If you have ever watched a Hollywood movie or a TV show, accuracy when shooting seems to look so easy on the silver screen. Even in the scenes where an actor ‘misses’, they usually hit their target with their second or third shot (a scene usually added simply to create ‘time-running-out’ tension).
However, anyone who has ever picked up a firearm will know that accuracy is not something you can pick up straight away. It takes time and practice. Having said that, there are some handgun shooting tips and ‘tweaks’ that you can add today that will significantly improve your aim almost straight away. And let’s face it, when someone see’s tangible improvements, they are more likely to practice longer and harder, which can only improve your aim further. Here are some handgun shooting tips to improve your aim today:
- Ammunition costs money, and few us of have the spare cash to keep buying rounds for practice. But did you know that dry firing can actually help your aim more than live firing? When practicing with live fire, as soon as you pull the trigger, the firearm will start to recoil. This makes it rather difficult to see how much your sight alignment was affected by your trigger pull. During a dry firing practice, there is no recoil. Therefore, it becomes easier for you to detect if there was any movement during trigger pull.
- Another handgun shooting tip to be used during dry firing sessions is the ability to keep still when firing. It may be surprising to know that the force required to break the trigger is larger than the weight of the gun. If you don’t learn to hold the gun perfectly still when pressing on the trigger, the gun will inevitably move. The noise and flash coming from live ammunition is rather distracting. Having dry firing sessions allows you to train your eyes, your trigger finger and your body to stay still (and not flinch). Your aim is to never move the sights off target; before, during or after trigger pull. Once you have trained yourself to perform a smooth trigger press where the sights remain on target and you are able to stay completely still, you will find that you can do this even during live fire sessions when there is noise and flashes trying to distract you.
- As an extra, you might want to consider adding a laser sight during your dry firing practices. Concentrate on a small area on a wall (e.g. use a thumb tack) and then see if you can maintain the alignment before, during and after trigger pull. A laser sight can really help you to visualise how your trigger pull is affecting your aim.
- Live fire practice is still necessary, so consider buying a .22 LR handgun where the rounds are a lot more affordable. When you’re not worrying about costs, you can practice a lot more to get your muscle memory movement drilled in.
- Despite most people calling it ‘trigger pull’’, actually pulling on the trigger causes loss of accuracy. The pulling motion usually happens when you have your finger too deep inside the trigger guard, and use the centre of your finger to pull on the trigger. This adds an extra sideways pressure which affects your aim. Instead, a good handgun shooting tip is to try and pull the trigger straight back, using just the tip of your finger. In other words, learn to press the trigger, and not pull it. As long as you have your gun pointed properly at your target, there is less chance of your accuracy being hampered when pressing on the trigger.
- Sadly, a lot of handguns have trigger pulls that are designed to avoid legal issues rather than help your aim. Consider buying an aftermarket trigger kit which will make your trigger break cleanly and crisply, without needing a hard pull.
- Consider investing in the Impact 45 rolling steel target. It’s an inexpensive bit of kit that rolls further down range each time you shoot it successfully, improving your aim and confidence at the same time.
If you want to figure out where you might be going wrong when pulling the trigger, the chart below might give you some clues to where you might need to improve:
So you are now practicing with dry firing and live firing sessions, and have perfected your trigger press. What next? Read on for more handgun shooting tips…..
Apart from trigger press, there are two aspects that control accuracy; sight alignment and sight picture. Sight alignment is making sure you align your handgun’s front and rear sights. Sight picture is making sure you superimpose your aligned sights onto your target.
A good way to know if you have sight alignment issues is to compare your accuracy when shooting targets at different distances from you. If you are pretty accurate with near targets, but start to lose accuracy the further the target is moved away from you, you need to practice aligning your sights properly.
Here are some handgun shooting tips to help you align your front and rear sights correctly:
- Make sure that the top of your front sight is level with the top of the rear sight. This means that you are not aiming too high or too low.
- You must also align your sights horizontally too. When aligned properly, there should be the same distance between the front sight and both sides of the rear sight. By having too much distance on the right side, you will aiming too far to the left, and vice versa if there is too much distance on the left side.
- Take your time when pulling the trigger. Stare at the alignments of your front and rear sights for half a minute or so. This helps imprint the image of correct alignment in your brain so it becomes second nature. This becomes incredibly important when using your handgun in self-defence situations.
Another issue can be that your rounds are scattered around your target. This issue usually comes about if you are concentrating too hard on the target, when you should be concentrating on the front sight. This can become a serious issue if you are confronted by an armed person. In general, if you are focusing on your target, you are not focusing on your front sight. Here are some handgun shooting tips on how to focus on your front sight:
- When you pull the trigger, focus on the front sight. When done correctly, the rear sight and target should blur.
- A good way to practice this is to place a dot on the front sight using permanent marker or nail varnish. By adding this dot, you can focus on it instead of the entire front sight.
- Another good trick is to hold a pencil with the hand that is not holding the gun and bring it into your line of sight by extending your arm forward. By alternating your gaze from the tip of the pencil to the target, you get a feel for the difference between the two, allowing your eyes to transition from front sight to target and back again. Remember, when pulling the trigger, the tip of the pencil should be the focus, NOT the target. Of course, you must only do this when dry firing!
By combining both correct sight alignment and sight picture, you have successfully aimed your handgun for true accuracy. As long as you maintain that proper aim throughout pulling the trigger, your point of impact should be very close to your point of aim. Good luck!
What Do You Think – Do You Have Handgun Shooting Tips?
Handgun shooting tips are sometimes like opinions…everyone has one! If you have some handgun shooting tips that you believe others would find useful, please feel free to share it in the comments section below! We would love to hear any handgun shooting tips that work!