Early 20th Century Shooting Technique

Backyard Safari has blogged about the pistol shooting technique used by Russian officers in the early 20th century.

It does not look like a steady shooting stance, nor does it look like it would be fast to get back on target.

UPDATE: Apparently this was an April fools joke! Thanks to Aramir for pointing that out.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Justin Grigg

    A Pistol is intended to be a sidearm, backup, thats all. Hopefully they taught them a little better techniques for rifle shooting.

  • Jim

    I love the wrist angle. You’d be lucky to not break your wrist that way.

    Or perhaps this hearkens back to the finer days of war when you were supposed to give your enemy a fighting chance.

  • subase

    lol, no doubt written by 15 year old russian royalty. It looks exactly like the method a child would use.

  • Sean

    With technique like that he’d probably be better off using that sword he’s carrying.

  • Monte

    I think that the fellow in Figure 23 is about to have a whopper of a headache, courtesy of the chap in Figure 24.

  • Rusty Ray

    But you don’t need to have a steady stance, or be quick to re-aquire your target, when your target is the enemy of the State….

    And your target is kneeling in front of you and you are aiming at the back of its head….

    In a wood somewhere……

    In the middle of the night….


  • Aramir

    Come on, guys… 🙂 Look at the date on the original post at talks.guns.ru (which this article referes to)… It was an old Aprils Fool’s Day joke back there on the Russian forums…

    • Aramir, lol, thanks for letting us know!

  • subase

    Looks like the Nagant Revolver, very much loved by the russians according to wikipedia. Too bad they sucked and were underpowered.

    If you think about it, the poses/stances above looks more like an aggressive ‘finger pointing’ or a polite “stop or I’ll shoot comrade”.

    • lolinski

      Nagants are not really that underpowered(what happened to shot placement) and from seeing one at the range where I go often, I know they are really accurate(yes you have to put a bullet under the trigger leaf and polish the internals, but after that they are awesome)

  • malmut

    Looks like a modified sabre stance. Probably a good idea to have a similar stance for several weapons.

  • …but it does look cool.

  • Clodboy

    Snake (to Revolver Ocelot): “Besides, I don’t think you’re cut out for an automatic in the first place; you tend to twist your elbow a little to absorb the recoil. That’s more of a revolver technique.”

    Para-Medic: “What was that little lecture back there?”

    Snake: “When he fired, he was bending his elbow sharply to avoid the recoil. It looked like he wasn’t aware he was doing it, but that habit can be either a fatal flaw or a gift. Automatic weapons use recoil to operate, so if you don’t let the recoil hit you, it interferes with the operating cycle of the gun. Basically, he shouldn’t be trying to avoid the impact like that. But with a revolver, there’s no need to let the recoil hit you. Just the opposite – avoiding the recoil lets you reduce the strain on your hand and arm. That kid might just be handy with a high-caliber revolver.”

    Para-Medic: “He’s the enemy! Why are you giving him advice?”

    Snake: “I don’t know. For some reason, I couldn’t help but point it out to him…”

  • T800

    Officers carried handguns mainly to execute the soldiers who would refuse to follow orders. I guess you don’t really need a perfect weaver or isosceles stance to execute a soldier who is shell-shocked and just refuses to attack an MG position under artillery barrage.

  • Jon Mac

    Just because the forum post itself is an April Fool about scoring miracle hits with outlandish stances, doesn’t mean that the picture is a fake. Nor the photos on the Backyard Safari post;


  • DavidR

    The original post was NOT on April 1, but rather on May 1. So, I don’t think it’s an April Fools joke. It looks legit.

  • Just try it, ok?
    Its interesting old school technique for nagant or s&w revolvers used in russian royal army in 190x.
    Wery fast aiming, low recoil and good accuracy.

    Again Its not a Joke, its just old manual thats look fun in our time but belive me, in future our great-grandchild with their lasers will say samy thing about our ipsc.

  • http://szhaman.livejournal.com/496988.html

    This Original post in russian about this, with some pictures about this technique.

    joke was that its secret technique of nkvd and SMERSH ^_^ But its not secret, just fogot as useles in new era.

  • Flashman

    I’ve seen numerous late 19th C illustrations featuring pistoleros from a variety of nationalities using precisely this type of hold [single handed, radically bent elbow, rear sight close to the eye]. I’ve always wondered about it and can only assume that there was some rationale or science behind it [maybe!]. I would love to know what the thinking [if any] behind it was!!

    Incidentally, there are also photos from WW2 showing pistol users firing their weapons in much the same way, but with less dramatically bent elbows.

    Finally, let’s not forget that the two-handed holds and stances commonplace today only gained widespread popularity in the last 25-30 years.

  • Cymond

    While far from an ideal stance, it would probably be safe. It seems that 7.62x38R has less energy than a standard 9mm load and throws a lighter bullet.

  • subase

    Well the double action pull is very very heavy, as in ‘is this broken?’.

    So maybe this is a way to fire the nagant revolver with some measure of accuracy. The hand position looks to separate the hand muscles from the forearm muscles. Alot less tension overall and one only has to worry about ones wrist which is conveniently ver close to the face. So it could make it alot easier to control the trigger considering the pressure needed to pull it.

    Of course this is not a CQB technique but just a firing a range one, but realism didn’t really enter military training in those days.

  • El Duderino

    Looks ok to me…

    I mean, revolvers back then were solid iron & steel. Fired cartridges that were low velocity and/or small caliber. There were no scandium framed .44 Magnums pushing 320gr pills at 1,500fps. The pistol in the sketch looks like a Nagant — 97gr at 1050fps at best, about a light-loaded .32 H&R Magnum. Not exactly a wrist-buster. Didn’t have to worry about limp-wristing it either.

    Leon — I see that’s the Luger shooting stance too. Nowadays with long slide movement on semiautos, maybe not a good idea 🙂

  • “gunner”

    the guy doing the “rock the baby” bit with the p-08 was amusing. a question leon, have any of the “english payment” marked colt model 1911 .45 automatics ever turned up in russia?

  • John

    Will someone with a Nagant please do some tests?
    (maybe a youtube video?)

  • Sean McGee

    In Soviet Russia, Gun Shoots YOU!

  • SamB

    I recall seeing Mikael Kalashnikov posing for a picure holding a revolver the same way.

  • chris

    well, ive seen a few paintings of duels from back int eh day and in a few of them the duelist are holding the pistol in the same manner, so using two hands must be a relatively new technique.