Home Blog  
Education / Training Introduction to 10-meter pistol – Part 1An instant tutorial!

Introduction to 10-meter pistol – Part 1An instant tutorial!

by B.B. Pelletier

First things first. Reader K. Rihanek mentioned that the rear sight notch on his Gamo Compact was adjustable, so I read the manual and learned that it is. I have owned a Compact and tested several and never before noticed this feature. You can open that notch to almost double the width via a cleverly hidden adjustment screw on the sight. I’m showing you where it is in case you own a Compact.

Gamo Compact rear sight notch adjustment screw (on the left side of the sight) is headless and hollow. I missed seeing it for 10 years.

This removes the biggest objection I have to the gun. It’s very easy to see a 6 o’clock hold now.

The 6 o’clock hold
Speaking of 6 o’clock holds, Matt61 was describing how he did his, which prompted me to start this series on 10-meter pistol shooting now. Matt was using a center hold, which doesn’t work at all for 10-meter. So, I’ll now show a true 6 o’clock hold.

6 o’clock hold

Now I know that thin sliver of light under the bull is going to unnerve many of you. I can see the comments now – “How thin should it be?” The answer is as thin as you can make it. This is a topic of great discussion among ten-meter shooters the world over.

Some say they don’t leave any light at all, but the majority leave a thin sliver so they can define the bottom of the bull above the front sight.

Please remember what a 10-meter target looks like and where the scoring rings are.

This is an official 10-meter target. Six o’clock means the extreme lower point of the 7-ring, which would be 6 o’clock if the black bullseye were a clock face.

Adjusting the sights
The sights are adjusted so the pellet ends up in the center of the 10-ring, and this is done while shooting offhand. No 10-meter competitor would dream of shooting his gun from a vice to sight in, because he knows the gun will shoot to a different point when handheld. Which begs the question, “How can you possibly sight-in a 10-meter pistol when you can’t even hit the center of the bullseye most of the time?” Think of it this way: Shooting 10-meter pistol is a lot like riding a unicycle. It requires a skill that most people don’t have. You just start trying and eventually you get better. Finally, you remain upright on the cycle all the time.

In 10-meter shooting, you start out with a sight setting that gets you the highest number of points. As you progress, you start noticing that although you’re shooting all over the 7-ring, your pellets are landing in the lower right quadrant of the ring more often than anywhere else. You make a sight adjustment to move the pellet slightly up and to the left. To your surprise, your 10-shot average score climbs from 74 to 81. The sight correction actually helped!

The importance of follow-through
This goes on until the day you notice that if you hold your sights on the target a moment after the shot breaks you can see where the sights were when the gun fired. To your surprise, you’re now able to “call your shots,” which means when you say a shot is high and to the left, that’s where it goes. All of a sudden, you start trying to follow through intentionally, and your average increases by three more points.

The front sight is everything
Then, a day comes when you notice the front sight has more to do with where the shot goes than anything else. Now, you start concentrating on the front sight to the point that the rear notch and the bull become blurry. The fact that you are 60 years old and wear reading glasses suddenly doesn’t matter anymore. You’ve discovered the SECRET! Your average score increases by another point. You’re now shooting an 85 for ten shots.

The next big thing to happen is that the trigger begins to break without your conscious effort. You’re lined up on the shot and the gun suddenly fires before you thought you were ready. It increases your score by seven points. You now shoot a 92 average, which means a score of 552/600 in a men’s match or a 368/400 in a women’s match. At this point, you’re an NRA Expert shooter and any advance from here will require a change in your thinking. Target shooting is a head game, the same as any championship competition. That’s why the books about expert marksmanship all sound like a lesson in Zen. You need to concentrate on the target to the exclusion of everything else. Please watch the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played or the movie For Love of the Game to understand what I’m talking about.

Wax on – wax off
For many of you, this report reads like new-age gibberish – except for the part about the 6 o’clock hold. In fact, this report actually is a condensed course in how to become a 10-meter champion. But you’re not ready for that, yet, so I’m giving you an assignment to watch what I consider to be the finest instructional video of all time on becoming a champion. Please watch The Karate Kid. When I say, “Wax on – wax off” from now on, I expect you to understand what I’m talking about.

Matt61, you asked me about my friend who became obsessed with 10-meter shooting. He read everything I wrote, and watched all the films I recommended, and, within 18-months, he was out-shooting me. My top average score with the NRA was a 535. That equates to an 89.16-point 10-shot average. My best individual score in a match was a 545. When I shot it, I was on the cusp of breaking through the 90-point barrier and moving from Sharpshooter to Expert in 10-meter competition. Then we moved and I lost my chance to shoot every day, so today, five years later, I’m lucky to shoot a 475. But I have been there and I know what it takes to get you there.

Rules of 10-meter pistol matches
A 10-meter pistol match is shot at 10 meters from the muzzle of the pistol. Because each shooter has a different arm length, it is physically impossible for them all to be exactly at 10 meters, so the firing line is set up so that no shooter’s muzzle will be closer than 10 meters. There will be differences of several inches among all the muzzles on line. Shooters don’t worry about that. They simply confirm their zero before the match and go with it. A few inches doesn’t make a difference with these guns.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

35 thoughts on “Introduction to 10-meter pistol – Part 1An instant tutorial!”

  1. B.B.–Scott298–while we are on the subject of sights what would you recommend for a level on a b-square mount, how exactly are they used and is it possible to damage a scope by overtightening the scope rings? I know they have to be snug so the point of impact doesn’t change – but how snug is snug?

  2. Scott298,

    i tighten the rings down about as tight as i can without using the longer part of the allen key. Just as yourself – will it move? Hope that helps. BB will have a better answer….

  3. Scott298,

    Nope, Henry’s answer is mine, as well. Tight enough that the scope doesn’t move in the rings. Approach that point with caution, because most scope tubes bend (dent) easily. Leapers tubes are thicker than most and can tolerate a little more abuse, but not much.

    A scope level allows you to shoot every shot with the rifle and scope in the same orientation, side-to-side. Even if the level isn’t installed level, it will still work, because all you are doing is shooting every time with the bubble in the same position.

    Tell me if you understand what I’m saying. I can blog this if you think you still don’t understand.


  4. What works for me (in using iron sights) is to align the sights by pointing to a area on the target that is blank (or the wall, backer, etc.). Once I have the sights aligned, I then concentrate only on the front sight and align it with the bullseye.

    I also find that I shoot better if I can see the target at least fairly clearly rather than having optimal focus on the front sight. I find that having the front sight be a bit fuzzy is fine especially if the alternative is a very fuzzy target.

    A Bullseye shooter suggested that one should “guide” the gun with the trigger. This is more mental than physical, I think, but the concept is that you tighten the pull on the trigger when you are aligned with the target.

    Hope someone else finds that these help — do not be afraid to experiment to find out what works for you. The “book” is just a place to start, not the “Bible” on how to shoot IMHO.

  5. BB,
    I have a long history with handguns and not being able to shoot them to my satisfaction, but I might try it again someday — your enthusiasm is contagious. When I was about 9, my uncle and the sheriff of his county in SC took me and one of my brothers to the range with some handguns to shoot at torso targets. I had been shooting rifles with my grandfather for several years by that time, and so was able to put all my shots into the zones, but was disappointed at how the shots were spread out. Looking back, it was probably the best I ever shot a handgun:).

  6. BG_Farmer,

    There ARE some secrets to shooting handguns well. I was a stunt gunfighter at a western amusement park while I was in college, and for several years I shot Colt single actions every day. I got pretty good with that style of gun – even when shooting live ammo.

    In the army, my Squadron commender was a 2600-club shooter (qualified to shoot in the Olympics) and he taught me how to shoot the .45 auto.

    But 10-meter pistol is my great joy. It isn’t easy, but learning is possible. I once taught an anti-gun person to shoot 10 meter in an hour, and hooked him on airguns.

    For you, that will be tomorrow’s blog.


  7. B.B.

    You know you’re messing up when you inspire a whole blog post. Ha ha. This is made to order, thanks. I have to run off to teach which requires some real concentration–no dreaming about crosshairs–but I will digest this material in more detail. For the time being, I’m curious about the stance which I picked up from the ISSF movies that Derrick recommended. Some of these shooters were facing perpendicular to the target so that their bodies were lining up with their shooting arm. But some were not. They were facing something like 10 or 11 o clock relative to the target and their bodies were making a definite angle with the gun. I suppose this is all about personal preference but I wonder if there are any principles here that could be explained.

    Derrick, as a matter-of-fact I seem to be displaying a talent for shooting at 18 feet….


  8. B.B.–Scott298–by having the level will that also help me rotating the scope in the rings so that the verticle line is straight-not off by a couple of degrees-or is there an old time secret to getting the cross hairs at a true 12 to 6 and 3 to 9 position-+-?

  9. BB,
    I will look forward to that blog, thanks. Back in the day, my father was a big fan of pistols and western-style shooting, but he was busy earning a living, so most of my shooting was with my grandfather (rifles and a shotgun when appropriate). Of course, there’s also the complicated learning dynamic b/t fathers and sons:).

  10. Completely off topic…
    Are there ever going to be reprints of Airgun Review?

    It seems like used copies are going for between $30-$50, so there is likely at least a small market that would justify reprinting them.

    Just curious,

  11. Scott298,

    Until you discover that it doesn’t really matter whether the vertical reticle is perfectly straight or not, here is an “old-time secret” to aligning the vertical reticle. Line up with something you know to be plumb, like the edge of a house.


  12. Nick,

    I have though about reprinting Airgun Revues. I can do it, it just takes time.

    I am 100 percent supported by my writing, so I have to do the things that pay the best, first.

    Besides airguns I’m working on other endeavors.


  13. Glad to see this series come up. Been waiting for it for a while. But you manage to come up with so many different and interesting entries that I’m never bored.

  14. BB:

    Thank you for the 10 meter pistol blog. I recently got a Daisy 747 and have been practicing almost daily. Love the pistol !!! Accurate and easy to pump. I was in the pistol team in college (40+ years ago) … can’t shoot as well but still having lots of fun.
    Looking forward to the rest of the 10 meter pistol series. Your blog proves that- Yes, you can teach an old dog (with bi-focals) new tricks. Thanks again.


  15. B.B.

    This is great. I particularly like the progression of skills. I actually recognize just about everything in what I do at some point or another, but consistency is a problem. And the first step of following through has proven most elusive, so there’s a ways to go.

    In anticipation of the rest of the series, I’ll say what’s on my mind now for future consideration.

    What is the secret to the “cantilevered” method of holding the shooting arm that you mentioned somewhere? Our engineers may be able to figure this out, but I am jiggered if I know what this means–unless it has something to do with leaning backwards as I’ve seen some elite shooters doing.

    The sliver under the bull is interesting and actually leads to an issue of trigger squeeze that is more general. This sliver is a very precise configuration which one is not going to hold for any length of time with the constant movement that takes place. But with the surprise trigger break that I keep hearing about, how can you ensure that the shot will fire at the exact instant that the sliver appears? On the contrary, it seems like the surprise break will randomize the point of impact. Maybe this has to do with the zen of somehow knowing how the trigger will break and with the wax on wax off concept which I take to mean endless drilling.

    Speaking of which, I had always assumed that real shooting is the best practice of all. But you mentioned somewhere that the elite shooters practice 5 times as much dry firing as actual shots. I’m gathering that they are not saving on the price of lead. Would this be to work the coordination without the distraction of the shot?

    I saw the picture of you as the Western action hero and would like to hear more about what that involved. Were you gunfighting with blanks or making trick shots with live ammo? The cowboy shooting is all the rage at the range I shoot at. All of the most experienced shooters who are the most grizzled and have the most equipment shoot big, Western-style revolvers.

    Looking forward to the series.


  16. Matt61,

    I will explain the cantilevered pistol hold in great detail. Until then, please be patient. It’s coming in the next formal 10-meter segment.

    As for the amusement park, I worked at Frontier Village. You can see what it looked like here:


    When I was the Picnic Manager in 1969 I was also a part-time outlaw named Sundown and also the Deputy Marshall (who gave the Marshall a couple days off each week).

    We used Colt single action revolvers with black powder blanks we loaded. Each blank had 40 grains of black powder that made a fireball 8 feet long. The noise was horrendous! There was real danger shooting with a crowd of people standing around, but we had little tricks to keep the public safe. For example, if a young child walked out between the outlaw and the marshall, the outlaw would fire a shot into the air. All the kids would start screaming and crying and only a totally deaf person would fail to clear the streets.


  17. B.B.,
    The 10-meter blog is forming up nicely. Thank for posting it.

    A very off topic question. I picked up a used 22cal rimfire Stevens Savage Model 73 for $5 in a garage sale. It is missing the bolt and all the associated hardware. Trigger and everything else is still there. Seems the firing pin broke and the owner took it apart and over time the bolt assembly got lost.

    Is this thing worth buy new parts and repairing it or did I just buy a parts gun?

    Thank you in advance,

  18. DB,

    savage steven in my 2001 book was worth about 75 in excellent shape. So if ther is nothing else wrong with the gun and you can pick up cheap parts I’d say good deal. Nice little plinker.

    B.B. hope you don’t mind my input


  19. JW,
    Thank you for the input. That is about what I thought. Parts seem to be about $50 plus shipping.

    The gun is in fair condition… so I figure todays value might be $75. So I think I’ll shop around for the parts.

    Had one when I was very young. My Dad quickly traded it up for a simi-auto 22 Savage. Do not recall if the 73 was any good or not. Might be fun to try one again though.

    Thanks again,

  20. Matt61

    I was in college back in 1965 in the Philippines. The Rifle and Pistol Team was part of the ROTC program. We competed against teams from other(ROTC)universities.

    I was in the pistol team. During competitions, we used a 22 caliber rimfire target pistol (at 25 foot distance,if I recall correctly).

    For practice, we also used the 22 caliber Crosman 600 which was modified by our coach for bulk load CO2. I still have my Crosman 600 but has since been reconverted back to use the original 12 gram CO2 cartridge.

    The Crosman 600 was a fun pistol to shoot, however the Daisy 747 is much more accurate and better suited for competition shooting. Unfortunately the 747 was not yet available at that time. I guess our coach was one of the pioneers in the use of pellet gun for target practice.


  21. Federal code,

    I found this on Robert Beeman’s site:


    That indicates that I was there in Reno when the lawyer showed us this U.S. code (which is true). He had defended several people in New Jersey with it.

    This is not the code I have been referring to, which was called the Dole Act, for its sponsor back in the 1980s, but this may be what the Dole Act evolved into. If so, I must update what I say about the law, because most of the language I have been reporting has been omitted. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I need to look into this more closely.


  22. This isn’t direclty related to 10 Meter but, some may find the information in the following guide helpful:

    I wasn’t able to find it in pdf format….

    If you don’t already have it, search for THE M1 RIFLE, “an american rifleman reprint”, from the NRA book Service.
    I did a couple of quick google searchs without any real success.


    This might be it at abebooks:

    Mine has a Yellow cover. It’s only about 20 pages, but has some good information.

  23. Don,

    Thank you for that link. I disagree with some of what is said in the tutorial, but overall it is very good. Whoever wrote it must not be a competitor, because his view of the sights is unrealistic. It reads like he read it from a book.

    However, it is a good tutorial in many respects.


  24. That Pistol Marksmanship Guide was recommended to me by an Indiana State Trooper who shot competitively.

    Hopefully some folks will find some of the information helpful.

    A click of the Website Index link at the top of the page will list a few more documents that could be informative.

    Safe Shooting !

  25. Don/BB,
    The guide picture of “proper” sight picture, i.e., target very blurry, front sight sharp, rear sight almost in focus is almost exactly what I see, and it makes sense given the consideration of depth of field. One thing that comes to mind is that the “slight band of light”, which BB references, formally though approximately accommodates the lack of focus of the bullseye, i.e., there is a distinct boundary where the target background color is 100%, whereas anywhere else on the indistinct edge of the fuzzy bullseye is an obviously less precise location. Can’t wait to try it — more of a mental trick than anything.

  26. Thanks for the info; it seems to have already improved my shooting.

    Off topic: Do you know of a brand of 22 cal pellets which has a front band which is a bit bigger than normal? I think my new Baikal needs it.

Leave a Comment

Buy With Confidence

  • Free Shipping

    TEST Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

    Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

    View Shipping Info

  • Shipping Time Frame

    We work hard to get all orders placed by 12 pm EST out the door within 24 hours on weekdays because we know how excited you are to receive your order. Weekends and holiday shipping times will vary.

    During busy holidays, we step our efforts to ship all orders as fast as possible, but you may experience an additional 1-2 day delay before your order ships. This may also happen if you change your order during processing.

    View Shipping Times

  • Shipping Restrictions

    It's important to know that due to state and local laws, there are certain restrictions for various products. It's up to you to research and comply with the laws in your state, county, and city. If you live in a state or city where air guns are treated as firearms you may be able to take advantage of our FFL special program.

    U.S. federal law requires that all airsoft guns are sold with a 1/4-inch blaze orange muzzle or an orange flash hider to avoid the guns being mistaken for firearms.

    View Shipping Restrictions

  • Expert Service and Repair

    We have a team of expert technicians and a complete repair shop that are able to service a large variety of brands/models of airguns. Additionally, we are a factory-authorized repair/warranty station for popular brands such as Air Arms, Air Venturi, Crosman, Diana, Seneca, and Weihrauch airguns.

    Our experts also offer exclusive 10-for-$10 Test and 20-for-$20 Service, which evaluates your air gun prior to leaving our warehouse. You'll be able to add these services as you place your order.

    View Service Info

  • Warranty Info

    Shop and purchase with confidence knowing that all of our air guns (except airsoft) are protected by a minimum 1-year manufacturer's warranty from the date of purchase unless otherwise noted on the product page.

    A warranty is provided by each manufacturer to ensure that your product is free of defect in both materials and workmanship.

    View Warranty Details

  • Exchanges / Refunds

    Didn't get what you wanted or have a problem? We understand that sometimes things aren't right and our team is serious about resolving these issues quickly. We can often help you fix small to medium issues over the phone or email.

    If you need to return an item please read our return policy.

    Learn About Returns

TEST Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

View Shipping Info

Text JOIN to 91256 and get $10 OFF Your Next $50+ Order!

* By providing your number above, you agree to receive recurring autodialed marketing text msgs (e.g. cart reminders) to the mobile number used at opt-in from Pyramyd AIR on 91256. Reply with birthday MM/DD/YYYY to verify legal age of 18+ in order to receive texts. Consent is not a condition of purchase. Msg frequency may vary. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel. See Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy.