Basic Concepts

Here are some of the basic concepts of pistol shooting:

Sight Alignment

Front sight

<--------Back sight-------->

This is how the sights look when aligned correctly. The back sight is the sight which is just above the grip. It has a gap in the centre in which we must align the front sight as shown in the figure above. The front sight is a standing bar above the farthest edge of the barrel. This is the point where the bullet exits the barrel and the direction of this point determines where the bullet will hit. The sights must be aligned as shown in the figure above, so that the bullet hits where the front sight is pointing. If the front sight is not aligned as shown in the figure, the bullet will not hit where the front sight alone points due to the angle of the barrel in the direction in which the sight is pointing.

Also if you look closely at the picture, you will see that the front sight looks clear while the rear sight is hazy. That is how it should look when we align our sights. This is because the focus of our eye should be on the front sight, while the rear sight is just visible in our peripheral vision for reference. The focus must be on front sight at all times, not on the back sigh and NEVER on the target. They will all be visible due to our peripheral vision but we must not try and see the back sight or the target.

Aiming Area

Position of sights in relation to the target

The aiming area is the area on the target where we must settle and try to keep our sights aligned. The arm is moving at all times so we cannot really aim at a point and shoot. We must let our arm move with the aligned sights in our ‘aiming area’. The aiming area is slightly different for different people, but usually it is the area between the bottom edge of the target and the bottom edge of the black circle which forms the centre of the target. Try to keep your arm as steady as possible in this area, but remember, never try and shoot at any particular point on the target. It is always an aiming area and not an aiming point.

The aiming area is important only so that we settle at a consistent place on the target for every shot and consequently the shots will hit at a consistent area. More important than aiming area is the sight alignment and this is why we must never try to be too precise with our aiming area and rather pay more attention on the sight alignment. 

Gripping the pistol


This part of the hand must come in contact with the part of the grip just below the back sight as shown in the figure.

The fingers must envelope the grip without any excessive force. Little pressure must be exerted from the middle part of the fingers just to be able to hold the grip firmly. There must not be any excessive force or pressure from the fingers. This little and consistent pressure must be exerted front to back and no pressure must be exerted from the tip of the fingers.

  The pressure from the part of the hand between the thumb and the index finger must be exerted forward while the pressure from the fingers must be exerted backwards.This must be a straight front-back pressureand there should not be any other pressure being exerted from any other part of the hand.

Gripping the pistol correctly is important because quite a lot of your accuracy would depend on how well you can grip your pistol every time. Gripping well does not mean gripping tightly. Gripping well means gripping in the same way every time and adding the same pressure on the grip for every shot. The grip must be such that it does not hurt or poke any part of the hand and also it should be easy to grip in the same manner every time. It must not be too tight neither should there be any loose or hollow space. The grip must be fully in contact with the hand but the pressure must be exerted in only front to back direction and only from 2 areas –

1. The area between the thumb and the index finger
2. The middle portion of the fingers
A good comfortable grip will allow you to follow the technique more effectively. But it should be remembered that it is the shooter who holds the grip and shoots, and not the grip that holds the shooter and shoots. A good grip is important, but it is not the answer to all your shooting problems. As long as it does not hurt or poke you, it is fine. Finally it is up to the shooter to train the muscles of his hand to add consistent pressure on the grip for every shot. Also, this pressure which is exerted on the grip must be the same throughout the shot and must not change. This skill is developed by training and not by waiting for that “perfect grip.”


Stance in pistol shooting should have only two objectives – stability and comfort.
A stance should be such that it offers good body stability and minimises body sway, and it should be comfortable to stand in that position for long since shooting is a static sport.
Stance differs from person to person as every body is different. But here are some basic parameters which can help a person gain some understanding about the stance.
The feet should be kept shoulder width apart and must preferably be parallel to each other. The body must be facing perpendicular to the target. It is advisable to not twist the body to face the target, only the neck must be turned towards the target. If the neck cannot turn that much comfortably, simply change the angle of your feet towards the target thereby turning the direction of your body towards the target so that the neck is not strained too much. Some shooters stand perpendicular to the target (90 degrees) while some who cannot turn the neck that much stand at 45 degrees. The closer you are to 90 degrees, the better can be your stability. However, straining your neck too much can be more disadvantageous so do not force yourself to stand at 90 degrees from the target. Find the angle which is comfortable for you.  

Position of trigger on finger:

The position of the trigger on the trigger finger is very crucial in being able to maintain the accuracy in shooting.
The main thing here is that the trigger should be pulled straight backwards without any sideways pressure, in a straight line like from 12’o clock to 6’o clock in a watch. If the trigger is not pulled straight backwards, then the sideways pressure could impact the accuracy. For example, instead of straight backward pressure if the pressure is exerted a little from right to left backwards (like from 2’o clock to 8’o clock), then there is a high possibility that as you add pressure on the trigger, the angular pressure may cause the front sight to shift a little towards the left and consequently the shot might hit on the left of the target.

The position of the shoe may be anywhere in between as show in the figures (a) and (b) above. The position of the trigger in the above two figures are the extreme positions, and the trigger must not go beyond these positions.
Again, it is a very individual choice where a person likes his trigger to be, and as long as that position falls in between these two extremes as shown above, it is alright. Finally what is more important is that the trigger is being pulled smoothly and straight backwards.