How to Grip a Handgun
Alright, let’s get down to business. How do you hold a handgun?
For beginners, Mike says a two-handed grip is a must.
1. The gun hand (your dominant hand) should grip the gun high on the back strap (the back strap is the back of the grip on the gun). This gives you more leverage against the weapon which will help you control recoil when you fire the gun.
Mike showing how to hold the gun high on the gun’s grip with your gun hand.
2. Place your support hand (your non-dominant hand) so that it is pressed firmly against the exposed portion of the grip not covered by the gun hand. All four fingers of your support hand should be under the trigger guard with the index finger pressed hard underneath it. Here’s Mike demonstrating for us:
Fingers of support hand directly under the trigger guard. Notice Mike’s trigger finger is on the outside of the trigger guard. Safety first!
Like you did with your gun hand, you should place your support hand as high as possible on the grip with the thumb pointing forward, roughly below where the slide meets the frame. Look at the back of your hands. There should be a distinct fit, like the fit of a puzzle, with your gun and support hand, like so:
Assume the Extended Shooting Position
Stand with your feet and hips shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Mike calls it an “athletic stance.” It allows you to fire the weapon with stability and mobility. Raise the weapon toward your target. Here’s Mike showing us how it’s done:
How to Aim a Handgun
Use your dominant eye. You want to aim with your dominant eye. To figure out which of your eyes is the dominant one, perform a quick eye test by forming a one inch circle with your thumb and index finger. Hold the circle at arm’s length. Look at a distant object and look through your circle so that the object appears in the center of it. Keeping both eyes open, bring your circle toward your face slowly. Your hand will naturally gravitate toward one eye. That’s your dominant eye.
Align your sights. Your handgun has a front sight and a rear sight notch. Aim at your target and align the top of the front sight so that it lines up with the top of the rear sight. There should also be equal amounts of empty space on both sides of the front sight.
Proper sight alignment
Set your sight picture. The sight picture is the pattern of your gun’s sights in relation to your target. When you’re aiming a gun, you’re looking at three objects: the front sight, the rear sight, and your target. However, it’s not possible to focus simultaneously on all three objects. One of the objects will inevitably be blurry when you’re aiming. When you have a correct sight picture, your front and rear sight appears sharp and clear and your target appears to be a bit blurry. Like so:
Correct sight picture. The sights are in focus and the target is blurry.
According to Mike, the further away your target is, the greater the need for a clear focus on the front sight.
Trigger Management (aka Pulling the Trigger)
To fire a gun, we often use the popular phrase “pull the trigger.” However, to fire a gun properly, you don’t actually want to pull the trigger, but rather press it in a controlled fashion so you don’t disrupt your sights. Here’s a brief and very basic rundown on proper trigger control when firing a gun.
1. Press, don’t pull. Instead of pulling the trigger, press (or like my dad likes to say “squeeze”) the trigger straight to the rear. Apply constant, increasing reward pressure on the trigger until the weapon fires. Ensure that you’re only applying pressure to the front of the trigger and not the sides.
2. Take the slack out of the trigger. Squeeze the trigger to the point you start feeling resistance.
3. Surprise yourself. Keep pressing the trigger straight to the rear until the gun fires. Don’t anticipate when the gun will fire. You sort of want to surprise yourself as to when the gun actually discharges.
And there you go. Now you can go fire a gun at the gun range and look like you know what you’re doing. However, none of the information in this article can replace the instruction and supervision of a professional instructor. If you’ve never fired a gun before, we strongly suggest you visit a firing range and talk to an instructor who will walk you through the process.