Correcting handgun shooting problems

It’s not hard to shoot a handgun, but it isn’t easy to shoot a handgun well and consistently. I’ve spoken with numerous people that can get shots on paper, but not always where they wanted the shots to go. The nice thing is that, depending where those shots are landing, you use that to diagnose what the problem likely is.

The June 2009 Rangemaster newsletter has a helpful article on this very topic.

Another useful help is this “sportshooter.com” correctional target. ¬†Aim for the center with each and every shot and see where your holes end up. Depending which section of the target the holes end up in you can use that as a tool to diagnose your problem. It is made for right-handed shooters (left-handers just flip it over). But I hacked up a version for the lefties! Choose accordingly.

Correction Target for Left-Handed Shooters
Correction Target for Right-Handed Shooters

Updated: Based upon a comment I received I went Googling for an answer. You can see the target (which, by the way, I didn’t create) lists that it’s based upon the US Army Marksmanship Unit Pistol Training Guide. You can find a copy of this guide at The Encyclopedia of Bullseye Pistol.

Updated 2: I realized that just saying “flip it over” wasn’t ideal. Sure you could if the paper you printed it on was thin enough but still, not ideal. So, I took a few minutes in GraphicConverter and made an inverted version just for you lefties!

Updated 3: While the above targets are nice because they tell you WHAT you are doing wrong, they don’t tell you HOW you can correct it. Click here for a brief article with some HOWTO’s for correcting the above problems.

Updated 4: Here’s perhaps a better (or at least more humorous, and¬†arguably more accurate) chart. :-)

35 thoughts on “Correcting handgun shooting problems”

  1. Right-handers tend to pull the gun to the right. Lefties tend to pull the gun to the left.
    Inexperienced handgun shooters tend to squeeze the trigger with the first finger knuckle.
    Proper technique, especially for beginners, is to pull straight back with the pad of the first segment of the trigger finger.
    Flinch occurs BEFORE the gun fires. Flinch is not a reflex in response to the recoil and muzzle blast. By the time the body can react to recoil and blast, the bullet has already hit the target on a pistol range.
    Flinch is in anticipation of recoil and blast. It causes the gun to move off the aiming point BEFORE the hammer drops and the cartridge discharges.
    You can see this if you will load every other chamber of a revolver cylinder, then set the cylinder so that the hammer drops first on an empty chamber or containing a fired casing. You can see the flinch move the gun off aim just before the hammer drops.
    Always wear earplugs and hearing protector muffs. Some have valves that allow ordinary sound through but blast closes the valves before the sound can go through to the eardrums. Electronic muffs allow ordinary sound through but instantly turn the volume way down when blast is detected. The .22RF is the worst offender as people do not realize that its relatively low volume is composed of a very high peak dB pulse that is very damaging to the ears. Large bore pistols make such a loud noise that shooters more readily take protective measures.
    Shooting glasses are also important, for unburned powder flakes commonly fly clear around the gun and back into the shooter’s eyes.
    I have been at a shooting range where another shooter was firing a full power .357. The muzzle blast was coming around two unoccupied shooting position partitions and powder flakes were peppering my face. My .44 Special was not as bad but he said that he was being hit by its flakes.
    When some idiot brought a centerfire rifle in, I left. Only .22RF is supposed to be fired on a 50′ pistol range. The range owners did no supervision.

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