5 Training Tips to Improve Your Aim
Everyone wants to be a better shooter. This is true regardless of how good you actually are — good shooters want to be great, and great shooters want to be elite. The rest of us just want to be able to consistently hit the target.
A lot of things go into being able to consistently hit what you're shooting at, and improving your aim is a big part of that. It stands to reason if your aim isn't up to par, you may not hit the intended target, and you're certainly not going to hit precisely where you’d hoped to. What might come as a surprise is that there's more to aiming than looking down the sights.
While most of these tips could be considered to be handgun specific, the truth of the matter is that they apply to every type of firearm. It doesn't matter whether it's an AK-47 or a 1911 chambered in .22 — good aim is good aim.
Your grip is fundamental to your aim — obviously, if you're not holding the gun properly then you're not going to be able to aim it properly. There are more than a few factors to grip. Just for example:
- You could be too limp-wristed or too stiff.
- Your wrist could be bent left or right.
- Your hands may be placed too low or too high.
No matter how the grip is off, holding your gun wrong makes it harder to align the sights and aim. A good grip may be among the hardest habits to develop, because in many cases, it will require outside input.
There are proper ways to be sure you're holding the gun correctly, but you want to make sure you're covering the grip completely with no open spaces. After that, the main priority is to adjust your grip pressure so that you're holding the gun as straight as possible without wiggling it side-to-side.
2. Bring the Gun to You
You don't want to go down to the gun; you want to raise the gun up to you. This is important from a body mechanics standpoint. Trying to hunch down to the gun changes your viewpoint and makes it harder for you to acquire the sights. It creates unnecessary tension in your body, which can disturb your aim. On top of that, it can cause you to have an inconsistent sight picture because you’re unlikely to go down to the gun at the same position each time. By bringing the gun to you, you'll build better muscle memory for sight acquisition and body positioning, which yields a more consistent aim.
3. Understand Natural Aim
Natural aim is the point at which you tend to point the firearm naturally when you're about to shoot. This is different for every person because our bodies are different, as are our eyes and the way our muscles react to what we're trying to do. So, a huge step towards improving your aim is to take steps to improve your natural aim.
But how do you do that, and what exactly does it mean? It means you must work on adjusting your body so that you are naturally pointing the gun at the target by default. There are a couple of things that can be done to help improve this, and they both involve adjusting your stance.
Widen or Narrow Your Stance
The first method to improve your natural aim is to widen or narrow your stance in order to bring the gun up or down to where you're trying to aim it. By either widening or narrowing your stance, you adjust where the gun is pointing up or down, much like you would using the elevation adjustments on a rifle sight.
It might sound complex, but once you get the hang of it, you naturally know where to put your feet. With practice on exactly how wide your stance should be, you build muscle memory so you're instinctively positioning yourself in a way that helps you naturally point the gun straight at the target.
Adjust Your Feet
Similarly, by staggering your feet either slightly forward or backwards, you can help yourself with left and right adjustments. Just as you might adjust windage on the sights of a rifle, you can adjust your body. By moving your feet a little farther apart or closer together forward and backward, you naturally point the gun exactly to where you want it to go in terms of left and right.
In other words, stagger your feet like you're taking a step — not so much that you lose balance or become unstable, but enough to move your body left and right. Again, this will take some practice, but over time and with deliberate practice, this will also become second nature. You will develop muscle memory and train yourself to naturally achieve this specific shooting position, which will enable you to have a better default body position.
4. Trigger Squeeze
There are those who would suggest this portion actually has more to do with proper grip than the pulling of the trigger itself, and while there is definitely merit in that, it's still important to ensure you're executing the movement properly. Whether it's a grip issue or not, the act of pressing or squeezing the trigger is a fairly essential part of firing a gun, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing it right. Perhaps the biggest thing to remember with respect to trigger control is to make slow, smooth, and consistent motions so the gun is not wobbling in your hand and you can maintain a proper aim.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
There is one tried-and-true method to ensure you are doing these steps as outlined above: Practice, practice, practice. The good news is that regardless of how much ammunition you have or whether you have access to a range or somewhere else to shoot, you can actually practice all of these inside the comfort of your own home.
The Post-It Drill
An excellent drill you can do to put all of these tips into practice simply involves a wall and a post-it note. Find a space in your home where you will be undisturbed and place a sticky-note on the wall. Then, after ensuring your firearm is completely unloaded, aim at the note on the wall.
Once you have a good stance, aim and grip, close your eyes and move the gun around while keeping yourself pointed at the note. Move left to right, in circles, figure eights, anything to move it as randomly as possible with your eyes closed. Then, while your eyes are still closed, try to re-aim your gun back to the note on the wall. Once you've done that, open your eyes.
After opening your eyes, see how your aim has changed. If it's low or high and right or left, adjust your stance. If the gun does not appear straight and your sights are out of alignment, adjust your grip. You can practice this as often as you want until you get to where the body positioning and grip become second nature.
Another method of practice is that of dry firing. You can use the same sticky note on the wall, or take aim at something else, just as long as the gun is unloaded and you're not pointing it at anyone. Then, after getting yourself into the proper position as outlined above, practice your trigger squeeze. If the gun moves from side to side or you notice that you're having to move other aspects of your body or hands, then adjust your grip until you aren't. This can be done as much as possible and really helps you develop better trigger control, so dry fire away to your heart's content.
Keep in mind for both of these practice tools that it's a good idea to have someone else watch you while you do them. They can keep other people from inadvertently walking in front of you when your eyes are closed and help you pinpoint errors in your aim. However, feel free to do them on your own as much as you want; the important part is the practice.