The Basics of Pistol Shooting

There are many factors involved in producing a good shot. The following tips are very basic, and provided to get you on the right track.

Which is you best eye for shooting?  Which is your dominant eye? Close your eyes and point at something, anything. Open your eyes and see what you are pointing at. Keep pointing and close one eye and then the other. One eye will be your dominant eye and still pointing at the object. The other will be off a bit. Not all right handed people are right-eye dominant, many are left-eye dominant. The thing is, with this information you can setup for using the correct eye – including shooting glasses.



  1. Pick up the gun by the barrel with your non-shooting hand and fit it into the shooting hand.
  2. Spread the hand and push the “V”, between thumb and forefinger, as high as possible into the back of the grip.
  3. The fingers between the first and second joints should be along the front of the grip. Thumb and finger tips relaxed.
  4. Trigger finger should be clear of the grip as much as possible.
  5. The trigger should be pulled straight back, with the pressure on the first half of the pad of the finger.
  6. Ideally the gun should be gripped the same way every time; this may require modification to the shape of the grip to get consistency.


  1. The feet should be shoulder width apart and parallel to each other.
  2. Your weight, with the pistol, should be evenly distributed on both feet.
  3. Stand erect, but relaxed, to avoid any body strain.
  4. Stance should be straight with the head held upright.
  5. The elbow and wrist of the shooting arm should be straight.
  6. The non-shooting hand should be anchored either in a pocket or belt at the front to stop any possible movement.
  7. Eyes in line with the sights.
  8. To adjust alignment with the target move the entire body from the feet up. Don’t twist the body or move your arm only.


  1. The front sight must be clearly visible.
  2. There should be sufficient light visible either side of the front sight – the idea is to keep he light on either side the same width.
  3. The top of the front sight should align with the top of the rear sight (see picture)
  4. Hold your aim in the white area below the black.
  5. Focus on the front sight only! You won’t be able to see the target in clear focus if you concentrate on the front sight but that is what you must do – concentrate on the front sight.


As the firearm is lifted take in a slightly more than average breath.

As the sights come into the aiming area release a little of the breath and hold until the shot breaks.

Trigger Control

Start to apply trigger pressure as soon as the sights come down into the white aiming area of the target.

The trigger finger continues to apply steady pressure while the shooter concentrates on the sight picture. Wait for the shot to break.

If the shot does not break within eight to ten seconds, lower the pistol, relax and breathe, then try again. (In slow precision matches).

Follow Through

‘Follow through’ is keeping the sights aligned until after the shot has left the barrel. As the shot breaks, continue to focus on the sight picture for a couple of seconds. (This can’t be done in rapid fire matches—but the idea is to ensure the barrel remains still until the bullet has gone.)

After recoil the sights will return to the position held before the release of the shot, hold this sight picture one or two seconds before lowering the handgun.

If you were watching the sights when the shot broke, you should be able to say where the shot went before looking at the target. That’s “calling the shot”.