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How to Become a Better Shooter

Scott Huntington offers the following tips on improving your shooting skills. A firearm is only as effective as its owner. To wield it under pressure, you have to practice to perfect your form. Otherwise, you’ll find it challenging to hit your target with any degree of accuracy, which can prove dangerous in a life-or-death situation where you have to incapacitate an aggressor.

Here’s everything you need to know, including the fundamentals of operating your weapon. This actionable advice for improving your technique will help you become a better shooter one step at a time.

Practice the Proper Grip

A strong grip contributes to better grouping when you’re aiming your firearm. Understanding these basic techniques will lay the foundation for later learning, and without a grasp on the fundamentals, you won’t be able to make steady progress. Practicing and perfecting these fundamentals is crucial.

To begin, grip your firearm with your strong hand, high on the back strap. The gun should rest in the web of your hand, with 50 percent or less of the grip coming from your dominant hand in a two-handed grip. The grip pressure is similar to a pair of pliers, front to rear, with your trigger finger placed for easy operation.

From there, the heel of your support hand should cover the grip not covered by your strong hand.

Position the thumb of your dominant hand on top of the support-hand thumb without any downward pressure. There should be no space between your fingers and the trigger guard, and stay tight with the trigger guard’s bottom.

Steady the Sight Alignment

While you’ve likely learned this before, it’s impossible to understate the importance of maintaining good form. If you have a weak foundation, you’ll have trouble improving your skills and ability as a capable, competent shooter.

Once you’ve gripped your firearm and raised it to your target, you’ll need to align your rear and front sight. In other words, your front sight should remain directly in the middle of your rear sights, with the top of your front and rear sights in a perfectly straight line. When you’ve reached this balance, you can fire.

While this is correct form, sight alignment begins with your target, not your weapon. You should begin with your focus on what you want to hit until the firearm is level for the shot, and then you return your focus to the front sight. Maintain this focus through the shot and into the next for sustained accuracy.

Exercise Trigger Management

Experts agree that trigger management is the most important aspect of shooting a pistol. Other principles, like maintaining the proper grip and sight alignment, have their place — but without the correct operation of your firearm’s trigger, you won’t achieve consistent accuracy. Fortunately, it’s relatively straightforward.

Depending on your firearm, pull methods will vary. If you have a gun with light single-action triggers, you should operate it like a push button, using a sensitive press to control the trigger. Double-action triggers require a lot of your finger in the trigger for control, operated like a lever. Change your technique from gun to gun.

Though it might take time, you should also condition yourself to fire your weapon as soon as the sight picture is right. As you fire, try to maintain as much strength around your gun as possible. A tight hold with steady pressure will enhance your aim when using a handgun.

Follow Through and Remain Fluid

Your trigger finger should keep in contact with the trigger as you begin the reset cycle during recoil. Maintain the sight picture during recovery, and continue to fire until you’ve shot the target or incapacitated the aggressor. Only then should you lift your head, bring your firearm back close to your body and scan the area.

It’s essential to remember that wasted motion is dangerous for someone in a serious altercation. As you aim and discharge your firearm, don’t be aggressive, slap into your shooting stance or do anything that doesn’t add to your performance. It’ll only distract you from your goal and compromise your accuracy.

While this is simple enough to state, a high-pressure situation is often overwhelming for those who aren’t familiar with actual combat. Just slow down, keep a level head and remain fluid with your motions. Rushing to draw and aim your firearm is counter intuitive to landing a shot, so practice patience.

Work on Situational Awareness

After you fire the final round into your target, it’s common to stare. This tunnel vision is dangerous, as the aggressor you’ve incapacitated might have an accomplice in the area you weren’t unaware of. If your eyes are stuck on your previous target, this accomplice can take advantage and gain the upper hand.

As mentioned in the prior suggestion, you should continue to fire on the aggressor until they’re incapacitated, then lift your head and scan the area. It doesn’t help to keep your attention on the fallen target if you’re confident they’re unable to attack or return fire. You’re only placing yourself at greater risk.

On the subject of survivalist training for firefights, Chris Cerino of the Chris Cerino Training Group has practical advice for improving performance. To cut down on reload time, he suggests filled speed loaders or speed strips as ballast in the strong hand jacket pocket, allowing it to swing back, so it doesn’t impede your draw.

Take Private Training Courses

While it’s possible to improve your ability with a firearm by teaching yourself, it isn’t as effective as learning from an experienced instructor. You’ll lose much of the nuance of proper technique, and it’ll take longer to develop your skills. It’s far more beneficial to engage in individual firearm training courses.

Even if you have intermediate experience with firing your weapon, you might have formed habits that influence your ability on the range. These small, nearly imperceptible quirks have consequences for your progression, and you could find yourself unable to perform as well as other individuals.

A trained professional can find these flaws and correct them. They have the expertise to guide you forward and help you make progress if you’ve plateaued, moving past any imperfections you no longer notice. Whether you’re a beginner or not, private lessons are an excellent way to advance in your abilities.

Perfecting the Fundamentals

To improve your skills with your firearm, you have to focus on the basics. When you’ve perfected the fundamentals like grip, sight alignment, trigger management and follow through, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your accuracy. With patience and practice, improvement is possible.


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