Handgun Skills: The Two Most Challenging Fundamentals

Shooting is entirely about exercising fundamental skills and those who are “advanced” in skill simply have advanced command over those fundamentals.  Traditionally, there are seven fundamental skills in shooting:

  • Stance
  • Grip
  • Sight Alignment
  • Sight Picture
  • Trigger Press
  • Breath Control
  • Follow Through

As applied to the defensive use of the handgun some of these fundamentals weigh much more heavily on our performance than others.  For example, breath control, which is very important for making distant shots with a rifle, has almost no bearing at all on shooting a handgun at speed at close range (it does factor in when making distant or very accurate shots even with the handgun). 

Generally, the concepts of stance, sight alignment, and sight picture are quite easy for people to understand and as a shooter progresses in development these particular skills rarely pose much trouble.  Standing in a fairly athletic stance with the weight forward helps control recoil and it is a technique easy enough to demonstrate and explain.  Likewise, the concept of “equal height, equal light” sight alignment and the related sight picture in reference to the target is simple enough to understand and perform, at least for a basic level of shooting.

The two fundamentals that generally dictate successful performance with the handgun are the mechanics of the grip and the manipulation of the trigger.  If a new shooter is struggling, or if an experienced shooter has hit a wall, this is where the issue most often lies in either case.  An advanced shooter becomes advanced due to his or her command of the grip mechanics and trigger manipulation.  Problems with stance are easier dealt with and problems with sighting are also remedied quite readily.  The grip and trigger press, on the other hand, require a lot of work and committed effort. 

If you are struggling with any aspect of your shooting, be it accuracy, speed, consistency, cadence, etc…, I guarantee the issue lies in your grip, your trigger manipulation, or a combination of the two.  Analyze what you are doing within these two aspects of the fundamentals and you will root out the problem.

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