Shooting Like John Wick

By Fred Mastison
Posted in #Skills
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Shooting Like John Wick

May 15th, 2019

3 minute read

John Wick didn’t exactly break the bank when it first hit the screens in 2014. It ranked 1404 for opening weekends even with the easily recognizable Keanu Reeves as the main character. What happened in the following weeks and months, however, created a movie phenomenon. People familiar with the shooting world saw the movie and let out a hearty “WOW…this is incredible.” The reason for the turnaround for Mr. Wick at the box office and in public opinion comes down to one thing – gunfights.

The gunfight scenes in the John Wick movies are exceptional (unlike most Hollywood movies, which are full of gun mistakes). They do their best to be as realistic as possible with the main character and even villains being forced to actually reload their guns. Mix in the need to shoot someone in extremely close quarters while being hands-on with them at the same time and the viewer’s heart rates skyrocket. It is a serious cinematic collection of pretty darn realistic, down and dirty gunfights. There is also a very understandable wave that followed the release of the movies. It is a wave of people that want to shoot like John Wick.

How to Shoot Like John Wick

First off, to say that the techniques and principles demonstrated in the movies are advanced would be the understatement of a lifetime. These are not things that a beginning shooter should grab their pistol and jump into.

In order to wield a gun like John Wick you need to embrace several key components. The first is mindset.

A Focused Mind

There is no more powerful weapon than a focused mind. John Wick demonstrates a sense of “focus…commitment and sheer will.” It is an indomitable spirit that makes him lethal. Mindset is the cornerstone that all of the physical techniques are built on. You have to have an indestructible mindset in order to win the fight.

You have to harden yourself to perform acts of extreme violence in order to defend yourself. This is more of a challenge than most people understand. We are good at shooting silhouettes but shooting a threat in the face is another thing.

Close Fighting Skills

On a more technical level, in order to shoot like John Wick you need to be able to run your gun in close quarters. 

Rarely are we given the opportunity to engage targets at 15 and 20 yards like we would on the range. Adversaries usually bring the fight in what is called bad breath distance. The fight will be close and fast. Close quarter fighting requires the shooter to be very conscious of their muzzle and support side hand location. 

Our goal is always to make more room. So while the fight may begin up close, we want to use our gun to break away and gain some distance if possible.


The next thing shooters must master is speed. If a threat is bearing down on you, you must react quickly and decisively. Trigger control is the secret to success in this category. With a good trigger press and short reset you can fire the gun at a very high tempo. This is important when fighting with a handgun because, as is demonstrated in the movies, anyone that needs to be shot also needs to be shot multiple times in order to get the desired effect.


The last physical component we will look at is movement. John shows us that gun fights are not static events and the more we move, the better off we are. You can train on this principle very early on in your shooting training. Start slow by simply stepping to the side as you begin the process of shooting. This will begin to get you comfortable with shooting on the move which is our ultimate goal. If we are moving, it is difficult for a threat to hit us – be it with their hands or even rounds fired from a gun.

John Wick personifies what many shooters strive to be – a serious gun fighter. He is fast, smooth and dedicated to winning. While the character is obviously a piece of fiction, his role and persona can be the spark that challenges us to be better shooters. If you want to know how to shoot like John Wick — focus on quality training and meaningful practice. You can get there.

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Fred Mastison

Fred Mastison

Fred Mastison is a national magazine contributor, professional firearms & combatives instructor and executive protection provider and trainer. He is also the host of the weekly firearms podcast Center Mass. He has written over 600 articles for 27 different magazines. He is a reserve police officer and has been training in firearms & close quarter combatives for over three decades. Additionally he has almost 40 years in the martial arts and holds advanced degrees in multiple arts. He currently holds 17 separate law enforcement POST course certifications around the U.S. and is a certifying instructor for law enforcement firearms instructors in handgun, patrol rifle, shotgun and sub machine gun. In addition to training in the US, Mr. Mastison has divisions in Germany, Ireland and Mexico.

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