How to Shoot a Handgun for Dummies

hand gun

Dumb people should not shoot guns. And chances are, you are not that dumb at all. But this guide should give beginners the information they need to reliably shoot a handgun for the first time, whether at the practice range or in a real-life survival situation.

The first thing that should be noted, however, is safety. Guns are powerful tools, and need to be treated with the utmost respect. While this post will not cover safety information in detail, you need to be familiar with all the basic functions of your firearm and need to FOLLOW SAFETY RULES AT ALL TIMES.

Getting a grip

The first step to reliable shooting is to get a good grip on your firearm. Form a “V” with your dominant shooting hand, and using your non-shooting hand, place the pistol so your hand is as high as possible on the back-strap portion of the frame. Align your forearm and wrist in as straight a line as possible, and keep your index finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to fire. If shooting with two hands, cup your non-shooting hand under the other, folding your thumb down to ensure it is not hit by the slide when you fire. If you use this same grip everytime you shoot, you are well on your way to hitting the target.

Settling on sighting

You must sight your target with one eye only, and most shooters close the other. To find your dominant eye, extend both of your arms in front of you, placing your hands together so they form a small triangle.

With both eyes open, find a distant object to look at. Then, continue to look at that object while you draw your hands closer to your face. Do this until your hands touch your face, and the opening will be over just one eye. This is your dominant eye. Use this for sighting your target.

Setting your sights

Once you know your dominant eye, it is time to get your appropriate sight picture. Hold your firearm with the proper grip, and extend your arms in front of you until the gun’s sights come into view. Do not crouch or tilt your head to see them. You will see two rear sights and one front sight.

Focus on the front one, let the rear sights become slightly blurry, and the target should look almost completely blurry. Align the sights so the front sight is centered in the space created by the two rear sights, and put your front sight on target. This is proper sight alignment, the key to accurate shooting.


Control your breathing

Each time you breath, no matter how controlled you are, your sights will move. You must hold your breath when you are firing. However, you don’t want to turn blue, so a relaxed breathing pattern with appropriately-timed firing is ideal. While finding a breathing rhythm is an individual thing, a good place to start is to take a breath, let out about half the air, hold your remaining breath and fire, then let the rest out and take another. If you become short of breath and your muscles start to shake, take some time to relax and start again.

Squeeze the trigger

While most people say they will ‘pull’ the trigger, this is a misnomer. Pulling back on the trigger will cause the gun to jerk when you fire it, resulting in an inaccurate shot. For the best possible accuracy, place your index finger on the trigger so that the trigger is about halfway between the first knuckle and and tip of your finger. Squeeze the trigger straight back in a slow, continuous motion without any tensing or anticipation of actually firing. If you do this right, each shot will come as a surprise.

Follow Through

As in all sports, follow though is an important part of accurate shooting. Do not jerk the gun as soon as it fires. Let it recoil in your hand, keeping a relaxed posture, and let it set itself back on the target. This ensures that your shot is as accurate as possible and that you are in the proper position to fire accurately again.

If you follow these easy steps, you should fire reliably and accurate down range. Being a good shot — which takes some practice — is a rewarding skill and a valuable tool in a survival situation. Happy shooting!

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