ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Shoot A Pistol--And Hit Your Target

Updated on September 12, 2014

Only Hits Count...

The pistol is the most difficult firearm to shoot straight, but a few hints will start you on your way!

It's Simple If You Know How


First I suggest a review of the four rules of gun safety. Pistols are inherently dangerous, that is their purpose, but the danger can be controlled through correct gun handling.

I recommend starting your quest for pistol accuracy with a good .22. The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is inexpensive, widely available and capable of fine accuracy. It is not very powerful, but you do not want a lot of noise and recoil while you are learning. The mildness of the cartridge and its low cost encourage practice rather than discouraging it. Step up to a powerful pistol after you have become a good shot. The fundamentals of pistol marksmanship are the same with the .22 and easier to learn, so why not make things easy for yourself?

I think the fundamentals of practical accuracy with the pistol are three, and I call them hard hold, accepted wobble and surprise break.

Hard Hold:

Grip the pistol as if trying to crush its handle. This is to guard against tightening your hand as you trigger the shot. The natural tendency to squeeze tighter as the shot is fired makes your grip inconsistent through the firing cycle, but what you want for accuracy is a grip that does not change at any time while aiming and firing the shot. So, hold on tight.

How tight? A number of experts tell me that you tighten up until the tightness of your grip causes a tremor in your hand, then you ease up just to the point where the tremor disappears. That is no doubt good advice, for experts, but for beginners, the tremor of a very tight grip will not add much inaccuracy. So, hold as hard as you like.

Accepted Wobble:

No one can hold a pistol's sights dead steady on the target. Do not try! Attempting it leads to the fault of "chasing the bullseye," also called "snatching the shot," that is, trying to fire at the exact moment the target is perfectly aligned. As we will see in the next step, that is all wrong. Let the sight wobble on the target. So long as the area of wobble is smaller than your target, you'll hit the target if you get the next step right.

Surprise Break:

Operate the trigger with a smooth increase of pressure until, at a moment not of your choosing, the gun fires of itself. Begin your trigger pressure, increase it, the shot will fire at some point; let it happen. Don't tell it when. Letting it fire as opposed to making it fire, that is the essential point. This is the single most important step in achieving accuracy, and the hardest to do.

Why is this so important? It is only natural for your body to react to the sudden explosion, and if your reaction occurs before the shot is out of the barrel, inaccuracy will occur. It is just that simple. If you do not know when the shot will fire, you will not know when to flinch. Your reaction to the shot firing will occur after the shot is on its way. At that point your reaction cannot affect its flight.

As I use the term, and the term is controversial, a flinch is any reaction to the shot firing that occurs before the shot actually fires. It does not necessarily imply that you are afraid of the gun, only that you are getting ahead of yourself.

The surprise break is called that because the trigger releases and fires the shot--the trigger "breaks"--as a surprise to you. Combat and action target shooters learn to do the surprise break in a fraction of a second and still surprise themselves with the shot, but the technique is easier to learn, just starting out, if you take several seconds to fire each shot, with a slow progressive increase of trigger pressure.

I am sure you will hear many fine points of marksmanship offered besides, but that is what they are, fine points; I have described the fundamentals. Such matters as thumb placement, alignment of the trigger finger, focusing on the front sight, the difficult to define matter of "follow through" and all the other cracker barrel advice can wait until you can do the three basics every time: Hard hold, accepted wobble, surprise break.

Want hands on training?

There are many places you can receive practical instruction in pistol marksmanship. You can ask about them at your local gun store or shooting range. There may be a course near you. Sometimes the training is fantastic, from either a locally well known instructor or a traveling expert.

Some people travel to receive the highly regarded lessons offered at famous schools. Some well known destinations for firearms training include Gunsite, Thunder Ranch and Front Sight.

Further Reading

I've only hit the high points...

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)