September 22nd, 2020

Eight Great Books for Handgun Owners

Pistol Marksmanship training book
Jessie Harrison — one of the greatest female pistol shooters on the planet. In the video below, Jessie offers good tips on safe handgun mag changes.

One of our Forum members asked: “Are there any good books on pistol marksmanship? I’m looking for a book that covers techniques and concepts….” Here are eight recommended titles that can make you a better pistol shooter. These books run the gamut from basic handgun training to CCW to Olympic-level bullseye shooting.

Pistol Marksmanship training book 1911 race gunGood Guidebooks for Pistol Shooters
There are actually many good books which can help both novice and experienced pistol shooters improve their skills and accuracy. For new pistol shooters, we recommend the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting. This full-color publication is the designated student “textbook” for the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course.

If you’re interested in bullseye shooting, you should get the USAMU’s The Advanced Pistol Marksmanship Manual. This USAMU pistol marksmanship guide has been a trusted resource since the 1960s. Action Shooters should read Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos, and Practical Pistol by Ben Stoeger. Brian Enos is a well-known pistol competitor with many titles. Ben Stoeger is a two-time U.S. Practical Pistol shooting champion. Julie Golob’s popular SHOOT book covers pistol marksmanship, along with 3-Gun competition. Julie holds multiple national pistol shooting titles.

concealed carry ccw pistol book

For CCW holders carrying defensive pistols we recommend two good guidebooks. Concealed Carry Class: The ABCs of Self-Defense Tools and Tactics is like a complete CCW class, covering both gun handling and legal issues. To understand when, and how, you have a right to defensive firearms use, read Massad Ayoob’s Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense.

In this Pro Tip Video, Jessie Harrison talks about Dry-Fire Pistol Training:

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August 15th, 2020

Six Strategies to Become a Better Pistol Shooter

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow
OK this is no novice. But even champion pistol shooter Jessie Harrison, Captain of Team Taurus, had to start with the basics. Jessie says that safety should always be your number one priority.

At AccurateShooter.com, our primary focus is precision target shooting with rifles. But it’s definitely fun to shoot pistols too, and we bet most of our regular readers own handguns. Here are six tips for shooting safely and accurately with handguns. These pointers will help you advance your skills and have more fun with your pistols and revolvers.

1. Make Sure Safety Is Number One

Whether you own one gun or one hundred, gun safety must always be your main priority. In this video, Smith & Wesson Team Captain Julie Golob covers the basics of gun safety.

2. Start with a .22 LR Handgun

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We strongly recommend that new pistol shooters start off with a .22 LR rimfire handgun. The .22 LR cartridge is accurate but has very low recoil, less “bark” than a centerfire, and very little smoke and muzzle flash. New shooters won’t have to fight muzzle flip, and won’t develop a flinch from the sharp recoil and muzzle blast common to larger calibers. With the .22 LR, the trainee can focus on sight alignment, breathing, and trigger pull. When he or she has mastered those skills, move on to a .38 Special or 9mm Luger (9x19mm).

What gun to use? We recommend the 10-shot Smith & Wesson Model 617. Tthis is ideal for initial training, shooting single action, slow-fire. You want to focus on sight picture and holding steady. Shown above is the 4″-barrel Model 617 which balances well. There is also a 6″-barrel version. It has a longer sight radius, but is a little nose-heavy. Both are great choices. They are extremely accurate and they boast a very clean, precise trigger.

browning buck mark buckmark stainless udx rimfire .22 LR pistol

If you prefer a semi-auto .22 LR pistol, we recommend the Browning Buck Mark series. Buck Marks are very accurate and very reliable. This rimfire pistol is available in a variety of models starting at under $350.00. Like the S&W Model 617, a good Buck Mark will serve you for a lifetime.

3. Use Quality Targets with Multiple Aim Points

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glowIt’s common for new pistoleros to start shooting at cans or clay birds at a public range. That can be fun, but it’s better to start with proper targets, placed at eye level, at 7-10 yards. We like to use targets with large, brightly colored circles. Focus on putting 5 shots in a circle. We recommend targets that have multiple bullseyes or aiming points — that way you don’t have to constantly change your target. There are also special paper targets that can help you diagnose common shooting problems, such as anticipating recoil. EZ2C makes very good targets with bright, red-orange aim points. You can also use the bright orange Birchwood Casey stick-on Target Dots (right). These come in a variety of diameters. We like the 2″ dot at 10 yards.

4. Shoot Outdoors If You Can

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We recommend that new pistol shooters begin their training at an outdoor range. There are many reasons. First, the light is better outdoors. Indoor ranges can be dark with lots of shadows, making it harder to see your target. Second, sound dissipates better outdoors. The sound of gunfire echoes and bounces off walls indoors. Third, an outdoor range is a more comfortable environment, particularly if you can get out on a weekday morning. Indoor ranges, at least in urban areas, tend to be crowded. Many also have poor ventilation. If you can make it to an outdoor range, you’ll be happy. Many outdoor ranges also have some steel pistol targets, which offer a fun alternative to paper. When shooting steel however, we recommend polymer encased or lead bullets to avoid ricochets.

5. Find a Good Mentor and Watch Some Videos First

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training
Photo courtesy AV Firearms Training.

Too many new pistol shooters try to move right to rapid fire drills. It’s better to start slow, practicing the basics, under the guidance of a good mentor. If you belong to a club, ask if there are certified instructors who will help out. This Editor learned pistol shooting from a seasoned bullseye shooter, who got me started with a .22 LR revolver and very close targets. Over the course of a few range sessions we progressed to farther targets and faster pace. But the fundamentals were never forgotten. When starting your pistol training, it’s wise to view some instructional videos. Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng hosts an excellent Handgun 101 Series produced by the NSSF. We’ve linked one of these Handgun 101 videos for Tip #6.

6. SLOW DOWN — This Is Not a Race

When you learned to ride a bicycle, you started slow — maybe even with training wheels. The same principle applies to pistol shooting. When you get started with handguns, we recommend you shoot slowly and deliberately. Start with the handgun unloaded — just work on your sight alignment and breathing. With snap caps in place, try some dry-firing drills. Then progress to live fire. But be deliberate and slow. With the target at 20 feet, see if you can get three successive shot-holes to touch. Believe it or not, many common pistols are capable of this kind of accuracy (but you won’t see many shooters at indoor ranges who pursue that kind of precision). Once you master your form and accuracy, then you can work on your speed.

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June 17th, 2020

Home Defense: Shotgun vs. Pistol — What’s Your Best Option?

Home defense shotgun NSSF Clint Thunder Ranch
Shotgun Photo from Superior Security Concepts.

With the recent riots and civil unrest in the USA, many Americans are taking a much more serious look at armed self-defense. Hopefully the disturbances in cities will diminish with time (and better civic leadership), but we understand why citizens in large cities are more concerned than ever with the need to protect themselves, their families, and their homes and businesses.

Shotgun vs. Handgun — which is better for home defense? That’s a question that inspires strong opinions on both sides. We think the best answer may be “both”. There are some situations where a pistol is most handy, while there are other situations where the power (and lethality) of the shotgun clearly wins out. Some would argue that the shotgun offers an “intimidation” factor that may better resolve a threat without a shot being fired.

The NSSF, in cooperation with Thunder Ranch Training Center, has created an interesting video that examines the Shotgun vs. Handgun debate. As the Cheaper Than Dirt Blog notes: “The primary argument against the shotgun is a longer length leading to less maneuverability. On the other hand, the pistol offers better maneuverability, but lacks the stopping power of a shotgun”. Moreover, the pistol may be less accurate, according to some critics. This NSSF video looks at the question from a logical standpoint — making some surprising points.

Home defense shotgun NSSF Clint Thunder Ranch

As you can see in this still frame (above) from the video, the shooting stance of the pistol shooter (Clint) is NOT much more compact than that of the two shotgunners (compare actual muzzle positions). So a shotgun may actually be more handy inside a home than some people realize. Clint concludes that the gun selection debate “is all very easily solved by only one question: ‘If someone was going to run across a bedroom at you and they had a big knife, would you rather shoot him one time with a pistol or one time with a shotgun?’ When you answer the question you figure out why this [shotgun length] doesn’t really bother us. We simply take these [shotguns] and use them in a slightly different manner…”

In this video, Thunder Ranch Director Clint Smith explains why the overall length of a shotgun, as held in firing position against the shoulder, is not really that much greater than the “shooting stance length” of a handgun held in a proper firing position (with arms extended). Accordingly gun length/size should not be the deciding factor when choosing a firearm for home defense.

Whatever Weapon You Choose — Train with It
Fundamentally, you should use the firearm that is 100% reliable, and with which you have trained regularly. Mastery of a defensive firearm — whether shotgun or handgun — needs to be second-nature. You should be able to operate all the controls (safety, pump, decocker, slide, bolt handle etc.) by “instinct” based on hours of training. Likewise you should know how to operate the light/laser if your defensive firearm is so equipped. Importantly, you should be able to reload in darkness, and clear malfunctions without panicking.

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May 25th, 2020

Better Pistol Shooting — Keep Both Eyes Open

Doug Koenig Pistol shooting training video
Photo courtesy DougKoenig.com and Leupold.

One eye or two? That’s the question that confounds some pistol shooters, particularly during slow fire. When shooting one-handed, some bullseye pistol shooters use a piece of tape or paper on one lens of their shooting glasses to obscure their non-dominant eye. That way they can get a more precise sight picture. However, when shooting two-handed, it’s almost always better to shoot with both eyes open. And if you are doing a “move and shoot” session/match, you’ll surely want to have both eyes open.

Champion pistol shooter Doug Koenig says he always shoots handguns with both eyes open: “To me it’s very simple — I wouldn’t drive my car with one eye closed. I wouldn’t walk around the house with one eye closed. To me, it’s all about your vision, your depth perception.” Doug adds that you definitely need both eyes open to transition quickly from target to target.

With both eyes open you’ll have better depth perception and peripheral vision. You will also be able to transition from target to target more quickly. In a timed, multi-target stage, you’ll want to move your head/eyes to the next target right after you break a shot. You’ll find that you will then reflexively move the handgun on to the new target when you swing your vision on to it. Don’t linger on the target you just shot — move to the next.

Doug Koenig Pistol shooting training video

Here are two other helpful videos from Doug Koenig and the NSSF:

Sight Alignment and Sight Picture

Trigger Press and Trigger Control

Doug Koenig’s List of Championships:
10-time World Champion
18-time Bianchi Cup winner
2016 NRA World Shooting Champion
More than 70 National Championships
6-time World Action Pistol Championship Winner
3-time World Speed Shooting Champion/Steel Challenge

Watch Doug Koenig’s Championship Season TV show on the Pursuit Channel: Wednesday 5:30 pm (Eastern); Friday 9:00 pm (Eastern); Saturday 1:30 am (Eastern) West Coast prime-time.

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March 25th, 2020

Six Shooting and Safety Tips for New Handgun Owners

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow
OK this is no novice. But even champion pistol shooter Jessie Harrison, Captain of Team Taurus, had to start with the basics. Jessie says that safety should always be your number one priority.

Due to concerns about the Coronovirus pandemic, many Americans are purchasing firearms for self-defense. A large percentage of these purchasers are first-time gun buyers. It is vital that “newbie” gun owners learn proper safety procedures. In addition, even long-time gun owners should probably review the basic rules of gun safety. Here are six tips for shooting safely and accurately with handguns. These pointers will help you advance your skills and be more assured with your pistols and revolvers.

1. Make Sure Safety Is Number One

Whether you own one gun or one hundred, gun safety must always be your main priority. In this video, Smith & Wesson Team Captain Julie Golob covers the basics of gun safety.

2. Start with a .22 LR Handgun

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We strongly recommend that new pistol shooters start off with a .22 LR rimfire handgun. The .22 LR cartridge is accurate but has very low recoil, less “bark” than a centerfire, and very little smoke and muzzle flash. New shooters won’t have to fight muzzle flip, and won’t develop a flinch from the sharp recoil and muzzle blast common to larger calibers. With the .22 LR, the trainee can focus on sight alignment, breathing, and trigger pull. When he or she has mastered those skills, move on to a .38 Special or 9mm Luger (9x19mm).

What gun to use? We recommend the 10-shot Smith & Wesson Model 617. Shooting single action, slow-fire, this is ideal for training. Shown above is the 4″-barrel Model 617version which balances well. There is also a 6″-barrel version. It has a longer sight radius, but is a little nose-heavy. Both are great choices. They are extremely accurate and they boast a very clean, precise trigger.

browning buck mark buckmark stainless udx rimfire .22 LR pistol

If you prefer a semi-auto .22 LR pistol, we recommend the Browning Buck Mark series. Buck Marks are very accurate and very reliable. This rimfire pistol is available in a variety of models starting at under $350.00. Like the S&W Model 617, a good Buck Mark will serve you for a lifetime.

3. Shoot Outdoors If You Can

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We recommend that new pistol shooters begin their training at an outdoor range. There are many reasons. First, you can stay away from persons who may have a health problem, and you will be breathing fresh air. Second, the light is better outdoors. Third, sound dissipates better outdoors. The sound of gunfire echoes and bounces off walls indoors. Fourth, an outdoor range is a more comfortable environment. In addition, “stay at home” executive orders may have closed urban ranges. If you can make it to an outdoor range (which is still open in your area), you should have a good experience. Just be considerate with others and exercise “social distancing” — stay at least six feet from others.

4. Use Quality Targets with Multiple Aim Points

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glowIt’s common for new pistoleros to start shooting at cans or clay birds at a public range. That can be fun, but it’s better to start with proper targets, placed at eye level, at 7-10 yards. We like to use targets with large, brightly colored circles. Focus on putting 5 shots in a circle. We recommend targets that have multiple bullseyes or aiming points — that way you don’t have to constantly change your target. There are also special paper targets that can help you diagnose common shooting problems, such as anticipating recoil. EZ2C makes very good targets with bright, red-orange aim points. You can also use the bright orange Birchwood Casey stick-on Target Dots (right). These come in a variety of diameters. We like the 2″ dot at 10 yards.

5. Find a Good Mentor and Watch Some Videos First

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training
Photo courtesy AV Firearms Training.

Too many new pistol shooters try to move right to rapid fire drills. It’s better to start slow, practicing the basics, under the guidance of a good mentor. If you belong to a club, ask if there are certified instructors who will help out. This Editor learn pistol shooting from a seasoned bullseye shooter, who got me started with a .22 LR revolver and very close targets. Over the course of a few range sessions we progressed to farther targets and faster pace. But the fundamentals were never forgotten. When starting your pistol training, it’s wise to view some instructional videos. Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng hosts an excellent Handgun 101 Series produced by the NSSF. We’ve linked one of these Handgun 101 videos for Tip #6.

6. SLOW DOWN — This Is Not a Race

When you learned to ride a bicycle, you started slow — maybe even with training wheels. The same principle applies to pistol shooting. When you get started with handguns, we recommend you shoot slowly and deliberately. Start with the handgun unloaded — just work on your sight alignment and breathing. With snap caps in place, try some dry-firing drills. Then progress to live fire. But be deliberate and slow. With the target at 20 feet, see if you can get three successive shot-holes to touch. Believe it or not, many common pistols are capable of this kind of accuracy (but you won’t see many shooters at indoor ranges who pursue that kind of precision). Once you master your form and accuracy, then you can work on your speed.

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October 7th, 2018

Free Instructional Videos for Concealed Carry Handgun Owners

Panteo Handgun video concealed carry pistol free

Panteo Productions, producers of firearms training videos, has just released a new series of FREE instructional videos for handgun owners. Co-sponsored by Ruger and Federal, the Handgun 101 video series covers handgun and ammunition nomenclature, handgun functions, basic shooting skills, and the key considerations for concealed carry. The three-part series includes: Intro to Handguns, A Concealed Carry Permit, and Intro to Concealed Carry. Part 1 includes multiple chapters with a ton of information. Combined with Part 2 (20 min) and Part 3 (33 min), this series delivers over two hours of helpful content.

These free videos are available streaming online from the Panteao website, on the Panteao mobile apps for Android and Apple devices, as well as on television from the Panteao Make Ready channel on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. Click the links below to watch each of the three episodes.

Panteo Handgun video concealed carry pistol free

In part One of Handgun 101, Intro to Handguns, instructor Kyle Harth reviews the firearm safety rules, handgun function (and terminology) for both revolvers and semi-auto pistols. In addition, Harth reviews handgun sizes, ammunition, how to grip a handgun properly, safely storing a handgun, proper training, shooting sports and carrying a handgun. This video is intended to be a handgun owner’s first step in familiarizing himself with handgun operation.

Panteo Handgun video concealed carry pistol free

In Part Two of Handgun 101, A Concealed Carry Permit, instructors Kyle Harth and Massad Ayoob carrying a handgun for self-defense, and the important issues associated with defensive gun use. This video reviews concealed carry, traveling from state to state, prohibited carry locations, the use of deadly force, protection of persons and property, and interaction with law enforcement. If you are considering obtaining a concealed carry permit or live in a state where you can carry open or concealed without a permit, this video is for you.

Panteo Handgun video concealed carry pistol free

In Part Three of Handgun 101, Intro to Concealed Carry, instructor Kyle Harth reviews handgun selection, caliber and ammo choices, methods of carry, belts and mag pouches, clothing considerations, and the importance of training. Remember that the Handgun 101 series is not where your education process ends. Take courses from reputable firearms instructors with understanding of self-defense legal matters. Equally important, go to the range and practice!

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January 21st, 2018

Handgun Marksmanship — Diagnosing Pistol Accuracy Problems

NSSF Chris Cheng Pistol Accuracy Handgun Shooting Skills

Over the past year, this was one of the TOP TEN most-read Daily Bulletin articles. We are reprising it today for readers who may have missed it the first time around…

When shooting pistols do your shots normally land smack dab in the middle of the target? If not, you may have some technique problems that are causing your shots to move off center. Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng has produced a good video for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) that helps handgunners diagnose accuracy issues. By shooting 3-shot groups and looking at the pattern and location of the shots, you can see what you’re doing wrong (or right). Here are some examples. Note, this process works best for shooters whose shots fall typically in one target zone. If your shots are all over the target, your form is inconsistent and problems will be harder to diagnose.

1. Low Left — Jerking Trigger: Here we see three (3) shots at the 7 O’clock position. This shows that the shooter is jerking the trigger, meaning that the shooter is pulling the trigger too quickly and therefore forcing the barrel to drop when breaking the shot. This is a very common problem, particularly with novices who are reacting to the noise/recoil of the pistol.

NSSF Chris Cheng Pistol Accuracy Handgun Shooting Skills

2. 9 O’Clock — Too Little Trigger Finger: If we see three (3) shots at the 9 O’clock position, what this can be indicative of too little trigger finger on the trigger. And therefore with every shot, the shots are getting pushed to the left. Try moving your trigger finger on to the pad of your index finger. Also try dry firing drills.

NSSF Chris Cheng Pistol Accuracy Handgun Shooting Skills

3. High Left — Anticipating Recoil: In this next example, we see three shots around the 11 O’clock position. What could be happening here is that the shooter is anticipating the recoil, and is actually lifting the gun up when he shoots. We recommend slowing down, working on your breathing, and, again, do dry-firing drills.

NSSF Chris Cheng Pistol Accuracy Handgun Shooting Skills

4. 3 O’Clock — Too Much Trigger Finger: Finally, if you see three (3) shots at the 3 O’clock position, this can indicate that there is too much trigger finger on the trigger. Therefore when the shot breaks the shooter is pulling each shot to the right. Note: Each of these descriptions is for a RIGHT-handed shooter. If you are a left-handed shooter you’ll want to reverse those descriptions.

NSSF Chris Cheng Pistol Accuracy Handgun Shooting Skills

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December 31st, 2017

Ruger Offers Ten Training Videos for New Shooters

Ruger New Shooter Academy handgun pistol training

Ruger is working to get new people involved in shooting sports through a new 10-part video series. Ruger’s American New Shooter Academy focuses on firearms safety and handgun skills training. There are ten, 5-9 minute episodes, all available now on GetZone.com and YouTube.

Watch Episode One of New Shooter Academy:

In the New Shooter Academy series, Firearms trainer Daniel Shaw starts from “square one” with four participants with little-to-no handgun firearms experience. Shaw works with the students to build good fundamentals and follow recommended safety procedures. “Recruiting new shooters and making sure they are properly trained is critical to the future success of shooting sports” said Jeff Siegel, CEO of Media Lodge, the company that produces the videos for Ruger.

CLICK HERE to watch Ruger’s American New Shooter Academy Series (All Episodes)

During their training sessions, participants used the Ruger American Pistol compact model chambered in 9mm Luger, with a manual safety. Additional products for the series were provided by CrossBreed Holsters®, TMG Target Systems, and Hornady.

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September 23rd, 2017

Laser Sights — Not Just for Night-Time

Training with laser sights crimson trace

Are laser sights really useful on a handgun? Yes, and not just in low-light situations. That said, most folks who own laser-equipped handguns do not train effectively with the laser. For many gun-owners, the laser is just a toy, a gimmick that is used a few times and then ignored. Those gun-owners miss out on some of the most important advantages of a laser sights. Go to Training with Laser Sights Page.

Crimson Trace has produced a series of training videos that may change your mind about lasers. If you shoot a handgun you should watch these videos. They show how laser sights can help diagnose and correct common handgun-shooting errors (such as flinching and anticipating the shot). The videos also show how to improve sight alignment and get your sights on target quickly. Watch the video and you’ll see how the laser can improve your aiming and your trigger control.

Training with Laser Sights, Full 12-minute Video
(Covers Muzzle Awareness, Aiming, Trigger Control)

This video show how training with laser sights can: 1) improve muzzle direction awareness; 2) aid with sight alignment; 3) speed up target acquisition; and 4) improve trigger control. The video also demonstrates the obvious advantage of acquiring and maintaining sight picture in low light conditions. Numerous firearms experts are featured in the video while they are shooting and training at Arizona’s Gunsight Academy.

Training With Lasers — Trigger Control
Training with laser sights helps diagnose and improve trigger control errors by showcasing the importance of “surprise break” and follow-through. Lasers quickly diagnose errors such as recoil anticipation, jerking the trigger, and breaking the wrist.

Muzzle Awareness — All-Important for Safe Shooting
Training with laser sights improves a shooter’s muzzle awareness. A daylight-visible laser shows the gun operator where his or her muzzle is pointing at all times. This helps teach proper safety practices.

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