We have all been there; the exciting first pistol purchase! Now you are looking to learn to shoot effectively. This guide isn’t here to make you a professional. It is simply teaching you fundamentals on shooting with your pistol effectively.

There are some basic things you need to pay attention to if you want to learn how to shoot a pistol better.


7 Pistol Shooting Fundamentals

Before we dive in, please remember to always practice safety when shooting. It is remarkable how many negligent discharges and accidents happen to shooters.


Pistol Stance

Pistol stance aim Standing Pistol Stance

By looking at someone’s stance, you can easily tell they either have or haven’t shot before. So many things will go wrong when you are not able to produce a decent stance. The stance provides the necessary support and platform for a perfect aim which is a very key ingredient in shooting. A good stance will ensure that you will have a good grip controlling the recoil. Beyond that, a proper stance will also guarantee you ease in motion and let you pull out your weapon within the twinkle of an eye. Don’t believe me? Take a look at shooting sports competitions and watch their pistol shooting stances.

To have a proper stance, below are some important tips:

  • You should be comfortable while holding the pistol
  • Your head should stay erect and still with your chin pointing at the target.
  • Your shoulders should be square to the target and your arm fully extended.
  • Your ears should be in front of your shoulders while your shoulders should be positioned in front of the hips.
  • Your back should be straight or lean slightly forward.
  • You should rest your weight slightly forward on the balls of your feet with your knee slightly bent.



Pistol Grip Form

 It is not possible to control recoil and muzzle flip without a firm grip. However, it is important to know that a good grip is not all about its firmness, there are other important techniques the shooter also must have at his or her disposal. Flexibility such that the hands have a 360-degree grip around the weapon is very key. This ensures that the shooter will be able to engage more rapidly.

  • Another important technique in gripping a pistol is the way the hand is placed while holding the weapon. A good grip is such that the hand will be placed in a manner in which a straight line becomes formed between the pistol of the gun and the fore arm.
  • It is important that the pistol is held in such a way that the grip is so firm that it causes the shaking of the hands initially. The shaking will gradually reduce when the firmness of the grip is fairly reduced.


Alignment Of Sight

Pistol proper sight alignment

This involves maintaining a perfect connection between the eyes of the shooter, the back sight aperture as well as the front sight. If the shooter is ever going to have any chance to hit the center of the target, he or she must be able to aim the pistol and offer a specific direction relative to the target to the gun.

  • Eye line up with front and rear sights
  • Top of front sight should be centered vertically using the notch of rear sight. This means you should see an equal amount of space between both sides of the front sight post.
  • Typically, people are trained to shoot with both eyes opened. Due to medical reasons or physical limitations, shooting with one eye closed (least dominant eye closed) would work for some people. You have to be the best judge.


Pistol Sight Picture

pistol sight picture

Photo Credit: James J. Rowley Training Center

When you are learning how to shoot a pistol, properly aligning your sights and the sight picture are the keys to effictively aiming and hitting your targets. Very easy to say, harder to do especially if you have time constraints or moving targets.  This involves placing the sights on the target while ensuring that a proper sight alignment is maintained is what is referred to as sight picture. The connection between the target, the front and back sights and the eye explains the concept of sight picture. The front sight is very vital when it comes to having a sharp sight picture.

  • After aligning your sights, you should focus on the front sight post for best accuracy. The target and rear sights should appear blurry because it isn’t humanly possible to focus on all three elements.
  • Some shooters focus on the target and also achieve success. Upon doing this, the gun muzzle slighly highers during the shot which may cause the bullets to hit slightly higher than bullseye.


Pistol Trigger Control

pistol trigger control

People who have not handled a pistol before often think pulling the trigger is the simplest part of shooting with a pistol, which is not necessarily the case. For example, not just any finger should be used in pulling the trigger. Such fine details like this separates a professional from an amateur over time.

  • The index finger is the finger to be used.
  • Do not the absolute tip of the index finger, the second pad, or crease between pads. The tip, second pad, or the crease between pads can cause a pull in shots left or right.
  • Some suggestions are to use the second pad with a heavy trigger pull.
  • Again, you can’t just read this article and figure out what works best for you! Need to take these tips to the range.


Breath control

Pistol breath control

A lot of people often take this for granted. However, you need to know that your breathing is a very important factor in determining whether you will hit the target or not. You can have the best sight picture, sight alignment, good grip and an awesome stance; without a proper breath control technique, you won’t come off with a good shot.

Below are things you can do in order to have a good breath control while shooting:

  • Avoid holding your breath while shooting.
  • Avoid shooting in tandem with your default respiratory pause.
  • It is better you go for a “half-breath”, inhale, allow some air out, and then shoot.


Follow Through

Pistol Follow-Through

The last but also very important skill on how to shoot a pistol better is the follow through. Once you have done this, the whole process of shooting begins all over again. Follow through involves the requisite stable and persistent force applied to the trigger till it gets to the point where it cannot be moved backward again while maintaining your platform and grip. This ensures that there won’t be unwanted movement of the gun till the target has been hit.


Final Thoughts

Becoming a professional in shooting a pistol is not a skill that is only for some selected few, it is obtainable once you have the attitude to learn and you put to practice what you have learnt. Hence, it is not good enough to just read this article, ensure that you put to practice what you have learnt from this article. This article can only guide you on how to shoot a pistol accurately. You cannot become effective by just gathering knowledge, you become effective by making use of the knowledge you have gathered. See you on the shooting range!