How to hold and Shoot a Handgun Properly

Shooting a handgun/pistol might appear basic to a common person. However, once you get the handgun in your hands, you realize shooting properly and accurately is never easy. There are several fundamentals, tips, exercises, and practices required before one can shoot properly. 

Your first day handling a pistol can be pretty challenging. You’re likely going to miss a lot. However, that should not worry you as we all have a starting point. It takes practice, learning, and developing with each shoot. So, how do you become better at shooting using your handgun? Let’s get started with the basic fundamentals:

Gaining a proper shooting stance

This seems a pretty basic thing but one that every shooter must consider. How you stand affects how well you shoot. Your shooting stance is the foundation of every shot from your handgun. You need a stable and comfortable stance. Your body needs to tilt forward a little to handle the recoil from the handgun. 

Gaining a proper stance might appear complicated, but that is not the case. This is something you will learn with time. It all comes down to proper foot placement and flexing of the arm a little. There are different types of stances, but nothing to get you confused. All you need is a slight forward lean and stable foot placement to start shooting properly. 

Have a proper handgun grip

Having an excellent grip on your handgun plays a major role in the shooting accuracy. Remember, only one finger will be pressing the trigger. A firm handgun grip reduces any movement from non-trigger fingers. 

The grip needs to contain the recoil of the back and forth movement. Your thumb finger and trigger finger needs to maintain a higher web. Remember, a handgun is just a piece of metal when not shooting. However, once you start shooting, the handgun recoil will move your hand back and forth. The forearm needs to absorb the shock that comes with the recoil movement. And to achieve this, you need your forearm in a straight line with the handgun. 

Your empty left or right-hand needs to hold the handgun at 45 degrees. The thumb of your dominant hand needs to be up in the air facing the target. 

Focusing on the front target

You need to learn to focus on the front sight if you’re going to hit the target.  This is one area where people face problems. Most newbies will be squinting with just one eye open! Well, there is nothing wrong with that. However, with time, you will realize this causes a lot of eye-strain. This is why you need to learn how to focus with both eyes open. 

This is pretty difficult at first but one that you can master with practice and time. The first step is focusing with both eyes open is figuring out your dominant eye. You then need to move your sights closer from the dominant eye. If your dominant eye is on the right (which is the case for most people), you need to focus your sights from left to right. This is crucial as it prevents double vision. 

Pulling the trigger

Pulling the trigger is by far the most important part when it comes to proper handgun use. Some of the expert handgun shooters advice on taking it slow. Don’t rush to pull the trigger. This might greatly impact your accuracy. You need to squeeze the trigger slowly such that you’re surprised when the shot breaks. Pulling the trigger slowly will lead to a better shot.

This is not easy for most people since they have practiced with their handguns and know when they are about to pull the trigger. You will be surprised how well people shoot with new guns. This is simply because they are not used to the trigger and don’t anticipate for the recoil and loud sound. 

Proper finger placing

How you place your finger when taking the shot is another area to consider. While in most cases, it is a personal preference, your finger needs to be at the top quarter of your fingertip. This can also be affected by your finger size.

However, you need to know what makes a better shoot. The only movement of your hands and fingers expected are just the first two joints of your trigger finger. This is why you need to practice with your handgun and fingers to know how they feel. Some people shoot well when the trigger finger is close to the first joint. 

Trigger reset

This is another area where people tend to make a lot of mistakes when having more than one shot. Don’t lift your finger off the trigger immediately you take a shot. This will likely jerk the trigger and make you shoot faster than expected. You will simply be making your next shot harder. It means pulling the first part of the trigger again before making a second shot. So, how do you properly rest your trigger?

 A proper trigger rest involves holding the trigger all the way until the first shot breaks. You can then release it when you feel the click. 


Most people tend to mess their handgun shooting by holding their breath when shooting. You’ve properly seen people hold their breath when focusing. However, that does not have to be the case with handgun shooting. You can hold your breath sniping at 1000 yards. Keep your breathing natural to shoot your handgun properly. Planning your breaths when shooting with your handgun might end up affecting your accuracy. 

Proper handgun shooting is not just about handling and shooting. You also need to learn handgun safety. There are four basic rules for safe handgun handling. On top of learning how to hold and shoot properly, you need to learn these rules as safety is crucial. The four handgun safety rules are:

•    Guns are always loaded: Yes, treat every gun as loaded even you’re the one that unloaded it.  Even better, don’t store live ammunition in the same room with your handgun. 

•    Never have the muzzle point at anything you don’t want to shoot. The muzzle of the gun must always point in a safe direction. You never know when adrenaline will make you pull the trigger unknowingly. You’ve probably heard people shoot others accidentally. Even if you’re a pro, never have the muzzle point towards people or anything you don’t intend to shoot. 

•    Keep fingers off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. This is pretty obvious as one can pull the trigger by accident.

•    Know your target and what is beyond it. Make sure you understand your target and everything behind it. Something the shot might penetrate the target and cause harm to anything beyond it.

Get into a habit of checking if your handgun is empty. The safety of your handgun is as crucial as knowing how to hold and shoot properly. 

Final verdict

That is it when it comes to proper handgun holding, shooting, and safety. This guide makes you a better pistol shooter. However, it is worth noting you won’t become a pro by simply reading our guide. You need to put everything into practice. Some of the best handgun experts have several hours of practice under their belt.

This guest post was written by Eric Patton of Rangefinder Today.  A website dedicated to the art and discipline of long range hunting and shooting.  An art that Eric has spent years in learning and teaching. To learn more about long range shooting, hunting, and all the gear that makes it fun, check out other articles at

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