How to Aim a Pistol
If you've never shot a gun before, it's not necessarily a bad idea to know how to do so the right way. Aiming a pistol is fairly easy, in theory, but it will probably take practice and experience before aiming correctly becomes second nature. When you do take a trip to a gun range, here's what you need to do to aim a pistol correctly.
Aim with your dominant eye.Aiming with both eyes is next to impossible, so you need to take aim with your dominant eye. Your dominant eye presents a more accurate picture of your surroundings than your non-dominant eye.
- Your dominant eye is usually lines up with your dominant hand, but this is not always the case.
- To determine which eye is your dominant one, form a 1-inch (2.5-cm) circle with your thumb and index finger. Hold the circle at arm's length and look through it to a distant object.
- Gradually bring the circle toward your face with both eyes open, but do not look at it. You hand will naturally move toward your dominant eye.
Align the front and back sights.A pistol has a rear sight and a front sight. When aiming the gun, the post of the front sight should be evenly centered in between the two posts of the rear sight.
- The front sight consists of a single post and the back sight consists of two posts.
- There needs to be an equal amount of space to the left and the right of the front sight.
- The top of the front sight should also be flush or even with the tops of the back sight posts.
Focus your eyes on the gun.As you aim the pistol, you will need to look at the rear sight, front sight, and the target. It is physically impossible for your eyes to focus on all three objects at once, though. In order to aim the gun properly, you need to make sure that your eyes are focused on the gun sights and not the target.
- The target should look a little blurry. You should still be able to see it, but it should fall to the background and look much less crisp than the gun sights appear.
- More specifically, you should be focusing on your front sight. The front sight lets you know what your gun's relative position to the target is.
Choose your point of aim.There are three acceptable points of aim. No single option is officially better than the others, so you'll need to test them each out to determine which works best for you.
- For thecenter holdorcenter of massaim, place the top of the front sight at the center of the target. The top should run through the horizontal center of the target.
- For the6 o'clockaim, place the top of the front sight just below the bullseye area. If using an actual shooting target, the top of the front sight will overlap the bottom of the black bullseye.
- For thesub-6aim, you will need to place the top of the front sight even further below the bullseye area. When using actual shooting targets, the top of the sight will be roughly in the middle of the white portion below the black bullseye area.
Concentrate.Aiming a pistol requires patience and concentration. Sloppy aim will result in a sloppy shot.
- Before firing the pistol, make sure your shots are correctly aligned.
- Be patient when pressing the trigger. If you feel anxious about firing the gun and concentrate on applying more pressure to the trigger, even for a moment, you will lose concentration on your aim and will probably have a poor shot.
Identify angular shift errors.An angular shift error occurs when the sights are not properly aligned. You can usually determine if you are making a consistent angular error based on the placement of your bullet in the target.
- If the bullet hits below the center of the target, the top of the front sight may have shifted below the tops of the back sight posts.
- If the bullet hits above the center of the target, the top of the front sight may have shifted above the tops of the back sight posts.
- If the bullet hits right of center, the front sight might be closer to the right side of the back sight.
- If the bullet hits left of center, the front sight might be closer to the left side of the back sight.
Pick out a parallel shift error.Parallel shift errors occur when your sights are properly aligned, but your hand moves as you fire. Holding the pistol still results in the most accurate shot, but typically, parallel shift errors do not disrupt your aim as much as angular shift errors do.
- Parallel shift errors almost always result from your wrist either breaking up or breaking down, so the placement of your shot will usually be either just above center or just below it, respectively.
Spot grip and handling errors.Shift errors are not the only problems you might encounter. The placement of your bullet in the target could also indicate a handful of other problems.
- If the bullet hits out of center and closer to your dominant side, you could be squeezing your thumb or using too much trigger finger. Similarly, if it falls to the other side of the center, you might be using too little trigger finger.
- If it falls to the lower right for right-handed shooters, or vice versa for left-handed shooters, you could be tightening your grip while pulling the trigger. If it falls to the lower left, you could be tightening your fingers or jerking the trigger.
- If the bullet lands to the upper right for right-handed shooters, or vice versa for left-handed shooters, you might be anticipating recoil in your shot. If it goes to the upper left, you might be anticipating recoil or lacking follow through.
Putting It All Together
Grip the gun on the back strap with your dominant hand.Your dominant hand should be placed high along the back strap—the back of your pistol's grip—with your thumb to the inside of the barrel.
- Your middle, ring, and pinky fingers should wrap around the outside and front of the grip.
- Your index finger should rest against the outside of the trigger guard.
- This position give you the maximum amount of leverage against the gun. When you fire the pistol, it will recoil, and good leverage is an important part of keeping your hand steady.
Place your non-dominant hand against the exposed grip.Your non-dominant hand is your support hand, and the way you position this hand will add further support and leverage against the recoil of your firing pistol.
- Place the support hand as high as possible around the grip.
- All four fingers should be under the trigger guard, and the index finger should press the bottom outside of the guard firmly.
- The thumb should point forward and meet with your other thumb on the opposite side of the gun.
Take the extended shooting position.Stand with your feet planted firmly on the ground and pointed in the direction of your target. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, and your knees should be slightly bent.
- This stance makes it easy to move yet provides you with stability.
- Grab your pistol and raise it up until it is positioned in front of you. Your arms should be straight out and slightly bent at the elbows, and the gun should be nowhere near your face.
Aim the pistol.Follow the instructions provided in this article to aim the pistol at your target properly.
Press the trigger until the pistol fires.Instead of "pulling" the trigger, you need to press or squeeze the trigger in a controlled fashion.
- Press the trigger straight to the rear using a constant pressure. Only use pressure on the front of the trigger and not on the sides.
- Squeeze the trigger until you start feeling resistance to take the slack out of it.
- Continue pressing the trigger in this manner until the pistol shoots. Try not to anticipate when this will happen, since doing so often leads to a last-minute error in aim.
QuestionWould my shot be less accurate if I hold it sideways with my palm facing down?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes it would be, also if you're going to do it that way, you're likely to seriously hurt your face and/or your hand because of the recoil.Thanks!
QuestionI'm left eye dominant but right-handed. Should I learn to shoot left-handed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. You should handle firearms in the most natural way for you. There is no "rule," just the best way for you.Thanks!
QuestionHow much practice should I have before attempting to shoot an apple off my friend's head?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou shouldn't be doing this because you have someone's life in your hands.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I reduce blinking when shooting?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on what you mean by "blinking." If you mean "wincing" because you are anticipating the discharge, you just have to shoot enough that you stop being afraid of it. It may also help to practice with a lower-caliber firearm until you get over it. Wincing aside, some people blink more when they're nervous or trying to concentrate. Again, I think the solution is to shoot more until it feels natural.Thanks!
QuestionI am right eye dominate, but left hand dominate. If I use this combo to aim and then switch eyes, the aim point is very different. Which will be correct?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you aim properly with your dominant eye, then switch to your other eye without altering the position and rotation of the firearm, the direction of the projectile will not be altered. Your head and hand positioning relative to each other will be different depending on which eye/hand you are using to aim and hold your firearm. Regardless of which configuration you fire in, the proper positioning will result in the front and rear sights aligned as described above. The perspective that results in THAT view of the sights is the one that indicates the projectile's direction.Thanks!
QuestionI'm right eye dominant. Should I close my left eye when I shoot?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDo not close your left eye, just squint a little with it to force more sight from your dominant eye. Keep the pistol in line with your right eye, aim and shoot.Thanks!
QuestionIf I want to take a head shot on a target, where should I aim?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHead shots are VERY difficult to perform, and many times, unnecessary. Aim at the center of mass, usually the middle of the torso, right where the ribs end. Even Special Ops personnel are trained to do so, as it is easier to do in the heat of the moment. If it is necessary to shoot someone in the head, aim for the lower forehead, right above the nose, or at the nose, the closer to the middle of the head, the easier to aim (or in this case, the less difficult).Thanks!
QuestionShould I use the tip, or the first joint of my finger for the trigger?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should be pressing with the fleshy pad on your index finger. If this is difficult to consistently do, you may need some help to determine if you need a handgun with a larger or smaller grip.Thanks!
QuestionShould I aim a little lower to get an accurate shot?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe TOP of the sight posts needs to be what is running across what you want to hit. So yes, you aim a little lower.Thanks!
QuestionMany times when I'm getting ready to fire, the target visually becomes two targets. If I squint to refocus, the front sight moves off target. What am I doing wrong?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere's a good chance that your eyes are the problem. Corrective lenses can fix this.Thanks!
Should I aim at different points when shooting from different distances?
Myaim is better when using two eyes because I focus on one thing and the other at incredible speeds so it's probably okay, right?
To aim a pistol, start by using your dominant eye to align the post from the front sight evenly between the 2 posts of the rear sight. Focus your eyes on the front sight, letting the target be more in the background. As you prepare to fire, plant your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder width apart, facing the target. This stance will keep you balanced as well as help your aim. Finally, when you do press the trigger, do it in a controlled, even manner from start to finish to avoid any last minute errors with your aim.
- Keep the trigger finger off the trigger until just before you shoot. Your trigger finger should be placed outside the trigger guard until you have consciously decided to shoot.
- Point the pistol in a safe direction. You should always point the gun away from others, and the direction it points in should cause no physical injury and minimal property damage, if any at all. If at a firing range, the safest direction to point the pistol is downrange.
- Treat the pistol as if it were loaded, even when it isn't. This is an absolute in the world of firearms, and following it can prevent a possible tragedy.
- Be conscious of your target, as well as the entire area around and beyond it. At a professional gun range, there are safety precautions to prevent anyone from getting caught in the line of fire, and targets are positioned in a spot that will not pose any threat to anyone or anything else in the area. If you go shooting on private property, however, you need to make sure that there are no residences or businesses behind your target area.
- Never let your thumb go behind the barrel. When you fire it slides back and could cause injury to your thumb, so it's essential to follow the handling instructions.
Things You'll Need
Gun cleaning supplies
Sources and Citations
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