Becoming a better shooter is something that you and I will chase until the day we load our last magazine. Some shoot for fun, some shoot to be ready to protect those around them, and some for competition. 

But we all want to get better at shooting. Having the discipline to practice consistently separates Jerry Miculek from someone who just got their first gun this morning. 

It takes time and hard work. Building muscle memory, finding what works. At least, that’s what I’ve learned in my pursuit of becoming a better shooter. 

Let’s get started with something you can do without ammo. 

Make Sure You’re Holding Your Firearm Correctly. 

One of the easiest ways to enhance your shooting ability is to hold the firearm correctly. This is one of the new shooters’ most common mistakes, but it’s the easiest to fix. 

When gripping your pistol, you want your dominant hand to be as high up as possible. That would be ideal if you could get your hands behind the slide. But that’s not possible, so the dominant hand goes way up into the beaver tail. 

Wrap the three fingers on your dominant hand around the other side of the grip. 

Then, you take your non-dominant hand and rotate your hand forward until the thumb is parallel to the slide. Rest your palm in the open space on the grip in front of the three fingertips on your dominant hand. 

Wrap the four fingers on the nondominant hand around the three of the dominant hand. 

Congrats, you’re holding it correctly—courtesy of Reddit

Dry Firing 

Note: Always ensure your firearm is unloaded and any live ammunition is far away from you when practicing off the range. Snap Caps are an excellent option for dry fire training. 

Place your pistol in the holster after clearing your firearm of any live ammunition. Choose a target in the space you will be dry-firing in, and make sure that it’s a safe direction to point a gun. I would recommend having a designated area for dry firing. 

Somewhere safe and away from hazards. I personally have an old tin wall ornament that my lady was going to throw away. It’s a sun with a smiley face. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s in a safe direction. 

Choose a specific spot for reference. I use the nose of the tin wall ornament as my own. This is where you want your sights to land when you draw the pistol up to your eyes. 

Draw slowly, get the sights on the target, and put the gun back in the holster. Rinse, lather, repeat. Do this a few times and then incorporate a trigger pull. 

When incorporating the trigger pull, make sure you take it slow. Pull the trigger back as slowly as possible. Once this is done, use the old “left, right, chamber, alert” diddy to get you into a space of situational awareness. 

Look for targets to your left and your right, and then take a glance at your chamber. Then, return the pistol to the alert position and then back to the holster. 

Repeat. 

I know this is a basic exercise. There’s a reason why a boxer always returns to the jab. When practiced diligently, the basics will carry you through.

Here is a video on Dry Firing from Warrior Poet Society. 

Go To The Range

Dry firing crosses over into going to the range. Practicing your time to get on target does more than help you draw quickly. It also enables you to find your sights quicker for follow-up shots. 

Now that you’ve got some ammo and are at the range, you can take what you remembered from dry firing at home and do the same thing on the range. This time, you’ll be adding a shot to the exercise. 

Just like you did at home. 

Get into your stance. Feet shoulder width apart with your dominant leg one step back. Both feet toward the target. Look at a specific point on your target for a place to aim. 

Now draw your pistol from the holster, get the sights up to your eye, aim for the center of the target or the A-Zone, and squeeze the trigger. Bang. 

Now look left, look right, peak at the chamber, safety on and alert. Return the gun to the holster. Repeat this drill as many times as you like. One shot at a time until you get familiar with the motions. 

Eventually, you’ll be getting groupings like this—courtesy of Reddit.

When you get comfortable enough, shoot twice to the chest and once to the head. We call those “Mozambique” and “Failure to stop” drills. 

I suggest using a magazine loader to make things quicker. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find yourself with empty mags on the range when doing drills. 

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Training Tools To Aid You

Various companies have products meant to enhance what a shooter could do at home. 

I’m sure you’ve seen the Mantis System or the Coolfire trainer that is meant to show you where you’re hitting while dry firing. 

They are expensive but a valuable tool for training at home. 

Shadow Systems MR920 with CoolFireTrainer. Courtesy of Reddit

Conclusion

Becoming a better shooter is all about repetition. Think of it like a sport. How many times did Canelo Alvarez practice his jab? How many times did Kobe Bryant practice his three? 

Answer: More than we can count. 

I’m not telling you to be a maniac, but setting aside a few minutes a day to go dry fire and one day out of the week to go to the range will put you far ahead of most shooters. And definitely ahead of where you were. 

Keep training. 

Be good and take care. 

Brian Zerbian
Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things.
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