6 Mistakes Untrained Shooters Make

By Team Greyhive


Maybe you just bought a gun for the first time. Maybe you've never been taught how to shoot or the extent of your training has been, "point it at the target and pull the trigger." This article is a primer for new shooters, inexperienced shooters, untrained shooters, or anyone that wants to improve their shooting. It's just 6 simple things that you can improve that will noticeably increase your skill level.

1. They don't have a plan. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Too often new shooters go to the range, squeeze off a box or two of ammo praying to hit the bullseye and leave. There is no rhyme or reason, and they'll do the exact same thing next time they get to the range. Here's a simple solution. Start with 10 rounds and practice slow aimed fire. Pay attention to the fundamentals (stance, breath, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger squeeze, grip, and follow through) and shoot just one round at a time, trying to hit the target exactly where you want to. For the next 10 rounds, do the same thing, but start with the gun in the #3 position (for further reference on the #3 position, see this article: https://greyhive.com/articles/combative_pistol_use_part_2). Practice pushing the gun out, acquiring the sights and placing them onto the exact spot you want to hit with minimal movement after the gun settles on the target. For the next 20 rounds, practice controlled pairs. These don't need to be fast. The key word is controlled. Watch how your sights move when re-acquiring the target for the second shot. The muzzle should rise slightly when you fire and fall naturally back to your initial point of aim. If it doesn't, this means you're not following the fundamentals. For the last 10 rounds, practice from the draw or with your rifle hanging loose. If you have more than 50 rounds, practice on your weak points or an even better idea is to download a Baer Solutions target (https://baersolutionsllc.com/freetargets/), follow the directions given, and watch yourself improve because of your focused approach.

...the extent of your training has been, "point it at the target and pull the trigger."

2. They bring their face to the gun. You see it so often. People crank their neck, tilt their head, or slump over to see through their sights. Their poor posture leads to poor shots. They need to bring the gun up and in line with their eyes. The body works as a system. A natural position will be more comfortable and make breathing easier, trigger squeeze more even, and sight picture better aligned. It will also improve the follow through. It's similar to exercise; imagine trying to run or worse, deadlift, with your head cocked crazily to one side and one shoulder raised up higher than the other. It's going to be hard and you'll probably hurt yourself if you keep at it.

3. They shoot with one eye closed. Please stop doing this. Find your dominant eye. Here's a link to a few sighting tests online (http://www.allaboutvision.com/resources/dominant-eye-test.htm). Everyone has one and it allows you to keep both eyes open while allowing the dominate to guide your sights. Having both eyes open, allows for a wider field of vision. You can see threats if you're in a gunfight, or transition to other targets quicker if you're shooting at the range, because you'll know where you're going next.

Their poor posture leads to poor shots.

4. They anticipate recoil. Shooting a gun isn't scary. Some people are terrified the gun is going to jump out of their hands, but it won't, especially if you have a proper grip. When they anticipate the recoil, they push the nose of the gun down, thinking that will solve the problem of the muzzle rising after the shot. Next, they jerk the trigger, thinking that pulling it quickly will get it over with while the sights are still on the target. This doesn't work, and they end up shooting low and usually toward their dominant side. Jerking the trigger causes their grip to change and the sudden pressure on what is probably a poor grip will take the sights off target right before the shot breaks. An easy way to fix this is to have someone put a few dummy rounds into your magazines. This way when you're out training and you really crank on the trigger and it doesn't fire, it will be immediately apparent that your trigger squeeze needs to be fixed.

...it will be immediately apparent that your trigger squeeze needs to be fixed.

5. Their Grip is Garbage Over gripping with the dominate hand, no pressure with the support hand, tea-cupping, and a million other weird combinations cause poor shots and even worse follow up shots. Most good pistol shooters use the straight-thumbs grip (sometimes referred to as the combat grip). Click here for a very in depth pistol grip article: (http://www.handgunsmag.com/tactics-training/tactics_training_combatg_100306/) or (https://greyhive.com/articles/how_to_grip_your_pistol). If you're having an issue, get professional feedback on your grip. Also, have a friend film your hands close up while you're shooting and watch how your grip changes because of the recoil. You may notice yourself readjusting your hands after every shot. Fixing your grip and your trigger squeeze will solve the majority of your problems.

You may notice yourself readjusting your hands after every shot.

6. They only practice the act of shooting. Too often, inexperienced shooters think that practice is pulling the trigger. They would be better suited practicing their pistol draw or shouldering their rifle, changing magazines and dry firing at home without having to waste their money on ammo (which is what they're doing if they don't have a plan). All the fundamentals can be practiced with without ammo. Now, get out there and practice. And of course, let us know what else you've seen at your local range, and how you would solve it.


The author wishes to remain anonymous. He's spent over a decade in Special Forces and is still active in the SOF community. He participates in shooting competitions as a form of cross-training and as a reminder of how much work he still needs to do.

Too often, inexperienced shooters think that practice is pulling the trigger.

Article By Team Greyhive
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Currently printing off this page to hang up where I see it all the time.
When I first started shooting on my own, I pretty much did everything this article tells you not to do. After taking in advice and information, I'm glad to have learned enough to notice what I need to focus on when I go shoot at the range.
Great article! Lots of valuable information for new and intermediate shooters.