20 Professionals Give Their Top Tips For Pistol Shooting

Republished from TopSpecUS.com with permission from Darren Ian

Whether you’re hitting the range for fun, protecting your home or in the line of duty, you want every shot to be accurate.

If you’re like most people, you don’t have as much time as you’d like to practice your shooting. When you finally do get to the range, you need to get the most of our your time—and ammo. To get you the best pistol shooting tips, we asked 20 experts “What is your #1 “go to” pistol shooting drill to improve accuracy?” 

So check out the responses below, and get your favorite range bag ready!

Tom Gresham


My go-to drill is what is called the “ball and dummy” drill. [email protected]

Ball ammo is live ammo.  Dummy ammo is inert.

Just load your magazines with a combination of live ammo and dummy ammo.  When you try to fire the dummy round (thinking it’s a live round), you’ll see the muzzle dip slightly (or more). That’s the flinch, or anticipation if you prefer.  You will work on your concentration to make sure you don’t yank the trigger the next time a dummy round comes up, and as a result, you’ll be pressing the trigger better, have better follow through, and your groups will shrink significantly.

Note, this can be done with a revolver by leaving one or more chambers empty.

This is a drill people should do a few times a year, just as a tune-up.

Tom Gresham is a nationally-known firearms expert and television host. Follow him on Twitter and check out his show Gun Talk on Stitcher

Massad Ayoob

For pure accuracy: a focus drill at close range, such as 4-5 yards. Object: every bullet in the same hole. Done at close range because a hit three inches out at 25 yards could be attributed to the gun or the ammo, but at 4 yards, the shooter doesn’t kid himself about whether or not human error was involved.

For pure accuracy: a focus drill at close range, such as 4-5 yards. [email protected]

Massad Ayoob has been handgun editor of GUNS magazine and law enforcement editor of AMERICAN HANDGUNNER since the 1970s. Grab his new book, Deadly Force – Understanding Your Right to Self Defense. Learn more about his classes here. Follow Massad on Twitter.

Julie Golob


One of the best ways to improve accuracy is simple group shooting.- @julieG1

First I shoot a bench mark group at whatever distance I want to shoot from. I shoot 6 rounds slow and easy from a supported position, either benched or prone with the gun fully resting on the ground or table. From this extremely stable platform I can take out a lot of variables that hurt my accuracy. That group becomes the standard.

Then I stand up and shoot from an unsupported position. The secret is accepting that movement I see in the sights, holding them as close as I can to my aiming mark and being smooth on the trigger like I am dragging my finger through thick peanut butter. The goal is to try to shoot the same size group from standing that I shot from that supported position.

Julie Golob is a multi-time World & National Champion. She is the author of SHOOT: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition. Follow Julie on TwitterFacebookYoutube, Blog & JulieGolob.com

Bryce M. Towsley


The first shot drill helps me in competition and to build skills with my carry [email protected] 

While probably not technically for accuracy, the first shot drill helps me in competition and to build skills with my carry gun. It’s one I do almost every time I go to the range.

Being fast in getting the gun out of the holster and making hit is important.  Why?  For competition every tenth of a second counts.  Matches are often one or lost with less than a second. Plus being able to do this quickly and accurately provides a psychological benefit and instills confidence.   For self-defense  it’s a little more obvious.  The idea is to shoot the bad guy before he shoots you.

Bryce Towsley is a field editor for NRA’s American Rifleman and American Hunter and Shooting Illustrated magazines as well as a columnist for Gun Digest Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Cheng


My go-to drill is dry fire with a coin placed on the front sight. [email protected]

My go-to drill is dry fire with a coin placed on the front sight. After you’ve got your sights aligned, slowly squeeze the trigger. If your squeeze is slow and smooth then the coin will stay on.

If it falls off, then keep trying until you can consistently squeeze the trigger and keep the coin on the sight. This is a great exercise if you see your shots dropping low – often a symptom of jerking the trigger.

Chris Cheng is a NRA News Commentator,  Professional Marksman, Author of “Shoot to Win” a book for the new shooter, and History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 Champion. Follow Chris on Twitter.

Peter Burlingame


Mindfulness is key to good trigger control. -Peter Burlingame

The vast majority of missing is due to poor trigger control. So, we do trigger drills:

  • Verify student understands sight alignment and trigger pull.
  • Student holds pistol, trigger finger indexed up on frame and aims.
  • Instructor (or another student) pulls trigger.
  • Student sees good hits and realizes that 1.) he knows how to aim, and 2.) the reason he hit was because of proper trigger control.
  • Student is taught good trigger control. Placing finger on trigger, they are instructed to not apply any pressure. Instructor places her finger on top of students and demonstrates how she pulls the trigger, explaining what she is doing, the student gets audio as well as kinesthetic feedback.
  • Final iteration is instructor places their finger on trigger, student places theirs on top and commences mindful trigger pulls. In this way the instructor can feel what the student is doing and provide feedback.

This one drill will have the vast majority of students shooting reasonably well within twenty rounds as they have firm understanding of proper trigger pull shown to them in several ways.

Before initial shooting, (or upon remediating someone else’s student) explaining that shooting is a ‘parallel’ process rather than a ‘serial’ one helps immensely with the conceptual side of things.

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