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5 Big Shooting Mistakes Every New Shooter Makes

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We have helped hundreds of students become better shooters, and in doing so, we’ve noticed that the SAME five mistakes crop up again and again!

The best thing you can do is save yourself from wasting time by learning from the mistakes of others.

So, I decided to share the common shooting errors we see in almost every class we teach.

Common Shooting Errors

Don’t repeat these shooting mistakes and save yourself a ton of frustration!

Mistake 1: Neglecting to raise the support hand higher on the frame when gripping.

It’s very common for new shooters and beginners to grip a pistol with their support hand lower than it should be. This is usually the result of a shooter’s firing hand thumb ‘getting in the way.’

When you establish your support hand grip, you want to move your shooting hand thumb out of the way (I.e. grabbing your pistol using the other four fingers of your firing hand while the thumb initially remains up like a hitch-hiker thumb.)

By doing this with your firing hand thumb, you create space for your support hand to go. Now, you’ll be able to get your support hand higher to get more leverage.

Mistake 2: Neglecting to place the web of one’s firing hand high and tight against a pistol’s beaver tail/tang.

Proper pistol grip

Having space results in a ‘weak’, improper grip. Space gives the firearm space to ‘move into’ during recoil and muzzle flip, causing inconsistency in one’s grip, speed, and accuracy.

Focus on the deliberate placement of your firing hand to establish a solid master grip on your pistol before drawing and/or presenting your weapon to shoot.

The last thing you want to do when it counts is to draw or present your weapon, then find out you need to adjust and regrip your pistol.

Mistake 3: Standing straight when shooting

Modified combat stance

When we shoot, recoil happens. The recoil causes pressure straight back, i.e. a rearward force.

To combat recoil, it’s important to move your center of gravity forward. This is done by adjusting your stance, moving your head slightly forward, and bending slightly forward at the waist.

Shooting with an upright stance is great for longer-range, single shots (e.g. bullseye shooting) where steadiness is more important than stability and mobility.

However, in real shootings, one needs to be mobile and he/she will be taking multiple shots.

To shoot as fast and as accurately as you can, you need to move your center of gravity forward.

Mistake 4: Slapping the trigger

Slapping the trigger

Many shooters, regardless of skill level, will find themselves slapping the trigger–especially new and beginner shooters.

Slapping the trigger refers to an abrupt trigger pull causing a pistol’s sights to be disrupted at the ‘last second’ leading to an inaccurate shot.

Instead, shooters should have a steady trigger pull to the rear with constant, but minimal pressure. This will help ensure that the gun’s sights do not move when the shot breaks.

Mistake 5: Not seeing what they need to see

When we ask new shooters and beginners after taking a series of shots, we’ll ask them if they were paying attention to their sights, and if they were, we ask them what they saw and where the sights were on target.

Many will eventually admit that they were not paying as much attention to their sights as they should have, so they are unsure where the shot would actually land on the target.

Once you understand sight alignment and sight picture, it’s important to actually pay attention to your sights when breaking your shot.

Shooters tend to get too excited about hitting the target that they begin to change their focus too early from their sights to the target, which often leads to inaccurate shots–especially for beginners.

Learn from Others’ Mistakes

I hope these common mistakes save you from frustration as you progress in your shooting journey.

Are there other common mistakes you see? Leave us a comment below. Also, check out our Youtube video below on the topic for more details and demonstrations.

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About the author


Myles is the Founder of Tactical Hyve, a competitive shooter, and a life-long student of all things dealing with the tactical and self-defense worlds.

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