Common Handgun Shooting Errors

Shooting a handgun is hard. It’s much more difficult to control a handgun than it is to control a shoulder-mounted platform.

For some shooters, producing accurate groups at 25 yards or greater, at least over open iron sights, is quite a challenge, especially if you can see your groups aren’t clustering near the center of the target and you don’t know why.

Hopefully, this short guide will straighten some of that out.

Then all that’ll be left for you to do is get some 9mm bulk ammo, and practice, practice, practice. That’s the only way to overcome these common handgun shooting errors.

Groups Trending High

Shoot a group of 5 to 10 shots at the target. Are they all clustered together? If so, good, you’re shooting in precise fashion – just possibly in the wrong place on the target.

Are they all clustered high above your point of aim? There could be a few things that are going on here.

If all the shots are grouped just north of the point of aim, 12 o’clock, above it, you’re breaking your wrist up as you shoot.

But the most common explanation is that you’re anticipating recoil. You’re flinching, so to speak, and your wrist is jerking back before the trigger breaks and the gun fires.

Shots that break up and to the right indicate “heeling” and those that break up and to the left indicate “pushing.”

Still in either case, you need to work on that flinch. Stop expecting recoil, just let it happen.

Groups Trending Low

If you push forward in anticipation of recoil instead of pulling back, your shots will probably trend low. The solution is the same; hold the grip steady and don’t move.

Another issue can be caused by tightening the fingers or the grip, or of jerking or slapping the trigger. Both of these are akin to flinching although not exactly the same.

You should be holding the gun firmly but do not tighten your grip as you expect the trigger to break. That will cause your shots to skew low – and in some instances low and to the sides.

Groups Trending to the Right

You want your shooting finger to contact the trigger flat on the pad of the point of your finger. Too much and your shots are going to skew off wide to the right.

This condition, which we’ll just call “too much trigger finger” pushes shots over to the right of the point of aim.

Another similar situation is called thumbing, in which you squeeze your thumb before shooting, putting torque on the gun and sending your shots off to the right.

It’s probably one of these things. Identify the issue and make the fix. 

Groups Trending to the Left

The last shooting error we will explore is fortunately the easiest to diagnose. If your shots are trending over to the left side of the point of aim, you’re probably too conservative with your shooting finger.

Again, you want the pad of your shooting fingertip right on the trigger – not just the fingertip itself.

Too little trigger finger doesn’t give you a clean break or good control of the gun, and the textbook signature is groups of shots that skew way off to the left.

Get Some 9mm Bulk Ammo and Practice

Whether or not you can conclusively identify which of these issues is causing your shot errors is one thing – the solution in every case is this: more target shooting practice.

Get yourself some 9mm bulk ammo and block off some time at the range to work on your form, eliminate flinching, and bring your groups closer to your point of aim.

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