HOW TO SHOOT A HANDGUN – WITH PRO SHOOTER ROB LEATHAM
TIP: TRIGGER PULL TECHNIQUE
“Pulling the trigger” is the action the operator performs to discharge a firearm. While very simple in concept, it creates problems for most shooters, even experienced ones.
Let me give you the basics first:
Hold the gun firmly with your proper grip
Align the sights on the target
Place the center of the first pad of your trigger finger on the trigger
Begin pressing the trigger rearward, smoothly, without moving anything else (or while moving everything else as little as possible)
Once you have created enough pressure on the trigger, it will move (sometimes imperceptibly) until the striker, firing pin or hammer in the gun is activated and starts the ignition process, firing the gun.
Several things happen in the gun to cause it to fire. The part you control is pulling the trigger. If done correctly, nothing moves, not your hands or the sight picture and the pistol fires a round exactly where you intended.
However, if you “jerk” or “flinch” before or at the instant you fire the gun, the shot will most probably head somewhere other than where intended.
In my experience, a good trigger pull is one of, if not the most important aspect of shooting well.
Serious shooters spend many, many hours perfecting their trigger pulling. Top marksmen can pull the trigger so well they never move the gun out of alignment.
New shooters have a tendency to pull the trigger in an abrupt manner that can move the gun quickly out of alignment and cause the shot to miss.
The old adage of “aim and squeeze the trigger slowly” is a perfect place to start for the new shooter.
TIP: SHOOTING STANCE:
To a great degree, how you stand may be dictated by your physical condition and surroundings. However there are a few key points you should try to address when developing your shooting stance.
We feel most comfortable when standing with equal weight on both feet and with our weight more on the heels than the balls of the feet. This is how our musculature is designed to hold our weight, with the joints more or less fully extended, or locked. This requires the least amount of muscle to keep us upright. However, this is NOT the optimal position for controlling and quickly shooting a hand gun.
Arms should be fully extended when possible, but not necessarily locked out. Shoulders should be relaxed, not up around your ears.
LEG AND FOOT POSITION:
Front-to-back: Strong-hand side leg is rearward of other leg about 12 – 18 inches . The amount varies depending on each shooters level of balance, weight and strength.
Side-to-side: Typically, a hip-width distance between each foot is comfortable and stable.
Knees can be bent or locked, although I usually bend mine a little.
Your torso should lean forward slightly with no more than a small amount of bending forward at the waist. NEVER bend backwards at waist, hip or shoulder area. Shoulders should always be forward of the hips.
Your weight needs to have a forward bias to counteract the kick of the gun. The idea is to get in a position that allows you to be active against the rearward force of the gun firing (recoil). This will enable you to control the gun properly and quickly return it from muzzle rise and recoil to the position back on target. The gun should never push you back so much that you become off-balance. If this happens, you need to move your balance and body position forward.
Hold the gun tightly – tighter than you might think. This is, in my experience, the most common problem with new shooters. Grip is covered in detail in a separate blog.
TIP: SIGHT ALIGNMENT
By definition, a sight is a device used to assist aligning or the aiming of firearms, and is typically composed of two components, front and rear aiming pieces that have to be lined up.
Very simply put, the sights indicate where the gun is pointed. They are what we use to aim the gun.
The sights are comprised of the little post on the front of the slide (front sight) and the notched blade (rear sight) on the rear of the slide. There are many different kinds of sights, but the iron sights on all Springfield Armory® pistols are “post and notch” and therefore align the same.
Sights come in several sizes, shapes and colors; Some are all black, others have fiber optic tubes, painted dots or even inserts that glow in the dark. Most shooters quickly begin to favor one type of sight over another and their gun choice may actually be determined based on the sights.
ALIGNING THE SIGHTS:
Properly aligning the sights on the target gives you the orientation or exact location / position the gun will shoot the bullet when fired. Many shooters refer to this a the “sight picture”.
So, how do you create the perfect sight picture?
Properly grip the gun and hold it at arms length.
Visually align the front sight post in the rear sight notch.
The top of the rear and front sights should be on the same plane or level.
The gap of light between the sides of the front sight and inside vertical edge of the rear notch should be equal.
Once you have aligned the sights with each other, place the sights on the target where you want the impact of the bullet to go. You are now ready to shoot!
ADJUSTING THE SIGHTS:
Our guns’ sights are typically regulated so the bullet will impact at the top of the front sight, with proper sight alignment. Many pistol models come with sights that can be adjusted to change the point of impact.