Beginners Guide to Handgun Shooting

10 Handgun Shooting Tips for First Time Shooters


Handgun shooting is growing in popularity with more diverse audiences than ever before. People are choosing to shoot for recreation, hunting and purchasing handguns for personal protection. What this means is that there are many more first-time handgun shooters out there than ever before.


Learning how to shoot a pistol accurately and safely takes practice. Purchasing a handgun is just the start as you begin shooting. You have to dedicate time and resources to develop proper technique, understand the rules of gun safety and be consistent at shooting accurately to be effective and have fun. Here are 10 handgun shooting tips for beginners to get you started.


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Handgun Shooting Tips Before Firing the First Round


Safety Comes First


Many shooters, even beginner shooters, think that safety is a given. Of course, you need to be safe when shooting firearms. However, it is so important that it needs to be shooting tip number one. Continually reemphasizing safety, whether you are heading to the range to shoot a pistol or taking out a handgun for big game hunting, is essential.


The standard rules of gun safety are key points that ever person handling and shooting firearms should know.


  • Every gun should be treated as if it were loaded each and every time you store it, handle it, clean it and shoot it.


  • Never point a firearm at anything or anybody that you are not intent on shooting.


  • The firearm’s safety should always be on until you are ready to shoot.


  • Keep your finger away from the trigger at all times until you are absolutely sure you are ready to fire the gun.


  • Always know the target you intend to shoot and what is around it.


As a beginning shooter, it is important to practice these safety rules each time you are around handguns and firearms. Treating a gun as if it were loaded means you should never assume it is unloaded. The first point of action when picking up a handgun is to point it in a safe direction and make sure it is unloaded.


Handgun shooting safely revolves around knowing your target. You only want to draw your weapon at something you want to shoot at. When shooting, make sure the safety of the handgun is on and your finger is away from the trigger until you are ready to shoot at the right target. Taking a firearms safety class is also a good idea. Here, certified instructors will walk you through every aspect of safety and basic handgun shooting techniques. These rules and practicing them each time you are around a firearm will keep you and others safe.


Protection for Yourself


Safety also includes your safety while shooting. Each person handgun shooting should have hearing and eye protection. Hearing protection ranges from ear plugs to full coverage earmuffs. Find a pair that is comfortable for you but also meets the minimum standards for firearm noises. Also, make sure you have eye protection in the form of shooting glasses. Sunglasses will not cut it. Make sure your protective eyewear is ballistics tested and impact certified. Rounds coming out of semi-auto handguns can easily injure your eyes if struck not to mention other fine materials that can be disbursed when shooting.


Double Check Your Handgun and its Ammunition


It may sound simple to more experience handgun shooting enthusiasts, but always make sure you have the correct ammunition for the handgun you are shooting. This is one of the most important pistol shooting tips for beginners as there are many of calibers of bullets as well as variations within the same caliber. Putting the wrong ammunition in your firearm is a sure way to damage your weapon and cause injury to yourself. If you are still unsure, it is always a good choice to reference your manual and ask a sales associate at your local gun shop.




More Handgun Shooting Tips for Beginners


Enroll in a Shooting Class for First Time Shooters


Local gun ranges and shooting facilities offer classes throughout the year for first-time shooters and beyond. Handgun shooting classes can often be free of charge if put on by local outdoor groups or law enforcement agencies. In more elaborate shooting facilities, there is usually a small fee for signing up for shooting classes.


These classes walk you through everything from gun safety briefly discussed above to pistol shooting fundamentals like proper handgun stance and grip all the way up to more advanced shooting drills. Classes like these are a great way to get a basic understanding of handgun shooting, be safe while shooting and build your confidence to shoot a pistol on your own.


Work with a Shooting Instructor


Better than enrolling in a shooting class, hiring an instructor can be one of the best ways to learn pistol shooting fundamentals. When it comes to finding a good instructor, you have to seek out reviews and trust your instincts. Ask around the range or shooting club about the person you are thinking about shooting with. Do they have references and how long have they been a handgun shooting instructor? Also, if you feel uncomfortable with your instructor when you first meet, choose a new one. Having someone you do not feel comfortable around while shooting is unsafe and unproductive.


A good instructor will tailor their training to your skill level. He or she will provide constructive criticism on how you handle the firearm and how to shoot a handgun better. Absorb their knowledge and practice the shooting skills they show you to become a more competent shot with a pistol.


The Pistol Shooting Grip is Everything


The pistol shooting grip drives how well you shoot your handgun. Having an incorrect grip can keep you off target and even potentially injure you. Start by taking your trigger hand, which is the hand you will use to pull the trigger, and surround the grip. Remember to make sure your fingers are away from the trigger for safety. Next, the supplemental hand (support hand) wraps over the top of your trigger hand exerting firm but not overwhelming pressure against it. The key is to develop a consistent and comfortable grip that puts you on the mark each time.


A good grip is also important to protect your hands. Fast shooting semi-automatic pistols can grab a thumb in an instant. In addition, revolvers can burn your hand and fingers from the firing gap between the cylinder and chamber.


Understand Your Sights


Depending on the type of pistol you have purchased, it may have fixed or adjustable sights. First, determine which are on your handgun. As you shoot more, if they are fixed sights, you will start to know how to aim accurately. The positioning of the front and back parts of the sight can vary from pistol to pistol, but through practice, you will know how each needs to be lined up.


Adjustable sights are easier to use in the sense that like a rifle scope, they can be adjusted for better accuracy and to fit your shooting style. Start with the factory settings then as you get more comfortable shooting, tweak the sights to hone in each shot on target.




Do Not Just Practice Firing Your Pistol


Practice makes perfect and the more practice you take part in the better you will be as a shooter. Put simply, practice is the only way a beginner shooter will learn. Shooting on a regular basis will help you understand your pistol, become competent at the range and ultimately make you more successful at hitting the target. Shooting, however, is not the only part you should be practicing.


  • Practice tearing down your pistol. If you spend a lot of time practicing shooting, then your pistol will need to be cleaned often. Some are easier than others to dismantle and put back together. Reference you manual or have someone familiar with your type of pistol show you the correct way to tear it down. Practicing this procedure will speed up cleaning and make sure you get a functioning pistol assembled.


  • Work on different shooting positions. This beginner pistol shooting drill can be done at home. For safety, however, triple check that your firearm is unloaded, the magazine is removed and no ammunition is nearby. Work on positioning your feet in different stances, from standing, sitting, kneeling and laying down. This is particularly important for those who purchased a pistol for self-defense. You may never know what position you will be in when it comes to defending yourself so practicing now will prepare you.


  • Shoot different targets. Repeatedly firing at the same target is not going to make you a better shot. Use different size and style targets as you progress in your shooting ability. Also, shoot at variable distances. Try close range, medium range and long distance to build your basic handgun shooting skills.


Never Settle with Your Shooting Skills


Even after you have been through a few shooting classes and spend time with an instructor one-on-one, your education is not over. To be effective and accurate with handgun shooting, you have to continually aim to learn more and practice. There is always an aspect of your shooting skills that can be improved.


Handgun Shooting Should Always Be Fun


One of the reasons for purchasing a handgun is for recreational shooting. Remember that when you are on the range. Shooting is a serious undertaking with the attention it commands but handgun shooting should always be fun. There is no other feeling like shooting a pistol.


As a beginner shooter, there are many pistol shooting fundamentals to learn and practice. Shooting skills will not come overnight. It takes practice and training to become comfortable and proficient at handgun shooting. These handgun shooting tips for beginners can hopefully progress your skills and performance on the range. Do not get discouraged if you fail to center shots your first few times on the range, but rather keep at it and you will be shooting accurately in no time.