Training & Handling

How to Practice Shooting a Gun

How to Practice Shooting a Gun

Learning how to practice handling and shooting a gun is an important step to becoming and being a responsible gun owner. Regular practice whether at the range or dry-firing at home should become part of your new lifestyle as a gun owner. Practicing gun handling will not only help you build your skills but perhaps build on a more important aspect.  With the proper techniques, you build a solid foundation upon which your ability to protect yourself and your loved ones effectively and safely grows.

Practice makes better!! Notice I didn’t say perfect. As gun owners and shooters, we will never be perfect and honestly, I wouldn’t want any of you to think you were. Why? Because if you think you have your shooting techniques perfected, you would see no value in training and learning. There is no self-defense situation that is the same as another. You have NO IDEA what an attack will be like or what will happen during it. Therefore, a desire to always be growing your armed self-defense skills and constantly practicing these skills is what increases your likelihood for survival.

Thinking you are “good enough” or that you have mastered your shooting technique can lead to complacency and in my opinion, this is a dangerous place to be as a gun owner.

Please remember to practice with an unloaded gun. It should be a habit to check your firearm to make sure it is cleared of any ammunition before any kind of dry practice.

How to Practice Shooting a Gun vs. Training

Training and practice are two different things. Practice is taking the new skills you have learned in training and repeating them, critiquing them, and working to improve them. This is both a mental and a physical process. The goal is for both your head and body to repeat these skills correctly, instinctively, without you having to “work” to make them happen. They just happen automatically. Both training and practice are required to become the best self-protector you can be.

Practice Your Gun Handling Basics

You are going to want to practice each area of basic pistol handling. There are fundamental skills of shooting that you need to practice. These include the proper grip, stance, trigger press, breath control, aiming, and follow-through.

Taking the time to learn and practice the proper way to do each of these things will not only be safer, but will help you in the long run. You do not want to have to train yourself out of a bad habit. All of these skills depend on the others, so learning and practicing them correctly results in safe and accurate shooting.

Unfortunately, unsafe and improper technique is rampant in movies and on TV. Sadly, many people mimic these improper techniques or those of poorly trained shooters and then have the difficult task of trying to re-learn them.  Once you know the correct skills, trust me, you will begin to spot them in every movie and television show!

Have a Practice Plan

When practicing how to shoot a gun it’s important to know ahead of time, what exactly you are going to practice and understand why it is an important skill. Set a goal for what you are trying to improve. Are you working on trigger finger discipline and keeping your finger out of the trigger guard area when attaining a good firing grip? Is it getting into a solid firing stance faster today than you did yesterday? Perhaps today will be pressing the trigger without moving the muzzle of the gun? How many times will you repeat the skill or drill? Knowing what you are working on, why you are working on it, and how many times you will repeat it will assure a productive practice session and the improvement of your skills.

Measuring your progress

We all want to become better and we all want to know that the practice we are doing is working and that we are improving. So how do you practice shooting a gun and know you are improving?  The only way you can know is to measure your progress. The best way to do this is to keep a journal. In it you keep notes of the skills you are practicing. How did it feel while doing it? What are the results?  Do you keep catching yourself doing one thing when you should be doing another?

Being able to organize your practice and your results will allow you to identify areas you need to work on. It also shows your improvement.

Perhaps use a timer to monitor your speed of different drills. The use of a mirror or better yet video is an invaluable practice tool as you can see what you are doing. With a video you can stop and zoom in and really see if your trigger finger is truly in the correct position. Are “jerking” the trigger instead of pressing it smoothly? Journaling your results gives you evidence of your improvements and allows you to move forward toward more difficult skills or skill combinations.

Safety Rules

Lastly, when you learn how to practice shooting a gun, you need to be actively practicing the firearm safety rules as well. These become rules to live by as a gun owner and shooter. They will ensure that when you are handling a gun or are around people who are handling a gun, everyone stays safe. Each rule should be followed and thought through every action when handling a gun. This will train your body and brain to automatically enforce the rules whenever handling a pistol.

Final thoughts

When you are new to shooting it is natural for you to focus on and want to only hit that bullseye shot every time. However, you want to learn how to practice shooting your gun in a way that will build proper technique first. It’s important to understand that each fundamental skill depends on all of the others being done properly to truly be a safe and accurate shooter. So be patient, practice them all individually, and then add one, then two, and so on. It will be worth the patience and hard work. Not only will you grow to an outstanding shot but will be properly prepared to help other new shooters learn how to shoot as well. As a gun owner, there is nothing more satisfying than teaching another how to safely and effectively shoot a gun.

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4 thoughts on “How to Practice Shooting a Gun

  1. Topcat1978 says:

    I’m in Anchorage Alaska you have someone here for training? Got a 9 mm with cloud five never shot one only have Shot revolvers and rifle. Never a clip don’t feel comfortable with it

  2. Eve Mitchell says:

    My dad used to take my shooting when I was little, but I never had a gun of my own. I’d really like to buy a custom rifle for myself as a present this month. Thanks for mentioning that you need to practice building proper technique when shooting at the range.


    Do you have someone in COLLEYVILLE, TX who can train me? I live in Arlington, TX, am a senior

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      Hi Evelyne, you can do a search here to see if there is an instructor close to you. or I would call a shooting range near you for a referral.

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