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Firearms Fundamentals

fun·da·men·tal  /fəndəˈmen(t)əl/



  1. forming a necessary base or core; of central importance.
    "the protection of fundamental human rights"


  1. a central or primary rule or principle on which something is based.
    "two courses cover the fundamentals of microbiology"

The proper practice and implementation of these fundamentals will result in accurate shots on target.


Stance applies to everything from your head to your toes. Your foot placement is like the foundation of a building. A building will be unstable without a good foundation and isn’t a good start to begin constructing your palace of marksmanship upon. A bad stance can create a situation where the firearm has more control over you than you have over it. I have heard it said, “Nose over toes” or “Ears in front of shoulders. Shoulders in front of hips.” This means an aggressive forward stance that gives you better control over the recoil and allows you to get back on target faster. Not so much that you're falling forward. The faster you are back on target the quicker you can reassess and determine whether follow up shots are required



Your grip is how you hold the gun. No matter whether it is a pistol, rifle, or shotgun. Shot placement and your ability to handle any given firearm is directly affected by the way you hold the gun. You could be tensing up and squeezing the grip which creates misalignment of the sights, in turn throwing your shot off. You could be holding the grip too low allowing the recoil to flip the muzzle and make it more difficult to reacquire the target. You could “limp wrist” and create a malfunction by not allowing a semi-automatic pistol to cycle properly. Proper grip, with a proper stance, gives you more control over the gun than it has over you.


Sight Alignment

This is simply the relationship between the front sight and rear sight. One of the most common phrases used in reference to sight alignment is “Equal height. Equal light.”

Equal height refers to the even alignment across the tops of the front and rear sights.

Equal light refers to the spacing on either side of the front sight when placed inside of the rear sight.


Sight Picture

Sight picture is the image you see when you align the sights on target. When you have a proper sight picture you should be focused on the front sight. The human eye can only focus on one distance at a time. If you focus on the target, your sights will be blurry. If you focus on the rear sight, then your front sight and target will be blurry. If you focus on the front sight as you should, you will still be able to see and properly align all three.


Breathing Control

Breathe normally. Respirations cause movement. You will learn to time your shot during the respiratory pause when shooting for accuracy and time permits.


Holding your breath creates tremors and tunnel vision. These things do nothing positive for your precision shooting.


Trigger Control

Manipulation of the trigger should be one smooth motion of equal speed and strength. No slapping or jerking of the trigger. Your grip, sight picture, and sight alignment should not change. Do not anticipate the shot. Anticipation is jerking the muzzle of the gun down when pressing the trigger. Every shot should be a surprise. Simply execute a smooth trigger press without disturbing your sight picture until the shot breaks. The only motion that should happen is the movement of the trigger finger. 


Follow Through

Maintain all fundamentals through the entire trigger press and when the shot breaks. Do not attempt to spot your shots on target in a multiple shot sequence of fire. Looking after each shot disturbs your fundamentals and makes you have to reset. Resetting takes time and delays the whole process of a follow-up shot.


Practicing marksmanship fundamentals should be at a speed that allows proper form and execution. There should be no concern of speed when trying to polish fundamentals as close to perfection as possible. With proper form comes more efficient function. Proper form and execution will result in more efficient movement. Efficiency of movement removes excess exaggerated motions and in turn will naturally be faster. Remember that the fastest path between two points is a straight line. You will be much slower if you’re flailing about while trying to get on target.


A good instructor can help you pinpoint areas in which you can improve. They can spot what you’re doing wrong and breakdown what needs to happen in order for you to become a better shooter. Attempting to do this on your own is much more difficult. You might not know how to fix it even if you see what you’re doing wrong. Some people will attempt to change multiple things at the same time instead of focusing on building one block at a time with an instructor. It is highly likely that a qualified and skilled instructor can make a significant difference in your shooting within one session of working with you. 

Contact us through the form below if you would like assistance in developing or polishing your marksmanship fundamentals. We can assist in making you a more effective shooter no matter what your skill level. Our onsite simulator can allow you to practice without all the distractions of a live fire range in a personalize training environment.

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