Gun training: What you need to know about shooting a weapon

Guest Post by Richard Douglas

You just purchased a personal handgun. You’re ready to get started on your target practice as soon as possible. But, before you go out to try out your new gun, consider these six tips to make sure your gun training is as safe and enjoyable for you, your companions, and everyone around you as possible.

Awareness of Your Surroundings

Before you even begin shooting, you need to make sure that the area where you will be shooting is clear, and the area behind and around it is clear as well. You won’t need to worry about this as much if you’re receiving your shooting lessons at a gun range because the onsite instructors always make sure the area is clear before they allow shooting.

If you’re just on your friend’s land, and will be having him teach you how to hold a gun and discharge it, letting you empty a few rounds while you get the hang of it, then you need to make sure you are aware of what is in the target site, what is behind the target, and what’ behind that. When it’s all clear, begin your session.


You might be wondering why every gun how-to-shoot guide includes a section on your stance. Everyone includes it because it is so important. The way you stand while holding a gun and discharging it can affect your stability, accuracy, and could potentially make you injure yourself.

The proper stance for weapon discharging is:

  • Feet and hips shoulder width apart
  • Bend your knees slightly

Once you are in this stance, make sure the following conditions are met before you press the trigger.


How you hold your gun determines not only your aim and how steady it is but also how likely you are to experience injury.

Everyone knows that there is always some type of recoil present from the gun firing. As a result, the type of grip you have on the gun before it discharges can determine how consistent it is; it can help you with your recoil reaction as well.

Your grip needs to maintain a certain tension throughout the firing—too loose and the gun might shift during firing which can be dangerous on multiple levels, or if the gun is held too tight, the trigger finger is partially immobilized.

The best way to ensure that neither of these scenarios happens is to consistently grip your handgun in a manner that allows you to keep your stability.

Your dominant hand (your gun hand) should grip the gun high on the back grip of the gun to offer you more leverage. Your non-dominant hand should then be pressed firmly on the remaining exposed portion of the grip on the gun. The four fingers of your non-dominant hand should be placed, and remain there, under the trigger guard with the index finger pressing the hardest to ensure the hand remains there. The index finger of your dominant hand should remain outside the trigger guard as well.


Holding a gun and firing it can be nerve-wracking. However, make sure your breathing throughout your gun training is relaxed and steady. Take long deep breaths throughout.

When the time comes to aim and pull the trigger, make sure you breathe slowly. Do not hold your breath at all while shooting—you can decrease visibility from a lack of oxygen and cause your hands to shake and become unstable.

Relax, breathe deeply and slowly.

Positioning the gun and aiming

Your handgun should be brought up between your eyes and the target as smooth as possible.

Make sure your target is seen with your dominant eye, and then align your sights properly and set your sight picture so that you’re looking at three objects: the front sight, the rear sight, and your target. Your target will appear blurry while the front and rear sight are clear when you have the correct sight picture. Also, you can use a scope to enhance your aiming and have a clearer view of the target. Whether you are using an AR-10 rifle scope or any handgun scope, make sure you select the best scope for your intended use.

Pulling the trigger

After ensuring your target is properly sighted, and the area has been cleared for any other traffic, it is time to pull the trigger. However, when firing a weapon you do not actually “pull,” the trigger, but press firmly on it so that your sight is not disturbed.

Make sure you are breathing, relaxed and deep.

When ready, press the trigger to the rear. Apply constant pressure, keeping the handgun steady until it fires. Squeeze the trigger until you feel a resistance. Keep the gun steady while this happens. Keep it steady throughout the recoil, and the firing. Keep it steady until you are sure the gun has fired properly. Shifting the position of the gun slightly while it is firing can completely change the trajectory of the bullet.

When you’re getting ready to go out and shoot your personal weapon again, consider these tips before you do. Always make sure your surroundings are fully clear and be aware of where people might be in the areas you will practice in. Then, follow the guidelines you are taught, as well as these tips, to make your gun training as safe and enjoyable as possible.


Richard Douglas loves anything and everything guns. He’s been shooting for over 20 years, shooting every rifle, animal, and using every accessory in existence. He thinks he’s gotten a bit better at shooting, but don’t look at his target practice results — it looks like a Stormtrooper shot in his place. Check out his scopes site here.

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