Pistols

We miss because we don’t properly sight. Sighting is everything in marksmanship. You may talk about grip and stance until your lips fall off but you will not shoot any better if sighting is not your marksmanship priority. Proper sighting controls grip, stance, breathing, and even the effect of wind on the body because fanatical sighting allows the shooter to see errors before they occur. Good grip can be practiced while wearing a blindfold which means it cannot be the primary source of accuracy. Proper grip is extraordinarily important. Bedrock stuff. Even so, grip is nowhere near as important as proper sighting skills. You may say, “we’ve heard all this before.” And there’s part of the training problem. Continue reading

I like pistols and pistols are here to stay. Having said that, there are millions of revolvers out there and many home defenders wonder whether a revolver is worth keeping. For my two cents, it’s tough to beat to revolver for the following reasons:

  1. Fixed barrels lend themselves to better accuracy. Some pistols have fixed barrels but all revolvers do, and they’re truly affixed to the frames providing better and more consistent accuracy. There are extremely accurate pistols but taken as a class of weapons, revolvers are accurate.   Continue reading

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine told me his kid wanted to be a cop and was asking for some advice. Here’s my general advice for those who want to be a peace officer in 2015.

1. Learn to shoot like Roy Rogers and Tom Mix. It is incumbent upon the officer to overcome all physiological and psychological influences and simply shoot weapons out of the bad guys’ hands.  If you can master that skill out to 100 yards, you should be fine.  Remember this isn’t the wild west, so officers need to be able to shoot like old cowboy-movie stars.
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Recoil should never be a problem with traditional service caliber handguns. Disruption in shooting due to muzzle rise or rearward body movement under recoil is the result of a marksmanship error. If the shooter’s shoulders are slightly forward of the hips and if the arms are held naturally (not hyper-extended) there will be very little muzzle rise. If, however, the shoulders are even slightly behind the hips, the muzzle will have an exaggerated rise. The proper position of the shoulders can be accomplished by a slight slumping of the shoulders. In a normal standing position the hands hang to the sides. When the shoulders slump, the arms move forward transferring the hands from the outside of the legs to the front of the thighs. That slight repositioning will end all extraneous recoil. Your rapid fire speed will double. Double. Rearward movement due to recoil is also the result of either a slight rearward lean or a straight-up posture. The slight rearward lean will knock you back a step and the straight posture will rock you back onto your heels. Bring the shoulders forward of the hips and you’ll be rock-steady. Try it. For more information on the effect of body positioning on shooting read The Perfect Pistol Shot.

The new book is moving toward an early 2015 release. A holistic handgun system including everything from the draw to shooting in total darkness is the subject. More information will be available next month.

Very few shooters have mastery over the trigger press process. Even fewer realize it. Most shooters actually abandon the trigger halfway through the press. In The Perfect Pistol Shot, I describe this desire to short-cut the process as being an attempt to release the shot without disturbing the sights. Of course, the opposite happens because failing to control the trigger all the way to release will not shorten the trigger process but simply speed it up. The trigger is going to travel all the way to the point of free-fall whether the shooter controls it or not. Here’s a simple live-fire drill to help you. Continue reading

I enjoy reading the gun blogs and am always happy to receive correspondence from The Perfect Pistol Shot book and blog readers. In answer to virtually everyone’s question about their own shooting, please let me say once more: Lighten your grip!

Friends, your gun is not going to beat you to death. When I taught peace officers it was my practice to demonstrate firing a .357 magnum with full-house loads while holding it with only my trigger finger and the web of the shooting hand. Sure, it moves around during recoil (that’s what the other fingers are for) but I never dropped it. If you don’t crush a soda can while drinking, why do you try to crush a handgun when shooting? Do you give your cell phone four times as much pressure as its weight requires? If so, you must dial a lot of wrong numbers. Pressure is energy, energy is movement, and any pressure beyond what is needed to hold an object must be dispersed through movement. In shooting that movement is dissipated through the motion of the lighter object, which is the handgun. I  know what the other guys say and I know what the “sophisticated enthusiasts” say. They’re wrong, and they’ve been wrong for thirty years. If you’re a right-hander you most likely shoot between seven and eight o’clock. Most do, and the reason is shooting hand torque which twists the hand down and inward. That’s what the fist was designed to do but it is destructive to marksmanship. Of course, if you watch your front sight tip to the point of noticing every scratch, dent, and ding, you will see the tip move down and inward, allowing you to correct before firing. But that, we’ll save for another time.

Lighten up.

Keep your head up when firing. Why? Because you see better when looking straight ahead, it is how the eyes were intended to be placed in relation to objects in view. Peripheral vision serves to attract our attention but does not measure well when compared to direct vision. Another problem with head-down is a change in the distance between the eyes and the sights. When perspective is altered, the information from the eyes to the brain will be altered. You might say that it doesn’t matter because you always keep your head down when firing. The truth is, most head-downers will lift their heads for distance firing, completely altering their sight perspective. Also, even if you are consistent, you still risk not getting the best sight picture available. Bring the gun to the head, not the head to the gun.

After a year and a half on sale, The Perfect Pistol Shot hit #1 in Amazon shooting books, both in paperback and Kindle formats. It has been a pleasant surprise to me that the book continues to do well. I am very grateful to readers who have strayed “off the path” to try a new author. Thank you.

The next paperback instructional book is in the works. Hopefully, released in 2014. The new essay, American Gun Fight is making a little headway, thanks to Amazon readers. It is a response to Stephen King’s recent Kindle piece advocating greater restrictions on firearms ownership. If you don’t know how respond to gun control advocates, who toss-about their own facts, you may enjoy American Gun Fight. It’s currently less than a buck, and about sixty pages. While I’m thinking of prices, the women’s guide to safer dating, What Cops tell their Sisters, is now $0.99. If you’ve know women of dating age, this short book is worth a buck. Much of the material translates well for men who suffered dating relationships gone bad.

We’re at the end of a hot summer, still full of light. Check your front sight tips to make certain you don’t have a bare tip. A front sight tip that shines will give an impression of a low aim on standard black and white targets. The illusion will make you think that you’ve got white above your tip, when it in fact, it is your tip. Of course, you dear reader, having read previous blogs Continue reading

The next time you go to the range, try this simple training exercise. Instead of firing at a typical combat or bullseye target, draw a cross on the blank side of the paper. Use a heavy black felt-tipped marker. A full sized target paper will hold six crosses. Use the intersection of the cross as your aiming point. Most shooters will immediately recognize a major reduction in group size. Why? Because you will have an exactly the same aiming point every shot and that aiming point will be no larger than the front sight tip appears to be during sighting. Additionally, the arms of the cross draw the eye onto the aiming point, reducing the temptation for the shooter to drift focus onto the target. Marksmanship, that is the mastery of consistently accurate fire, depends primarily on sighting. Most shooters, even experienced shooters, do not know how to fanatically focus on the front sight tip. This drill will help. When teaching, I use cross Continue reading

Recently, The Perfect Pistol Shot was mentioned in one of the firearm manufacturers’ blogs. A reader asked other bloggers whether they approved of the “light grip” recommended in my book. Generally, they did not. One writer mentioned that his large frame .357 revolver with magnum loads required heavy thumb pressure to keep it in his hand. Another suggested I had written the book to lead astray fellow competitive shooters (I don’t even compete, and I’m not that clever). The point is that most shooters are fully convinced that thumb-pressure is necessary to retain the handgun during shooting. They are wrong.
For service caliber firearms (including traditional pistol caliber magnums) all that is needed to hold onto the weapon is the web of the shooting hand and the trigger finger. I routinely demonstrated this during my law enforcement classes using a S&W 686 with magnum loads and various semi-autos with hot ammo. While instructing in the Marine Corps, I demonstrated web-trigger finger with the .45 ACP. Do I advocate shooting a handgun with the web of the hand and the trigger finger? Of course not. The other three fingers are necessary to retain the weapon in place in-between shots, but a death-grip is not required. Neither are the thumbs which cause downward torquing with many shooters.
Some shooters will say they have large hunting revolvers that produce rifle class energy and recoil, requiring a heavy two-handed “squeeze.” Friends, if you cannot accurately shoot your handgun, get a rifle, and if you are squeezing your revolver beyond what is necessary for retention, your handgun is displacing that excess pressure through movement. That is a scientific certainty.
Your handgun is not your master unless you make it so. There are shooters who adore having mega-caliber handguns in order to take to the range twice a year and publicly complain (boast) about recoil. Certainly, there is a limit to the energy that can be accurately controlled in a handgun. But it is the shooter who chooses the firearm and who is responsible for where the rounds travel. The “my-gun-is-my-personality” crowd is the same group who for decades swore the .45 ACP “kicked like a mule,” and “couldn’t hit the broad-side of a barn.” Marksmanship is based on fact, not voodoo and fables. Let’s keep the Continue reading

Many first time defensive gun buyers (and some old hands) are often confused by 3 dot sights. These sights have a brightly colored dot on the front sight blade and two more dots on each post of the rear sight. Usually the dots glow in the dark. Very often shooters will attempt to align the dots for accurate firing. This is incorrect. The manufacturers make a passing effort to get the dots in-line but they are are not a sighting device. I know some will say the 3 dot system is for quick-fire. Again, this is incorrect. I don’t want to split hairs but sighting is too important to allow confusion. The 3 dot system helps acquire general sight alignment during low light conditions, enabling the shooter to find proper sight alignment with the front sight tip and rear sight blades. There is quite a bit more on this in The Perfect Pistol Shot.

I’d like to thank those readers who purchased from the Practical Tactical e-book series. The series has done well. The e-books are long articles covering the tactical use of rifle, shotgun, and handgun for the single defender. They are not a straight-line from A-Z introduction, but rather hit on some areas that are occasionally overlooked in this type of material. I wasn’t sure if short overviews without the frills would be of much interest, but it’s turned out well. There has been some disappointment expressed because the material is about 17 pages with no photos. Again, I wasn’t targeting the new shooter and thought I could deliver more material, less expensively in this format. For those looking for more comprehensive introductory material there are a lot of great tactical books out there. Thanks again for your support. Those readers with questions are always welcome to reach me through my web-site.

The next firearm book is specifically aimed at the first time Continue reading

The Author
Al
Albert League is a former Marine and law enforcement firearm instructor who consults on a variety of security topics.