Often times, when diagnosing grouping issues at the shooting range, we find ourselves in a struggle with what we think we’re doing, versus what’s happening on the target.
Too often, we can’t seem to figure out why “our gun keeps hitting low and left.” Even after we’ve made adjustments, we’re getting the wrong results.
A realization that we must force ourselves to accept is that the bullet is telling the truth. The gun is right and it’s us who are not shooting straight.
Like any other activity tied to human muscle coordination, focus, and consistency, shooting firearms is far more an art than a science. We must seek to control our conscious and even subconscious habits in order to create a process that we can repeat with success and refine over time.
1. Trigger Timing
Instructors have different ways of describing how to pull the trigger. Typically, it’s a variation of the old “squeeze with your whole hand until the gun fires.” Then they add this little trope, “it should almost surprise you.”
For new shooters especially, this advice may seem incomprehensible, terrifying, and even mildly irresponsible. After all, if you’re going to send a lethal projectile through the air, shouldn’t you be in complete control?
Inexperienced shooters will typically try to keep their sights hovering over the target field, then pull suddenly when their crosshairs pass over the bullseye. They try to time their shots perfectly. It’s a natural part of most physical activities.
The problem is that when you jerk the trigger, no matter how perfectly on the bullseye you are, the movement of your finger jerking will inevitably pull you off target.
2. Shitty Stance
This one is so instinctive that almost everyone makes it the first time the hold a firearm. They hold the gun out, lean the weight back over their center of gravity, and use the weight of the gun to balance comfortably.
Whether this is because this is simply the most comfortable way to hold a heavy piece of steel, or they’re anticipating a small explosion in their hands that they want to stay as far away from as possible. Either way, the result is the same.
When the force of the recoil pushes back against their shoulder, it will push them backward over their balance point. Even if the shooter doesn’t fall on his or her butt, they’re definitely not in a stable shooting position.
3. Kung-Fu Death Grip
Yet another problem that plagues accuracy for many shooters is simply gripping the firearm too tightly. A overly tight grip affects your trigger pull movement and leads to a wide variety of pushing, pulling, and trigger jerking problems.
Clearly, you do want to have a solid grip on your firearm for control. However, there is a fine line here. We like to describe the proper grip strength by comparing it to a firm handshake. Of course, even that can lead to a wide variety of interpretations these days.
Generally speaking, the firm handshake is a good reference point. Not too firm, not a dead fish, you simply need to grip the firearm like its an item that you definitely don’t want to drop on the ground. Because you definitely don’t!
4. Pull With Your Print, Not Your Knuckle
A lot of people do this. When pantomiming a shooting motion, they make a motion like they’re pulling a heavy string back in the first joint of the pointer finger. Thus, it’s no wonder that this is the same movement they use to pull an actual trigger, with their finger wrapped all the way around the trigger.
Pulling with the trigger in the joint of your finger will cause an awkward pull, and a shot that’s usually to the right. If you know that you do this, it’s a simple fix.
The proper part of the finger to pull the trigger is using the fingerprint of your index finger. There is simply way more sensation and coordination in this part of your finger.
5. Shifting Focus
Your sights are important, so why shouldn’t you go the extra mile, double checking them when lining up your shot? This may help you get your sights over the bullseye momentarily, but then something else happens: Your eyes focus on the target, losing focus on your sights. Then your eyes want to check the rear sight, then the front.
Switching your focus from the front sight to the target and back will tire your eyes out quickly and won’t result in shooting tighter groups. In hunting situations or tactical shooting, this problem will compound itself quickly. Your eyes won’t be trained to follow the target or the sights consistently.
Remedy: Focus on the front sight position as you shoot, not the target or rear sight. The solution is simple, though it will require some training if you’ve developed this habit. As you shoot this way at the range, it will become more natural and your eyes will be better at lining up all three points effortlessly.
I know that for some of you, this may seem redundant, but you would be surprised of how many people fail to practice these techniques, and as a result can’t hit the target consistently.
If you happen to be one of these people, I strongly suggest that you begin to incorporate these practices…you’ll be amazed in the differences they make.