The first formalized training for handguns was probably the NYPD. They used 6 shot revolvers. This is where things like hammers or double-taps became popular because of training tended to do three two-round repetitions. Later the OSS started developing other techniques during WWII. These included things such as using the muzzle flash to identify targets and had all of four hours of handguns training.
Greg mentioned that most of what the great shooters did was to ‘figure out a way to get their ammo paid for’. This was what led Jeff Cooper to establish a shooting league. They had competitions of shooting balloons. Because of what had developed with the OSS and influence of Cowboy movies from the 20s and 30s, everyone had forgotten to aim. They all shot from the hip, because everyone knew that “That was what was fastest”. Jack Weaver was one of those who competed and noticed “It seems to be taking a lot of hits to get the balloons.” He spent an entire winter practicing with both hands on the gun. He came back the next year…and did horribly. Plus he got made fun of for having both hands on his gun and “shooting like a girl”. But he persevered and starting thinking “What if I aimed?” With both hands on the gun and using his sights, he “started to kick everyone’s ass”.
If you actually look at pictures from this time of how Weaver shot, it is remarkably similar to what we now call modern isosceles. The “Weaver Stance” was actually created by Jeff Cooper. “Like any good Marine , he added 90 degree angles to everything”. Weaver did sometimes have his arms slightly bent, but that was because he learned something it took others until the Steel Challenge of the 80s to learn, namely that you can shoot things you’re close to before you reach full extension. In fact, the first time Weaver heard about isometric tension was when he read about it in a magazine. He had to go out and try it to see if he actually did apply it and his answer was “I guess there could be”. Massad Ayoob made this error even worse by increasing the prescribed tension to 45lbs.
The next evolution in shooting occurred because of Second Chance Body Armor. The owner started to do demonstrations of himself being shot while wearing the armor then shooting bowling pins to prove someone wearing the armor would still be capable of fighting after being shot. He also took out an ad offering a free gun to anyone who was shot while wearing his armor and who managed to kill his assailant afterward. The Federal government did not think offering guns for killing people was okay so this offer was rescinded and he was left with a bunch of guns. He decided to start a competition and offer the guns as prizes. Until this point, most shooting competition had no awards. This was a game changer because people really started to be motivated to win. After all, a competitor could enter several classes of the competition and come away with multiple guns…which he could then trade for more ammo.
Suddenly, people were designing guns just to win this pin competition. They moved the gas port and created guns with a non-reciprocating sight. This led to the evolution of the isosceles stance because people could watch their front sight.
Jeff Cooper was watching what was going on and started to make up derogatory terms for the pin guns and say that a shooter could get away with an isosceles stance rather than Weaver, only because they were shooting ‘girly guns’. Cooper created the terminology around shooters, referring to the people who competed as ‘gamesman’ and the real shooters who used Weaver-stance and a .45 ACP as the “martial artists”. The only problem was that by the late 1980’s the “martial artists” started to get upset that they were getting the asses kicked at every competition. At this point, IPSC created the Limited class to try and allow the ‘martial artists’ a chance, whereas the Unlimited class was open to everyone. The only problem was the first winner of the Limited class, Jerry Burkhardt, also won the Unlimited class. This was “proof” to the martial artists that IPSC was “rotten to the core” and they founded IDPA. The first year Rob Laetham won. Coincidentally, he also won the IPSC competition that year. So, IDPA started asking the IPSC winners not to come to their competitions.
When that didn’t work, they scheduled them the same weekend to make it impossible for someone to attend both.