The struggle for handgun accuracy is real. For anyone who is committed to mastering firearms, the struggle to hone their accuracy seems to be a never-ending challenge. We can go down the rabbit hole a little deeper and talk about shooting specific guns and the challenges we face with those.
Of all of the firearms in our arsenal though, the handgun can be the most challenging to master. It is small with a short sight radius and generally has a trigger that requires more pressure than the gun weighs. Almost always found with “open sites,” it requires mastering many moving parts.
The handgun is also the most commonly found firearm in America and being such, is the center of countless discussions on how to improve accuracy. With so much to wade through, it is time to look at some simple tricks that anyone can do to improve their overall accuracy with a handgun. To make it easier to understand, I will break it into a few basic areas that melt together for accurate shots!
First up in our main trifecta of things to focus on, we have trigger control. We often hear this phrase used when discussions of accuracy arise. Few times however is it given sufficient attention. The truth is that pistols for the most part are accurate. It’s our manipulation of the firearm that interferes with its ultimate capability. Here are some solid trigger control drills to help you improve.
Brass on the Front Sight Drill
Always easier with the help of a partner, unload your pistol and remove the magazine if possible. Reset the action on your pistol and have your partner balance a piece of brass on the front sight. Now, execute a smooth, clean press of the trigger.
If you do this correctly, the front sight will not dip or move and the brass will stay in place. If the brass falls off, you are generally jerking the trigger and causing movement in the gun. That movement translates into missed shots. The key to keeping the brass steady is a smooth continuous trigger press with a clean “break” at the end. Be sure to also read Richard Johnson’s article on dryfire practice for additional tips.
Part two of our accuracy formula looks at follow-through. Follow through is the act of maintaining a steady platform to send follow-up shots on target. The challenge faced comes in the way of anticipation or flinch. Especially true with newer shooters, the anticipation of the next shot can cause a flinch response to the handgun firing. This causes muzzle dip and is never a help to accuracy.
Sight Picture and Alignment
The last part of our accuracy formula looks at sight picture and alignment. There are many theories and methods of shooting when it comes to the world of handgun sights.
At the most fundamental and reliable level though, we look to align the sights on target while intently focusing on the front sight. The rear sights should be slightly blurry, as will be the target. The front sight should be crystal clear.
The goal is always to bring these components together. Unless you are a static bull’s eye shooter, there will be many moving parts to making a shot. A drill designed to test your skill is the Ragged Hole Drill, a classic.
From six yards, you will slow fire five rounds into a single point on your target. Do your best to focus on a small portion of the target. Better yet, get a target that has one to two inch dots on it as focus points. Take your time and use the exact same point of aim each time. Do not chase your shots or try to make corrections. If you manage your trigger and sights well, you should end up with a single, ragged hole. If your shots are spread out, it is a sign that you need to polish up on one or more of the basics.
Shooting a handgun can be a frustrating challenge. One minute you are shooting bull’s eyes and the next you are off. As with all shooting, it always comes back to the fundamentals. By practicing these drills you can improve individual portions and ultimately bring them all together.
In the end, like all complex motor skills, shooting is a perishable skill. Practice must be ongoing, but the fruits of our labor will make it worth our time!
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