Handgun Shooting Tips

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box

8350_Handgun_PictureFrom time to time I will take calls from shooters on our 800 line asking how they can become a better handgun shooter. These will always be shooters that have just gotten into shooting with a handgun for the first time. After three or four trips to the range, they are getting discouraged.

For most of us shooting a handgun is far more difficult than using a rifle. Holding a handgun with one or two hands is not very steady compared to a long gun. So how can we improve our accuracy with a handgun?

The first thing that any new shooter should consider would be grips. While many new handguns come with a good comfortable grip, they often times can be greatly improved with a set of custom grips that fit your hand better. And with so many after market grips available, it’s an easy matter to find one that fits your hand perfect.

Another thing to look at is the sights. Most of us can get by just fine with the factory sights that come on most handguns today. But for a lot of us, they could use some improvement. Again, we have so many after market sights available that it can be an easy matter to match up a set of custom sights that are far easier for our eyes to see and allow more precise sight alignment. After all, we can’t shoot any better than we can see.

The next thing I want to dwell upon is practice. Almost forty years ago, I decided to get more serious about shooting a handgun. Even though I had been shooting a pistol for several years, I had never gotten very serious about accuracy. I was getting a little discouraged, so one day I asked a good friend for some help. He had been a handgun shooter for many years as well as a former police officer from Chicago. His first words were “How much do you shoot?” I mentioned that I shot a lot. He repeated “How much do you shoot?” I told him that maybe every other weekend I would fire 50-100 rounds Naturally he laughed. John told me to start shooting 500-600 rounds EVERY weekend. Naturally this was mind boggling to me, but I decided to try it. John mentioned that it will come to you with enough practice. Every weekend I was firing 500-600 rounds and I kept this up for several months. John was right, it did come to me. I have more tips that I will share in a later blog article, but for now remember to practice, practice, practice.

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7 Responses to Handgun Shooting Tips

  1. al illig says:

    It is not that easy to find good grips or sights unless you are independently wealthy enough to try them all, including a gunsmith’s services to install those that are not a ‘bolt on’ part..Lucky you if your gunsmith is skilled enough to do the measurements and analysis of your shooting to recommend proper ones in the first place.


  2. Paul Box says:

    You don’t buy all of them, you handle them in the gunshops to get an idea of what feels better to you.


  3. Zbigniew says:

    The advice about practice will do far more good than changing grips, sights, trigger work, etc. With enough practice you’ll get used to the gun as it is.

    My advice is this: First, figure out what size of target you want to hit. Whatever that size may be, mark it on a piece of paper and then stand close enough to that target so that no outside factors (wind, trajectory, etc.) are a factor. In other words, point blank. Do not take a single step back until you get to the point that you can routinely put every bullet in the gun inside that target. When you can do that, and only when you can do that, take a few steps back and repeat the process.

    Do that over and over and over until you can’t, no matter how you try, put all the shots inside that target. Once that happens, you know your maximum range for hitting an ‘x’-sized target was the distance before this.

    If stationary target shooting is all you want to do, you’re there.

    But if defensive shooting is your goal, you are nowhere near finished. Wanting to learn to shoot a handgun well is usually driven by a desire to be able to defend oneself. There are two other elements of defensive shooting which come into play–speed and motion. An adversary will not let you take all day to shoot at him, nor will he stand still for you.

    Do the above exercise but now time it. Start close. Don’t empty the magazine; choose a number of shots, say three. See how fast you can put three shots in that target. Start CLOSE and start SLOW. Speed will come with practice. Hone this skill by backing up and repeating.

    A moving target is next. Most ranges have some set-up to where the shooter moves from one position to another, but the shooting is mostly at stationary targets. I won’t go into how I learned to hit moving targets because the safety police would have a fit. In many ways, it’s like shotgun shooting–you look at the target, not your sights. You’ll have to find a way to do this given your situation and many, many handgun shooters never get the opportunity to acquire this skill. Hopefully, your adversary will be one of them.


  4. David Ruppel says:

    I would tell a new shooter to Practice at home dry firing everyday for 5 to 10 mins. Your not wasting your ammo nor range time learning how to squeeze the trigger or focusing on the front sight. There is so much you can learn by dry firing. Then go out to the range and do the things you’ve learn from your dry firing sessions. To much ammo is wasted trying to learn to many things at once when your at the range. When you can learn them at home. You will become a better shooter with lots and lots of dry fire practice. Drawing from the holster. Practice reloading is drop your mag and put in another while dry firing.
    Sorry got carried away,


  5. Paul Box says:

    No worries Rupe about getting carried away. We all have need to turn the badger loose once in awhile.


  6. Pingback: Handgun Shooting Tips Part 2 | Sierra Bullets

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