When I’m teaching my introductory pistol class, I tell my students to think of shooting a gun as an integrated system. All parts need to be in sync to work well.
As an example, to ride a bike, you must have inflated tires, a good chain, handlebars to steer, and pedals to push. If any of those are missing, the bike may move, but not as efficiently as it should.
It’s the same when shooting a gun. Without a correct Grip, Stance, Aim and Trigger Squeeze, you’ll never get a consistent, accurate shot.
You want a firm, but not overpowering grip. You want a balanced stance, with arms fully extended, and you want to be leaning slightly forward.
These first two items are what allow you to control the recoil of the gun. The energy of the recoil is transferred from the muzzle of the gun into your large shoulder muscles.
If there is a “break” in the system – weak grip, bent elbows, standing straight up, etc – that energy will be transferred into that weak point, resulting in problems, as we see here.
Watch it again. Elbows are bent, so the muzzle energy results in the muzzle flipping up and back into her face instead of back into her shoulders. She’s standing straight up and down, so the muzzle energy also pushes her backwards.
It’s all a system.
One you have the stable platform with the grip and stance, you can concentrate on the accuracy part of shooting: Aiming and Trigger Squeeze. When all 4 parts work together, you tear out the center of the target!
Let’s look at each part:
One of the biggest problems shooters have is The Death Grip. The try and choke the life out of the gun! Doing so will cause problems with your trigger squeeze.
We want a firm, supportive grip. With your shooting hand, you want the lower three fingers to securely hold the gun, but not so much as to make the trigger finger too rigid. We want the trigger finger to work as an independent contractor. A death grip won’t allow that to happen.
If you have a concern about the firepower of the handgun, do your over-gripping with your support hand, not your shooting hand.
One disagreement with the video: I want the elbows locked. This drives the energy from the muzzle through your weak hands and arms, into your strong shoulders. Think about it: Bent elbows will give a large caliber recoil a fulcrum – your elbows – to bend. At best, this will result in a longer time to aim for the second and subsequent shots. At worst, you end up famous on Youtube like the lady in the first clip!
There are two popular stances: The Weaver and the Isosceles. Both have their place, depending upon the circumstances.
In my opinion, the only time the Weaver stance makes sense is when you’re going around a corner (see, “Shooting From Your Weak Side“). You want to get “skinny” when exposing your body to an unseen assailant.
The rest of the time, you want to use the Isosceles stance. It gives you the greatest field of view, the greatest turning radius, and it greatly helps with the third topic discussed below, Aim.
Your gun is extended from the center of your body. I tell my students that you want your biceps touching your jawline. In this way, the sights of the gun are directly aligned with your eyes. Where you see, the bullet will hit!
One thing not discussed in the video is you want to be leaning slightly forward. Weight forward. You want to have your shoulders ahead of your hips.
These last two items are where I make most of my Private Lesson money. Problems with aim and trigger squeeze.
Aim is all about Sight Alignment and Sight Picture. The video demonstrates these very well.
Here’s a tip: If you’re having difficulty with the Sight Alignment – getting that front sight “seated” properly between the two rear sights, start with the muzzle of the gun tilted slightly upwards. Focusing on the front sight, slowly lower the muzzle until you see the front sight “sit” right between the two rear sights.
Notice how I didn’t title this, “Trigger PULL”? I want you to squeeze the trigger, slowly and smoothly, not jerking or pulling it.
Trigger finger placement is very important here. You want the trigger centered between your finger tip and your first knuckle. If you are unable to do this comfortably, the gun is either too big or too small for your hands. Get another gun!
For right-handed shooters, if your finger is too short, with just the tip on the trigger, you’ll tend to push the muzzle to the left when squeezing. If your finger is too long, you’ll tend to pull the muzzle to the right.
Start slowly. With practice, you will easily be able to shoot rapidly, but you’ve got to walk before you run.
Jerking the trigger also indicates you are tensing your entire hand when squeezing the trigger. If you do this, your lower three fingers on your shooting hand will tense as well. A great indication of this is that all of your shots are landing in the 7 o’clock portion of your target. When your fingers tense up, it pulls the muzzle low and to the left for right-handed shooters.
Time at the range is the only way you will get better on a consistent basis. Having mastered these 4 fundamentals will get you there sooner!
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