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MNwr786

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I wanted to write up some basic shooting tips for new gun owners. There is a right way and a million wrong ways to learn. Throwing lead down range with no strategy is never going to make you a good shot. You will be paying per squeeze for mere entertainment if you do. Here are some tips that were shared with me that helped me considerably. Opinions may vary, but this worked for me.

I am not going to get into weapon care. I assume you learned how to tear your new weapon down and properly clean/oil it before ever using it. Guns these days have been coming from the factory dry and often with manufacturing debris in critical places. I’ve even found loose screws on new weapons. Get on youtube and learn how to take care of it BEFORE using it.

I will also not get deep into ones stance, but I would recommend starting with the Weaver stance. Your body will tend to rock back and forth perpendicular to a line drawn between your feet, having that line perpendicular to your target, as in the Weaver stance, causes that deviation in aim to be up and down along an enemy body, not sideways and off target. Having one foot behind the other with the body turned relative to a target has its benefits with respect to making you a smaller target, but it has too many disadvantages to try right now. We won’t get into that. Just start with the Weaver stance.

One more point before getting into becoming a better shot fast. Learn how to properly hold the weapon before beginning. There are plenty images online, but here are the basics. The dominant hand that you fire with should not have a super-tight death grip on the pistol, rather a tight but comfortable one with the area between the thumb and index finger firmly seated in the upper back portion of the grip. The dominant arm should not be tense or fully extended (do not lock your elbows) but pushing forward while the non-dominant hand that is gripping the base of the grip is pulling back toward you. With the thumb-index finger area of the dominant “firing” hand snugly seated below the slide on the back of the grip and the other hand gripping from below with that hands’ thumb and index finger essentially wrapping around your other fingers such that they control the front lower portion of the grip, controlling the kickback can be comfortable while not being so tensed up that you lose stability. This plays into the second shooting tip I’d like to offer below.

There are 4 phases (IMO) to get good at shooting quickly, assuming you have your stance, grip and proper muscle groups doing what I said. Let’s get into it.

1 - Load a single round and fire into the target WITHOUT hearing protection. This is so you know how loud the weapon is, and if you get scared and drop it as many do, there will not be another round in it to fire off when it hits the ground. It is vitally important that you are prepared for just how loud your weapon is because you will not have time to put on hearing protection when you really need the gun. Now put that hearing protection on for the rest of the rounds.

2 - Start phase two by having a friend (not you, that’s important) fill the target with holes. It is vitally important that you do not focus on how well you are shooting at this point, so have someone else destroy the target for you. At this point, load a full magazine and aim safely toward the target, BUT MAKE NO ATTEMPT TO SEE EXACTLY WHERE YOU HIT. The only thing you should be concerned with is the firearms’ recoil action at this point. This is where you become intimately familiar with kickback and learn how to let your proper grip absorb the kickback. If the kickback is a surprise to you each shot, you will be anticipating it and trying to compensate with muscle movements. That is the first bad habit you WILL have and WILL NEED to break before worrying about precision or accuracy (very different things, we will get there). The muzzle will come up when you fire, do not make an extraordinary effort to stop that from happening. Let your grip absorb it, not try to fully counter it.

3 - This is where precision comes into play. Put up a new target and load just 6 rounds. Pick a spot and carefully fire at just that spot. Take your time and and relax, but DO NOT try to see where you hit at this point, doing so will mess you up. Pick a spot and stick with it. Aim exactly the same way each shot and DO NOT try to see where you hit. When you finish the magazine off, then go look. What you are hoping for is a tight grouping, regardless of where that grouping is on the target. The grouping is your precision and it allows you to take the center of that group and build a sight picture. If you know that aiming at just the bullseye puts the center of that grouping an inch down and 2 inches to the left, now you know where to aim relative to your intended target for that given gun.

4 - Now, having that sight picture in mind, you know where to aim to nail that bullseye. Again, load 6 more and aim for just one spot, this time an inch up and two to the right. This way, the precision follows you into an accurate shot and all of them should land right about where you want it. And if the grouping isn’t tight, repeat steps as necessary, but do NOT try to adjust between each shot. The wind, your body, the load, it will all combine to have you chasing your goal for hundreds of rounds. Get precise, then worry about accuracy.

Once you become a beast standing still, it’s time to advance on a stationary target while shooting, transitioning between cover and shooting breaking aim between each shot. Then, MacGyver up a way to fire at a moving target while stationary, then later, at a moving target while moving , taking cover and reaquiring aim. If you stand still, you’ll get shot. If you don’t practice on the move, you won’t hit anything. Your enemy isn’t unarmed or stapled to a tree.

Take it slow and become comfortable with each phase before moving forward. Good luck!
 

David SB

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yes to all of the above and I must stress the COMFORTABLE portion of the list. This involves selection of the appropriate caliber FOR YOU. Everybody cant be Dirty Harry with a .44 caliber! Anticipation of recoil is one of the hardest thing for newbies to conquer. There are reasons different calibers are manufactured.

Obviously shot placement is the most important skill to acquire. If this takes starting with a handgun with with essentially no recoil at all, like a .380 or even a .22, so be it. You can always work your way up to a hand cannon over time if that is your wish.

Like a child, crawl before you walk, walk before you run. Master each stage before you move to the next one.

Excellent list. MN
 

DrHenley

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The way to detect and break yourself from anticipating the shot is to have someone else load the mag for you and replace one of the cartridges with an action proving dummy (a type of "snap cap")

Every time you drop the hammer on the dummy, if you can't keep the sights aligned and follow through, then dry fire a few times with the dummy rounds, and try again.

Serious match shooters use lots and lots and lots of dry fire practice.

When I take my carry piece to the range, I first fire a lot of 22 ammo through another pistol that is the same size and weight. This helps work on muscle memory with some noise and recoil but not enough to develop a flinch. Unfortunately that is not an option for most people right now.

Dry fire practice uses no ammo...
 

MNwr786

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The way to detect and break yourself from anticipating the shot is to have someone else load the mag for you and replace one of the cartridges with an action proving dummy (a type of "snap cap")

Every time you drop the hammer on the dummy, if you can't keep the sights aligned and follow through, then dry fire a few times with the dummy rounds, and try again.

Serious match shooters use lots and lots and lots of dry fire practice.

When I take my carry piece to the range, I first fire a lot of 22 ammo through another pistol that is the same size and weight. This helps work on muscle memory with some noise and recoil but not enough to develop a flinch. Unfortunately that is not an option for most people right now.

Dry fire practice uses no ammo...
Admittedly, i am relatively new with handguns, although rapidly getting better. My question, being ive not heard of the dummy rounds you mentioned (other than blanks, if they are the same) is if they have enough power to cycle the weapon without a projectile to create back pressure. Do these rounds frequently jam or do they run through smoothly? The marlin 22 i use cannot cycle the quiet rounds or the little bird shot ones at all.
 

jontte

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  • All guns are always loaded.
  • Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
 
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simpleman

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I can only add one thing to these Great shooting tips and that is...Do Not Put Your Finger On The Trigger Until Ready To Fire! That has been hammered into head since I was 7 and my Dad would say that before we shoot, during shooting, after shooting and just anytime he felt like saying it!
Thanks jontte, you beat me to it by a few seconds! LOL
 

DrHenley

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is if they have enough power to cycle the weapon without a projectile to create back pressure. Do these rounds frequently jam or do they run through smoothly?
No they do not fire, but should cycle through the action if following a live round. The point is to see what happens when you are expecting a "BOOM," but get a "click" instead.
They reveal any sort of failure to follow through.
The difference between a "Snap Cap" and an "Action Proving Dummy" is that snap caps may not necessarily cycle properly (manually), but an action proving dummy should.
You can take a fired round, take out the spent primer, and resize and seat a bullet with no primer and no powder to make a crude action proving dummy. You don't want to leave the spent primer in the case because a primer with a firing pin impression could be simply a misfire that could still fire on a second strike.
That is not a proper snap cap because of the missing primer, which in some guns could damage the firing pin the same as dry firing on an empty chamber. I have broken two or three firing pins that way...one is at the gunsmith's shop right now...
Ruger claims that all their firearms can be dry fired, BTW...
A proper snap cap has either a spring loaded or polymer dummy primer to protect the firing pin. There are a lot of action proving dummies that are also proper snap caps, and vice versa.
 

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