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Basic Pistol Safety, Nomenclature and Marksmanship

Updated on August 18, 2012

Safety First


Firearms Safety

The Cardinal Rules of Firearms Safety

Please click on the link below to read about gun safety before handling a firearm.

Gun Safety




A semi-automatic pistol is a type of handgun which uses a single chamber and barrel, with a mechanism powered by the previous shot to load a fresh cartridge into the chamber. One round is fired each time the trigger of a semi-automatic pistol
A semi-automatic pistol is a type of handgun which uses a single chamber and barrel, with a mechanism powered by the previous shot to load a fresh cartridge into the chamber. One round is fired each time the trigger of a semi-automatic pistol
A revolver is a pistol which uses multiple chambers and a single barrel, and a derringer, which uses multiple chambers and multiple barrels, also fire one round for trigger pull.
A revolver is a pistol which uses multiple chambers and a single barrel, and a derringer, which uses multiple chambers and multiple barrels, also fire one round for trigger pull.
Aiming the Berreta 92F (Proper sight picture)
Aiming the Berreta 92F (Proper sight picture)

Marksmanship

Your focus point, and the Sights

You can only focus on one thing at a time. When you have lined up your sights and breathed in, and halfway out you need to start focusing on the top of the front sight (not the target). This will inherently make you hold your alignment on target for a more accurate shot. The target should seem blurry when you are focused on the front sight.




Breath Control
Breath Control
Sight Alignment and Sight Picture
Sight Alignment and Sight Picture

Fundamentals

Grip and Stance

Your grip on the pistol should be applied with more pressure than is needed to squeeze the trigger. If you have a 5 lbs. trigger, then your grip pressure should exceed 5 lbs. If your grip pressure is less than the amount it takes to engage the trigger you will dis-align your sight picture. Also, if you take a weaver stance you can use a push-pull technique that will help you reduce muzzle flip so that you can get on target for a second shot more quickly. I would recommend a weaver, or modified weaver stance for a first time shooter. There are other techniques used for Close-Quarters Combat which you can master once you learn the fundamentals.

Control Your Breathing

When you breath, you move. Any movement during sigh alignment is not good, unless it is a slow steady squeeze of the trigger. However, we are human and oxygen to the brain takes priority over all that we do. As marksman, we have to learn to control our breathing, just as in martial arts, sports and boxing, breath control is crucial to performance. Marksmanship is no different, there is a way to breath and a way not too. Simply put, don’t breath during your trigger squeeze. I personally take a deep breath, let it half-way out and start squeezing while focusing on the front sight.

Trigger Control

Remember, proper grip is essential to proper trigger control and sight alignment. It is like a three legged chair, all the fundamentals are necessary. Proper trigger control is simply the shooter’s ability to not disrupt the sight alignment while he/she is taking the shot. Not anticipating the recoil is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Dry firing is the best way to overcome anticipation. Some experts suggest dry firing an entire course of fire before starting. I would also suggest using dummy rounds and having a shooting buddy load your magazines, so you don’t know when your gun will go boom. You will find that the shots that surprise you are usually your best ones.

Line up your sights, squeeeeeeze the trigger…..

I have been told to squeeze the trigger, press the trigger, pull the trigger, but never jerk the trigger. At this point in the process all three fundamentals are in play: Grip, breath control and sight alignment. The final icing on the cake is your trigger control. Don’t be in any hurry to pull your trigger. Think of it this way, you want to apply barely enough pressure to your trigger to fire the weapon, no more. To reduce my anticipation to the recoil I pretend that I am dry firing. I trick my mind to believing that the gun is just going to go “click”.






Shooting is fun for everyone
Shooting is fun for everyone

Have fun and be Safe

Shooting is fun for everyone. Marksmanship is a skill that all people of all sizes can master. Annie Oakley was a famous sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. She could split a playing card edge-on from 90 ft. with a .22 calliber rifle, Annie Oakley was only five feet tall.



Ruger MkII .22 caliber semi-auto Pistol

I would recommend starting a new shooter on a .22 caliber.  This will allow them to concentrate on the fundamentals without the distraction of high recoil.
I would recommend starting a new shooter on a .22 caliber. This will allow them to concentrate on the fundamentals without the distraction of high recoil.

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    • glockr profile image

      glockr 5 years ago

      Nice lens with lots of good tips. Only thing I would add is I think it's a good idea to start with a .22 - that makes it easier to master the basics without worrying about recoil and muzzle blast.

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