Don’t scoff. How many times have you been to the range this month? Or in the last three months? I’ll be honest, I haven’t been to the range since February and I need to go soon. So, I’m guilty. We all get busy, but we need to make time to improve our speed and accuracy. It also doesn’t hurt to practice regularly. The one or two times at the range trying to get your license isn’t going to cut it.
2. Use Your Sights
Look, I know I shouldn’t have to remind you, but I’m going to. Your pistol likely has sights on it, and if it doesn’t you should get some. So use them. I have had many people tell me that using the sights makes you slow. But, again, if you go to the range and practice drawing, aiming down the sights, and firing, I promise you will get faster and gradually more accurate.
There are five different kinds of stances: the Weaver Stance, the Chapman Stance, the Power Isosceles Stance, the Power Point Stance, and the Strong-Hand Retention Stance. You need to pick at least one (if you haven’t already) and practice it. Check out the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated article about these stances. If you’ve already got one in muscle memory it wouldn’t hurt to add another one, should the situation arise where it would be useful.
4. Change the Size of Your Target
If you always go to the range to shoot at man size targets with no improvement, try changing the size of your target. Your local sporting goods stores and some supermarkets have varying targets. Challenge yourself. One of my favorite, cheap, and effective targets are small to medium sized balloons. Cleanup is a bit tedious, but you visually see your results.
5. More Practice
Pretend you’re shooting a 6-round revolver and you’re going to practice shooting balloons as previously suggested. Set yourself up 8 balloons. The goal is to shoot your targets until they’re gone. Some of you might only have to reload once, some more. That’s fine. Remember: in a situation where you must draw your gun, shoot until the threat is gone. I find pink balloons to be the most threatening.
6. Internalize a Rhythm
One of my Marine Vet friends took me shooting and told me to think of a song with a steady, moderate beat. He said to breathe and pull the trigger steadily with the beat of the song. I found that Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust has a great bassline to practice my shooting to. Try it and tell me what you think.
7. Take Someone Knowledgeable with You
We all have that one friend who’s former military. The important thing to remember, however, is that you need to be able to take criticism from this person. If you can, take them with you the next time you go to the range and ask them to help you out—maybe buy them a box of bullets to shoot with you while you’re there as payment. Remember to listen to what they say; try their suggestions, be open to a new stance, or perhaps try a different pistol. If they tell you something you don’t agree with, try it their way and see if you improve.
8. Even More Trigger Time
That friend is also going to tell you that if you want to get better, you have to put in the time and put over three boxes of rounds through your pistol. Besides, who would pass up an excuse to go to the range?
9. Try a Different Gun
Maybe one of the reasons your accuracy is lacking, is because you’re not shooting a gun that fits you. This is also why I recommend taking someone who knows-their-stuff with you to the range. Let’s say you have small hands like I do. You’re not going to be able to grip a double-stack .45 as well as a double-stack 9mm (and if you can, you need to let me in on your secret).
10. Take a Refresher Course / Take Lessons
We send our children to football practice and dance classes even after they have been playing or dancing for 5 years or more. There’s nothing wrong with getting more practice and investing your time to improve your skills and refresh your knowledge. Being under the direction of someone you’re paying to teach you to get better is different than asking that former military friend. Sometimes instructors will remind you of something that you’ve forgotten, or teach you something new to add to your self-practice.
Do you have any other suggestions, other than practice to add to this list?