Mistake #1: Inconsistent Trigger Control The most important of all the fundamentals, and the one which most mistakes occur. You have a good grouping, but they’re all too far left or too far right – you’re using too much, or not enough finger. You hit the bullseye, but every other shot is spread throughout the target. (This is more of a sight picture thing) What’s happening? Probably inconsistent trigger control.
How to fix it: Regardless of which trigger mistake you are experiencing, the solution is the same: smooth, even, pressure applied to the trigger throughout the pull stroke. Think of a set of balance scales…one side has a 5lbs weight, and you are slowly pouring out 6lbs of sand onto the other side. Slowly, very slowly, the scales will move until, finally, it tips to the opposite side. Keep this in mind as you squeeze the trigger.
Mistake #2 – Flinching Flinching is the act of anticipating recoil, noise, and/or flash of firing a gun. When you flinch, your hands dip forward and down as you tense your body in effort to counter the anticipation. Because of recoil, most don’t realize they are even flinching in the first place.
How to fix it: There are simple, but great, tools to help diagnose and counter flinching…
Dry-Fire (or Dry-Practice) - this is the act of practicing the firing process with an unloaded firearm. This allows for the practice of all the fundamentals, but without the distraction of recoil, etc. In turn, this helps develop good shooting habits that will carry over to live fire at the range. Dry-fire practice requires adhering to all of the safety rules and should be done in a safe-setting.
“Ball and Dummy” technique – Inserting empty cartridge cases that have just been fired, or bringing snap caps, and mixing them randomly in my firearm’s magazine or cylinder. This will offer an element of surprise because you have no idea if the gun will go “bang” or not on the next trigger pull. This allows you to see an honest picture of yourmy fundamentals when pulling the trigger. So when you go to pull the trigger, if the gun goes “click” on a snap-cap or empty cartridge and the barrel dips, you know you are flinching.
Mistake #3 – Not following through Follow through is one of the fundamentals of shooting, and not following-through is probably the second most common mistake. Following through after your shot helps even out the shot.
How to fix it:Many people tend to shoot, then “pop-up” to see if they hit the mark. Do not do this. After you’ve pulled the trigger, and the shot has been fired, you want to maintain in your shooting position. Following through will help get a good, consistent group of shots on the target instead of hitting the bullseye once. Once you have a consistent grouping of shots on the target, you can identify how and what to adjust because you know you are able to put shots on the same point of impact. The goal is to have all your shots in the area the size of a quarter than to have one bullseye and the rest spread out over a 10 inch area!
Mistake #4 – Bad Stance = No Balance It is quite common for shooters to use a stance that does not promote good balance. This is extremely desirable when trying to achieve accuracy and comfort. Without it, your body wears out, and frustration sets in. You can often see someone at the range standing with their arms outstretched and their back in a backward arch leaning out over their heels – this compounds the effects of recoil as there is no appreciable center of gravity and the body rocks back with the shooting of the gun, even to the point a person must stop and reacquire a shooting position.
How to fix it:Do the exact opposite! Lean forward into the position in a “nose-over-toes” stance. This allows for a very positive center of gravity with gives far better control by actually helping to counter recoil.
For a complete visual guide on the fundamentals of shooting, check out or infographic here