5 Handgun Shooting Tips for a More Accurate Shot

April 30, 2021

Why is shooting a handgun so hard? If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, don’t worry — you’re in good company. Many people find that, despite being a decent shot with a rifle, their pistol game leaves much to be desired. If you’re looking to improve your accuracy and could use a few pointers, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our top handgun shooting tips for an accurate shot.

Safety First

Whether you’re at home or at a gun range, safety should always be your number one priority. Whenever your gun isn’t in use, keep it unloaded and safely stored away in a protective gun case or a gun safe.

Always follow the four rules of firearm safety:

  • Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always treat your gun as if it were loaded.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.

For a complete list of firearm safety rules, visit the Firearm Industry Trade Association’s website.

Handgun Shooting Tips to Improve Accuracy

Even experienced shooters can struggle to hit their target. If you’re tired of hitting outside the bull’s-eye (or worse, nothing at all), it’s time to go back to the basics. Follow these five handgun shooting tips and you can immediately start improving your aim.

1. Keep Your Grip High and Tight

How you hold the handgun is key to controlling recoil and can even slightly make up for a sloppy trigger pull. Unfortunately, the grip is also one of the things that shooters tend to get wrong.

When holding a handgun, your grip should be high and tight, meaning there should be no spaces between your flesh and the gun when you grip it. Having spaces in between your hand and the gun means that there is room for the gun to move when it recoils. The web of your hand should go as high as possible without interfering with the slide, and your non-dominant hand should come forward to fill the empty space on the grip panel.

2. Get Your Stance Right

Fast and accurate handgun shooting demands a stable shooting stance. A proper handgun shooting stance will set you up for success in other areas, such as sight alignment, trigger control and recoil management.

The most popular handgun stances include the Isosceles, the Weaver and the Chapman. There is no “best” stance. All three have their advantages and disadvantages. Experiment with different stances and choose one that you feel most comfortable with.

3. Use the Front Sight

One of the biggest mistakes that beginner shooters tend to make is looking directly at their target as opposed to their front sight. If you’re shooting for pure accuracy, you need to line up the front and rear sights. The front sight should be in clear focus, while the rear sights are somewhat fuzzy.

Don’t pull the trigger until you see that your sights are aligned. This will only instill bad shooting habits that will be hard to break.

4. Work on Recoil Anticipation

Recoil anticipation screws up a lot of handgunners. This is one of the reasons why dry firing—shooting without live ammo—is so important because it helps build muscle memory that can help you overcome recoil anticipation. If you find yourself flinching in anticipation of the recoil, try to pull the trigger as if you were just dry firing it and let the gun do its thing.

Dry firing is perfectly safe for the most part (the exception being rimfire guns) and can significantly improve your handgun accuracy. Keep in mind that the four rules of gun safety still apply to dry firing. So when you’re finished dry firing your pistol, be sure to immediately return it to the pistol case. People have dry firing accidents when they get distracted, load their firearm and return to “dry firing,” only to experience a loud bang. A handgun case can help prevent unnecessary accidents.

5. Learn Proper Trigger Squeeze/Press

Despite trigger pull being one of the most important aspects of handgun shooting, it’s often easily neglected by beginner and experienced shooters alike. If you have your sights lined up and your shot is still veering off the left or the right, an improper trigger pull is probably to blame.

Most handgun instructors advise using the center of the pad on your fingertip and the first knuckle joint to press the trigger. However, this may differ for everyone based on your hand and finger size.

Dry Practice Makes Perfect

Although live drills are important, dry fire drills are the single best thing you can do to improve your handgun accuracy. Dry fire drills can be done anywhere at any time and cost nothing. If you keep up with your dry fire practice, you should start to see improvement in your accuracy with each visit to the gun range.

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