- Allen Austin
Why you're shooting low, and how to fix it.
I love to watch people shoot for the first time, to see their reaction to a small explosion going off in their hands. I especially enjoy watching someone who is timid go from being fearful of the gun to shooting with confidence. For many first-time shooters, their first shot is often the best shot of their first session. This perplexes a lot of folks until I remind them of the perfectly natural reaction to explosions...flinching. They were not anticipating the explosion and the recoil that follows until it happened on that first shot. Now every shot that follows, they push the muzzle of the gun down in anticipation of the recoil. It can be ever so slight and still make a big difference downrange. Even people who have been shooting for years can find themselves subconsciously anticipating the recoil and hitting the target an inch or more below the bullseye.
So, if this is you and you find yourself consistently shooting low, and assuming your sights are aligned properly, you're probably anticipating the recoil.
The solution...Don't do it. The gun should surprise you with every shot. You're probably thinking, if I could just stop, then I would. And how do I even know if that is the problem? Well, luckily the way to discover if this is the issue, is also part of the way to fix it.
How many times have you walked into a range and flinched as soon as a gun is fired. Even when we've been to the range many, many times, and know that we are about to hear the sound of a gun being fired, sometimes that first one gets us. The good news is that just like how we stop flinching at the sounds of the guns around us, we can learn not to anticipate the recoil from the gun.
Here's what to do: First, Borrow or purchase a set of snap caps (dummy rounds). Have someone else load a few in a magazine, interspersed with live ammo, and not tell you where or how many there are. Now load the magazine, shoot and try to let the gun surprise you. The recoil of a gun masks a lot of those little movements, flinches, etc. If you are anticipating the recoil, you'll see it when you get to a snap cap because there will be no explosion and therefore no recoil. Once you see yourself do it, it's easier to stop doing it. The second step is dry fire practice (shooting your gun without live ammo). Most modern handguns can be dry-fired; check with your manufacturer to be sure. Now it's just a matter of putting in the time at home. Dry fire training is an excellent way to work on a smooth trigger pull and folllow though; and the best is that it doesn't cost you a thing. Eventually, your brain will learn not to anticipate the recoil just like you stopped flinching at other gunshots at the range. Continue adding snap caps to your training routine at the range to see your progress.
A note on Dry-fire training - For safety reasons, it's best to unload your gun and leave all your ammo in a separate room from the one in which you will be practicing. So unload, perform a safety check, go to a separate room, perform a safety check again, and then begin dry-fire practice.
Stay safe, train often