When you go to the range to practice, do you see how fast you can fire using the
target as a backdrop, or do you carefully place each shot, striving for a tight
group? To acquire the skills needed in a defensive situation you have to do a little
of both. The key in defensive shooting is not to see how accurately you can fire
a handgun, but how quickly you can fire it accurately. To develop effective defensive
skills, you should practice gun movement and quick firing while maintaining sight
alignment. Sound difficult? It is at first, but by rehearsing a few basic drills,
your skills will greatly improve.
The act of firing a rifle, pistol, shotgun or other firearm accurately is made up
of a combination of the following skills. Mastering these skills, and repeating
them as consistently as possible, each and every time you fire your gun, forms the
foundation of accurate shooting.
The attitude you take to the shooting range will largely be reflected in your shooting.
If you have convinced yourself, "I'll never be able to shoot any better than
I do right now", chances are you'll never get any better. However, if each
day you go to the shooting range, you say to yourself, "Today I'm going to
shoot more accurately and more consistently than I ever have before", pretty
soon you'll notice you're shooting more accurately and more consistently! Simply
put, the more positive your attitude is about shooting, the better your shooting
will become. Imagine yourself shooting nothing but bull's-eyes, and before you know
it, you will be doing just that.
Your equipment should be in good repair, functional and above all else, clean. Even
as you shoot, you should maintain a certain level of cleanliness. Don't be afraid
to clean the bore and chamber of your rifle or pistol after every couple of shoots
to maintain consistent functioning and accuracy. Firearm items, such as screws,
sights, scopes or rings should be tightly secured. Rifle and pistol barrels should
be free from obstructions and kept away from contact with other objects. Simply
resting the barrel of your rifle on a support (such as a universal bipod) can influence
the direction of your shot. Ammunition should be clean and undamaged. Whenever possible,
use high quality (match grade) ammunition. During any particular practice session,
you should try to use ammunition that is from the same manufacturer and of the same
type (i.e. bullet weight and design). Ammunition from the same box or closely produced
boxes is ideal. Always remember that consistency is the key to accurate shooting.
Whether you are firing a rifle or pistol, you'll want to maintain a body position
that affords you two things. First, and most importantly is comfort. Few can consistently
fire accurate shots while in a position that is uncomfortable. Second, is support.
Your position should allow your bones and muscles (i.e. your body) to provide proper
support for your weapon. If you are firing a pistol, this may be no more than holding
your arms out in front of you. While firing a rifle may involve the use of a bench
or other stationary supports. Don't be afraid to try different positions until you
hit on one (or more) that work well for you.
How you hold your rifle, pistol or shotgun can directly effect how accurately you
shoot. A grip that is too loose, will not afford the stability needed while firing
a high powered weapon, while a grip that is too tight, may tend to influence your
shoots or restrict an otherwise smooth trigger pull. An even, unhindered grip works
best. When firing a pistol, your free hand should support, not grip your firing
hand. For rifles, your free hand should steady or support the forearm or buttstock
of the weapon. Once you find a grip that works well, be consistent about it.
Controlling your breathing goes along way towards increasing your accuracy. The
act of breathing (inhaling and exhaling) actually moves your body enough to keep
you from getting a really steady sight picture. By momentarily holding your breath,
just before you take your final aim and squeeze the trigger, you'll remove that
extra shaking associated with breathing. However, don't make the mistake of holding
your breath too long, as oxygen deprivation can set in and introduce blurry vision
or additional body shaking. The best breathing method involves taking one or two
full breaths, then releasing the air and holding your breath momentarily as you
squeeze off a shot. You may find other methods also work well, don't be affair to
use the method that works best for you. But again, be consistent about it.
Pulling the trigger should be the only motion involved in firing your weapon, and
as such, it must be smooth and precise. Pulling the trigger should not effect (i.e.
move in any way) any part of the gun other than the trigger. Sloppy or inconsistent
trigger pull will cause more inaccuracy than any other aspect of shooting. When
pulling the trigger, you should use the tip of your finger (not the body of it)
because this is the most sensitive part available to you and pull the trigger straight
back. Pulling at an angle, even slightly, can change your point of aim prior to
firing. Dry firing (i.e. pulling the trigger without a live round in the chamber)
is beyond a doubt the best exercise for increasing your accuracy. Practice this
over and over, until you can squeeze the trigger without moving your gun at all.
Balancing a dim (or other small object) on the barrel as you dry fire will enhance
your ability to keep the weapon still while pulling the trigger. Note: the firing
pins on many weapons can be damaged by dry firing, contact your local gunsmith or
gun store for plastic dummy rounds that will protect the firing pin while dry firing
The instant the trigger is completely pulled, the hammer is released. The time between
the hammer being released and striking the firing pin (firing the chambered round)
is called lock time. Any movement, such as letting up on the trigger, relaxing your
grip or anticipating recoil, during this lock time, can greatly effect accuracy.
Some guns have quicker lock times than others, but regardless, you should concentrate
on following though with each and every shot you fire. No movement should occur
until well after the bullet penetrates its target. Only then should you let up on
the trigger, adjust your grip or change your sight picture.
The more consistent you are in your shooting, the more accurate you'll become. Without
a doubt, consistency is the key to accuracy. The closer you can come to providing
the exact same conditions for each shot, right down to the cleanliness and temperature
of your barrel, the more accurate your shooting will be. Become consistent and you'll
After you have become confident with your ability to fire a handgun safely, concentrate
on sight alignment. When you raise your gun to fire, the front sight should be centred
in the notch of the rear sight, and they should be even across the top. If your
sights use a three-dot system, the dots should be lined up evenly. You should see
the top half of the target through the sights. When firing at the target, the sights
should remain in focus and the target should be a blur. Aim for the "centre
of mass" and fire two shots, focusing on the front sight the entire time you
are shooting. The most common error a shooter makes is to lower the gun after each
shot to check the hits. This bad habit results in erratic or low shots. Keep your
eyes focused on the front sight as you recover from recoil. Do not be concerned
where your shots are landing at first, as long as you are hitting the target. After
you have finished the shot string, look at the target to evaluate your hits. It
your shots are falling within an eight-inch group at 15 yards, you are doing fine.