May 16, 2021 4 min read

Learning handgun shooting fundamentals now will help you avoid bad habits that can lead to poor accuracy, injury, and much worse.

At times, learning the fundamentals can feel like a frustrating process. You will make mistakes. When you start feeling frustrated, remember that each mistake creates an opportunity for you to improve your skills. You will progress as long as you stick to the fundamentals and resist laziness.

Ideally, you should learn shooting fundamentals from a certified trainer. Even with a trainer, you will have days when you practice without supervision. On those days, make sure you follow these steps as closely as possible.

You won’t believe how quickly you improve when you pay attention to handgun shooting fundamentals.

Practice Your Stance for Stability and Accuracy

Forget everything you have seen in movies and television shows. Outside of extraordinary circumstances, you will never turn sideways while firing at a threat.

Most experts believe that the Weaver Stance gives you the most control and accuracy over your weapon. Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver developed the stance in the 1950s. It has stood the test of time.

To get into the Weaver Stance:

  • Position your feet with your non-dominant side slightly forward with your toes pointing toward the target.
  • Bend your forward knee slightly to support your body’s weight.
  • Lean your body forward slightly while keeping your shoulders square with the target.

The position looks a little awkward to observers, but it gets results. Practice it like a boxer practices getting into a fighting stance. Realistically, there isn’t a difference.

Learn the Proper Way to Grip a Handgun

Again, do not pay attention to movies and TV shows. Unless you have a disabled arm—or you get injured during a fight—you will never hold your handgun with one hand. It’s one of the handgun shooting fundamentals that no one will disagree with.

Holding your gun with two hands doesn't automatically make you a more effective shooter. You should also follow these instructions to give yourself greater control over your weapon:

  • Place your dominant hand around the pistol’s grip, taking care to place the web between your thumb and forefinger as high as possible without interfering with the slide.
  • Extend your pointer finger down the handgun’s frame (you do not want to touch the trigger until you’re ready to fire).
  • Wrap your remaining three fingers around the grip.
  • With your non-dominant hand, wrap all four fingers around the three dominant fingers wrapped around the grip.
  • Keep your non-dominant thumb along the frame. At this point, you should feel your dominant hand controlling the firearm while it receives support from your non-dominant hand.
  • When you’re ready to fire, place your dominant hand’s forefinger on the trigger and squeeze.

Depending on your handgun, you could get a lot of recoil when you fire a round. You can reduce the negative influence of recoil by making sure you keep your forearm, wrist, and gun in a straight line. This will help absorb most of the recoil so you can regain your aim quickly between rounds.

Practice Sight Alignment in a Safe Location

A handgun’s sighting system seems pretty simple. With most models, you line up the front and rear sights so that they cover your intended target.

In reality, most guns don’t work as perfectly as they should. Regular maintenance certainly helps improve accuracy, but you never know when you will encounter a dangerous situation in the world. Plus, recoil will affect your accuracy regardless of your grip’s perfection.

Handgun shooting fundamentals should always include frequent practice. This doesn’t only apply to beginners. You will never reach a point when you do not need to practice. If you own a weapon, you practice using that weapon. Anyone who doesn’t practice is an irresponsible owner.

You need to practice sight alignment in a safe location. For most people, that means going to a shooting range. Many indoor and outdoor shooting ranges offer memberships that make regular practice more affordable.

If you live in—or have access to—a rural area, you can practice using your firearm in a field. Take extra care to make sure no one is behind your target. That includes buildings and animals as well as people.

Incorporate Breath Into Every Movement

This is the one piece of advice that many movies get right! Breathing plays a critical role in safe, accurate shooting. Learning a good breathing technique can also help you stay as calm as possible during challenging scenarios.

While you have your gun pointed at your target:

  • Take a deep breath and let about half of the air escape your lungs.
  • While you continue to hold the remaining air in your lungs, squeeze the trigger.
  • When possible, allow yourself at least three deep breaths between rounds.
  • If you do not have the luxury of recovering from the previous shot, follow the first two steps until you feel safe enough to breathe deeply and regain control.

You probably know this, but it never hurts to point out the obvious to beginners: Never squeeze the trigger multiple times in hopes that you will strike your target. That approach will send bullets flying in unpredictable directions. You’re more likely to hit a bystander than your attacker.

Train to Pull Your Gun From Your Holster

Obviously, you don’t walk around town with a pistol in your hand. You keep it in a holster. That means you need to practice drawing your gun from your holster.

During your training sessions, set aside some time to practice drawing your gun. You don’t even need to squeeze the trigger. Draw the gun and try to sight your target as well as possible.

Once you feel comfortable with the movement, pull your handgun, sight your target, and squeeze the trigger. Most people don’t hit their targets at first. You will get better with each practice session, though.

Get a CCW Holster From Concealment Express

Having a great holster can make it easier for you to improve your handgun shooting fundamentals. Concealment Express makes a variety of CCW holsters from Kydex. We manufacturer them in the United States to ensure quality. We even offer a lifetime warranty on every purchase.

Browse our CCW holster collections to find a design that matches your pistol and carrying preference. If you place your order before 3 p.m. Eastern Time, we will get it in the mail the same day.


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Shooting Fundamentals for Beginners