Plenty of gun owners add precision optics to improve their pistol accuracy, and while high-performance reflex sights are a good tool, you still have to use them right to enjoy tighter groups at the range. Accuracy depends on your weapon, your body’s ability to control it, and your mind’s ability to control your body. While adding the best pistol red dot on the market may help with one of those, it takes work to improve the other two. Let’s take a look at how you can upgrade your physical and mental skill set to get the most out of your weapon with Gideon’s top 6 pistol shooting tips.
Putting the Bullet Where It’s Supposed to Go
You’ll see two terms used a lot when it comes to improving the effectiveness of your shooting skills: precision and accuracy. In fact, a lot of shooters use the terminology interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between the two. Functionally, this works out since the goal of improving your shooting skills is to be both accurate and precise, but we want to cover the distinction, as some of the following drills will enhance one more than the other.
- Accuracy – Accuracy is a measure of how close to the aiming point or center of the bullseye you’re placing your shots.
- Precision – Precision refers to the ability to keep your shot placements tightly grouped in a repeatable position.
Ideally, you want to be both accurate and precise. That would mean the first shot and all subsequent shots landed very close to the point you’re aiming at. The reality of field conditions, however, rarely lends itself to idealism. At the range, there could be odd lighting angles, gusting wind, and other real-life factors affecting your aim, and tactical situations, meanwhile, are almost always dynamic encounters delivered with a healthy dose of adrenaline. That’s exactly why you train both accuracy and precision–to reduce the risk of either your aim or poor follow-up shooting sending shots wide of the target, endangering others.
Tips to Improve Pistol Accuracy and Precision
Keep Your Grip High, Tight, and Supported
When shooting a handgun, your body needs to absorb and re-direct the recoil forces of every round fired. A properly-shouldered rifle lets your big, meaty torso take the brunt of the impact, but with a handgun, those forces are delivered to your hands and down your arms before they meet up with your torso. A good grip is key to improving pistol accuracy and making follow-up shots more precise. Properly executed, the forces of recoil are directed straight back into your hands, lateral movement is kept to a minimum, and the muzzle flip is manageable.
Begin with the dominant hand high on the grip provided by the frame or backstrap of the handgun. It should be as high as possible without putting it in line with the travel of the slide or hammer and tight enough for a solid grip without attempting to choke the life out of the weapon. Your non-dominant hand should close around the fingers in front of the grip under the trigger guard, and your thumb should cross over the knuckle of your dominant thumb, once again avoiding the travel of any moving gun parts, keeping the dominant hand supported and cradles while applying additional positive pressure to control drift and recoil.
Create a with a Stable Base
Lil’ John said, “Get low,” and while he was talking about something else, he was also right. A low wide, wide stance is inherently more stable, and increased stability makes it easier to put your accuracy and precision to the test. While not every range trip needs to include practice shooting from a crouch, you should train to naturally step into a shooter’s stance that gives you better control over your weapon, keeps your feet “live” for movement, and makes it harder for you to be knocked over by a strong gust of wind or an aggressor.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a half-step back with your dominant leg, the same one that shares a side with your gun hand, pointing its toe slightly to the side, between the one and two o’clock position. Bend your knees while keeping your back straight to drop your backside about an inch or two toward the ground. This position primes your legs for movement in almost any direction, turns your holster away from the target, and gives you a wider foundation that’s better able to manage forces exerted on your body, whether it’s recoil or a windy day.
Knowing the proper place to focus during your aim is crucial to improving pistol accuracy round after round. Many new or inexperienced shooters shift their focus from the target to the front sight, then the rear sight, eventually ending up somewhere in between the three or at a different point for each shot.
With Iron Sights, you want your focus to be on the front sight as you peer through the notch or peephole of your rear sight, placing the front sight over the slightly blurred target. Most pistol shooting is done at ranges where, even blurred, target definition should still be sharp enough to place the front sight where it needs to be. If you find yourself shifting your focus to the target, simply return your focus to the front sight after lining up your shot.
With the best red dot sights, you’re dealing with a parallax-free lens that has unlimited eye relief. Ensure the dot is in the middle of your target window and in-line with the target. That’s why our high-performance optics are so easy to use. They make the process of proper aiming more intuitive and precise. If you use a co-witness optics mount, work to become familiar with using all your aiming resources properly.
Learn to Squeeze the Trigger
A rough trigger pull can move your muzzle, sending your bullet off course. A hesitant pull that stops and starts can end up with the barrel wobbling side-to-side, making it twice as unsafe to your fellow shooters or innocent bystanders. Work on making your trigger pull smooth, straight, and regular, allowing the sear to break over crisply, firing the shot. This keeps the gun properly aimed for improved pistol accuracy and has you ready for follow-up shots as needed.
Anticipation can especially be an issue with new shooters, but it can crop up with any shooter as the day wears on at the range. Don’t ever forget you’re holding a small controlled explosion in your hand with every shot fired. Even the most experienced marksman can find themselves pulling their shots in anticipation of the round firing. Working on preventing anticipation goes hand-in-hand with forming the muscle memory for effective trigger pulls. You want to train your body and mind to give you a straight, controlled pull that’s smooth every time you fire for improved precision and better pistol accuracy.
Finally, you don’t develop any skills in a vacuum, and you are almost guaranteed to lose what you never practice. Take the time to work on perfecting your shooting skills at the range, but also train when you can at home. Just make sure your weapon is unloaded and shown safe before you begin.
Your grip and stance can be practiced easily, and most modern handguns won’t be damaged by dry-fire training. Dry-firing is perfect for forming the muscle memory you want for efficient trigger pulls and eliminating the knee-jerk anticipation response. It can also help you take the time to better find your aim point with either traditional sights or the best red dot sights. The best part about these at-home drills is the money you can save on ammunition while learning to improve your pistol accuracy for your next range trip.
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