Published On: January 30, 2020
pistol shooting tips

If you’re going to the gun range for the first time, it doesn’t hurt to have a few pistol shooting tips up your sleeve first.

Certain pistols are known for being among the more challenging types of guns to fire accurately. Still, these guns can be both sophisticated and enjoyable to shoot.

So, whether you’re an experienced gun-owner or a novice who is visiting a gun range for the first time, it never hurts to review a few pistol shooting tips.

Here are 7 keys for pistol shooting that will not only improve your aim but your confidence when shooting.

1. Squeeze Slowly

If your only exposure to pistol shooting has come from watching old westerns, you may be under the misconception that a quick draw means you should also squeeze the trigger quickly.

Not so.

One of the results of squeezing a trigger too quickly is that your shots will be just slightly below your target. This happens because pulling the trigger too quickly jerks the gun, pointing it slightly down.

A quick and sloppy squeeze will leave you with inaccurate shots almost every time. Improve your aim and confidence by mastering the slow squeeze.

A good way to practice slowly pulling the trigger is to do as Julie Golob describes by imagining that you’re drawing your finger slowly through ultra-thick peanut butter.

2. Try the “Ball and Dummy Drill”

The ball and dummy drill is a great drill that helps you see the small dip that happens when you unknowingly fire the dummy round. This is called the “flinch.” Loading with dummy and live ammo to shoot a few rounds helps you become more aware of how you pull the trigger each time.

Having the combo of live and dummy ammo helps increase concentration so you get better follow-through and your groups will shrink big-time.

It’s another way of forcing you to pull the trigger smoothly and slowly every time because you don’t know what kind of ammo is coming next.

3. Frequency and “Recency”

It may seem like practicing often is enough to hone your shooting skills. Frequency is vital to learning well and developing good habits. But if you’re interested in boosting your skills to an even higher level, the “recency” of your practice is as important as how much you practice.

What on earth does this mean? Basically, it means that 5 shots nailed an hour ago will do more for your accuracy than 15 shots nailed a week ago. If you’re looking to compete or perform, just be sure you’ve shot a few good ones recently.

4. Don’t Pick the Smallest Pistol

There’s a common misconception (especially among novice shooters), that small guns have less kick. Interestingly, this is not the case. The truth is, the smaller the pistol, the harder the kick.

If you’re brand new to shooting or have never tried a pistol, we recommend not choosing the smallest one. Let yourself get used to the kick by shooting with a slightly larger size like a 9mm, .38 caliber, or a .22 caliber.

Starting with one of these larger, “smaller,” guns will help you get acclimated to the kickback of a pistol before you ever pick up a teeny 9mm. Those things can hurt…

5. Dress Appropriately

Hopefully, anyone visiting a gun range knows not to wear open-toed shoes. One of the most important parts about proper gun range etiquette is wearing the right attire.

It may be worth finding out if the specific range you’re going to has a dress code.

If not, generally long pants, closed-toed shoes, and safety glasses are always a good idea.

Dressing appropriately for a gun range also means never wearing a v-neck shirt. This may sound silly, but a v-neck creates the perfect funnel for a backward-moving round.

You fire that pistol wearing a v-neck shirt and you might feel pretty ridiculous when it drops right down your shirt. The right clothing will help you feel more confident and comfortable while shooting.

6. Take a Fundamentals Class

Fundamentals classes are important for every beginner. In them, you will learn basic handling skills, techniques, and safety procedures from a skilled and experienced professional.

Even if you’ve shot before, a pistol can be quite different from other guns. Having an experienced gunman instruct you on the feel and nature of a pistol will set you up for better shooting and a safer experience.

It also never hurts to take a refresher course and have an experienced gunman teach you the ins and outs of using a pistol.

7. Watch Your Thumb

One of the most common mistakes beginners make when shooting semi-automatic guns is that they put their thumb on top of the rear of the slide while shooting. This is the area on the top of the pistol that moves backward when you fire.

If you make this mistake, your thumb will get a seriously painful snap. Even some semi-serious injuries can occur if you put your thumb here.

The best rule of thumb, (see what we did there?), is to abide by the thumb-on-thumb rule. Instead of placing your thumb on the slide, just lay it on top of your other thumb.

This will help your aim and protect your fingers.

More Pistol Shooting Tips

At the end of the day, there are numerous pistol shooting tips that can improve your experience and technique. For the serious student, the best option is to take a training course with a professional.

Browse our site to find a class near you today and check out the different skills you can develop with the help of our highly experienced team.

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