Simple Tricks to Improve Your Handgun Accuracy

By Fred Mastison
Posted in #Skills
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Simple Tricks to Improve Your Handgun Accuracy

July 31st, 2022

9:29 runtime

The struggle for handgun accuracy is real. For anyone who is committed to mastering firearms, the struggle to hone their accuracy seems to be a never-ending challenge. We can go down the rabbit hole a little deeper and talk about shooting specific guns and the challenges we face with those.

improving handgun accuracy
For many handgun owners, accuracy improvement seems to be a never-ending challenge. The author offers some tips to improve your shooting accuracy.

Of all of the firearms in our arsenal though, the handgun can be the most challenging to master. It is small with a short sight radius and generally has a trigger that requires more pressure than the gun weighs. Almost always found with “open sights,” it requires mastering many moving parts.

handgun accuracy training
Handguns offer a number of challenges for accurate shooting, including a short sight radius and a heavy trigger pull in relation to the weight of the pistol.

The handgun is also the most commonly found firearm in America and being such, is the center of countless discussions on how to improve accuracy. With so much to wade through, it is time to look at some simple tricks that anyone can do to improve their overall accuracy with a handgun. To make it easier to understand, I will break it into a few basic areas that melt together for accurate shots!

Trigger Control

First up in our main trifecta of things to focus on, we have trigger control. We often hear this phrase used when discussions of accuracy arise. Few times however is it given sufficient attention. The truth is that pistols for the most part are accurate. It’s our manipulation of the firearm that interferes with its ultimate capability. Here are some solid trigger control drills to help you improve.

range gear for improving your accuracy
There are a number of accessories and tools you can use to improve your accuracy.

Brass on the Front Sight Drill

Always easier with the help of a partner, unload your pistol and remove the magazine if possible. Reset the action on your pistol and have your partner balance a piece of brass on the front sight. Now, execute a smooth, clean press of the trigger.

If you do this correctly, the front sight will not dip or move and the brass will stay in place. If the brass falls off, you are generally jerking the trigger and causing movement in the gun. That movement translates into missed shots. The key to keeping the brass steady is a smooth continuous trigger press with a clean “break” at the end. Be sure to also read Richard Johnson’s article on dryfire practice for additional tips.

Follow-Through

Part two of our accuracy formula looks at follow-through. Follow through is the act of maintaining a steady platform to send follow-up shots on target. The challenge faced comes in the way of anticipation or flinch. Especially true with newer shooters, the anticipation of the next shot can cause a flinch response to the handgun firing. This causes muzzle dip and is never a help to accuracy.

Sight Picture and Alignment

The last part of our accuracy formula looks at sight picture and alignment. There are many theories and methods of shooting when it comes to the world of handgun sights.

shooting tips to improve your accuracy
You don’t have to be a competitive shooter to become accurate with your Springfield Armory 1911. However, you will need to put in the time and effort to improve.

At the most fundamental and reliable level though, we look to align the sights on target while intently focusing on the front sight. The rear sights should be slightly blurry, as will be the target. The front sight should be crystal clear.

Proving It

The goal is always to bring these components together. Unless you are a static bull’s eye shooter, there will be many moving parts to making a shot. A drill designed to test your skill is the Ragged Hole Drill, a classic.

training tips with Springfield Armory
1911 handguns offer many benefits for accurate shooting including great ergonomics and clean trigger pulls.

From six yards, you will slow fire five rounds into a single point on your target. Do your best to focus on a small portion of the target. Better yet, get a target that has one to two inch dots on it as focus points. Take your time and use the exact same point of aim each time. Do not chase your shots or try to make corrections. If you manage your trigger and sights well, you should end up with a single, ragged hole. If your shots are spread out, it is a sign that you need to polish up on one or more of the basics.  

Conclusion

Shooting a handgun can be a frustrating challenge. One minute you are shooting bull’s eyes and the next you are off. As with all shooting, it always comes back to the fundamentals. By practicing these drills you can improve individual portions and ultimately bring them all together.

In the end, like all complex motor skills, shooting is a perishable skill. Practice must be ongoing, but the fruits of our labor will make it worth our time!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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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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