I get asked all the time if out of all my handgun shooting tips I have a #1 piece of advice for marksmen. Have you ever wondered if there is a secret shooting tip that could help unlock your great human potential as a marksman? Is there one shooting tip to rule them all? Well, I wondered that myself so I decided to ask them! Here are the replies I received from some of the best firearms instructors in the world with backgrounds including Army Special Operations, an Olympian, Top SHOT contestants, and of course myself, a Navy SEAL.
Most people have to pay hundreds of dollars and attend a course to get shooting tips from instructors of this caliber, but they were kind enough to share them with me (and you) for FREE!
Without further ado, here are the #1 shooting tips from the world’s finest firearms instructors.
Top Firearms Instructors
Handgun Shooting Tips from Chris Cerino
Chris Cerino: Make the Sights the Mission
Owner, Chris Cerino Training Group
Handgun Shooting Tip #1: Sight Alignment
Most people understand what sights are for on a firearm, and almost everyone knows how to align them. Once aligned, they are placed on an intended target where we want the bullet to ultimately impact. Sight alignment and sight picture are easy concepts to understand. It’s the discipline to stay with that sight picture, through the break of the round, that gets people in trouble and makes this one of the important handgun shooting tips.
By trouble I mean, that lack of discipline gets results other than what they want. If you can understand sight alignment and sight picture, you next need to build discipline and trust — trust in the weapon platform and trust in yourself.
As one of the top firearms instructors, Chris Cerino wants you to trust that if you do your job the gun will do its job. Make those sights and sights picture the mission. It’s your mission to ensure that the sight picture remains until after the gun goes off. Don’t change your focus to the trigger finger to fire, or to the target to see the results.
Your mission is to see those sights with a target beyond them before, during, and (if there is time) after the shot breaks. Then and only then will you know if you hit or missed and whether you should move on to the next target or send another round to neutralize the target. Paying attention to this great shooter tip and making the sights your mission will enable you to begin to learn not only what it takes to hit a target but also help diagnose why you missed it.
Handgun Shooting Tips from Kyle Lamb
Founder and President, Viking Tactics
Get His Book: Stay in the Fight!! Warriors Guide to the Combat Pistol
Handgun Shooting Tip #2: Push Your Limits
As a trainer and one of the best instructors, I am constantly pushing students to attain higher levels of performance. My #1 shooting tip? The first is accuracy, without it—we can’t continue to build. Once students have demonstrated the ability to shoot tightly when not under the stress of competition or the clock, we start to push them harder and harder. Ideally, we want to find the breaking point. How fast can you drive the gun and drive yourself before, as I normally say, “the wheels come off”? If you never push to your limits, you won’t really know your capabilities.
Some trainers always want students in their comfort zone, shooting tight little groups. This is great up until you enter a gunfight. When the cards are down, it is a race to put accurate fire on your enemy. The only legal way we can train for this event is by inducing stress into our training regimen. Always push your speed but don’t sacrifice accuracy. If you see accuracy start to fade, you may have just found your 101%. Push to bypass the breaking point. When you end up in a confrontation, hopefully, your 80% or comfort zone is 125% of the bad guy’s capabilities. Drive the gun, push the speed, and get good hits. This is a race. When you push yourself, you not only learn your limitations but expand your capabilities. You don’t want to discover your limits in a dynamic combat situation. Of all the handgun shooting tips I teach, I always want to remind marksmen to push their limits.
Handgun Shooting Tips from JJ Racaza
World Champion Competitive Shooter JJ Racaza
Handgun Shooting Tip #3: Trigger Control
In my opinion, this is one of the most important and difficult skill sets to master. The way a person manipulates the trigger will greatly affect the placement and speed of shots. This is the most common area where shooters will lose their accuracy when applying speed. Just remember this, squeezing the trigger is the last conscious movement that could potentially affect your sight picture. As one of the best firearms instructors in the world, JJ’s #1 shooting tip is to work on trigger control.
In terms of gaining speed, the trigger is where you see a ton of inefficiencies as well. There are many techniques and styles on how to manipulate the trigger. Unless it’s really affecting his or her accuracy I focus more on the process. For this handgun shooting tip, I simply ask my students to pay attention to when the gun is “ready” to fire vs. you being “ready” to fire after each shot. The gun being “ready” means the sights are back on target. The shooter being “ready” is when the shooter has the trigger “prepped” and ready to fire the shot with acceptable accuracy. The goal is to lessen the disparity between the two and once mastered, you will see how your speed will increase and you haven’t sacrificed your accuracy. The magic of this shooting tip is in its simplicity. With Just a little attention to the details of your trigger control, you can unlock tremendous potential for speed and accuracy as a marksman.
Handgun Shooting Tips from Gabby Franco
NRA News Commentator | Olympian & Firearms Instructor
Get Her Book: TroubleShooting
Handgun Shooting Tip #4: Learn From Your Mistakes
It is extremely important that at the range you have high-quality practice. While shooting, you need to be able to identify what you did wrong so you can avoid making the same mistake. When I am instructing, I try to express to my students my #1 shooting tip not to hide from their mistakes, but to study them. Identify what you did right so you can repeat a good shot over and over again, and look at what you did wrong to eliminate the problem and have a better outcome as a shooter. Remember that our time is very limited for everything we do during our life, and for that reason, our practice time is very valuable. For my shooting tip, make sure you are learning from every second you spend training, and make sure that when you spend your time doing something, you do your best!
Handgun Shooting Tips from Chris Sajnog
My advice would be for shooters to go slow and practice every manipulation of the weapon perfectly. Each time you do something, right or wrong, you’re literally paving a neural pathway in your body and telling your body that is exactly how to perform that movement in the future. Your body doesn’t know if that repetition was right or wrong. It’s just laying down the pavement to make that path smoother in the future. It also makes no difference to your neurons how fast you do the movement. So when you’re learning any technique — speed kills. Once you’ve done the same movements exactly the same way enough times, the path will be smooth and you’ll be able to drive the gun down that road as fast as you like. So for my #1 shooting tip, practice slow and pave a perfect pathway. Speed is second to perfection. Don’t just do it fast, do it right. The best shooting instructors agree that your speed training is worthless if it causes you to sacrifice accuracy or function.
Top Firearms Instructors And Their Best Handgun Shooting Tips
Let’s recap those great shooting tips one last time for all you marksmen out there training to be the best you can be.
- Practice your sight alignment
- Push your limits
- Master trigger control
- Learn from your mistakes
- Pave a perfect pathway
These 5 shooting tips from some of the best firearms instructors should help you on your journey to becoming an expert marksman and a highly effective shooter. What’s your #1 shooting tip? Any shooting tips you would like to share that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.