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Learn How to Shoot A Gun

Updated on August 18, 2011

Firing a Gun

Learning how to fire a firearm is not so intimidating if you know how to do so properly. By taking the time to learn how to shoot a pistol, you are creating a safety net for you and anyone around you in case, one day, you have to fire.

Guns are just tools. They do not cause evil and they are not the root of evil. Humans are the true source, but that doesn't mean that everyone who owns and knows how to properly shoot a gun is evil.

Guns are great tools to self defense, and knowing how to properly use a firearm, you are one step closer to being able to defend yourself, your famiy, and your friends.

Just make sure that you know and understand the 4 rules to firearm safety.

  1. Assume that all firearms are always loaded, and treat them as such.
  2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to shoot.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire.
  4. Be sure of your target and what's behind it.

Basics to Shooting a Gun

I'd suggest that when you choosing a gun to learn how to shoot, you start with a smaller, more accurate caliber pistol because, typically, larger calibers are more powerful and heavier, making them harder to learn with.

A 9 mm or .22 cal are great rounds you will want to consider starting with.

Whether on the range is indoors our outdoors, it is vital that you understand and follow the 4 firearms safety rules. Accidents happen when people become overly confident and complacent around fire arms. Sign up for a safety class and memorize the 4 weapon safety rules because once you shoot the gun, you can't bring the bullet back.

Get used to and understand the pistol that you're training with. It's very important to have some mechanical understanding of the gun in your hands.

Proper Stance and Grasp

Proper Stance for Shooting a Gun

  • You will want to establish a firm, high grip on the gun, making sure to keep your fingers and hand out of the way of the slide.
  • Make sure to space your feet about shoulder width apart, and try to lead off with your trigger finger hand with your arms extended.
  • As you progress, you will want to adjust your firing position to what works best for you. You may want to face the target straight on.
  • Don't hold the gun sideways or you'll more than likely miss the target.

Proper Grasp When Holding a Gun

  • You want to grasp the gun with your dominant hand, opening it to expose the web between your index and thumb.
  • Take the gun in your other hand, insert the grip of the pistol into the web of your dominant hand.
  • Make sure to grip the gun firmly with your finger outside of the trigger guard at all times.
  • You'll want to make sure that your non-dominant hand is around the left side of the frame, aligning both your thumbs to point down-range.
  • Make sure to keep a firm grip, leaving not air pockets between your hand and the gun.
  • Make sure the keep your thumbs clear of the slide or hammer.
  • Make sure to keep your fingers pulled straight back and not angled.

Sight Alignment & Sight Picture

Sight alignment is an essential element to shooting accurately. You want to aim the gun so that the front end sight is aligned to the read post, ensuring that the front of the gun is on-line with the rear. Otherwise, if the front post protrudes over the rear sight you will likely shoot high, and if the front post is lower than the rear, you will likely shoot low.

Sight Picture is another essential element that you will want to develop. Essentially, sight picture means to place the sights within an area of the target. You want to aim for the largest section of your target, which is typically the center of it.


Both trigger control and your grip on the pistol affect the accuracy and travel of the bullet to the target. When firing, remember to squeeze, not jerk or pull the trigger. You'll want to gradually increase direct pressure with your finger until you reach the breaking point, where the hammer is released and hits the firing pin. Take note of how much pressure it takes to reach the "trigger break." Eventually the exact position will be subconcious with your muscle memory.

Controlling your breathing is also critical to accurate shooting. Start taking deep breaths before you get into your shooting stance. When you steady your breathing, you will want to fire at the end of your exhale. When you breath your chest expands which moves your arms, causing t he gun to rise and fall, so you want to make sure that when firing, your chest isn't moving.

Make sure that you don't hold your breath.

Other Tips to Shooting a Gun

  • While establishing your sight picture, you don't want to focus on the target. If you do, you will more than likely shoot around the outside of the target, so make sure to focus on the sights and align the pistol so that the target is slightly unfocused behind them.

Shooting off target

  • If your rounds are hitting the target low and high, but not center, refocus your breathing and fire at the end of the exhale.
  • If your rounds are hitting the target left to right but not center, you're probably jerking the trigger instead of squeezing to the trigger break point.
  • When you anticipate the recoil by pushing the front of the weapon down to keep the gun from kicking up into your hand, causes you to fire low.
  • Pulling occurs when you are trying to move the gun up to lesson the recoil, causing you to fire high.


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