down. You'll find a stance and hold point that "click" for you with every post.
Remember, these are possibilities that you'll want to try that might work for you, and should not be treated as a one-stop-cure-all. It takes a lot of time to find "your recipe" for a shooting stance that works with specific hold points.
Hope this helps, there's a lot that goes into finding your recipe!
If you'd like more help, check out to see when the next available "We Are One" shooting clinic is coming up. We work a lot on footwork, and can help you find a stance that will be comfortable and work for you!