5 Quick Tips to Better your Pistol Aim

We all love to shoot and have fun doing it but sometimes we suffer from a lack of knowledge on how to correct our mistakes when shooting our pistol. Many times we’re not aware of these mistake in the mechanics or finger placement but we are very aware of their effects on paper. (our groupings)

Here are some quick tips to turbo charge your basics that you may have forgotten.

    1. Slow Down – Everybody wants to shoot fast, but when shooting that fast you give up accuracy. Get into a rhythm then you can speed it up.
    2. Dry Fire – This is a very boring drill but its a prerequisite to solidifying your marksmanship, plus it’ll save you ammo ($)

    1. Trigger Control – This may be one of the most important basics of any firearms marksmanship training. The basics is with trigger control is to get that “surprise break”.

    1. Sight Alignment – Is the relationship between the front and rear sights with respect to your eyes. Obviously you must keep the front sight post centered vertically and horizontally in the rear sight aperture.


  • High Firm Pistol Grip – The grip is accomplished by placing the web of the firing hand high on the pistol grip and wrapping all fingers except the trigger finger around the pistol grip of the weapon. Its real important to maintain a firm grip.

Sources: Omar Gonzalez, Travis Haley

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Pistol Shooting Drills

Improving your Skills

Do you want to get good at shooting a pistol? And, we’re not talking about just standing in front of a paper target shooting at your leisure. You want to be able to defend yourself and loved ones. What do you do?
There are many shooting drills out there for every skill level, but as with any hobby or skill, the basics are the most important. Without basic proficiency, one cannot become competent, let alone get actually good..
Getting good means you’ll need to attend all of these top of the line defensive firearms courses offered at Joe’s Tactical School.
Reality is these courses are expensive and if you’re like most of us we don’t work for an agency that will send us to these courses every week.

Here’s a few pistol drills to keep your skills sharp and build a solid base and you can do this without paying big bucks to stroke your ego.

There are many rifle/pistol drills out there on the internet (Youtube). Most are just junk for entertainment, start with these in the following list as they have been taught at real-world law enforcement and military schools. Yes, there are some that have been modified which the world doesn’t know about.
Anyways, here’s a few to start with:

  • 5×5 Drill

    This drill was developed by Bill Wilson, its really useful for assessing your basic skill level with a pistol. We mean for the type of pistol/caliber that you want to be proficient with. For example, shooting a .22 cal pistol would be faster than shooting a .45 ACP. The faster and more accurate shots tells the shooter that they are competent to use for personal defense with that type of pistol/caliber.
    This drill basically is take 5 shots at a 5 inch target from 5 yards within 5 seconds.
  • Slap Rack Bang
    Most semi-automatic handgun and AR type rifle malfunctions are cleared with the “Slap Rack Bang”.
    Actually without the bang first action is to slap the bottom of your magazine to make sure that the magazine is in place.
    Then, Rack the slide to the rear to remove a possible round that is obscuring at the ejection area.
    -Shotgun – With a pump shotgun pull the pump fully to the rear, and if necessary reach in and remove the malfunction. With an automatic lock the bolt back to the rear and clear the malfunction with your hands.
    Put another round in the chamber and fire a round.
    The object if this drill is to ingrain this into your neuro-muscular system as a primary action to do when malfunction comes up, especially if you were in a personal defense situation.
  • Mozambique Drill

    This drill is more fun to do as it stresses shot placement into critical areas of a perp.
    Commonly known as “Failure to Stop Drill”, incorporated by the late Jeff Cooper at GunSite Academy. Which has been taught at every level of law enforcement agencies to Joe Tactical wannabes.
    The drill has the person in front of the target at 7-10 yards with a pistol or 15 – 25 yards with a rifle or shotgun.
    You fire your firearms and put “two to the body, one to the head”, the idea is to stop the aggression. The third shot is a last option if the perp was still advancing.
  • The El Presidente Drill

    Another drill developed by Jeff Cooper specifically for the handgun. This is used as a benchmark to gauge a shooter’s skills, as it tests the draw and reload, and requires good transitions and follow-through.
    -Three silhouette targets are placed 1 meter apart in a line 10 meters from the shooter.
    -The shooter starts with six rounds in a holstered handgun, and a spare magazine or speedloader with another six rounds.
    -The shooter begins facing directly away from the targets, often with hands clasped in front or over the head.
    -Upon the starting signal, the shooter turns and draws, fires two shots at each target, reloads, and then fires two more shots at each target.
  • 1 to 5 Drill

    This drill was designed for using an AR but can be adapted for handguns as well. Kyle Lamb gets the credit for this drill. Kyle was a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army as a Delta Force Operator, and participated in numerous deployments, including the Black Hawk Down Incident back in the early 90’s.
    Here’s the how the drill works:
    Space three targets, preferably human silhouette targets, about one target-width apart and place them five yards away from you. Start with the rifle butt on your shoulder and the muzzle down, as if you are exiting a vehicle or entering a building.
    At the buzzer, shoot one shot on the left target, two shots on the center target, and three shots on the right target. Then shoot four shots back on the center target followed by five shots on the left. That’s a total of 15 shots at five targets, and only “A” or center hits count. Most experienced shooters will do this in about five seconds the first time out. Scoring under 3.5 seconds is getting pretty good. Three seconds or less is excellent.
  • The Box Drill

    There are two different types of box drill that you may have seen.
    -First version is that you run to four corner of a box and fire off a round to a target. This works your ability to run, stop and fire. You put your fundamentals to use when you make that abrupt stop to fire off a round.
    -Second version is to fire two rounds to the chest per target at two targets. This drill stresses shot placement, and multiple target engagement. There are versions where you take a head shot as well. The video below highlights Tom Cruise in the movie Collateral. He does a box drill on two targets.
  • Action – Reaction Drill

    Many of these gun/pistol drills are based from a stationary position.
    This particular one from PFC Training is based off of charging (moving) towards the target and fire off a few rounds. The beginning stages is charging forward, later you can incorporate moving at a 45 degree angle and firing at the target.
    The drill is two-fold, each shooters ability to go from zero to full speed with accuracy will be enhanced.
  • Bill Drill

    Originally created by Bill Wilson and is intended to improve speed without sacrificing accuracy. (action starts at 1:31)
    The drill teaches sight tracking, proper visual reference, recoil management, and trigger manipulation. Draw and fire 6 rounds as quickly as possible to a target at 7 yards away. Goal is to get all 6 onto the target at 3.5 seconds.

  • Come at Me Bro Drill

    This drill starts at 7 yards. When the audible synaptic response module is triggered, the operator will advance and engage all targets in tactical order within designated weapon system deployment area.
    The idea actually comes from an immediate action drill when you are being attacked (ambushed) at close range while on patrol. Once engaged you would turn toward the threat and attack.
  • Tactical Blind Fire

    This drill is a fun drill and you probably have seen this in the movies. Its where you get the hero just blindly sticking out their gun from a corner and fires away. This is just showcasing the flashiness of the firearm. Youtuber Dynamic Pie Concepts gets the credit for turning this into a drill, is it really a legit drill for the real world? Who knows, but why not, its great to spend some time to blow off some rounds. Though the video shows the guys from DPC using an automatic weapon, this can be used with a pistol as well.

Well there you have it, this is not the complete list of pistol shooting drills. But, some of these can form as a foundation to learn from. And, there are some drills just for giggles.

Aiming is Useless

According to Rob Leatham 7x IPSC World Champion!

That’s right coming from Rob Leatham. When it comes to shooting, few are at Rob Leatham’s caliber so when he’s got something to say about shooting, we should pay attention. Or, shouldn’t we? Without questioning Rob’s shooting ability, there has been debates on the different school of thoughts when it comes to “instinctive” shooting to precise shooting, or, accuracy shooting to speed shooting. Is this a myth when it comes to gunfighting? As you can see the list goes on, we have written one piece when the NYPD shooting program came under fire when their officers were missing their shots in actual incidents, when lives counted.

For the normal Joe that conceal carry, how much of this advise would work out on the streets when it really counted. There are other variables that comes into play such as the distances and movement. Circumstances can also dictate whether you’re shooting sighted or unsighted. For example if both people are wrestling for the gun, at this close range there is no need for lining up your sights. Hitting a target while stationary is one thing but while on the move is another skill set.

Which ever side of the fence you stand on, Rob’s statement is sure to perk your interest and opinion on shooting. Here’s 3 things that Rob talks about to make you a better shooter.

  1. Hold the Gun Really Tight
  2. Point the Gun at the Target
  3. Pull the Trigger w/out Moving

Take a look at the video.

Here’s what they’re all saying about Rob’s shooting method.
Earlier we mentioned shooting while on the move. Maybe, we’re getting off course here and shouldn’t compare two different things. Stationary shooting vs shooting on the move. Anyways, here’s Gabe White a highly proficient shooter that shoots at a Master USPSA level. Its just amazing to see a guy with some mad skill, yes, it would take a lot of work to be at his level. But one thing about this, Gabe does admit to using his front sight while acquiring the target.

Ok, back to Rob.

Video Transcription on Rob Leatham

[Rob Leatham] An instructor comes in, and the first thing they tell you is, “Focus on the sights, squeeze the trigger, pin the trigger to the rear, ONLY release the trigger, and try to relax. It’s all Bull[BLEEP]. As a rule, the first thing you should learn is to pull the trigger without moving the gun. You don’t even need to load the gun, you don’t need a target. You need to be able to fire the gun without altering the attitude, and the direction the gun’s pointed. Until you can do that, aiming is meaningless. Think about it, if you’re shooting a shot, you’re focused on that front sight, you’re looking at that front sight, You’re lookin’, lookin’, lookin’, you say “I’m gonna shoot…NOW.” And you jerk the gun six inches low, eight inches low, it didn’t matter if you aimed to begin with! So it’s pointless to focus on aiming until fire control is in place.

Ok, so the first thing I teach a new shooter is always the same thing: First off it’s safety, keep the gun pointed the right way, all that kinda crap. At that point, we turn into ‘Now listen, what I need you to do is hold the gun firmly’ and I put their hands on the gun, I show ’em how I want ’em to grip it, I don’t even need ’em to bring it up to eye level. I tell ’em ‘hold the gun right there, cycle gun, now pull the trigger’. Click. Nothin’, move. Click, nothin’ moves. Click, nothin’ moves. ‘Cuz they’re not aiming, so they don’t care about aiming. So you’re not letting the process of aiming affect their shooting as they’re pulling the trigger.

Then it’s “Ok, now extend the gun, point the gun at the target, don’t care about the sights yet, and pull the trigger. Click. Click, click.” So now we’re gonna shoot some shots, and I don’t care where you hit, we’re gonna shoot some shots now, live fire. And almost immediately, guy will start shooting, and I’ll see him aim, aim, aim, and I’ll say “Stop. You’re aiming. I don’t need you aiming, you’re gonna hit the target at three or four or five yards without aiming, so don’t worry about it. You can’t miss from lack of aiming at that distance. You’ll miss by moving the gun out of alignment by jerking, flinching, pushing, pulling. And it’s not ‘jerking the trigger’ either, I hate it when people blame everything on not seeing the ffff– the sight. And jerking the trigger. To shoot fast you’re gonna jerk the trigger, so learn how to jerk the trigger without moving the gun! It’s that simple! It’s just not easy to do.

So fundamentally if you’re trying to teach somebody that; this is one of Springfield’s new OSPs, the gun I shot at the Nationals; so the guy that does this motion right here, sights, everything looks good, and then they say ‘I’m gonna shoot NOW’, It won’t matter if te dot was where I wanted it or not. Because I moved it eight or ten or twelve inches when I moved it. So what I need the guy to do is forget about aiming, point the gun out at the target, and do this. Learn how to do this motion right here. Ok? So now even though I’m poorly aimed, the shot’s going to go where it was directed. And NOW aiming will matter.

So this is what it looks like live-fire. So you put it on here, you do everything right, you put the dot on the target, and you pull the trigger. Pull the trigger, pull the trigger, pull the trigger. Ok? At that point, I’m not trying to see a perfect clear dot. In this case, it’s a dot, not ironsights. I’m not trying to make the dot motionless.
I’m not trying to fixate all my conscious thought on that aiming point. It’s about thirty percent on the visual, and the rest of it is all on feeling the trigger. ‘Cuz if I can move the trigger without moving the gun, I’m gonna have a good shot.

Now, shooting’s really simple, guys. It’s not necessarily easy, but there’s only three things that you have to do.

Hold the gun really tight, okay, don’t try to relax, hold the gun tight.

Point the gun at the target where you want to hit it.

And pull the trigger as fast as you can without moving.

That’s it. That’s all the secrets to shooting. And if you do it right, while it’s not necessarily easy, it is very simple.

I’m holding the gun as tight as I can, locking the gun, the sight’s in the target, pull the trigger, pull the trigger, pull the trigger, like that. Ok? And I just keep pulling the trigger.

Now you come look at the target.

[Cameraman] You’re fairly confident that this is gonna look like it’s supposed to?

[Rob] Well, I mean, it’s gonna be– the dot moved about this much when I was shooting. So if you look at the target, where are the shots gonna be? In that area. Now I could shoot it faster, and I could also shoot it more accurately, but the first thing isn’t learning this precision slow-fire crap. The hardest thing to do is to take somebody, who you forced them to focus on slow-fire and precision, and say ‘now just do it fast’. Because you don’t do the same things for precision that you do– The concept is, and it’s fault, it’s false– is that you do the same thing shooting faster that you do shooting accurately. It’s not true. The process of pulling the trigger is different when you’re shooting fast than when you’re shooting accurately. Now, can I pull the trigger slow? Yeah, ‘course I can. But the process is based on the ability to hold the gun, so the most important part is not aiming, it is pulling the trigger without moving the gun, it has little to do with the trigger, it has more to do with gripping and how you hold the gun and how motionless you can make the gun.

Alright, so I’m Rob Leatham from Springfield Armory, and thanks for watching Funker Tactical.

by J Hines

Source: Funker Tactical Youtube, Rob Leatham and Gabe White

Foundations of Fast Shooting

Leatham & Pincus discuss the foundation and the first steps in learning how to shoot rapidly. That first step is keeping your arms and upper body rigid while shooting rapidly. According to Leatham & Pincus the foundation of fast shooting has nothing to do with the slow easy trigger pull commonly taught by many gun schools.

But it has everything to do with pulling the trigger quickly and controlling that recoil. We do this by maintaining that strong structure when holding the pistol. There is no need to be meticulous with the trigger pull and looking concentrating on the front sights.

Theres a time and place for everything that you learn in marksmanship. The slow trigger squeeze to be accurate and the quick trigger pull when you’re under real life threatening situation. Practice both.

Video Transcription

Pincus: Wow that looks really good. Every time I teach somebody how to shoot quickly, you already know how to do this, but they don’t, I wanna show them what the fundamental starting point is- what I call the foundation- for being able to shoot fast. Go ahead and unload, I need you empty. Most people’s dry-fire drill is a ball-and-dummy drill (clear) is a ball and- (stay striker-back though) So aim at the target, Rob, what i always teach ’em to do is listen, you have to hold the gun in a manner that I don’t move you. So this is pretty good right there. Any time I wanna move the gun, I want their body to move, not wrist. Wrist and joints, that’s bad, shouldn’t bend. Now the next part of it is, we teach people, ‘focus on the front sights, squeeze the trigger’, but in a real shooting environment, you realize you don’t have time to play that game. So you have to learn to pull that trigger. I can look at the target and tell you Rob can do this right. Finger on the trigger, when I say ‘now’, dryfire. Standby, ready, now! [Click] Standby, ready, now! [Click] Standby, ready, Now [Click] Ready, now [Click] So what you’ll notice on someone when they’re learning is that almost always we have that stupid jerk that controls recoil, right? So if people would quit trying to control recoil, and learn how to pull the trigger quickly, then the recoil wouldn’t become a factor. Let me explain why.

So you’re aimed in on the target, you’re ready to go. You’ve decided to shoot -remember, all the work’s done now.

Rob: Right.

Pincus: At this point, I don’t even care where your focal distance is, target, sights, as long as you see a good enough representation. Finger on the trigger, ready to fire, pull the trigger. Now! [Click] So the trick is to be able to pull the trigger rapidly. Now at any point did you see the sight move off the target?

Rob: Yes.

Pincus: Now! [click] Did it ever move off of the part?

Rob: No.

Pincus: So we don’t need any better trigger pull than that. But we think we need this fine-tuned- ‘touch the trigger, we need you to squeeeze it real careful-like, like this. [click]’ -Look how long that takes! It takes me three seconds -put your finger on- if I told you to just ‘squeeze the trigger’ I’ll start now. [Click] That’s a second! Do you know what happens in a second?!

Rob: Absolutely.

Pincus: In the competition world, I lose the match. That one second cost me the whole match. In a real environment? Something way worse happens in a second. You realize even a big guy like me, what’s the distance, I can move seven yards in a second?

Rob: Absolutely. Yeah, you know, this to me is so important, right? Now I know my fundamentals could stand to improve dramatically-

Pincus: Naw your fundamentals are good.

Rob: You’re one of the best coaches in the world, that’s what you do, I know you do it really well, but I think it’s important that people hear that the best coach in the world, when it comes to competition shooting, if he’s telling you to do that three-second trigger press in the environment of defensive shooting, probably something’s wrong.

Pincus: It can’t work! It can’t work. The whole thing- you know what’s gonna happen in three seconds? You’re not gonna be involved in the game. It’s gonna be all over and you’re gonna be a loser.

Rob: So, good enough, not perfect.

Pincus: Correct.

Rob: That’s the foundation of fast shooting.

Pincus: That’s it.