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Handgun Accuracy


I’d say I am a fair shot with a pistol. Not great, but OK.  I certainly know guys that are far better.  Having been asked several times over the last few months how I got to be such a good shot, it’s starting to occur to me that perhaps I’m better than I thought I was.  Anyway, I’m always ready to help, where I can, so I thought I’d put fingers to keyboard and write something up.  It this helps you, great.  If it doesn’t well, I’ll provide a full refund J  So, without any further attempts at humility, here’s my thoughts on accurate handgun shooting.

Shoot. Shoot lots.  There is no substitute for putting rounds on target if you want to improve.  I fired more than 2200 rounds of .40 S&W last year, all from one Smith and Wesson M&P.  I didn’t keep track, but somewhere north of a thousand from my old Colt Detective Special, along with several hundred rounds from half a dozen other handguns.  If you only pick up a handgun twice a year, you’re not likely to hit what you’re aiming at.  Simple, huh.  Just like anything else, practice makes you better.  I guess an article on reloading is going to be next… I couldn’t shoot near as much as I do if I didn’t roll my own ammo.

Grip:  Anyone reading this, if you’ve ever taken a class on positional rifle shooting, hearken back. A good solid prone position, forearm resting gently in your hand, indexed to the same point every time, elbow under the rifle, nice tight sling, good body position, buttstock tightly in the pocket, good, solid cheek weld on the stock, handshake grip on the wrist, nice ‘C’ shape curve, trigger engagement always in the same place... bringing back memories?  Good.  Now, on a handgun, you’ve got your two grubby mitts on the grip, and that’s it.  I’m not going to try and teach a handgun grip by describing it, watch a youtube video, take a class… the point I’m trying to make is that the grip is absolutely essential.  It must be stable, and (keyword) CONSISTENT.  Grip the same way, every time, and practice it.  I keep a bluegun replica of my M&P next to the couch, and practice my grip while watching TV (yeah, I’m a geek, get over it).  Get a good grip, and practice it until it’s automatic.  The same grip, every time.

Targets:  Aim small, miss small.  I’m as big a fan of shooting steel as the next guy, but really, you put that IDPA size steel plate out there, hits are easy, but _where_ are you hitting it?  Who knows.  Get yourself some 4” circle plates, spinners, something of that nature.  Then, when you’re practicing, you’ve actually got to AIM to make it react.  Paper targets work too, but reactive targets are more fun.  I really like bowling pins for pistol targets, from 10-20 yards. Save those big targets for doubletap and speed drills.  Small targets help improve accuracy.

Drills:  There are as many pistol drills as there are instructors.  We’ve all come up with something that we like.  All of them are valuable.  I like to keep things simple.  Set up 8 bowling pins or 4” plates, walk back to 10 yards, and work from a holster.  Draw by the numbers, AIM, fire, re-holster.  Over and over and over.   Same grip, same draw stroke, same sight picture, same trigger squeeze… consistent.  Getting to where you can’t miss?  Great!  Back up some, or switch to a smaller target.  No rush, remember, we’re working on accuracy.  Speed will come, right now, concentrate on smooth, consistent hits.

On the off chance that someone reads this who has never had a class in basic handgun, or rifle marksmanship, I highly encourage you to do so.  Take a look at the United States Rifleman Association (  They (we, actually) offer excellent basic rifle and pistol marksmanship classes, along with some more advanced classes.  Check it out, you won't regret it.

Stay safe!