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Shooting Fundamentals



Feature | Gun, bullets, ear plugs and shooting accessories on the table at shooting range | Shooting Fundamentals

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced shooter, going back to the shooting fundamentals will help you hone your skills further.

RELATED: Long Distance Shooting: Choosing Your Gun And Ammo

In this article:

  1. Proper Sight Alignment
  2. Focus
  3. Trigger Control
  4. Breath Control
  5. Hold Control
  6. Follow Through

Shooting Fundamentals | Follow These Tips and Shoot Like a Pro


1. Proper Sight Alignment

Man shooting on an outdoor shooting range | Shooting Fundamentals
Using a proper sight alignment is critical to hitting what you're actually aiming at. Your firearm's sights are in proper alignment when the front sight (red) is directly at the center with the rear sight (green).

The very tip of your front sight should also be parallel with the tops of the “leaves” of the rear sight.

Without proper alignment, your shots will be off-target. This is why this tops the list of the fundamentals of shooting a pistol.

2. Focus

Focusing on the front sight provides you with the most precise indication of where exactly the gun is pointing. You can also more readily discern whether your sights are not in proper alignment.

If you focus on the rear sight or the target, it's much harder to figure out when you're “lined up” incorrectly!

3. Trigger Control

Woman takes lessons in shooting with a handgun on the shooting range | Shooting Fundamentals

Center the first pad of your index finger on the trigger and pull straight back. Using the very tip of your finger, the second pad or the “crease” between pads can cause you to pull shots left or right.

Note that some instructors suggest using the second pad for guns with particularly heavy trigger pulls – only you can determine what works best for you!

RELATED: Pistol Shooting Tips: Introduction To One-Handed Pistol Shooting

4. Breath Control

This is one of the most important pistol shooting fundamentals you have to master. Hold your breath while pulling the trigger.

As you are exhaling, let about half of the air out of your lungs, aim, and pull the trigger. Holding your breath or a respiratory pause will help you with your hold control.

5. Hold Control

If you're exercising proper breath control, this should be easy! As you pull the trigger, hold your entire body as still as possible.

The most minor physical adjustment can affect the point of impact of your shots. Keeping as still as you can will help prevent that from occurring and a common thing when correcting pistol shooting errors.

6. Follow Through

man at the shooting range | Shooting Fundamentals

After firing a shot, keep your finger on the trigger while it's pulled to the rear. While maintaining a good sight picture, slowly let off the pressure on the trigger while keeping your finger on it.

Allow the trigger to reset (you will feel a “click” when the trigger resets) and start pulling the trigger again if you need to fire additional shots. Don't immediately release your finger and jerk the gun!


The infographic below will teach you the basics of shooting. Follow these tips and you'll be shooting like a pro in no time.

Infographic | Shooting Fundamentals

No matter how natural a shooter you are, you still have a considerable advantage if you take the time to practice with the shooting fundamentals. There are times when your shooting is a bit off the target.

If you're struggling to figure out what the problem is, just look into your basic shooting guide and fix the problem.

What do you think of these shooting fundamentals for your shooting guide? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 11, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sandy Sandmeyer

    April 18, 2017 at 1:51 PM

    This is the most helpful graphic I’ve seen to help me with shooting. Thank you!

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