Teach me to shoot: Part 9
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin, a word about the upcoming Texas Airgun Show. Remember, it’s Saturday, August 27 at the Arlington Sportsman Club in Mansfield, Texas. AirForce Airguns has decided to donate a Texan big bore as the door prize. Every paid attendee will receive a door prize drawing ticket as part of their admission and someone will win a new Texan big bore in their choice of caliber — .30, .357 or .45. How’s that for a reason to come to the show? Now let’s get to today’s blog.
This is the continuing fictional saga and guest report of a man teaching a woman to shoot. Today, though, I’m changing it up. Instead of letting fictional guest writer Jack Cooper write, I am taking over. Jack asked me to show you how to get into position to shoot targets with a handgun, holding it with just one hand. This is the way he taught Jill, back in Part 4. Today is a very short and focused lesson, so let’s get started.
This report covers:
- Addressing the target
- Final alignment
- Positioning the feet for stability
- Anchor your off hand
- That’s it!
- My surprise
Several readers requested specifically that I show them in videos how to get into position to shoot a handgun with one hand. That’s all I’m going to show today. I do have a small surprise for you at the end of the report, however.
Addressing the target
Getting into position for shooting with one hand is the most important thing you can do. For my American readers, have you ever watched a major-league baseball pitcher when he first comes to the pitcher’s mound? He will spend up to several minutes getting his feet planted in exactly the right place before he ever throws the ball. He knows that when his feet are positioned correctly, he will not miss his target — which is home plate — as long as he maintains the proper form when he throws.
The same thing is true for handgun shooters. When you are in the right position, you cannot miss the target by very much, as long as your shooting form remains true. So, let’s learn how to get into position. Step one is to address the target.
Stand at the firing line, looking at the target, and turn away from the target to the weak side of your body. If you shoot with your right hand, you will turn to the left. Watch the video.
In this step you will align your upper body with the target so your shooting hand points directly at the target. My video shows an exaggerated alignment. It’s not usually that large. But you will be able to tell when you are in perfect alignment.
Watch the video and especially watch what I do with my feet. The lead foot, which is my right foot (I’m right-handed) moves first, and it moves more than the trailing foot. But both feet can be moved to refine the position. Let’s watch the video, then I have more to tell you about this step.
Okay, this is just a rough alignment. After you do this the first time, pick up your gun, close your eyes and raise the gun in your shooting hand, then lower it to point at the target. If the sights aren’t perfectly aligned (you will probably have to either raise or lower your hand the first few times you do this), move the feet slightly to bring the sights into alignment. Then lower your gun, close your eyes and do it again. Keep refining the stance until the sights appear to be perfectly aligned, side-to-side, after you open your eyes.
Positioning the feet for stability
When you move your feet, the object is to point the toes of both feet in — each pointing toward the other foot. This tensions the knees to make your legs rigid, and that, in turn, stabilizes your upper body. Don’t just move the leading foot. Make sure both feet are moved in this procedure, so both legs are tensioned. Let’s look at the last video now.
Anchor your off hand
Okay — the final step. Anchor your off hand (the hand not holding the gun) by either placing it in a pocket or shoving it inside the belt line of your pants. That off hand is a weight that will move around and throw you off target if it’s free to move. And, once your feet are planted and properly adjusted — DON’T MOVE THEM!
That is the entire process of getting into position to shoot a handgun with one hand. Reader levans asked me to show how to hold a 1911 pistol, and I’m going to do that, but not today. When I do show that, I’ll show you how to use your upper body to hold all pistols with one hand and not have to bear most of the weight. It works for all handguns — not just 1911s. That one will have videos, too.
I originally started this blog series because I became beyond angry at the sloppy and damaging training I saw men giving to women they were supposedly teaching to shoot. As I was researching this material, I actually overheard a conversation between two men, one of whom had bought “the little woman” a .38 Special snubnosed revolver because it fit in her purse. At least they knew better than to give her a semiautomatic pistol that even they couldn’t operate without a lot of cussing and frustration! But to hand someone a handgun that you know is going to hurt when it fires is cruel.
I thought I knew better and wanted to do something about it. As I went about my research I discovered that it isn’t just women who are having this problem. A lot of men can’t take the punishment of a lightweight .38 Special snub nose shooting hot defense rounds. Some of them have arthritis in their hands and others (like me) just don’t like the feel of the vicious recoil a small lightweight gun can have. I shoot a .357 Magnum Desert Eagle with the hottest reloads possible, so recoil by itself is not the issue. The issue is recoil that passes through a grip that’s small, and concentrates the force.
I had shot a snubnosed revolver with .32 H&R Magnum cartridges several years ago and remembered what a pleasant experience it was. But after Jack taught Jill and used the same cartridge, I started to get concerned. Had I remembered correctly? So I bought a Taurus .327 Federal Magnum snubnosed revolver to test my memory. If you will recall, that is the revolver Jill chose as her carry gun.
Well I remembered correctly. The recoil is minimal for the power and actually pleasant. What I had not tested before, but did last week, was the accuracy of that cartridge in a snub-nosed revolver. At 15 yards, which is 45 feet, I was able to keep 20 shots of .32 H&R Magnums in a group that was just larger than the size of my hand. The recoil was very pleasant — not as light as a .22 rimfire, of course, but not like hitting a fastball with a cracked bat, either!
My Taurus snubby put 20 shots into about 7.5-inches offhand from 45 feet. That is minute-of-bad-guy accuracy!
The way this series is blossoming, I am thinking of expanding it into a small book. Of course there is more to come, so we are a long way from the final book decision, but even if this is never more than just a blog, it will have served its purpose. It will be a place I can refer people to when they ask me how to teach someone to shoot.
Still to come are my explanation of how to hold a 1911 pistol and Jack has promised to teach Jill’s new friend, Jamell, how to shoot a rifle. There will be a surprise or two coming there, as well.