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9 Tips for New Shooters: Handgun Edition

11.21.2022 | By Remington Contributor

Over the last 2+ years, the US has seen millions of new shooters join the ranks. Let’s go, America! If you’re one of them, and in need of a little training before you go for that concealed/open carry permit, we’ve got your back. Here are 9 tips to make your handgun shootin’ journey easier. But let’s start with the firearm bible basics: keep your gun pointed in a safe direction, always treat your gun as if it were loaded, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, and always be sure of your target and what may lie beyond it.

1. Firearm/Caliber Selection: Too often new shooters go big… and then end up going home. Aim for a light recoiling pistol like a .22LR or a .380 auto. There is a common misconception that smaller sized handguns are easier to shoot. When in reality, a full-size pistol with a longer barrel is much more manageable with significantly less recoil than a subcompact 9mm. Ergonomics are also key –– ensure the firearm is comfortable in your hands and you are able to properly grip it.

2. Gripis a major player. With your dominant hand, grip the backstrap as high as you can but not so high that there is interference with the slide. Keep your trigger finger pointed straight and resting against the frame. Next, place your non-dominant hand where the top of your index finger touches the bottom of the trigger guard. Thumbs forward, always. Again, avoiding any slide interference. Slide bite is the devil’s work. The firmer the grip, the better –– limp wristing can actually cause failure to eject. So grip it, and grip it hard.

3. Eyes & Ears: The sound of a gunfire can often be a major deterrent when learning how to shoot –– and how to shoot well. To remedy this, double up on ear protection. In-ear plugs beneath over-the-ear range earmuffs work wonders. Take it a step further with noise isolation Bluetooth earbuds. They’ll suppress the sounds of gunfire –– typically anything over 85dB –– while amplifying voices and other relevant sounds. Next up is eye protection, sunglasses, prescription glasses, or any basic shooting glasses will do the trick.

4. Irons or Red Dot Optic? Train with irons. It’s not always easy to manage 3 focal planes, but iron sights are reliable and without fail. While a parallax-free red dot optic can be helpful for training (and look totally badass), it isn’t always easy to locate in a self-defense situation and can often fail from dead batteries, loose screws, broken glass, or manufacturer defects. Simply match the top of the front iron sight with the top of the rear iron sights.

*If a handicap is needed, laser attachments are a great option for point-and-shoot.

5. Trigger: Dry fire. Dry fire. Dry fire. It is completely safe to dry fire centerfire semi-auto pistols and revolvers (but never dry fire a rimfire firearm). Get familiar with the trigger pull (weight and length) and where the trigger break is. Then move on to more advanced trigger control in conjunction with sight alignment and sight picture.

6. Shoot Paper. Let’s be honest –– there’s nothing better than outdoor shooting. But for initial training purposes, it’s best to shoot paper and shoot it at an indoor range. You won’t have the sun in your eyes, you’ll have a dividing wall to avoid any distractions, and you don’t need to wait for a ‘cold’ range to swap your targets. Paper targets are especially ideal for measuring groups and overall progress. Bonus points for no shrapnel or fragments from steel when shooting at self-defense distances (7-10 yards).

7. Stance: Proper handgun shooting stance can set other areas of training up for success. There are a few stance options in handgun shooting. The 3 most popular are the Isosceles, the Weaver, and the Chapman. There is no one-size-fits-all, so experiment with each and determine which works best for you.

8. Anticipate Recoil. This is a tough one but the good news is, it’s completely natural to anticipate recoil. Our recommendation? Dry fire. It helps with muscle memory and will play a part in beating recoil anticipation.

9. Practice. Practice. Practice. And be patient. If Keanu Reeves can go from Bill & Ted to John Wick, you can too.

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