I'm justifying teacupping.
Hell, I've done so once in a private class and once on a gig in the past month, I might as well keep at it.
For those who don't know what I'm talking about, "teacupping" is a derogatory term used for a certain way of gripping a handgun that's currently out of favor.
In fact, nowadays I'd have to say in the top ten of "things to make your firearm advisor happy on set," "not teacupping" might rank just below "calling it a magazine, not a clip," and "not flagging me."
So, what is it? What makes it a bad thing? (if it even is a bad thing?) Why the bad rap?
History lesson time.
For the bulk of its existence, the pistol was a one-handed weapon. Once technology could scale down from the "handgonnes" of earlier times, the pistol became a favored backup weapon alongside the saber and cutlass, not to mention reins or rigging. Until WWI, U.S. Army holsters were designed to cross-draw, reflecting a right-handed officer's instinct to use the sword with the right hand and pistol with the left.
The reason is simple. With the pistol operable with one hand, the other is relegated to a support role. The most immediately needed support to a new shooter the vast majority of the time isn't against recoil, but against weight. Pistols are heavy, so the support hand naturally rests under the butt to take some of the weight off of the shooting hand.
Looking at it this way, teacupping is the untrained, but natural and instinctive response to having to hold a pistol two-handed.
It felt so natural the U.S. Army was recommending it in WWII.
(Teacupping ensues at 5:20)
Well, the major sin of teacupping these days is inefficiency at worst. When actually shooting, the support hand offers no support against the force of the shot (what with coming from the wrong direction and all), leaving the shooting arm to absorb the recoil.
There's a couple different ways to be more efficient. Jack Weaver took a teacup and turned it into a sort of piston grip by having the support hand pull back while the shooting hand pushed forward. This helped get the pistol back on target after the force of the shot lifted the muzzle up.
The most popular grip these days, however, seems to be a wraparound of one kind or another.
(Hint: if you ever hear gun enthusiasts yell "thumbs forward!" while watching an action scene, this is what they're talking about.)
What this grip ends up doing is keeping the grip balanced between both hands, giving the shooter the strength of both arms (and in some instances, the torso) to alleviate the effects of recoil.
That's pretty much it.
So, why teacup in a gunfighting scene if you know that?
Any number of reasons: an untrained character, a period piece (wraparound grips didn't become popular until the great pistol technique argument was kicked off by folks like Cooper, Weaver, and Chapman in the late 50's-early 60's), character fatigue or injury (where a steady shot is more important than recovery for follow-up shots), or any number of other reasons.
I can recognize the teacup isn't the best grip out there. But it's there for a reason. And knowing why and how lets me and my performers come to a more informed choice, and ultimately, a more nuanced story.