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3 Fundamentals of Handgun Marksmanship


With a strong foundation, a house will stand the test of time.

Just as a foundation is the basis of a house, the fundamentals are the basis of training.

Whether it's shooting, learning to drive a car or trying to play an instrument, without a strong understanding and execution of the fundamentals, any learning from there forward would be wasted. Just like in a house, if you have a weak foundation, the rest of the house will crumble, no matter how strong you build the house.

Learning and mastering the fundamentals are two different things. I can learn about and try the fundamentals out, but I need to practice them over and over and over again to get them ingrained into my memory so thye come to me naturally when I go to shoot.

No matter how many training classes you have taken, or no matter how often you instruct people yourself, we all need to take some time to go back and practice the fundamentals. As we learn new techniques, we need to practice those alongside with the fundamentals to integrate them into our knowledge database.


Let's take a look at the three fundamentals of shooting below.


To build our solid foundation, we need to make sure we have a solid and steady stance. This includes a solid footing, proper balance, good breath control, and a proper grip.

No matter which fighting stance you prefer to use (Weaver, Icoseles, Center Axis Relock), proper foot placement will give you a balanced stance to help make sure you don't fall over. Lean over your knees and have your feet shoulder width apart.

Good breath control goes along with stance and will allow you to make an accurate shot. As we breath our bodies move slightly, and by timing our breathing and shooting at the natural respiratory pause, our shots will be more accurate and controlled.

Maintaining a proper grip on the gun not only allows for safe usage of the gun, but also helps in determining the direction of the bullet as it leaves the muzzle. If you have a sloppy grip your shots will be inaccurate, your gun could malfunction or you can lose control and drop the firearm, creating a very unsafe situation.

Using the proper grip for the firearm is important to keep you from getting hurt, simple as that.

Sight Alignment

The next part of our solid foundation is proper sight alignment. The way we guide where the bullet will go is by using the sights. These will allow us to make sure the gun is in proper alignment from the back to the front.

Any small variation of the sights being off will lead to a big miss at the target. A lot of marksmanship problems can be fixed by aligning the sights properly. Shooting too far left. Bring the front sight farther right in the rear sight. To far right, come back to the left.

Proper eye focus on the target and the front sight is important as well. Make sure you are looking at the first sight as opposed to the target.

Practicing sight alignment will improve accuracy over all. There are many dry fire drills that will help you work on sight alignment.


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Trigger Control

The last part of our solid foundation is trigger control. We need to make sure we are pressing the trigger directly towards the rear and not jerking it or slapping it or pulling it or any other variety of things that can make the shot go the wrong direction.

The amount of finger on the trigger is important here as well. If we have too little we can pull the gun off target. If there is too much, it can push the gun off. We only need the first pad of the finger on the trigger.

Again, there are many dry fire drills that will help you to see how trigger control is important to keeping the shot on target.

As you can see, there are many things we need to practice to make sure our fundamentals are rock solid. Taking time at least once a month to practice them will help your foundations stay strong and keep your training on solid ground.

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3 Fundamentals of Handgun Marksmanship