Ignore what Hollywood says. Shooting a handgun isn’t all dramatic flair and style. Knowing how to shoot a handgun takes knowledge, practice, and technique.
There are an estimated 430 fatalities a year in the USA from unintentional gun deaths. Good knowledge of handling guns and gun safety can help prevent avoidable deaths and injuries.
That’s why we’re giving you a step-by-step guide on how to shoot a handgun the right way.
Choosing the Right Gun
Knowing how to shoot a handgun correctly starts with choosing the right handgun for your needs. There’s a vast amount of handgun varieties and ammunition options for you to choose from.
You must consider your hand size and body weight when choosing a handgun, as well as the purpose you need it for. For most beginners, the best choice is a smaller-caliber gun from a reliable brand such as Coonan. You can discover more online or by speaking to your local gun merchant.
You’ll also need the right safety equipment. If you’re going to the shooting range, this will be provided for you. If you’re lucky enough to be able to safely practice on your own property, you’ll need ear protection and safety goggles.
Your ear protection can be earplugs or headphone-style protectors and should muffle the noise from the gunshots. Safety goggles protect your vision from hot gasses, lead particles, and flying shells.
Part of knowing how to handle a handgun is knowing how to do so safely. Always keep your gun pointed down range and never point it towards people. In fact, never treat your gun like a toy in general — it isn’t.
No matter how sure you are that your gun isn’t loaded, always double-check. This means any time you pick up your handgun. You should check to see if it’s loaded.
Around 17% of unintentional gun fatalities a year are because those involved thought the gun was unloaded. So the importance of this step cannot be overstated.
Keep your gun on-safe until you’re ready to fire. Similarly, keep your finger off the trigger until you are in a position to shoot.
You should also be aware of what’s beyond your target. At a shooting range, this is less of a consideration. But if you’re practicing at a home shooting range, you need to be aware of any goings-on beyond your target to avoid unintentional injuries.
How to Shoot a Handgun in Five Steps
There are five simple steps you should follow before firing your handgun. These are:
- Front sight
We’ll dive into them more in-depth below.
Your stance is an important part of shooting. Even experienced gun enthusiasts can get this part wrong.
You shouldn’t stand edgeways. If you’ve got one heel ahead of the other, your lateral balance will be thrown off. This means your shot will stray sideways.
You also shouldn’t be squared off parallel to your target, like in the classic police academy position. In this stance, your body will have poor front-to-back balance. This means your shot will tend to go low or high.
Your shooting stance should be akin to a fighter’s or boxer’s stance. If you’re shooting two-handed (which you should be!), your hips should be at a 45-degree angle with your left leg forward and right leg back. Or the opposite way round if you’re left-handed.
This stance will balance you, both left to right and forward to back. It should improve your accuracy shooting.
If you’re shooting in rapid succession, put your shoulders forward. This helps control recoil by putting your body weight behind the gun.
A high hand grasp is the best approach for shooting a handgun. For a double-action revolver, the web of your hand should be up to the rear edge of the backstrap. For a single-action revolver, you’ll want a similarly high hand grasp.
For a semiautomatic pistol, the web of your hand should be high enough that you see a ripple of skin behind the top edge of the backstrap.
In general, the higher the hand grasp, the better control you have. This means less movement upon recoil and better aim.
It used to be taught that you should hold a gun like you’d hold a live bird. Firm enough that it couldn’t get away, but not so much that you hurt it.
But guns have amped up in power since those times. The reality is, the harder your grip, the less kick, and jump. So the better and safer shot you’ll have.
All this is to say, hold your handgun with a firm, hard grip. The harder, the better.
For most handguns, the front sight is centered in the notch of the rear sight. The way human’s eyes work means you won’t be able to focus on the rear sight, front sight, and target all at once.
Which is fine because your primary focus should be on the front sight once you’ve identified your target. Focusing on your front sight solely should improve your aim and accuracy considerably.
With the last four steps covered, you might think it’s as simple as pulling the trigger. But this is not the case.
You need to pull the trigger in a way that doesn’t pull the muzzle of your handgun off the target. You can achieve this with a smooth, even, and uninterrupted pull.
One of the best ways to practice this motion is to use dry-fire. By this we mean, practicing the motion while your handgun is empty. You’ll get used to when the “click” of the trigger pull will come, and it won’t surprise you when you fire an actual round.
Practice Makes Perfect
While our safety tips and steps will help, most of knowing how to shoot a handgun comes with experience. So get down the shooting range and get practicing.
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