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The Top Fundamentals of Handgun Shooting

August 19, 2021 3 min read

Every gun owner's top goal should be to learn and master the fundamentals. By focusing on the fundamentals right away, you can create a baseline set of skills and a solid foundation to work from when you move on to advanced types of shooting.

Which fundamentals do you need to work on first? Here's our list of three handgun fundamentals you should master right away.

What's a Shooting Fundamental?

In the shooting world, you'll hear the term "fundamentals" thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Shooting fundamentals are the basic, practical skills you need to master your shooting. You may also see handgun fundamentals referred to as pistol marksmanship, which is a similar term for the same concept.

Once you have the fundamentals down, it's easer to learn more advanced skills like drawing from concealment or reloading quickly during competitions.

Fundamental 1: Stance

Perfecting your stance is important for creating a solid shooting foundation and for shooting accurately. In a proper stance, your feet will be about shoulder-width apart, your knees will be just slightly bent, and your weight will be over the balls of your feet. When you're pulling the trigger, your arms should be close to straight out, but not locked. Since everyone's body is different, you'll need to adjust your stance to find out what works best for you within those parameters.

Fundamental 2: Grip

A good grip helps you shoot accurately, while a poor one can prevent accuracy even if you are doing everything else right. It will not only allow your gun to perform reliably, it gives you control over your shot and is essential for managing recoil. A good shooting grip will be loose enough that your knuckles aren't turning white (that's called overgripping) but strong enough to place your shots accurately. When you have a good grip on the gun, your sights will return to the about the same place in between shots.

To get the right grip, starting with your strong hand (gun hand), put your hand on the backstrap or beavertail as high as possible without interfering with the slide to avoid slide bite. Next, bring your support hand up to the gun, making sure the top of your hand is all the way up against the trigger guard. Once both hands are on the gun, check to make sure that you are gripping tightly and getting as much purchase as possible on the gun — look for any gaps and close them by making small adjustments to your hand placement or by gripping the gun a little tighter.

Fundamental 3: Trigger Control

Proper trigger control means you are able to fire your gun without disturbing your sight alignment. It may seem like an easy part of shooting, but it takes a lot of practice to master. A poor trigger pull will pull your shot off target, so it's a critical fundamental to learn right after you buy a gun.

Proper trigger control starts with where you put your finger on the trigger — make sure you don't have your finger in the trigger too far or not enough. The middle part of the pad of your finger is usually the sweet spot. When you pull the trigger, make sure you're pulling it straight back toward you and following all the way through to the end of the pull. This will avoid "jerking the trigger", which is when you end up pulling the trigger to one side and causes poor shot placement.

Improving your shooting skills takes time and patience. It won't happen overnight, but if you practice the fundamentals regularly, you will improve your shooting over time.


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