The ABCs of Handgun Marksmanship

by
posted on September 15, 2009
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At some unknown point in time, an instructor stepped before a group of men and began to speak about the management of a curious artifact known as a pistol. It may have been a Texan speaking to a company of Rangers who had just received their new Patersons. Or maybe it was later or even much earlier—I don't know, because I wasn't there. But I do remember with crystal clarity the voice of my late father as I stood before a target and lifted a loaded Colt pistol for the first time. His message stays with me to this day: "There's not a reason in the world to shoot unless you intend to hit. You hit when you line up the sights."

He had more to say of course, but I will spare you further wistful remembrances of a .22 Ace in a basement range. The matter at hand is a simple one—the principles by which you hit a distant target with a bullet fired from a handgun. The essence of what I was taught then and what is taught at a good school today is the same. Happily enough, our understanding of what to teach and how to teach it has evolved a bit. That is particularly true in the light of many new handgun sports, as well as new types of handguns that have come into common use in modern times.

The basic message remains the same—stick to the principles, apply them to the situation. I must note that many books and manuals on the subject do exist, just as there are hundreds of good instructors doing their work for the uninitiated. The message from the good ones is pretty much the same, but the principles might sometimes be organized and/or taught differently. I believe there are five principles: Grip, Stance, Aiming, Trigger Management and Follow-Through. They are the "ABCs of Handgun Marksmanship." They should be viewed not as five principles, but rather as five steps on a stairway to success. See them as a linked chain of controlled and codependent events that produce on-target hits....

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