Anyone can be a good shot with a pistol. It doesn’t take extraordinary strength or skill, or catlike reflexes. What it does require, is a little bit of discipline and a willingness to learn and improve. Oh, and these Ten Steps To Shoot A Pistol.
Although this guide is deliberately broken down into ten simple steps, like any repetitive task, the steps begin to blend into one natural process with practice.
Yes, you will need to practice.
Experienced shooters may not consciously think about each step and it appears more as one fluid process but all the elements are in there. You have to walk before you run. Unless of course you’re a movie actor, then your shots just magically hit anything you aim at.
As the steps begin to be ingrained into your muscle memory, and not requiring as much conscious thought,you will see your results begin to improve. These steps are the same for shooting any handgun, but you will see the most rapid improvement if you practice with the same gun for a while.
You’re trying to make this process second nature. If you keep introducing different equipment into the equation, then you’ll be concentrating on the unfamiliar hardware instead of the ten steps. As long as you have a pistol you’re comfortable with, stick with it for a while.
There’s plenty of time to add more guns later once you’ve mastered the basics of pistol shooting. Trust me, there will be more.
Always follow the basic gun safety rules whenever you shoot. If you need a refresher, have a look here.
So, on to the ten steps!
Ten Steps To Shoot A Pistol: Expanded
- Visualize your target. Look down range at your target, whether it’s a bullseye, steel or silhouette. Imagine placing your shot directly in the center of it.
- Prepare your pistol. If not loaded, load it. Always keep it pointed in a safe direction, confirm it’s ready when you are.
- Grip the firearm. Wrap the fingers of your strong hand around the grip keeping your index finger extended and OFF the trigger. Curl the fingers of your support hand over your strong hand fingers with your support hand thumb under your strong.
- If you’re shooting a revolver, bend your thumbs down, away from the cylinder. You can even put your weak hand thumb over the strong and pul lit down away from the cylinder.
- Assume a Shooting Stance. The most popular stance is the isosceles where you form a triangle with your arms facing the target squarely. It’s intended to be stable but not stiff. Let your knees flex slightly and be balanced with your weight slightly forward.
- Address the Target. Raise the pistol in line with your eyes and move your focus from the target back to the pistol sights.
- Aim. Place the front sight on the center of your target. Adjust your hands until the front sight is framed and centered in the notch of the rear sight. It should show the same amount of daylight on each side of the front sight. The blade of the front sight should also be the same height in this picture as the top of the rear sight. Equal height, equal light. If your sights are dotted, align the dots.
- Place your finger on the trigger. Yes, only now put your index finger on the trigger. The blade of the trigger should be more or less on the distal joint of your finger. (What’s the distal joint? It’s just the first joint down from the tip of your finger. If you want to get technical it’s the distal interphalangeal joint. Impressed? Nah, I didn’t think so)
- Exhale. Exhaling slowly releases tension. Don’t hold your breath, control it.
- Squeeze the trigger. As you keep the front sight on your target, slowly increase pressure until the pistol fires. How slow? You’ll find a pace that’s comfortable for you and the pistol you use. Too quickly and you’ll pull off target, too slow and your aim will waver.
- Follow Through. When the pistol fires stay on the target, relax, let the trigger release and reset. Give yourself time to evaluate your shot then lower your pistol or if still shooting, reset yourself to step five and repeat.
How’d you do?
After a few magazines on target you’ll want to evaluate how you’re doing and adjust as you go. Being able to use this feedback in real time will help you improve more quickly. An instructor or coach is a big help but if you don’t have one this chart of target analysis can get you much of the way there. Just find where your shots have a tendency to miss (if they do) and adjust accordingly.
Look at your target after shooting a bit and find if your shots tend to group in one of these areas. If so, add that information to your routine and address it as you shoot. You don’t have to fix it all at once, just keep working on it! Try these diagnostic targets – the analysis is already done for you.
Good luck and good shooting.!