Help me become a better handgun shooter


July 11, 2009, 05:33 PM
I have owned a handgun for roughly a year but haven't had very much practice with it. I took it to the indoor range yesterday and set the target at 20 yards, and shot with my ruger p95 9mm 50 rounds at it. The target is a torso/arms/head drawing with vital spots indicated and i put one of those shoot-n-see stickies on the center of the torso. I shot about a round every second or two (no rapid fire allowed) and put about 15 rounds in the circle (probably about 6") the rest were all in the torso except for one arm hit and one that hit the paper but not the torso (unacceptable IMO)

I think I need to go back to basics. I am, to this day, unsure what the point of aim is using my sights (can someone please teach me the point of aim on a ruger p95 is is the white dot on the front sight? above the front sight?) My stance, grip, etc. I want to be able to put all the shots on a 6" circle at 20 yards.

I will take a picture of the target later when I find my camera. ANy experts have some advice?

If you enjoyed reading about "Help me become a better handgun shooter" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
July 11, 2009, 05:48 PM
I am not an expert, but am a decent shot with a handgun. The most important advise I could give you is do A LOT of dry fire drills. This can be accomplished at home using a man-sized target posted to a wall. Also, doing range time with live fire/dry fire mixed can be very helpful.
If your accuracy falls off, think first front sight, then sight alignment, also trigger control. Where are you located? I bet you could find someone here to go and shoot with you.

July 11, 2009, 05:55 PM
I'm in Union County, NJ.

My gun has 3-dot sights. What is the point of aim on my gun?

July 11, 2009, 06:13 PM
Firearms training:


Look in their profiles and “Related videos.” for more training videos.

July 11, 2009, 06:28 PM
It is all too apparent that there are a lot of people in the shooting world that know of the ‘six o’clock hold’, but don’t really understand its use or purpose.

For most uses handgun sights should be adjusted so that point of aim is equal to the point of impact. In other words, the projectiles should hit the target at a spot right at the top center of where the gun’s front sight is seen on the target. Like this:

A primary use for the six o’clock hold is in competitive bullseye shooting matches when iron/open sights are in use. It is used because it gives a specific, repeatable point of aim, which is more consistent, which makes for better accuracy.

Wanting his bullets to hit in the center of the bullseye to get higher point value, the shooter sights the gun so the rounds hit high, in the center, while aiming at the bottom edge of the bull…..a six o’clock hold.

When someone comes to GlockTalk asking if Glock sights their guns in to use a six o’clock hold, my first thought is that their Glock is shooting high, and the sights need to be adjusted, or the shooter isn’t using the correct sight alignment, such as this:

Sometimes someone says that you are supposed to cover up the target completely with the front sight so the bullets will impact the target ‘behind’ the front sight, rather like this: (the target is a pop can 25 yards away, you just can't see it because the front sight is hiding least I think it's back there)

This works OK as long as your target is big enough and/or close enough that your sights don’t completely cover your target so you can’t see it. In my opinion, it’s an inefficient/ineffective way to shoot, and if this is where your gun is shooting, it means you need to sight it in; the rear sight needs to be higher.

I like to use a six o’clock hold on a bullseye target for the purpose of sighting in a gun, or to test the guns accuracy potential. It comes right back to using that specific, repeatable point of aim to get the best accuracy, that way I know where my shots are going in reference to where my point of aim is. Then I can make a sight change to bring the impacts to point of aim.

Once you have your gun sighted in so the rounds impact at the point of aim as shown in the first picture above, you are much better able to hit any sized target at any distance that’s inside your ability range using a ‘center hold’ on said target.

July 11, 2009, 06:28 PM
a guy i shot with was showing me something i never thought about before...........the way i shoot i line the top of the front sight to the top of the rear sight..... well he was telling me about a fine sight which is where you just barely bring the front sight into view, thus lowering POI since i was having to hold a litttle low at 50 feet since we were shooting at the bottom of spray cans this helped a lot.

get a target, stand at 10 or 20 yards line the top of the sights up with eatch other, dead even, and hold steady as you can and fire away, work on trigger pull, for me trigger is 75% or more of shooting well. wherever you group at is the point of impact. from there you either aim high or low to hit the intended target

July 11, 2009, 06:51 PM
I REALLY LIKE the post above by REAPER !!!! I like my handguns to hit about 1" just above the front sight at around 20/25 yards --- just like in his first example.

July 11, 2009, 07:02 PM
Most combat handguns (Such as your P-95.) have the first sight picture.

July 13, 2009, 03:48 AM
I actually use a slightly exaggerated version of picture 3 for fast action shooting. I get a good portion of the top sight above the back sights, like a triangle. I can focus both eyes on the target, and the sights just do their thing, a bit under the target where they don't bother my line of sight. It's rather like shooting a shotgun, using the rail and bead. I like this better than having a high POI (ala 6 oclock hold), because lining up a triangle is easier to do in your peripheral vision than making a traditional sight picture. That front "bead" really stands out.

July 13, 2009, 08:20 AM
Reaper, love that post.

OP, you might also want to look at this thread, (

July 13, 2009, 09:48 PM
Thanks for directing me to that thread, MDPuckett84, and to Reaper for the sighting information. I print a lot of this stuff, and take it to Staples every now and then to have it bound in a plastic spiral. I don't enjoy spending too much time in front of a computer reading, and find the hard copy handy to take to the range or read in bed. Good stuff, and I am most appreciative.

It's crossed my mind on more than one occasion, though, that the volumes of expertise available here can just as easily fall into the "wrong hands," in other words, people who operate on the wrong side of the law. This usually means I'm thinking too much, and should probably just go to bed.

July 13, 2009, 11:19 PM
+1 Reaper

Not an expert, just old.
Another practice area is how to shoot "center mass" type targets accurately without the stickies.
The CIRCLE, SQUARE, TRIANGLE, RECTANGLE colored targets help you to think "center mass" faster and more accurately. That TRIANGLE is a toughie to hit center mass.
If you're close enough to see it your last bullethole, it's a good POA with Reapers sight alignment.:)

Steve C
July 14, 2009, 02:34 AM
Go to and under "Perfecting Technique read the Army Marksmanship Training Guide and other articles.

July 14, 2009, 07:14 AM
I'd like to hear some people weigh-in on site illumination, and by that I mean, what is the optimum source and direction of light when shooting? It seems that unless the sun, or other light source, is behind the shooter, the front site is black and becomes difficult to focus on. In other words, if the target is bright and the sites are comparatively dimly lit, the eye seems to want to focus on the target. How is this overcome?

(I believe this question is consistent with the original poster's.)

Mad Magyar
July 14, 2009, 11:40 AM
In reality, using a similar sight picture for each shot regardless of how it is aligned to a particular model's sights, should give you a close pattern. In this case, it's not. I doubt it's a sight picture problem.
If you're not shooting regularly, what we have are the two age-old problem to overcome: noise and anticipated recoil resulting in trigger jerk, a.k.a. as "flinching". Keep practicing with a smooth trigger pull and see how your pattern will improve.:)
No one likes to admit to flinching, but occurs sometimes with experienced shooters as well....:o

July 14, 2009, 01:35 PM
Understand the difference between combat shooting and target shooting. Make sure your expectations are in line with the type of shooting you are doing. Standing on a square range shooting little dots does a lot for your target shooting, but not much for your combat shooting.

July 14, 2009, 01:48 PM
It reads to me like the OP just isn't getting a tight group. If he was grouping low or high then sight picture might be something worth addressing. If he was getting a grouping, but off to one side or the other then a sight adjustment might be needed.

But from what I gather from his first post, he's got a "shotgun" pattern on his target. I don't know many people that can buy their first pistol and go straight to the range and put all shots in the 10 ring. Shooting the pistol accurately takes a lot of time and patience, at least it does for me. It really does if you're shooting without a rest. Trigger control is what I would say needs to be improved. He's probably pulling or jerking the trigger instead of a steady squeeze, especially if he hasn't been shooting regularly. I find that I catch myself pulling instead of squeezing if I've been away from the range for a while. The best help for me is dry firing practice. Sitting in my recliner at night, I hold my pistol offhanded and aim at a light switch at the end of the hall. If I notice the front sight moving when I dry fire then I know I'm pulling instead of squeezing. I'd say the trigger and probably a little recoil anticipation are the biggest contributing factors to the OP's problem.

If you enjoyed reading about "Help me become a better handgun shooter" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!