Firing Methods: A History & How-To
Contemporary firearms have their roots in 10th century China. That’s when the fire lance, the world’s first recorded gunpowder weapon, was invented. The close-action weapon made use of a bamboo tube attached to a spear – filled with gunpowder and projectile mechanisms. These one-shot weapons ignited a flame when fired and proved great defense tools against invaders on Chinese soil.
Some of the earliest representations of the modern gun were turret guns, or revolving rifles, used in the mid-18th century. These single-action guns were fired once, and then needed reloading. Around that time, the double-action revolver also came about. It employed two options for firing: cocking it and shooting, or shooting in one motion by stroking the trigger over a longer pull length.
Today, gun owners have many more options in terms of the types of firearms they can purchase. Buying a gun is just the beginning of a gun-owner's journey, though. Firing a gun entails so much more than just “pulling the trigger.” Even the most advanced shooters have to recognize the right technique when firing a gun for safety and practicality reasons.
Strikers Versus Hammers
Modern guns are triggered in one of two ways: a hammer or striker. A hammer-fired gun has a large, heavy “hammer” piece that rotates on a pivot. The hammer is cocked via a spring and then released when the trigger is pulled. The hammer hits a firing pin that then hits the cartridge to detonate it.
A striker-powered firearm is linear in nature. The striker is attached to a spring. When that spring is released, the striker hits the primer of the cartridge, pushing the bullet out of the muzzle of the gun.
How to Discharge a Firearm
When you know the best technique for firing a gun, you will see better results in your aim and also how comfortable you are physically. Here’s how to get set up for firearm success:
Grip the firearm firmly
Focus on your target and align the firearm
Place the fingerprint of your pointer finger on the trigger
Pull the trigger steadily back and keep the rest of your body steady
The firearm will discharge when enough pressure is applied
When preparing to fire a gun, avoid:
Moving any part of your body other than your trigger finger
Flinching just before you fire, also known as anticipating the recoil.
Firing too quickly – it’s better to pull the trigger slowly and keep your body still
Your shooting stance impacts your success at hitting the target and not hurting yourself in the process. Align your shooting stance with these tips in mind:
Lean forward slightly with your shoulder in front of your hips. NEVER lean back.
Your shoulders should stay relaxed and dropped, and your arms should extend completely if possible.
Your dominant leg, or the same side as the arm holding the gun, should extend a foot behind you, give or take a few inches based on the individual shooter’s balance.
Balance yourself to brace for the impact of the gun when it is fired. This will take some trial and error until you have more experience shooting.
Firearms have come a long way since those ancient Chinese fire lances and have improved in accuracy and safety for the shooter. Selecting the right gun and caliber of bullet – and perfecting your firing stance – make gun ownership safe and effective.
Disclaimer: Always check with your state and local laws for restrictions before ordering ammunition, and make sure you use the correct ammunition for your specific firearm.