The following guest  article was written and submitted by Imogen Reed

We welcome a variety of points of view on the subjects of shooting and marksmanship. Test them objectively on the range and let the results fall where they may.

Basic Stance and Grip for Effective Handgun Shooting

by Imogen Reed


Shooting a handgun is something few people will ever admit to being bad at. For some reason, perhaps it’s the diet of Wild West movies or cop shows we are fed as a child, many people believe that they are born with some natural ability to fire a handgun. However, accurate handgun use is far more difficult than rifle shooting. Without the stock, and with the short radius between the front and rear sight, and the lack of gun to hang on to, it can be extremely difficult to shoot a handgun precisely.

Handguns are of course, not designed with the same ingrained accuracy of rifles, either, but it is possible to discharge a handgun with a high level of accuracy, as long as you are standing and holding it correctly.


The Strong Stance


Being stable on your feet is perhaps the most important aspect to handgun accuracy. Balance is critical to a good handgun stance. The weight distribution between your feet is important; the position of the feet is also crucial. Standing with the feet parallel, often the way guns are discharged in cop movies, the body has no forward or backward balance, so after discharge the shooter has a tendency to rock backwards, making the shot too high or too low. Similarly, standing side on, like a duelist, means the body has little lateral balance and the shooter can sway, which results in a shot missing to the left or right.

The best stance is similar to the way boxers stand, with the feet apart, one in front of the other and the hips are at a 45 degree angle to the target. For a right-handed shooter firing with both hands on the gun, this means the left leg should be forward with the foot pointing to the target, while the right leg should be back, with the foot pointing to the right of the target. This forms a firm base offering both left and right, and forward and backward stability. When it comes to firing, it is always best to have the shoulders slightly forward, especially in rapid fire, as it helps the upper body cope with any recoil.


The Firm Grip


Perhaps the most hotly debated subject in any gun club is the best way to grip a handgun. There probably is no right or wrong way and different marksmen can attain similar accuracies by using wildly different techniques. However, for somebody less proficient with a handgun, or as a method of more likely attaining accuracy when shooting, a hard, firm grip can get the best results.

Hard and firm, literally means as tightly as you can physically grasp the gun, even if it means the hand is suffering from tremors. This doesn’t matter, because if the sights are aimed at the target, the tremors will mean the sight is quivering at the centre of the target so will hit the center with a fairly high degree of accuracy. Don’t forget, in a real life or death situation, the hand is going to be suffering some form of nervous tremor anyway, so learning to shoot with a quivering hand has its advantages.

With a hard grip, it is also less likely that the fingers will start milking the trigger. Milking occurs when the trigger is pulled and the other fingers naturally want to close with the trigger finger. This can affect the shot’s accuracy, but with a tight grip prevents this natural reflex. When it comes to pulling the trigger, some marksmen prefer to use the tip of the finger, but with a long or heavy trigger, this can make firing difficult, so using the crease of the finger is perhaps best a best all round technique.

Finally, there is the question of what to do with the thumb on the firing hand. Techniques vary. Some competition shooters aim the thumb at the target, which can help increase accuracy as it makes pulling the index finger backwards a little easier. Others prefer to rest the thumb high up on the manual safety, which is a good option as it allows release or activation of the safety mechanism. The thumb can also be curled around to add strength to the grip, which is worthwhile for powerful guns (some of which you might need balance transfer to buy). Perhaps the most important thing is to position the thumb where it feels most comfortable to you.

While these techniques are only basic, and there many other ways of standing and gripping a handgun, by keeping to the basic power stance and firm grip, there is more likelihood of achieving an accurate discharge in a real life situation, especially for the novice gun user.