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Old August 7, 2012, 08:43 AM   #1
Botswana
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Handgun shooting low and to the left

I'm almost entirely convinced this is me.

I've taken my Baby Eagle/Jericho in .45 to the range 3 times now. The first range trip was the first time I've been to a range in over 15 years. I noticed my shots were going low and to the left fairly consistently. I've never been the best handgunner, but my first concern was maybe I had a lemon. Still, not many rounds fired through it. This is 15 yards by the way.

Second range trip, still low and to the left but halfway through something changed and suddenly I'm hitting consistently in the bulls-eye or at least near it at 15 yards. However, I also brought a friend's Browning BDM in 9mm. Not as pronounced but also shooting low and to the left. My son, on the other hand, is all over the place with the BDM. So likely not the firearm.

Here's where it gets interesting. Third and final trip to the range. Low and to the left at 15 yards. I cannot recreate whatever I did on the second range trip. I find myself aiming high and right to hit the bullseye, but that is not what I did before. I tried it at 25 yards, still low and to the left, but almost to the same degree. I watched my son, he is shooting low but center. I'm fairly certain it is not the gun at this point.

Also, on the third range trip was my first time out with the Ruger 10/22. Consistent bullseye at 15 and 25 yards, with slightly high shots at 50 yards. My accuracy is fine even with my declining vision. It's got to be technique. I don't expect to hit the bullseye at 15 yards with a handgun, I've never been that good. I should be hitting right around the center with no problems though.

Any ideas?
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Old August 7, 2012, 09:03 AM   #2
Frank Ettin
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I'm afraid that it sounds like it's you. So you now have an opportunity to work on your basic handgun marksmanship skills.

The first principle of accurate shooting is trigger control: a smooth, press straight back on the trigger with only the trigger finger moving. Maintain your focus on the front sight as you press the trigger, increasing pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks. Don't try to predict exactly when the gun will go off nor try to cause the shot to break at a particular moment. This is what Jeff Cooper called the "surprise break."


By keeping focus on the front sight and increasing pressure on the trigger until the gun essentially shoots itself, you don’t anticipate the shot breaking. But if you try to make the shot break at that one instant in time when everything seem steady and aligned, you usually wind up jerking the trigger. Of course the gun will wobble some on the target. Try not to worry about the wobble and don’t worry about trying to keep the sight aligned on a single point. Just let the front sight be somewhere in a small, imaginary box in the center of the target.

Also, work on follow through. Be aware of where on the target the front sight is as the shot breaks and watch the front sight lift off that point as the gun recoils – all the time maintaining focus on the front sight.

Practice deliberately, making every shot count, to program good habits and muscle memory. Dry practice is very helpful. You just want to triple check that the gun is not loaded, and there should be no ammunition anywhere around. When engaging in dry practice, religiously follow Rule 2 - Never Let Your Muzzle Cover Anything You Are Not Willing To Destroy." As you dry fire, you want to reach the point where you can't see any movement of the sight as the sear releases and the hammer falls.

Finally, some instruction is always a good idea. The purpose of instruction is to teach you what to practice and how to practice it. When you understand that, you can begin to practice perfectly and improve.

Remember, it's not just a matter of trigger time or more practice. Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Practice also makes permanent. So if you keep shooting badly you just become an expert at shooting badly.

Think: front sight, press, surprise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Botswana
...Also, on the third range trip was my first time out with the Ruger 10/22. Consistent bullseye...
A rifle is easier to shoot accurately because it's supported at four places on you body. A .22 is also usually easier to shoot more accurately because recoil and noise is not much of a factor.
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Old August 7, 2012, 09:15 AM   #3
Botswana
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Just for clarification, I have no doubt it's my technique and not the gun.

Useful advice. I wish I had paid more attention on the second range trip. There was something about my focus on the front sight and trigger pull that made the difference. I haven't done the "imaginary box", but I think that will be a big help.

Sadly, when it comes to handgun shooting, I am 100% self taught, which is not a good thing. If it comes down to it I'll take a course before I do my CHL but I still think I can figure this out if I can work out the deficiencies in my technique.
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Old August 7, 2012, 09:45 AM   #4
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Excellent advice from Mr. Ettin, especially the third paragraph. Low and left is almost always because the shooter is jerking or lunging at the trigger to make the pistol fire, rather than pressing the trigger smoothly rearward and allowing the pistol to fire.

And Botswana, we have all done it. Dry fire practice really helps you work out of the bad habit.
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Old August 7, 2012, 04:21 PM   #5
MonsterB
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When you are pulling the trigger, you are also tightening your grip on the gun. Thats what causes low left. Like some others have suggested, dry firing can go a long way torwards correcting that.
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Old August 7, 2012, 05:21 PM   #6
Clifford L. Hughes
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Botswana:

I'll share with you my method of dry firing that I used when I shot on several Marine Corps rifle and pistol teams. I dry fired against a blank white wall so that I could see any sight movement at the time of trigger and sear release. Stand about ten feet from the wall and use the back of a kitchen chair to rest your pistol on. Practice establishing a confortable grip and trigger finger placement that allows you to release the trigger and the sear without moving the sight alignment. When you raise the pistol focus your eyes on the front sight and align the rear sight with the front sight.

When you take your new skills to the range you will find that because your eyes are focused on the sights the target will blur. Don't worry, this is as it should be.

No one can hold a pistol perfectly still: there will always be some movement. Think about this; the target won't move, the bullet hole will be there after the shot. The only thing that moves is the pistol. If you maintain sight alignment the sights can move the size of the bulls eye and you will still hit the black.


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Old August 8, 2012, 08:59 PM   #7
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Sounds like your grip. Try to concentrate on not squeezing your little finger.

To demonstrate grip the empty weapon. Acquire your site picture and then squeeze with your little finger(s). The front site should move down dramatically.
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Old August 8, 2012, 09:54 PM   #8
1stmar
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A lot of good advice, it helps me to strengthen the grip on my weak hand and keep the strong hand somewhat less firm. If you clench your strong hand it will manifest itself it your trigger control.
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Old August 8, 2012, 11:28 PM   #9
joseywales44
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I tend to shoot the same way. I've been told that I am gripping the weapon too tightly and have too much finger on the trigger. I have found that when the trigger pull is pretty heavy (7+ pounds) that this is the resulting pattern also. I prefer a trigger in the 5lb. range (+/- half a pound) anything much less, without lots of practice is a little dangerous. Anything above tends to stress the hand muscles and especially the trigger finger. Supposedly the trigger break is a surprise so there is no flinch or anticipation. I, personally would rather KNOW when the gun is going to fire and then just deal with the recoil (BTEHO). Adjustable sights allow you to tailor the sights to where you shoot rather than forcing you to adapt to where the gun just happens to shoot. My opinions, others may vary.
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Old August 9, 2012, 08:54 AM   #10
geetarman
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I have had some instruction from LEOs that helped me a lot.

I have had the same problem shooting low and to the left. Dry firing is a great practice to see what happens when you shoot.

The thing that has helped me the MOST is getting a GOOD grip on the weapon with the strong hand. The grip needs to be firm but not so tight that you want to tremble.

Weak hand wraps around strong hand with both thumbs forward ( baby bottom) with weak hand thumb lightly touching slide.

When you get the grip right and the gun firmly wedged into the web of your hand, you should be able to shoot a magazine through the gun without shifting your grip. If you find that in between shots, you are moving the gun around to get a better grip, you are not getting the grip down right at the get go.

That is one of the reasons I really like a G21. It is a big gun and it feels natural to me. It also shoots really well.

Concentrate on front sight. Target will blur. Finger enters trigger guard with first pad on finger centered on trigger and start pressing rearward and watching front sight..


Shot should surprise you, and if it does, you should be able to call the shot.

If you put too little finger in the trigger, you will push the shot left and likely down.

I shoot frequently and I have a callus that forms on the side of my trigger finger.

I shoot better when I shoot enough to keep the callus there.

I also play guitar and I play a lot. I get the same feeling in my fretting hand fingers. I get the calluses when I play and it keeps the pain down.

Same way with shooting.

I had to lay off shooting for almost 3 weeks because of range work being done and my callus almost went away. I could really feel and see the difference when I went out to shoot.

I burned through a couple hundred .45 and 9mm and the callus is back. Tomorrow is range day. Yay
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Old August 9, 2012, 09:02 AM   #11
CDR_Glock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botswana View Post
I'm almost entirely convinced this is me.

I've taken my Baby Eagle/Jericho in .45 to the range 3 times now. The first range trip was the first time I've been to a range in over 15 years. I noticed my shots were going low and to the left fairly consistently. I've never been the best handgunner, but my first concern was maybe I had a lemon. Still, not many rounds fired through it. This is 15 yards by the way.

Second range trip, still low and to the left but halfway through something changed and suddenly I'm hitting consistently in the bulls-eye or at least near it at 15 yards. However, I also brought a friend's Browning BDM in 9mm. Not as pronounced but also shooting low and to the left. My son, on the other hand, is all over the place with the BDM. So likely not the firearm.

Here's where it gets interesting. Third and final trip to the range. Low and to the left at 15 yards. I cannot recreate whatever I did on the second range trip. I find myself aiming high and right to hit the bullseye, but that is not what I did before. I tried it at 25 yards, still low and to the left, but almost to the same degree. I watched my son, he is shooting low but center. I'm fairly certain it is not the gun at this point.

Also, on the third range trip was my first time out with the Ruger 10/22. Consistent bullseye at 15 and 25 yards, with slightly high shots at 50 yards. My accuracy is fine even with my declining vision. It's got to be technique. I don't expect to hit the bullseye at 15 yards with a handgun, I've never been that good. I should be hitting right around the center with no problems though.

Any ideas?
It's not the gun. It's the shooter. A Ruger 10/22 is much easier to shoot.



Try this chart. It helped me. You also need to shoot with someone so they can see what you're doing.

Also, re-examine how you grip the gun. A high grip is necessary. Also dry fire the gun for practice. Put a dime on top of the slide. It shouldn't fall off.
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Old August 9, 2012, 12:18 PM   #12
Hook686
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You might try a 9mm, or a heavier .45 just to see if you have the same results.
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Old August 11, 2012, 07:27 PM   #13
hasbro_fan
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I have a similar problem sometimes shooting low. What are exercises I can do to determine if I have my grip correct, and if I am making the correct trigger motion? In my mind, dry fire exercises may not fix my issue unless I also used a laser, or put a casing on the top? Are there other practice techniques?
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Old August 11, 2012, 08:20 PM   #14
geetarman
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Do you have a friend to shoot with at the range? Sometimes careful observation by another experienced shooter can help identify and correct shooting habits than can be improved.
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Old August 11, 2012, 08:57 PM   #15
marklyftogt
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I startedshooting my xd9 6 months ago. I was way low and left all the time. Lots of range time and experimenting with grip and finger placement on the trigger and now I can keep it in the black on the target at 15. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more.
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Old August 11, 2012, 09:13 PM   #16
hasbro_fan
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OK. Thanks for the tips. I'll look for someone at the range to spot my bad habits.
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Old August 11, 2012, 09:49 PM   #17
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I agree with everything that's posted here and would like to offer another suggestion. Ditch the targets, bullseyes, and especially the Human profile targets. Turn your target backwards and put a 1" dot in the center. That is your new target. It's amazing how much it will improve your concentration on sight alignment.

Dry fire a lot! If the gun breaks, have it repaired and dry fire some more. It's a tool to make you a marksman.

Flash
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Old August 11, 2012, 09:58 PM   #18
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For dry fire get some snap caps. Easier on the firing pin.
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Old August 31, 2012, 04:36 AM   #19
lilgunz83
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As a military firearms instructor I can tell you that its not your grip or trigger squeeze. If you are a right handed shooter and your shots are impacting low and left consistently, this tells me you are Anticipating the recoil of the firearm. When you go to shoot, focus completely on fundamentals. Think about those as you slowly squeeze the trigger to the rear. Dont think about the weapon firing. Just let it happen. You will shoot consistantly well. Be sure you have a firm, comfortable grip. Proper amount of trigger finger. Front sight focus. Breathe. Slow squeeze.

Someone mentioned squeezing the grip as the cause. If you squeeze the grip, as a right handed shooter, your shots will impact left. Not low and left.

Jerking the trigger will place your shots to the right. This can change slightly if you are not using the proper amount of trigger finger. Not enough and you will push your shots left. Too much and you will hit wide right.
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Old August 31, 2012, 06:57 AM   #20
jnichols2
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ITC444,

I am a beginner, and have been shooting low from the beginning. None of the "standard" advice helpsed.

I shoot left handed and just tried squeezing with my left pinkie finger. The front sight dropped a lot.

I then tried interlocking my left pinkie into my right middle support fimgers. This stabilized dramatically, and squeezing with my left pinkie finger had almost no effect.

I have looked through forums and web sites for three months. You were the first to mention the pinkie finger.

Thank You !!
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Old August 31, 2012, 08:43 AM   #21
ketland
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Fundamentals as noted by the previous poster are the key. One thing I'll add to this. It's not a bad idea to set up a rest at the range when you first shoot / break in your pistol, so you know exactly where it is hitting without your flaws in the equation. Then dry practice, to get a feel for the pistol, and do this very consciously, be very aware of all the little details, how much movement you are getting etc. Then go to live fire, with deliberate care and focus, do not try to rush, focus on the fundamentals.
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Old August 31, 2012, 09:10 AM   #22
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgunz83
...If you are a right handed shooter and your shots are impacting low and left consistently, this tells me you are Anticipating the recoil of the firearm. ... Think about those as you slowly squeeze the trigger...
That is usually handled as a trigger control issue. A smooth press on the trigger with only the trigger finger moving to a surprise break avoids anticipating recoil.

And these days we use "trigger press" rather than "squeeze." We've found that when people hear the word "squeeze" they think of squeezing the whole hand and often do so unconsciously. The use of "press" helps guide their thinking in lines of only the trigger finger moving.
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Old August 31, 2012, 10:08 AM   #23
serf 'rett
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It may be the pistol!

I wonder if any of the previous posters and advice givers own a Baby Eagle? I have one in 40S&W and it shot slightly left and not so slightly low straight out of the box and hasn't changed in four years. Offhand, two hands, one hand, standing, kneeling, prone, bench rest and sandbags the Baby is low left. Factory ammo, reloads with 165 grain bullets, 180 grain bullets, Unique powder, Power Pistol powder, W-231 powder, V-N340 powder and the Baby is shooting low and left.

You should try the recommendations posted above. Let a couple of other people shoot the pistol and see where it groups for them. However, in the final analysis, you may find the sights are off - low and left - like my Baby Eagle.
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Old August 31, 2012, 11:35 AM   #24
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When I had this problem awhile back, my instructor fired my gun and then said, "Kathy, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, it's not the gun. The bad news is, it's not the gun."

The fact that I was consistently hitting low and left, regardless of how I stood or whether I was firing with both hands or only one, just meant that I had a very consistent problem with trigger press. For me, it took having someone stand along side me and "exemplar" the ideal trigger press before the light went on. You can read about it all day long, even watch videos or whatever, but until you have the kinesthetic sensation of pressing the trigger properly all the words won't necessarily do you any good. Get thee to a class!

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Old August 31, 2012, 09:32 PM   #25
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Code:
When I had this problem awhile back, my instructor fired my gun
Hence my suggestion to have someone else shoot the pistol.
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