4 Fundamentals to Help Improve Your Pistol Shooting - NSSF Let's Go Shooting

4 Fundamentals to Help Improve Your Pistol Shooting

There are a few fundamental skills every pistol shooter should possess. Regardless of your objective or shooting discipline, when considering pistol shooting several things always apply; grip, stance, sight alignment and trigger control. Focusing on these shooting factors can help you get shots on targets accurately no matter what your skill level or objective may be.

Handgun Grip

Understanding how to properly hold your pistol is the first step to developing consistent and accurate shooting. Please note that your hold may vary slightly depending on the grip and frame of your firearm as well as the position you are in. To learn more check out these Handgun grip considerations.

In this video world-champion target shooter Kay Miculek demonstrates how to properly grip a semi-automatic pistol. 

Shooting Stance

Once you have established a firm and comfortable grip on your firearm, you should find a comfortable shooting stance. Each shooting discipline may call for a slightly modified stance but what all good stances have in common is a basic athletic position allowing you to effectively absorb recoil and maintain steady control of the firearm.

In this video, Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng demonstrates the two common stances for pistol shooting and notes that comfort is key when taking an effective shooting stance.


After establishing a solid handgun grip and comfortable stance, your next focus will be on aiming the firearm. Understanding how to properly aim a firearm begins with sight alignment and sight picture in relation to your handgun sights.

In this video, Gunsite Rangemaster Charlie McNeese explains key shooting fundamentals–Sight alignment and sight picture.

Trigger control

Proper trigger finger placement with a smooth and controlled trigger pull is a critical step in accurate handgun shooting that is often overlooked. Maintaining the correct finger placement, proper breath control and applying gradually increasing pressure to the trigger until the shot is fired will cause the least deviation from your sight picture and help you shoot more accurately.

In this video, Champion handgun shooter Doug Koenig shares his thoughts on trigger press and a tip on how to improve your trigger control.

Putting it all together

Understanding and practicing these 4 basic principles of shooting will help you get started shooting. 

In this video, Dave Miles talks with Adam Painchaud, Director of the Sig Sauer Academy in New Hampshire, about keeping the basics of gun handling, well, basic. Adam explains his approach to helping newcomers get their first rounds on target. No matter what your skill level basic fundamentals apply.