Basic Pistol Marksmanship

With violent crime back on the rise, terrorism, and an increasing trend of lawlessness, it’s no wonder that first-time gun ownership is on the rise in America.  Many people who had previously never considered owning a firearm are now looking to be caring a handgun for personal protection.  But carrying it is not going to be enough if you are put in the position where your life is threatened.  You need to know how to use your weapon, and use it safely and effectively.  This is a list of basic pistol marksmanship concepts and techniques, but it is not a replacement for training.



The stance you take when firing your pistol will affect your ability to handle recoil and address multiple targets.  First make sure that your feet are square to your first target, about shoulder width apart.  This will provide you with a stable platform for your initial shots and give you that ability to quickly address any further targets that are on the peripherals much easier than the “weaver stance”, which will greatly limit your ability to engage targets on your weak side.  Next, make sure that your knees are comfortably bent but not exaggerated.  Third place your shoulders in front of your hips.  In this position, all that is necessary is to bring the pistol up in front of your dominant eye and take aim.  Do not bring your head to the gun, but the gun to your eye level.


Taking a proper grip on the pistol will not only allow you to place your first shot on target, but will also allow you to mitigate the effects of the recoil and bring your sights back on target for your following shots.  First, make sure the web of your strong hand is as high on the grip as possible.  Second ensure that you can wrap your fingers around the grip, and that your trigger finger can wrap around the trigger so that the last 1/3 of your finger is past the trigger.  Third, overlap your weak and on your strong hand and point both of your thumbs forward, keeping them out of the way of the slide (on semi-automatics).  Finally, make sure that the pistol is aligned with your hand, forearm, and shoulder, to provide skeletal support instead of muscular support.  This will give you better control of the recoil and more repeatability in your shot.

Sight Picture

When aiming your pistol be sure to look across the sights, not down on the sights.  The front sight sight_picture_showing_correct_sight_alignmentshould be centered between the rear sights, and the center of the front sight should be both laterally, and vertically centered on the target.  When sighting in, your eyes should be focused on the front sight so that both the target and the rear sights become blurred prior to squeezing the trigger.  Realize that not even competition shooters can maintain perfect center continually, there will always be some wobble.  Realizing this and relaxing while breathing out and squeezing, not pulling, the trigger will give a tighter group to your shots.


If you are having issues with putting shots on target while on the range it is because you are not applying one of these basics.  Before you can work on any advanced techniques, you need to master the basics.

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