by Sandy Keathley
The most important factor in accuracy with a handgun is keeping the muzzle from moving before, or during, the trigger break. While dry-firing or live-firing, most people will swear that the muzzle is not moving, and is perfectly still. This is an illusion, caused by the very tiny, imperceptible movements, caused by the muscles, lateral pressures on the trigger,breathing, and just the fact of being human. It is not possible to hold the muzzle perfectly still, as if it were locked into a gun vise. But you have to hold it still to get a good shot. So how do we get around this?
Many experts teach people to not fight this movement, but learn to control it; allow the movement to happen, and learn to time the break so that it happens as the sights align with the target. Tricky, but not impossible. It is a factor of “muscle memory“, not unlike juggling. Not everyone subscribes to this, but many people have success with it.
However, it is worth noting that the more you can control the movement of the muzzle, the easier shooting accuracy becomes, regardless of the approach after that. Lasers can be a very useful teaching aid in this development. If you don’t have a gun with a laser, you can still do this. Get a small laser pointer, like used in a classroom. It has to be one that can be switched on, and left on. Use masking tape and tape it to your gun. If using only for dry-firing, it doesn’t matter if it is aligned with the sights, or taped to the slide. I recommend doing it during live-fire, so make sure it is not taped to the slide, or you will be in for a shock. Also try to align it with your sights as much as possible. Crimson Trace makes add-on lasers for most models of handguns, so for a modest investment, you could add a real laser. I personally think it is worth the cost as a training aid, even if not left on the gun long-term.
Go online and find a target used for rimfire rifles. They will typically have either bullseyes or circles about the size of a quarter, or a dime. Print out, and put on the wall somewhere, or tape to a target at the range. Do this at a minimum distance of 5 yards, although 7-10 yards is even better. Take your normal stance, and try to keep the laser dot in this circle from before you put pressure on the trigger, until the break. Repeat 10 times. Take a break, and do it all again. If doing dry-firing, do this drill every day for 7 days in a row. For live-fire, do it once a week for a month. You should find significant improvement in your ability to hold the muzzle steady. Then again, you’re not really aiming, are you? That sounds like a post for another day.