Admit it, we all could use a better shooting stance.
When you first shoot a handgun, it can be difficult to separate proper shooting technique from all of the wildly inaccurate shooting stances and careless gunslingers that you’ve been watching in movies and on TV for years.
It’s easy to be tempted to start shooting in a style you assume works great, with little regard for the finer details of how to manage, aim, and fire a gun. However, if you are going to ever shoot accurately or safely, you are going to have to master a proper shooting stance, and the 10 tips we have compiled here are meant to help you do just that.
View the slideshow to see the tips, and add more of your own in the comments.
1. Choose the right gun
Many first-time pistol shooters fail to realize that it is easier to learn how to shoot with some handguns than with others. Just as fancy sports cars should be reserved for someone who has been driving for a while, the biggest, best, sleekest, most powerful handguns are firearms that you should stay away from until you have some shooting experience under your belt. Start with a lighter-weight and more manageable weapon, preferably one that fires lower caliber ammunition and kicks less when it comes to recoil.
2. Grip the gun in your dominant hand
Once you’ve chosen the right handgun, the first step to actually developing a good shooting stance is to grasp the weapon in your dominant hand (or the hand you use to write, pick up objects, and other no thinking required activities). The act of simply learning how to hold the gun and getting an idea for how it feels in your hand may seem basic, but it’s pivotal to the rest of the process.
Try handling an unloaded gun to start, and grip it as tightly as you can. A grip that results in a shaking hand will feel completely wrong, but it’s actually not far off. Relax your grip a bit to stop the shaking, but keep a tight hold on the gun. Once you’ve found this gripping sweet spot – between a shaking hand and a loose, lax hold – memorize the feeling. It’s this grip feeling that will give you control of your weapon when you are aiming and shooting.
3. Steady the gun with your non-dominant hand
Speaking of control, once you’ve established a grip with your dominant hand, it’s time to add your non-dominant hand into the equation. Your non-dominant hand will never be used to grip the gun itself or to pull the trigger, but it will help you to cradle and stabilize the weapon, as well as to establish a more accurate shooting stance.
In some movies, you will see shooters cradling their gun by placing the butt of the pistol in the palm of their non-dominant hand. This is incorrect. You want to wrap both of your hands around the gun and have your corresponding fingers on each hand more or less at the same level. It is especially important for your thumbs to be at symmetrical positions on both sides of the gun, as this will help you to improve your accuracy.
4. Get your feet right
Now that you have the actual “holding the gun” steps down, it’s time to start getting comfortable with the stance of the rest of your body. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, but not at even footing. Instead, the foot opposite from your dominant hand (e.g., the left foot for a right-handed person) should be slightly ahead of the other. Adopt this pose, then add a slight lean forward, like you are about to take off running. Finally, stretch out your arms in front of you with your pistol in hand.
Your dominant arm should be almost entirely outstretched, with the elbow of the non-dominant arm bent slightly. This stance will give your body maximum grounding for when you are aiming your gun.
5. Establish your dominant eye
In order to get the most out of your aiming, you are going to have to know whether your left or right eye is your dominant eye. If you’ve been hunting for awhile and are just moving into the handgun shooting realm, then chances are that you already know about eye dominance. However, if you need to establish eye dominance, click here for directions on a simple exercise that you can use to do so.
6. Line up the front and rear sights
Closing your non-dominant eye, try to line up the front and rear sights of your handgun. The sights should be leveled both horizontally (the rear sight should look like it is centered on the front sight) and vertically (the top of both sights should be at an even level) to ensure the most balanced and accurate shooting stance possible.
7. Focus on the front sight while aiming your gun
While the sights should be balanced, you can hardly focus on both of them when you are actually aiming the gun. So what should your eyes be focusing on? The front sight? The rear sight? The target itself?
Most shooting enthusiasts say that the front sight is the most important aspect of a shot to consider when aiming, so focus on the front sight and let both the rear sight and the target itself blur a bit. Keeping your non-dominant eye closed, aim the gun at the target, lining the front sight up with a spot just below your target.
For instance, if you are shooting at a bullseye, line the front sight up with the bottom edge or outline of the bullseye. You may feel like you are aiming the gun too low, but as long as you’ve kept everything balanced with your shooting stance, you should be right on the money.
8. Watch your breath
A misplaced breath can easily throw your entire shooting stance out of whack, so take a moment to think about how you are breathing when aiming a gun. Remember that every centimeter counts with your stance. Try to keep even, measured breaths going as you set up your stance and aim your gun. Finally, when you are ready to fire your gun, exhale, then squeeze the trigger. This pattern should minimize the impact that your breathing has on your shot, resulting in the highest level of accuracy.
9. Follow through with the recoil of your weapon
Finally, follow through with the kick that the gun gives you by holding onto your stance without becoming overly rigid or stiff. The gun is naturally going to have recoil and will push backwards, causing the pistol to take an upward motion.
As long as you hold onto your stance and control the kick with a follow through, you should have no problem re-establishing your stance for another shot.