Shooting with a pistol. Man aiming pistol in shooting range.

Tips to Improve Accuracy at the Range

Grip

Grasp the gun firmly using proper hold: both palms should be around the grip, lining your thumbs up stacked one above the other.

Stance

Your non-dominant leg will be your leading leg. Stand with your non-dominant foot (left foot if you are right handed) just slightly further back from your other foot. Put both arms out straight in front of you, then slightly bend them at the elbows. This will help you maintain control and firm grip throughout your firing of the gun. Do not lock your arms, and relax your shoulders, pulling them down and away from your ears. Lean slightly forward from the waste up, and shoulders square and in front of hips. Lean into your front leg so that it’s bearing most of your weight. That will help you offset the kick of the gun when it fires. Never lean back from your waste up – always lean forward into your shot.

Align the Sights 

Looking down the barrel (top of the gun), align the front sight between the back sights, and align all three with your target – focusing on the spot you want the bullet to land. Visually align the front sight between the back two sights. The top of the rear and front sights should be level, with an equal amount of light between the sides of the front sight and inside vertical edge of the rear notch. Make it a habit to only put your trigger (index) finger on the trigger only when you’re ready to pull the trigger.

Trigger Pull

Ideally, when you pull the trigger and fire the gun, everything except your trigger finger should only move very little – including the gun and your hands. The more your hands or the gun move, for example, if you flinch or jerk when you pull the trigger, you’re anticipating the gun firing and developing a trigger finger tendency. This is a physical reaction that you create – likely without even realizing it – in anticipation of the gun’s recoil that isn’t caused by the act of firing the gun itself. It’s a mental obstacle that you’ll have to overcome as a shooter to become more accurate at hitting your target. Your pistol will bob, sending the bullet to an undesired target spot.

To prove that this doesn’t happen just as a result of your action of shooting the gun, try dry firing your pistol centerfire pistol. This jerking motion will likely happen even when you don’t fire a live round through the chamber. To combat this, practice dry firing your centerfire pistol (dry firing isn’t recommended for rimfire pistols) to develop accurate muscle memory that will serve you throughout your years as a shooter.

You can do this by loading the pistol with one round, then removing the magazine so no additional rounds chamber after you fire the first shot. Then shoot the gun again without ammo and see if the gun dips down or bobs up. If it does, you have a case of trigger finger. You can also purchase snap caps at a relatively low cost. Shoot these spring-wired dummy bullets through your gun at the range to see how your hand is reacting to the action of firing the gun.

Good trigger pull is going to have a lot of influence on how well you shoot, and you can never practice trigger pull and muscle memory too much.

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