Handgun Shooting Tips for Beginners

Handgun shooting often looks deceptively easy—until you get started. If you’re new to using handguns and feel that your accuracy is lacking, the good news is that you’re not alone! 

Learning how to shoot a pistol, and achieving impressive accuracy doesn’t happen overnight. It requires work, time, patience, and plenty of practice at the range. 

Pro tip: Remember to pack your handgun in a proper gun range bag when traveling to and from the range.

Equipped with the right tips for how to shoot accurately, you’ll be ahead of the curve in achieving consistent and dependable shots. Today, we’re going to cover our top pistol shooting tips, including how you can perfect:

  • The trigger pull
  • The proper shooting stance
  • How to correctly align your sights
  • Achieving the right grip
  • Practice fluid shooting mechanics

Tip #1: The trigger pull

One of the first things you need to understand when learning how to shoot a handgun is mastering the trigger pullOf course, pulling the trigger is synonymous with firing. It sounds like a simple action, but it often rarely is. Here’s what you need to do to move towards achieving the right trigger pull:

  • Grip the gun firmly and steadily. 
  • Set your sights on your target.
  • Position the middle of your trigger finger’s first pad on the trigger 
  • Slowly press the trigger backward with a smooth motion. Try not to move anything else. 
  • After you have placed sufficient pressure on the trigger, it will start into motion until the hammer, firing pin, or striker activates the gun and releases the ignition mechanism to fire.

There are multiple factors at play in the process of firing a gun. The component that you wield control over is the actual pulling of the firearm’s trigger.

If you perform your trigger pull properly, neither your hands nor the sight picture will move in the slightest, so the handgun will fire the round precisely at the spot you were targeting.

With that said, if you flinch in any way either right before or at the second you shoot, the shot will likely migrate somewhere very different than your original target. The best shooters spend hours upon hours honing their trigger pulling techniques, with the best of the best having the ability to do a trigger pull with such finesse that the gun never shifts from alignment.

Tip #2: The proper shooting stance

A crucial tip regarding how to aim a pistol is to maintain the proper shooting stance. For the most part, your shooting stance will depend greatly on the conditions you’re shooting in as well as your physical condition. There are some primary areas you should pay close attention to when cultivating your shooting stance.

It is natural to feel at your most comfortable when distributing your weight evenly between each foot, with more pressure on your heels instead of the balls of your feet. Your muscles are made to support your weight with the joints locked. The trouble is, that is not the best shooting stance for how to shoot a pistol. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Your arms should be extended outwards as much as you are able to, but not locked outwards.  Relax your shoulders, but not as far up as your ears.
  • The leg on your dominant side should be around 12 to 18 inches behind the other leg with a distance between your feet about the width of your hips.
  • Try to avoid locking your knees too tightly, and bend them a bit if you can.
  • You should learn forward only a little, but never, ever should you bend back at the shoulders, hips, or waist region. Keep your shoulders facing forward ahead of the hips.
  • Balance your weight in such a way that it counteracts the handgun’s kickback. If you can actively withstand the recoil, you will wield more control over your handgun. The firearm should never cause you to lose your balance, and if this does happen, you need to adjust your stance forward.

Tip #3: How to correctly align your sights

Part of learning how to shoot accurately is understanding how to align your sights correctly. The sight is the mechanism you use to help align or aim your handgun and is typically designed with front and rear elements that you have to line together. 

The sights reveal where you’re pointing your gun and are the device you utilize to aim your firearm properly. Handgun sights come in all shapes, sizes, and hues, with some featuring a black design and others having accessories like fiber optic tubes and glow-in-the-dark inserts.

To align your sights, you must:

  • Correctly grip your handgun and extend it out at arm’s length. 
  •  Line up the front and rear sights visually. 
  • The top of both sights should be resting on the same plane.
  • Any light filtering in the sides and edges of the front and rear sight should be the same.
  • After you have aligned the sites visually, focus your sights on your chosen target where you want the bullet to make an impact. Many models feature adjustable sights that you can alter based on your chosen impact area.
  • Then, you’re ready to pull the trigger.

Tip #4: How to achieve optimal grip

In order to achieve optimal grip when handgun shooting, you must grip your firearm with the same pressure from both hands. You should grip the firearm much harder than you think you need to, at least 25 to 30 percent more than you are now. If you are right-hand dominant, grip a handgun more firmly with your left hand to equalize strength (or vice versa if you’re left-handed).

Tip #5: Practice fluid shooting mechanics

Finally, practice fluid shooting mechanics when using your weapon. Every action and movement should be fluid, whether it’s your eyes looking to locate your target or achieving the right shooting stance. 

Choppy, erratic shooting mechanics will affect your sights, block your vision, and most certainly disrupt your aim. Fluid mechanics will always help to transport the shot to your intended target.

FAQs About Handgun Shooting Tips

What types of handguns are best suited for beginner shooters?

For beginners, revolvers and semi-automatic pistols are often recommended due to their ease of use and reliability.

What is the proper technique for gripping a handgun?

The “thumbs forward” grip is generally accepted as the best way for beginner shooters to hold a handgun – this involves gripping the gun tightly with both hands while keeping your thumbs pointing forward along the frame of the gun.

What safety precautions should be taken when shooting a handgun?

When shooting a handgun, it’s important to always wear hearing and eye protection, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire, avoid pointing the firearm at anything you don’t intend to shoot, and be aware of your target’s backstop or backdrop in case a round misses its mark.

Are there any specific drills that might help beginners become better shooters?

There are many drills available for beginner shooters that can help them become more proficient in handling firearms such as draw-and-fire drills; dry-fire practice; static target drills; plate racks; timed sequences; multiple target array drills; defensive scenarios; etc.

What resources are available to learn about the fundamentals of handgun shooting?

YouTube videos are great sources for learning about basics fundamentals around handgun shooting but there are also many books available online or at bookstores/gun shops that can provide valuable information on topics like sighting systems & techniques; proper stance & griping methods; trigger control & follow through habits, ammunition selection & ballistic data, cleaning & maintenance tips, etc.

About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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