How to become an accurate shooter with your handgun

The reason we practice is to become a more accurate shooter with a gun.  Improving shooting accuracy is a process of trial and error.  We need to examine how we are shooting to find the errors in our technique and make corrections.


We must begin by making sure your sights are zeroed correctly.  If your sights are off, you will not be able to easily make the improvements in your marksmanship as you should.  Begin by benching your gun and ensuring your sights are set where they need to be.

Proper sight picture is important for pistol accuracy

Proper sight picture and sight alignment is the key to firing an accurate shot.

You may want to repair or replace your sights if they are lose or if they become lose when shooting.  There are a lot of aftermarket gun sights on the market available that try to help you become a more accurate shooter.  No matter the type of sights you use, proper technique and sight alignment are extremely critical.

Lack of focus

Concentration on proper sight picture and proper trigger control is something that is learned and practiced regularly.  A lack of focus can cause your shots to go all over the target or miss the target all together.  Concentrate on what you’re doing and all of the elements involved in firing an accurate shot.

A lack of focus with a gun is also a safety concern that can lead to someone being injured or killed.  Shooting can be fun but requires us to also be safe in what we are doing.  If you aren’t paying attention you make yourself an unsafe shooter.

Proper stance

The more stable platform we can provide for the gun the better and easier it will be for us to maintain a proper sight picture.  If we are standing in a way where a strong wind could blow us off balance, imagine what the recoil of a gun could do.  Without going into great detail about the two most common types of stances, we need to use a stance that allows us to maintain our balance as strongly as possible.

Another important point of using a proper stance is to bring the gun into your sight picture not bending yourself or your neck to the gun.  You will be more unstable if you twist yourself like a pretzel just to see the sights.

Proper sight picture

What are you focusing on when you aim a gun?  Are you looking at the target, the rear sight, or the front sight?  I cannot stress this enough but you need to FOCUS ON THE FRONT SIGHT!!!

Most people, new shooters especially, will try to focus on the target and will miss.  We need to keep our focus on the front sight to the point that other things seem to blur out.  It may sound unusual but it will greatly help improve your shooting accuracy.

Bisect your target with your front sight, bring the rear sight in line with the front sight and carefully press the trigger.

Accurate Shooter Trigger control

One of the biggest causes of an inaccurate shot is improper trigger control.  If pressing the trigger moves your gun and throws off your sight picture your shot will not hit the bullseye.  The longer the distance of the shot, the more critical proper trigger control becomes.

Proper trigger control is important for those who want to be a more accurate shooter.

Proper trigger control is important for those who want to be a more accurate shooter.

Some guns have better triggers than others.  I’ve shot guns that had horrible triggers that were virtually impossible to press without moving the gun.  Some small pistols that are intended for concealed carry have lousy triggers on them but are not intended for long distance shots and work fine for their intended purpose.

A very common problem is improper placement of the trigger finger.  If your shooting to the left you may be using too little trigger finger.  If you are shooting to the right you may be using too much trigger finger.  Jerking the trigger is another common problem.

Proper trigger pull is moving the trigger straight back without disturbing the sight picture.  An accurate shooter should spend time practicing proper trigger control. I have videos on YouTube and articles on this sight that demonstrate a few techniques that will help you improve trigger control.

Improper grip

There is a right way and a wrong way to hold a gun, especially a pistol.  A proper grip on your gun should keep it as stable as possible, allow you to manage recoil and quickly make follow up shots with little or no re-positioning of your hands on the gun.

Keep your wrists straight and use the push pull technique to help stabilize your gun.  The push pull technique involves applying forward pressure with your primary hand as if you were pushing the gun away from you and at the same time applying backwards pressure with your support hand to pull the gun towards you.

The grip pressure and the pressure of the push pull technique doesn’t need to be excessive but does need to be strong enough to stabilize your gun as much as possible.  Applying too much pressure will make it more of a challenge to fire an accurate shot and also make shooting uncomfortable.

If your grip on the gun is too lose you will not be able to effectively manage recoil or quickly fire follow up shots.  It is even possible to cause malfunctions in some semiautomatics.  This problem is known as limp wristing.


An accurate shooter understands how to manage recoil of their gun.  Anticipation of recoil is another leading cause of an inaccurate shot.  Using snap caps is one way to diagnose this problem.

Many people are more concerned with managing recoil then they are with maintaining proper sight picture and trigger control.  New shooters are possibly the most susceptible to this problem.  However, even experienced shooters can have this problem with larger caliber guns.

The authors of books go into great detail about every issue that will affect accuracy.  I will not bore you by doing all of that here.  However, if you watch the video above I do give a brief explanation and examples of many causes of an inaccurate shot.  Breaking down each of the elements in this article and working to improve them will help you become a more accurate shooter.

This topic is one that is open for discussion here on this site.  Please feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments.