Published On: September 27, 2023
how to hold a gun

If you’re interested in heading to a Texas gun range, one of the most fundamental skills to master is how to hold a gun. Proper form is crucial for both gun safety and shooting accuracy and can be the difference between hitting your target and missing completely.

And we know what you might think. How hard can it be to grip a pistol correctly? You’d be surprised!

It’s something we see so often here at Texas Gun Club that we created this comprehensive guide to walk you through everything you need to know about how to hold a gun, from hand positioning to stance. First, you’ll learn the basics of gun safety, and then we’ll delve into the various holding techniques.

Holding a Gun: Gun Safety Tips

Gun safety should always be the top priority, and it starts with proper gun handling. As a responsible gun owner or shooter at a firing range, you should always follow these standard tips on gun safety. Here are three things to remember as you practice your grip, stance, and shooting techniques.

Assume Every Gun Is Loaded

One of the most essential gun safety tips is always assuming that a gun is loaded. Regardless if someone has told you it is not, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Treating every gun as loaded is crucial because you’ll handle it cautiously, no matter the circumstance. Never forget to check the chamber and visually inspect the gun to ensure it is unloaded before handling it.

Never Point Guns At People

Another critical aspect of responsible gun handling is never pointing the gun at anyone, including yourself. Whether loaded or not, guns are not toys and should never be treated that way.

When holding a gun, you should always keep the barrel pointed downrange and only point it at your target. This includes being mindful of where your finger is placed on the trigger, as an accidental trigger pull can lead to devastating consequences.

Understand Parts of the Gun

Speaking of terms like ‘barrel” and “downrange,” knowing the different parts of a gun is essential to ensure proper handling and safe use.

Before handling a firearm, you should understand the safety mechanism, magazine release, trigger, slide, and other important parts of the gun. Improper handling of these parts can result in accidental discharges or even misfires, leading to serious injuries.

How to Hold a Gun

The right grip, stance, sight alignment, and trigger squeeze are the four essential components of holding a gun. Each component has its specific techniques and can drastically affect the outcome of your shots.


The grip is one of the most important factors in holding a gun. The right grip should be firm and follow the natural curve of your hand. The best grip is called the “thumbs-forward grip,” where the thumbs align along the gun frame and point toward the target, providing control, stability, and accuracy.


Stance refers to the position of your feet and body when holding the gun. The right stance provides stability and balance and mitigates recoil. We’ll walk you through a few stances to try below, but regardless of your preferred stance, your body should always be aligned toward the target.

Sight Alignment

Sight alignment refers to how you line up the front and rear sights of the gun when aiming. The right sight alignment helps you aim accurately and hit the target.

To do this, place the front sight at the center of the rear sight with equal space on each side. Ensure you focus on the front sight and align it with the target.

Trigger Squeeze

The trigger squeeze refers to how you press the trigger with your finger. This is important because the right trigger squeeze helps you achieve a smooth and gradual release of the trigger, reducing the impact of recoil and increasing accuracy.

Hold the gun with your dominant hand and place your finger on the trigger in the center of the pad, not the tip. Press the trigger straight back with steady and gradual pressure.

Additional Tips and Considerations

In addition to the essential components of holding a gun, some other tips and considerations can help improve your shooting accuracy and precision.

One of the main tips we offer people who visit our shooting range is to breathe. Breathing ensures your body is relaxed and stable when shooting. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale half of it before squeezing the trigger.

Considering eye dominance can also help when holding a pistol. Eye dominance is the ability of one eye to receive visual information better than the other. Knowing your dominant eye helps improve your accuracy when aiming.

To know your dominant eye, extend both arms forward and make a triangle with your hands. Focus on an object within the triangle and close one eye; if the object remains in the same position, that is your dominant eye.

Finally, remember that holding a gun is a skill that requires practice to master. Regular practice helps you become more comfortable with your gun and its components, improving accuracy. Start with:

  • Dry firing
  • Practicing your grip
  • Practicing your trigger squeeze

Gradually move to live firing, ensuring you follow all gun safety rules at the range.

Special Considerations

When shooting guns, it’s important to understand that each type of firearm might require a different grip and stance. Making small adjustments can help improve accuracy, prevent fatigue, and reduce the risk of injury. So, let’s take a closer look at the proper grip and stance for holding a pistol, rifle, or shotgun.

Holding a Pistol

To hold a pistol, your grip should be firm but not too tight, with the index finger resting lightly on the trigger and the other fingers wrapped around the grip. The wrist should be locked and straight to control recoil and ensure accuracy.

For beginners, the best way to grip a pistol is to start with a two-handed grip, with the support hand wrapped around the dominant hand. This helps distribute the weight of the firearm and provides added stability. You can try using a one-handed grip for more precision as you improve.

Holding a Rifle

When holding a rifle, you might need to follow different handgun techniques (seeing as it’s a long gun). Namely, your support hand should be positioned under the front of the stock, using the hand to support and steady the aim.

The trigger hand should be positioned back on the grip, with the elbow slightly below the level of the shoulder. This helps to absorb recoil and allows for smoother shots. Additionally, your stance should be more squared off, with the feet shoulder-width apart and pointing toward the target.

Holding a Shotgun

When using a shotgun, your grip should be tight, with the trigger hand positioned high on the grip and the support hand wrapped around the forearm.

Additionally, your stance should be slightly staggered, with the lead foot forward and the back foot angled out. This helps provide stability and balance when shooting.

It’s important to note that the shotgun produces significant recoil, so keeping the elbows bent and the body relaxed is essential, absorbing the recoil with proper form.

Shooting Stances

Now that you’ve established a basic grip, it’s important to consider your stance. While there are several stances you can use depending on your comfort levels and the type of gun you’re using, here are three great options to start with.

The Isosceles Stance

What is this best for? This stance provides a stable foundation for shooting, allowing you to absorb recoil and maintain control over the gun.

The Isosceles stance is a common choice among gun professionals and enthusiasts. This stance involves standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your shoulders squared up to your target. Your arms should be extended straight out in front of you, forming an imaginary triangle with your shoulders.

The Weaver Stance

What is this best for? This stance causes slight tension in your arms, increasing stability and control over the gun.

This stance involves standing with your dominant foot slightly back and your non-dominant foot forward. Your knees should be slightly bent, and your arms should be extended towards your target. Your dominant hand should be gripping the gun while your non-dominant hand is placed on the back of your dominant hand, almost in a push-pull motion.

The Sul Position

What is this best for? This stance is popular for individuals who want to hold their gun in a defensive position, allowing quick access to the trigger while remaining safe.

To hold your gun in the Sul position, you will hold it with your dominant hand, keeping it close to your body. Your other hand can support your gun hand or be placed on the opposite side of your stomach or chest.

Visit the Texas Gun Club

Now that you know how to hold a gun, it’s time to practice, and what better way to practice your grip and shooting stance than at one of the best gun ranges in Texas?

Texas Gun Club ranges feature digital displays for accurate target distance placement and spacious, wide lanes in air-conditioned buildings.

View range prices and book your spot today!