Once you have accomplished enough of the basics of pistol marksmanship to hit your intended target most of the time, how do you grow to the next level? That’s part of what I’m working through in my own skills development – I know that my leading shots tend to fly true but I still have hits outside the 8″ A-Zone- and my goal is to put everything into a 4″ zone inside the A. Here are 5 focus areas I am using to tighten my pistol groups:
Scattered groups can often be improved by sharpening front-sight focus. you should be focused intently on the front sight when the trigger is depressed. This means both the target and your rear sight will be slightly blurred, as depicted in the image above.
Once you can consistently place your finger on the trigger, it’s all about the press. Honing trigger press technique requires practice. Here are a couple drills you can use to improve your press technique:
- Just as a pen can be used to replicate a front sight when honing your proper sight picture, a retractable pen can be used to practice trigger press and trigger reset. Simply hold the pen in your hand so the retractable button is facing away from you, as though it were the trigger of your handgun. Place the pad of your index finger on the button then slowly and smoothly press the button until it clicks, without moving any other portion of your hand.
- Another simple and effective drill to facilitate trigger control is called the “penny drill.” Place a penny on the front sight of your unloaded handgun, then obtain proper sight alignment and sight picture. Apply steady rearward pressure to the trigger until the simulated shot breaks. If the penny is still atop your front sight, you’re as good as gold—or at least copper
Practice Slow-Fire Drills
Slow-paced execution of all the perfect mechanics can go a long way in shrinking groups. Try this drill to ingrain strong follow-up shots.
- Put up a blank target-no bullseye or aiming point-at close range. Start at 5 yards. Hold center of mass and fire one round. Now, taking as much time as you need, shoot the remainder of the magazine without enlarging the first bullet hole. Impossible? Theoretically, no, but the exercise focuses on the basics of shooting: sight picture, breath control and trigger control. This is a slow-fire drill. What this does is reinforce proper muscle memory for accurate shooting. When you are shooting one ragged hole at 5 yards, move back to 10 yards-50 yards for rifles-and repeat. This is also a great drill for curing a flinch
Just like any other sport, shooting requires follow through. The process of shooting involves sending a tiny projectile down a long tube at ridiculous speeds. We want to make sure that we are allowing the bullet to make it safely out of the barrel prior to moving ourselves or the firearm. As you line up your shot – utilizing all of the other steps – remind yourself not to move after you squeeze the trigger. Granted, the recoil is going to move you. That’s fine. What you want to do is be able to tell where your shot hit, or “call your shot.”
- Once you squeeze the trigger, stay in exactly the same position you were in for no less than 2-3 seconds. Stay focused on the target
Know When to Shut it Down
You may be fatigued from work, your mind may wander away from shooting focus or you may feel yourself getting tired. In any case, if your focus is not on shooting, you are wasting ammunition and developing bad habits that will have to be fixed later.