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  1. #1
    F1ELD's Avatar
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    accurately shooting a handgun

    i bought a taurus pt-111 pro 9mm a little while ago and so far i've fired off about a thousand rounds. this is my first gun that i've ever bought and got it mainly half and half home defense and taking it to the range to shoot.

    my problem is i am not satisfied with my accuracy firing this weapon. i mean you would expect to easily hit bullseyes on targets that are 20ft away but this is not the case.

    part of my problem is that i dont know how much of it is flaws with the gun and how much of it is flaws in my aim/grip/form/stance basically how i am shooting the gun.

    like today i had a fresh target put up and from idk like 20ft away i made a very large effort to fire directly in the center of the target lining up my sights and being slow about it i fired and then the shot lands 7 inches or so to the left and a bit low. some shots might be quite a bit off but then a few of them i was able to land very accurately in the center. basically i feel i am not that great and want to imrpove because what is the point in owning a gun if you arent able to hit anything with it?

    so i have a few questions

    1. when you draw a pistol and are firing at a target are you supposed to have 1 eye open or both eyes open? what is the rationale behind this?

    2. since a fired bullet leaves the barrel and is well on its way towards the target before any recoil is actually seen why does it matter how you hold the gun? you could hold it with 1 hand limp as a fish and theoretically you should still score an accurate shot if you were to fire only 1 shot. why is it that i aim directly at a spot on the target and then my shot lands a given distance to the left of it?

    3. all of the bullets i have used so far were 115 grain Luger rounds. i heard that my gun shouldnt be loaded with higher than 180 grain. what kind of difference with ANYthing am i going to see with different grain? is it simply going to increase/decrease the velocity of the bullet? will i notice anything else? will the gun fire differently in any way?

    thanks

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  3. #2
    JeffWard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by F1ELD View Post

    1. when you draw a pistol and are firing at a target are you supposed to have 1 eye open or both eyes open? what is the rationale behind this?

    2. since a fired bullet leaves the barrel and is well on its way towards the target before any recoil is actually seen why does it matter how you hold the gun? you could hold it with 1 hand limp as a fish and theoretically you should still score an accurate shot if you were to fire only 1 shot. why is it that i aim directly at a spot on the target and then my shot lands a given distance to the left of it?

    3. all of the bullets i have used so far were 115 grain Luger rounds. i heard that my gun shouldnt be loaded with higher than 180 grain. what kind of difference with ANYthing am i going to see with different grain? is it simply going to increase/decrease the velocity of the bullet? will i notice anything else? will the gun fire differently in any way?

    thanks

    1. For bullseye and target shooting, 1 or 2 eyes doesn't really matter. Really bearing down for accuracy, one is better. For defensive shooting, requiring periferal vision, and moving targets... 2 eyes it the best. Try squinting your non-dominant eye at first, forcing your brain to focus the dominant eye, but keeping the second eye open.

    2. It is true that the bullet is long gone before the recoil is felt, but it is the fine manipulation of the gun with the trigger finger that can throw off the point of aim before the shot. A firm grip, and constsnt trigger pressure, and LOTS,. and LOTS and LOTS of practice will help. Try keeping just the tip pad of your finger on the trigger (unless you are pulling a long double action gun). Pulling or pushing with the trigger finger can move the front blade 1/64th of an inch, that can result in a lot of deviation at yardage... ALSO, how far away are you shooting??? Start in close at 5-7 yards, and when you can shoot ragged holes at 7 yards, move out slowly to 10, and 15 yards... Beginners should NEVER shoot at 15-25 yards... You'll just get frustrated.

    3. Most factory ammo for a 9mm will be 115-124 grains... Not a problem for your gun. Stick to inexpensive full metal jacket ammo for practice. At the yardages you'll be shooting, the point of impact will not vary much between 115 and 124, or even 147gr ammo.

    In the big picture... everything is relative, and relative to distance. At 7 yards, a "good" group for most pistol shooters is 4-5 inches. After months, and years of shooting, 2-3" is better. With a very short barrelled, short sight radius gun like your Taurus, anything on a paper plate at 10yards is good. That's no target gun with a match barrel, target trigger, and precise sights... It's made for 5-7yard shooting into a defensive size target. If you want tiny groups, shoot a more precise weapon.

    Jeff

  4. #3
    BeefyBeefo's Avatar
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    ^^What he said^^

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffWard View Post
    it is the fine manipulation of the gun with the trigger finger that can throw off the point of aim before the shot. A firm grip, and constsnt trigger pressure, and LOTS,. and LOTS and LOTS of practice will help.
    I think this is the key. Practice, practice, practice. You most likely don't have consistent pressure on the trigger, or may be "jerking" the trigger. Again...practice, practice, practice.

    -Jeff-

  5. #4
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    First things first . . .

    Set up a sandbag rest to shoot from and fire sitting in a chair behind the flat bench. Make sure that you have an excellent sight picture at the 7 yard (21' mark) and fire using all your ability, breathe in let 1/2 the breath out and squeeze the trigger. If you still have difficulty and have a friend at the range who you consider a good shot, let them take a few rounds. I have a Stoeger Cougar 8000 in .40 S&W with a short barrel and it is a very accurate weapon. From the 10 yard line with concentration I can put all 11 rounds from a mag in the K5/D2 marking in one ragged hole. Generally most handguns are more accurate than we are able to shoot them. If there is any mechanical issue with your weapon, such as repeatable lockup or barrel alignment that will generally consistently cause a group to wander off center in a predictable, repeatable manner. If there is some issue with the slide/frame/barrel fit there can be some unpredictable shot placement. If you cannot investigate this issue to a reasonable conclusion, have a competent gunsmith take a look at it. I have heard of another Taurus on this board that had a barrel alignment issue, but that was a PT92.

  6. #5
    kev74's Avatar
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    Here's one more opinion to add to the rest....

    Practice dry-firing the gun - A LOT! When you do it, first make sure the gun is empty (double check). Then as you pull the trigger back, concentrate on keeping the front sight in focus. Don't worry about fixing on a target yet - a plain white wall is a good background. You'll be amazed how much that front sight jumps around while you pull back on the trigger.

    Until you can consistently pull the trigger back without the front sight shifting, you'll be all over the target.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev74 View Post
    Here's one more opinion to add to the rest....

    Practice dry-firing the gun - A LOT! When you do it, first make sure the gun is empty (double check). Then as you pull the trigger back, concentrate on keeping the front sight in focus. Don't worry about fixing on a target yet - a plain white wall is a good background. You'll be amazed how much that front sight jumps around while you pull back on the trigger.

    Until you can consistently pull the trigger back without the front sight shifting, you'll be all over the target.
    Great advice. I was going to say, if you're right handed and the shots are consistently down and to the left, you're probably leaning into the recoil before the shot is even fired. My dad said that when he was in the army and training a new recruit that was either pulling or pushing, they would put a spent round in the gun without telling him to show him it wasn't the gun making the mistake when he winced while pulling the trigger.

  8. #7
    Bob Wright's Avatar
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    Accuracy with the handgun is 99% concentration. As has been pointed out, dry fire until you have the trigger squeeze mastered. And learn the correct sight picture.

    Then, when you go to live ammunition, concentrate on trigger squeeze and sight picture. Say to yourself, mentally, "Front Sight" and "Squeeeeze" until suddenly the gun fires. Keep this up until you are shooting clusters, or groups, about as large as three inches in diameter at ranges of fifty feet or so.

    Don't worry about grip or stance, these will come naturally.

    But, yes recoil does begin as soon as the bullet moves in the barrel. Check most handguns and you'll notice the sights, when level, leave the muzzle pointing slightly below the target. The gun rises in recoil because of the position of the grip, which is below the rearward thrust of the recoil, and creates a pivot point, making the muzzle rise in recoil. Shoot a heavy recoiling revolver with shooting gloves, then without, and the impact will change, because of the difference in recoil and "slip" in the shooting hand.

    Shoot often. You should be aware of actually seeing the front sight outlined in the muzzle blast if you have done everything correctly. Once you have mastered concentration, all other things will fall into place.

    Try this: Balance a dime, or other coin, on top of you gun. Try to squeeze the trigger until the hammer falls without dislodging the coin. The hammer fall will likely make it fall, but not until the hammer falls. (Balance it flat, not on edge.)

    Bob Wright

  9. #8
    F1ELD's Avatar
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    i would definitely practice that but i read in my manual that its bad to dry fire my gun(?) or is it one of those things where you are only going to caus some kind of a problem if you do it over a thousand times or something

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by F1ELD View Post
    i would definitely practice that but i read in my manual that its bad to dry fire my gun(?) or is it one of those things where you are only going to caus some kind of a problem if you do it over a thousand times or something
    I have dry-fired my XD A LOT and I've never had a single problem. If you're that worried about it, then get yourself some snap caps and dry-fire away.

    -Jeff-

  11. #10
    Dsig1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffWard View Post
    It is true that the bullet is long gone before the recoil is felt, but it is the fine manipulation of the gun with the trigger finger that can throw off the point of aim before the shot. A firm grip, and constsnt trigger pressure, and LOTS,. and LOTS and LOTS of practice will help. Try keeping just the tip pad of your finger on the trigger (unless you are pulling a long double action gun). Pulling or pushing with the trigger finger can move the front blade 1/64th of an inch, that can result in a lot of deviation at yardage... ALSO, how far away are you shooting??? Start in close at 5-7 yards, and when you can shoot ragged holes at 7 yards, move out slowly to 10, and 15 yards... Beginners should NEVER shoot at 15-25 yards... You'll just get frustrated.

    Jeff
    +1 on manipulation of the trigger.

    Recoil affects the shot prior to the bullet leaving the gun from the shooter's anticipation and pre-correction of that recoil. Load up a couple of mags with a mix of bullets and snap caps placed randomly in the mag. Keep aware of your gun's position on each shot. When a snap cap cycles through, see if you are pushing the gun in anticipation of the recoil.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dsig1 View Post
    +1 on manipulation of the trigger.

    Recoil affects the shot prior to the bullet leaving the gun from the shooter's anticipation and pre-correction of that recoil. Load up a couple of mags with a mix of bullets and snap caps placed randomly in the mag. Keep aware of your gun's position on each shot. When a snap cap cycles through, see if you are pushing the gun in anticipation of the recoil.
    Even better (if possible), have some else load your magazines for you with a snap cap or two placed randomly in the magazines. I would highly recommend this as it has helped many people I know (including myself). I don't think there's a better way to see what you're doing with the gun and the control of the trigger.

    -Jeff-

  13. #12
    Teuthis is offline Member
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    I suggest getting some skilled help, perhaps at the range. Since you are just starting out that could help you immensely. There are sometimes NRA instructors at ranges, or someone experienced who will be only too happy to teach you the basics and watch you shoot a few times. A few, half-hour sessions can work wonders.

  14. #13
    SemoShooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teuthis View Post
    I suggest getting some skilled help, perhaps at the range. Since you are just starting out that could help you immensely. There are sometimes NRA instructors at ranges, or someone experienced who will be only too happy to teach you the basics and watch you shoot a few times. A few, half-hour sessions can work wonders.
    I agree. I would spend $100 for some professional training and learn correct shooting skills and techniques. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. If you are using poor basic shooting skills now, the only thing you will gain by shooting another 1000 rounds is to further ingrain those incorrect techniques through repetition.

  15. #14
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    TOF
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    Equal force is applied in opposite directions to the bullet and gun at the instant of ignition and throughout the burn. The gun will shift differently with different grip strength's.

    A heavy bullet propelled by equal energy applied to a lighter bullet will travel slower than the light bullet allowing more time for the muzzle to rise.

    Heavy slow will hit higher and to the left or right of light fast bullets all else being equal.

    Left vrs. right will be dependant on clockwise vrs. counter clockwise rifling. The twist imparts a rotational force to the gun as well as bullet.

    Grip matters.

  16. #15
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    There is a lot of good information in here - as usual.

  17. #16
    Fred40 is offline Member
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    I'm a bullseye shooter and that game is all about accuracy. We shoot one handed but the fundamentals are the same no matter how many hands your using.

    I started out shooting indoors at 50ft with a .22. I've since added a 1911 .45 and can shoot it just as accurately as the .22 up until we start doing "rapid" fire.

    Keys to success:

    #1 - TRIGGER CONTROL. Dry firing is the best way to develop it. That front sight should not move at all when the gun goes "click".

    #2 - GRIP. Very Firm. Grip until the gun starts to shake a little then let off just enough so it doesn't.....there's your grip. The grip must be consistent from shot to shot and throughout the shot.

    #3 - SIGHT ALIGNMENT. Focus on the FRONT sight....not the target. Concentrate on that front sight (target should be blurry) while you gently pull the trigger straight back.

    You want to go for a "surprise break". Focus on the sight, have a firm grip and slowly apply pressure to the trigger until it surprise fires. Good luck.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dsig1 View Post
    +1 on manipulation of the trigger.

    Recoil affects the shot prior to the bullet leaving the gun from the shooter's anticipation and pre-correction of that recoil. Load up a couple of mags with a mix of bullets and snap caps placed randomly in the mag. Keep aware of your gun's position on each shot. When a snap cap cycles through, see if you are pushing the gun in anticipation of the recoil.
    +1

    When helping new shooters understand that they are the weak link in the "gun/rounds/shooter" triangle of accuracy, this is quite possibly the most effective way to prove it. I wouldn't recommend more than 2 snap caps in a 10 round magazine though. Once they start anticipating the snap caps, the lesson becomes less effective. They need to shoot more rounds than snaps. That way, it's a surprize and they'll have a noticeable dip in the nose of the gun when they go hammer down on a snap cap.


    I've had people swear to me, up and down, that they can punch the 10 ring out of a target all the time, but when they show up to the range, mysteriously, something has happened to their gun, or "these are different bullets than normal". Then I ask to borrow their gun and a few rounds and punch a few "10's" with their own gun. Shooting has much more to do with the shooter than it does with all the fancy gizmo's and nights sites. In fact, I'd say that it's about 95% shooter and 5% gun/rounds.

    Again, snap caps cost about $5, far cheaper than a professional. But they only work if you are willing accept that it's you, not the gun that is the weak link in the gun/rounds/shooter triangle. It pays to shoot with a friend so they can see what you are doing, and also because you'll know they see it, that in and of itself sure seems to get people on the right track.

    Zhur

  19. #18
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    i dont if you can find something smaller than a 9 to shoot, but if your antcipating the recoil of the shot, try shooting something with a little less bang. my dad has a .357 mag i get to shoot whenever i go, ive noticed that when i shoot .357 i was really leaning into the shot, but when i put .38 specials in, with less recoil, i didnt jump near as bad, if at all, helped out alot

  20. #19
    TMUSCLE1 is offline Junior Member
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    All of these tips have been very helpful. I'm definitely going to keep them in mind when I go to the range next time!

  21. #20
    johnr is online now Member
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    i am in the same situation as F1eld. out of 10 shots 1 ends up center bulls eye, the others are close, and a few outside of the pie plate

    one question not answered.....when aiming, should i use both eyes open, or close one eye to help with the sights.

    ???

    johnr

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnr View Post
    one question not answered.....when aiming, should i use both eyes open, or close one eye to help with the sights.

    ???

    johnr
    This thread may help:
    Do you have one or two eyes open when you shoot?

    -Jeff-

  23. #22
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    i did practice dry firing a bit and trying to move the gun around as little as possible while ''''squeezing''' the trigger instead of simply PULLing the trigger and i took my gun to the range today and surprisingly fired much more accurately than i had any previous time. before i was thinking that it was simply witchcraft magic that was making the bullets go off target but it really was my grip and how i pulled the trigger. this time at 10 yards (i think its 10 yards not totally sure) i basically destroyed the center of the targets i put up. theyre not all on the bullseye or anything but all of the shots were clustered nicely near the center and my deviation was mostly vertical much less horizontal. previous times i had shots landing completely off target and in wierd spots but i found that was because i was jerking the friggin gun around before i shot. its really all about squeezing the trigger but it really is something i needed to practice without bullets. this motivates me to go out and shoot a bit more.

    also i had the opportunity to shoot a couple other handguns that some people had that were there. i dont remember exactly what they were but one of them was a kimber something or other and the guy said he spent $1200 on it. i shot the other gun first and compared to my taurus it had a rediculously hard trigger pull kind of a saftey feature almost DID not like it much. then i picked up that kimber the guy had and i was expecting the same thing and BAM! the trigger pull was almost like tapping a button or something and it went off right away before i expected it, you could probably shoot that gun pretty damn fast. it had a nice stability to it because of its larger size that i kind of liked but i dont know if its really worth it to pay $1200 on a gun instead of the $350 that i spent on my small taurus pt-111. im kind of getting used to my gun now and shooting other guns makes me realize that its actually kind of a nice weapon.

  24. #23
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    It sounds like you're on the right track now. Just keep practicing and practicing and practicing....

    -Jeff-

  25. #24
    9mil is offline Junior Member
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    I'm sorry for unearthing this 5-year old thread, but it came up in a Google search and has helped me immensely. I am suffering the same issues as the OP and couldn't figure out the problem while at the range. This is a HUGE help to me, and I'd like to thank the people who provided such in-depth assistance in this thread. I have posted my issues on a couple of other forums with little or no help. One guy even told me to get higher grain bullets.

    One question I have, for anyone still here and paying attention, is that during my "down and to the left" problems, they progressed as I shot. Meaning, my first shots would be on target, and every successive shot after that would move down and left further off target. By the 10th or 15th round, I was lucky to still be in the dartboard at all. It wasn't 100% of the time. My shots move further off target as I shoot each magazine. Odd thing was, my father-in-law's 9mm and 44 Magnum shot fine for me, with no deterioration of my aim as I shot.

    Was I anticipating more with each successive round fired?

  26. #25
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    It sounds like you might be tightening your grip as you progress in an attempt to control the problem. But in actuality, you might be making it worse, because when a right handed shooter tightens their grip, they can inadvertently torque the gun left and down. I highly recommend this inexpensive book: "The Perfect Pistol Shot."

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