The ability to fire a handgun accurately is crucial to survival, not only yours, but that of innocent bystanders. Since many individuals opt to carry handguns for the purposes of self-defense, accuracy is also important in achieving that end. You may want to use lethal force in certain circumstances, but it isn’t always called for. In those situations, taking any life should not be an accident. While you want to protect yourself, disarming or disabling another individual may be the best choice, and that requires more accuracy than luck.
It’s important to note that in cases of self-defense, accuracy on the firing range is only a small part of successfully defending yourself or others. Techniques used to hone range accuracy are simply not enough when it comes down to a situation in which tension, natural panic responses, and high levels of distraction all come together. When you practice for accuracy on the range, you should use techniques that can be drawn upon in the field, which will enable you to take aim and hit your target precisely where you want, though it may be another person or animal in motion. Below, we’ll cover three easy methods to center your focus, find your mark, and keep your aim accurate.
This exercise can be done without the use of ammunition, since it is primarily a focus exercise. is an accuracy exercise that is performed without live ammunition, and helps you to learn how to accurately cycle through without losing your lock on a target. It will also help you to grasp the appropriate way to squeeze the trigger, tailoring the right amount of pressure with the pad of your index finger, and watching your sights to make sure they don’t flinch once you pull that trigger. There is a lot of controversy around this , and if you have any concerns, do yourself a favor and just buy some snap caps.
First, ensure that your gun is completely empty of ammunition, and if applicable, so is your clip. Plastic practice bullets can be purchased to enhance the realism of the exercise without endangering anyone or wasting expensive bullets. Once you’ve ascertained that you’re not using a weapon loaded with live ammunition, and that you are in a safe place for practicing, line up your sights with your chosen target. Walls make excellent backing for targets, since they do not move and provide context for your eye. Go through the motions of firing a shot, gently squeezing your trigger with just enough force to discharge the weapon, were it loaded. This is where the plastic practice bullets come in handy, since they act as ordinary projectiles, without the powerful force.
This drill is intended to break the pattern that training can often instill. Because the use of a weapon is a skill, it does require practice with targets, and you can often train yourself into a rut. When you fire one, two, or multiple shots repeatedly during practice, your body and brain become accustomed to the pattern. Should you be called upon to break that pattern in a real life circumstance, your brain may balk and you will lose precious seconds as well as accuracy with additional shots.
With a holstered weapon, approach your target—these drills should be conducted at a 15 to 20 foot range. Pull your weapon and fire the instant your front sight covers your target. Replace your weapon in the holster and repeat with varying numbers of shots each time. The ready up drill is intended to strengthen your reflexive confidence in the front sighting of your weapon. It is a trained reflex, and will take time to hone.
Ball and Dummy
Often, when your weapon is discharged, you may find that you automatically flinch. This can throw off your aim considerably for the next shot. Because we are learning creatures, when we practice with handguns, we anticipate the discharge of the weapon and prepare to flinch, which can also disrupt accuracy. Ball and dummy exercises were used when police were issued service revolvers. The premise is one of changing a pattern in order to disrupt a reflexive flinch.
Load your handgun with several bullets, leaving empty chambers if you are practicing with a revolver or pistol. Experts do recommend that you use what is known as “snappier” ammunition—.38 Special or .357 Magnum—to train yourself to accept the surprise when the firearm discharges. Cycle through your ammunition, focusing on breathing, sights, and applying proper pressure to the trigger with each shot motion, whether the chamber contains a bullet or not. This will improve your accuracy and help you to develop a smooth, focused shot that will allow you to make more of your shots count in the field.
Handgun accuracy is important for a number of reasons. We’ve covered why accuracy in the practice range matters—expense of ammunition, training reflexes, and helping you to avoid pattern ruts with the action of firing a static number of shots. But it’s even more important in the field where targets are often moving, there are a host of distractions, and stress is often at a . Accuracy can mean the difference between success and failure for small game hunting, life and death in a matter of self-defense, or causing necessary harm versus unnecessary death in an adversarial setting. Precision and accuracy with your handgun are a part of mastery of a refined skill, something you can’t afford to neglect.