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Shooting a Handgun Accurately

The proper way to shoot a handgun.

I enjoy shooting and go to the range most every weekend. Although I'm no expert by anyone's definition, I think I'm at least an adequate shot at around 20 to 25 feet. So I thought I would share some basic handgun shooting tips. There are of course many different ways to shoot a handgun, but I'm going to concentrate on the simplest handgun techniques that I feel will work for most people.

There are five major components of an accurate shot:

  • The stance, or how the body is positioned.
  • The grip, or how the gun is held.
  • The sight alignment.
  • The correct trigger pull.
  • The follow-through.

Stance

A proper stance provides the following:

  • Good stability and ability to handle recoil.
  • Natural position allowing as many muscles to be relaxed as possible and reducing shaking and tension while shooting.
  • Easy transformation to moving or shooting in different directions.

There are a number of different stances. One of the simplest stances to master for a newbie is the Isosceles stance. The name comes from the shape created by the arms and the body of a shooter when looking from above.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Set your feet apart at about shoulder width or slightly wider.
  2. Move the strong foot slightly back.
  3. Point your toes straight.
  4. Slightly bend your knees.
  5. Lean the entire body toward the target.
  6. Roll your shoulders forward and relax.
  7. Grab the gun (see next step for the proper grip) and extend both arms in front of you.
  8. Slightly bend your elbows to the side (not down). The arms should not be tense in elbows and shoulder more than it is needed to keep the gun up.
  9. Relax your wrists. Let them absorb the recoil. When shooting, the gun should move up and down hinged at your wrists. The elbows and the shoulders do not move.

Try it a few times in front of a mirror.

Grip

Here is how you do the basic two-hand grip:

  • Place the gun in the web of your hand as high as possible.
  • Move your index finger above the trigger guard.
  • Move your thumb forward and slightly upward.
  • Squeeze the rest of the fingers around the grip. You should use the strength similar to what you need to use a hammer.
  • Put the middle of the weak hand index finder under the trigger guard
  • Form a fist with your weak hand, squeezing around your strong hand. Use slightly more strength with your weak hand than you use with your strong hand.
  • Make sure that the base of the thumb of your weak hand touches as much metal of the gun as possible.

Sight Alignment

The sights come in different shapes and sizes, but the underlying principle is the same. You need to align three objects—the front sight, the back sight and the spot on the target you want to shoot at—on a single straight line both vertically and horizontally.

In most cases the eyes should be focused on the front sight. The target and the back sights should be out of focus. In rare cases when you shoot at very short distances (e.g. under 6 feet), you should focus on the target instead, switching to more intuitive “point and shoot” mode. But for the majority of the cases you should look and concentrate at the front sight.

Trigger Pull

Incorrect trigger pull is the biggest source of inaccurate shots. Even experienced shooters tend to “anticipate” the shot and compensate the movement, jerking the gun too early and, as a result, missing the target.

Here are the proper steps to pull the trigger:

  • Place the point between the first and the second phalanx of your index finger on the trigger.
  • Pull it back until you have picked up the slack.
  • Squeeze the trigger, steadily increasing the pressure. No jerking movements.
  • Make sure you squeeze directly backward, without applying any pressure to the sides.
  • The shot should happen suddenly, surprising you. That will prevent you from jerking the gun in anticipating movement.

Follow-Through

The main goal of the follow-through is to prepare for the next shot as fast as possible with minimal effort and realigning.

As soon as the shot is produced, while the gun is still moving in your hand, move the finger back, releasing the trigger to the point it resets. You should not release it completely all the way, just to the point it resets and would produce another shot when squeezed again.

If you are using the proper stance and grip, the recoil moves the gun first up and slightly aside, and then the gun naturally moves down. Catch this movement down and direct it to the new or the same target. Do not use a separate movement, just ride the same one the gun does anyway. Simply correct it slightly so it ends up in a place you need. As a result of a proper follow-through, you will finish the shot with your finger on a trigger ready to pull and the sights on the target. With some practice it becomes an automatic reflex, laying a good foundation for rapid fire.

As I said, I am no expert, but maybe these ideas will help you enjoy shooting as much as I do.

Thanks for listening,
The Math Teacher

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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