There are an endless amount of ways to do, well, pretty much anything. Firearms are no different — specifically pistol shooting. The amount of ways you can go right (or wrong) are endless. Even for those of us who are veteran shooters think we are doing everything right; that’s usually because we have been only practicing one way. Change is hard … and scary and frustrating! However, change is likely the catalyst to a more improved shot.
Changing Your Pistol Shooting Up
Most of us, when taught how to shoot, are taught one way. This is understandable because instructors — professional, military, LE or even your family member — can only teach so many things as to not confuse new shooters or make things more difficult than absolutely necessary. Also, when it comes to firearm training, safety is the most important aspect. If you’re an instructor with a bunch of newbies the one thing you want to ensure is that everyone is on the same page, doing the same thing. They try to keep the unpredictability to an absolute minimum.
However, for those of us who have become set in our ways, I think it may be a good idea to challenge ourselves a little on what we have learned. A lot of professional shooters I’ve spoke to at some point have practiced various positions; this varies from where they place their hands to the bend in their arms to the hunch of their shoulders to how they stand. Mixing it up can be helpful in finding out what is more natural to you. It can also help with what you prefer over what you have gotten into a habit of doing. You also want to make sure you don’t overdo it — see Pat McNamara’s “Range Theatrics” video.
Lifters and anyone who takes the time to get their bodies in peak physical condition knows it’s best to keep your muscles guessing. If you do the same thing every week with the same weight and same reps, your body becomes accustomed to it. Nothing really improves. You may improve over how you started, but you never reach your full potential.
I think there’s something to be said with allowing ourselves to get too complacent in our shooting. It may even become boring. Of course muscle memory is important, especially if you’re training to prepare yourself for self-defense situations. You want your muscles to know what to do because your brain may not be capable of firing on all cylinders when shit really hits the fan. But I do think it drives the point home about making sure you have given yourself a chance to try all possibilities to find the best one for you. Maybe you haven’t yet.
What I’ve Learned
Personally I learned in the Army how to practice and qualify on the Military Police Qualifying Course. For that you were taught to take defensive stances. My shoulders were hunched up to my ears every time I shot; not really conducive for situations outside of this area. I was shown to relax my shoulders a bit and not become so tense. Not only was it much more comfortable, but I was more accurate for longer because my muscles weren’t exhausting themselves too early.
There are several things you can try to mix it up with your pistol shooting. Always strive to be the student! I won’t go into detail about each one because there are professionals that have great videos all over YouTube about: Stances, dominant eye testing, shooting with both eyes open, arm locking vs. bent elbows, one-handed shooting, etc. Take a moment to look up some of the greats and see what they have to say about techniques (Jerry Miculek for example) that make for a better pistol shooter. Better yet, take a course from someone. It may show you something you’re not doing that may make all the difference!