5 Reasons You're Bad With A Handgun

By author of Guns and Camo

Are These Problems? Fix Them As Soon As Possible

Correct mistakes before they become habits. (Laszlo66/ Shutterstock photo)

There are many things that can and will go wrong. Hopefully, none of these things are weaknesses you have on the range.

YOU'RE GRIPPING IT WRONG

A proper grip reduces recoil. Therefore, it’s more enjoyable to shoot. I'd wager at least 60 percent of shooters grip their guns incorrectly.

Start by gripping the gun in your dominant hand. Place your dominant hand as high on the grip as possible. This initial high grip prevents the gun from tipping in your hand during recoil. The top of the backstrap should nestle tightly against the webbing between your thumb and pointer finger.

The gun should be placed in your hand so that if you were to draw a line from the muzzle through the gun,then back to your hand, it should run down the centerline of your arm. This helps with dissipating recoil into your arms instead of into your hands and wrists.

There are two mistakes people make with their offhand. The first is "tea cupping." This is putting the other hand under the handle and gripping the end of the magazine. This may work for keeping the gun steady, but having two hands on the gun helps control recoil.

The other big no-no is painful. It’s the “funky thumb," like when you take your weak-hand thumb and cross it around the backside of your dominant hand. The problem with this grip is your thumb is in harm's way. And when they slide cycles, it cuts your thumb. I've seen cuts so bad that stitches were needed.

The proper way to get your other hand on the gun is simple. It might seem weird at first, but with time, it will become repeatable and comfortable.

Extend your weak hand out like you're going to shake someone's hand. Rotate your wrist downward until your thumb is pointing straight at the target. Moving your thumb on your dominant hand up and off the gun creates an opening on the grip. This opening is to place your thumb pad against the grip. Your weak-hand thumb should run parallel with the slide and extend so it ends up above the trigger on the frame. Having your weak-hand wrist rotated downward locks the wrist and prevents your wrist from breaking during recoil.

YOU'RE OVER GUNNED

Someone said you need a bigger caliber to stop a bad guy. Or someone told you at least a .44 magnum is needed to kill a deer. And you believed them.

So you went out and bought a big-caliber handgun that punishes you every time you pull the trigger. You don't enjoy shooting it, so you stop training and rely on the fact that it's a big, mean gun, and it's only going to take one shot to get the job done. To believe that is living in a fantasy world.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Get a caliber you can confidently and accurately shoot. You're better off placing shots on target with a weaker gun than completely missing with one that has more power.

SIGHT ALIGNMENT AND SIGHT PICTURE

These are two different things. Sight alignment is how the sights get aligned for accuracy. Sight picture is how the aligned sights are placed on the target for an accurate shot.

Properly aligning your sights on a standard handgun is simple. But it does take practice to do it quickly and proficiently. Standard handgun sights have a front post that's flat on the top. It's also going to have some sort of rear notch that is also flat at the top.

To properly align the sights: Place the front post in the middle of the rear notch. Make sure that it's dead center in the rear notch. Make the top of the front post even with the top of the rear notch. The mistake I see people make is placing the front post too high in the rear notch. This causes them to shoot over the top of the target.

Now that you have the sights properly aligned; how do you hit the bullseye? I like setting up my guns so the impact of the bullet hits at the very tip of the front post. That way I have a point of aim and point of impact that is fixed to the gun. There's no guessing how low or how high to hold on the target. Align the sights and put the front post where you want the bullet to hit.

YOU'RE NOT IN SHAPE

Now I know what you're thinking: This dude wants me to start working out to be a better shot? Not exactly. Human beings were not designed to hold objects with arms stretched out in front of them for long periods of time.

The muscles that we use when shooting a handgun do not get used often throughout our everyday life. So when you pick up the handgun to start shooting, your arms may be wobbly.

What do you do to remedy this? Shoot. And shoot often.

Whenever you shoot or dry fire your gun, you make your shooting muscles stronger.

This is going to help you steady up and limit the wobble factor that you would have with weak and untrained arms. You'll be able to shoot longer and stay steadier throughout your range session.

YOU'RE A FLINCHER

You have the right grip. You have a gun that you can control. You align the sights onto the target and you…flinch.

Flinching with a handgun is the biggest problem when it comes to handgun accuracy. As soon as someone places a finger on the trigger, there is an innate urge to jerk at it. People do this because the gun is going to recoil, and they want it to happen on their terms so that the recoil is predictable and controllable.

But what happens when you anticipate recoil? You push. And when you push your arms out against the recoil, your muzzle dips down, causing your shots to hit low on the target. How do you cure this? Dry-fire practice.

Get use to squeezing your trigger without live ammunition. By doing this, you'll concentrate on minimizing the movement of the gun without the gun recoiling. Watch for movement and dipping your muzzle. Dry fire over and over again until you've eliminated all movement.

The next time you're at the range, tell yourself to squeeze the trigger and let the gun recoil into you. When you start throwing shots low again, unload the gun and do more dry fires.

Put these tips together, and you'll gain the accuracy you need to make shooting your handgun more enjoyable.