How I Instantly Improved My Accuracy And You Can Too

As I was browsing through LinkedIn, a video by a firearm instructor caught my eye. She was coaching a woman on pistol shooting, and the lady consistently hit the target's left side.

I was instantly interested, as I had the same problem while shooting at the range with a buddy a few months ago. Thankfully, he was a Marine who quickly identified my problem and showed me how to correct it.

Fortunately, the video presented a unique approach. Now, I'm excited to share these techniques with you so you can identify and rectify this common shooting mistake.

Diagnosing The Problem

I had been frustrated for years at the pistol range because no matter how far right I aimed (as a right-handed shooter), my shots grouped predominantly to the left of the bullseye, and I didn’t understand why until that day with my Marine buddy.

He watched me empty a couple of magazines at the range I built years ago on my property, then kindly came over, fixed my stance and grip, and told me my biggest problem was anticipating the shot.

He had me dump my mag and clear it multiple times to ensure it was empty. Then, we both looked into the chamber to ensure there wasn’t a 9mm round loaded, and he told me to get back in my shooting stance with my finger off of the trigger.

He then began talking to me about recoil control and how the shot should surprise you when you pull the trigger while tapping the front of my barrel (I don’t recommend this approach since it breaks gun safety rules, but it’s how he got his point across, and we ensured the gun was empty. It would also work with an empty airsoft pistol or toy handgun).

He then randomly stopped tapping the front of my barrel, and I lunged forward, confirming that I was anticipating the shot.

The safer way to diagnose this problem is to drop the mag, clear the pistol, and place an empty casing on the slide, then have the shooter dry fire their gun. If they lunge and knock the casing off, as I did, they’re anticipating and pushing their shot to the left or right.

Thankfully, there are simple adjustments one can make to overcome this common problem.

The Adjustments

The first solution my buddy offered was for me to shoot more. I wasn’t comfortable enough with my pistol. I smiled and said, hey, you won’t hear any complaints from me with that advice! He also said to focus on a slow, smooth trigger pull. You should be a little surprised when the round goes off.

The other solution offered by the video is to balance the empty casing on your slide as you dry fire repeatedly. This helps you build muscle memory and keeps you from pushing the pistol forward because you’re focused on keeping the empty casing in place.

The great thing about these adjustments is that they’re things we, as shooters, especially those of us who conceal carry, should be doing anyway. Regularly getting to the range, dry firing anywhere it’s safe, and training self-defense situations will allow you to become more comfortable with your firearm and become a better shooter.

The Results

While I still don’t claim to be an expert marksman, my skills have come a long way since that day at the range with the Marine. I still occasionally shoot to the left, especially when I shot a Desert Eagle for the first time. However, I now know what I’m doing wrong and make the simple adjustments to begin grouping around the bullseye quickly.

It’s important to realize that my shots were consistent, meaning I was shooting in relatively tight groups, but they were to the left of where I was aiming by 2-3 inches. So, if you're not shooting consistent groups to the left or right of where you’re aiming, your problem probably isn’t anticipating the shot.

In close quarters, being slightly off might not matter as much. As a deer hunter, I’m happy to group my shots in a 4-inch circle at 300 yards because I know I won’t take a shot further than that and trust my bullets to do their job.

However, I want to be more precise with my pistol because I might have to use it with others around, and I’m responsible for every bullet that comes out of the end of my barrel.

Parting Shots

We all have room for improvement when it comes to our shooting skills. It’s a skill that can’t be fully mastered, which is why it’s so much fun to continue to get better and better, yet see how far you still have to go.

The great thing about the simple tips above is that they work for right or left-handed shooters. When anticipating the shot, right-handed shooters tend to miss to the left, and left-handed shooters tend to miss to the right because they’re pushing forward and squeezing the trigger, causing the barrel to move slightly off course from where they’re aiming.

There’s only one thing left to do: get back to training and begin implementing what you’ve learned to become a more accurate shooter!

Author Bio

Wes Littlefield

Wes Littlefield was exposed to shooting and the outdoors at a young age by his parents. There are countless pictures of him hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting as a kid with his family. Today, he continues that tradition with his wife and daughter. When he’s not outdoors, he writes about disc golf, kayaking, and other outdoor activities as a full-time freelance writer and content creator at Ammo.com, YourBassGuy.com, and dozens of other outdoor publications.

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