View Full Version : Help - Shooting consistently left... grrr

February 15, 2009, 12:14 PM
Hello group.
I'm learning how to shoot properly - i.e. beyond being able to load and pop a round every now and then.
I am right handed, wear glasses, am shooting with both eyes open.
My shooting stance is with my left foot forward, both feet parallel.
Two hand grip, left thumb overlapping.
So far shot appx 300 rounds of 9mm on a rented SIG226 - the gun which I would eventually want to purchase if and when I improve my shooting skills.

My main issue is that I am shooting consistently to the left, at around 10-11 o'clock. As much as I turn my stance ever so slightly to the right, and aim slightly to the right - I end up in that same twilight zone...
After 50 rounds @ 30' I had ripped away a 5" hole in the target alway slightly higher and to the left of dead center. I'd say 60% of my rounds fell in that same area.
At 80' range too I am consistently to the left side of the target (but with a wide scatter).

This is very frustrating. I don't feel I'm making any progress, despite doing the trigger sqqquuueeeezzze, despite being relaxed, despite finally "feeling" my right eye working on the front sight...

Maybe I'm expecting too much from myself. Maybe I should train with a light caliber gun. Maybe I should wear a patch on my left eye - but then again I wouldn't be training for a real-world situation (and no, I can't squint my left eye...).

Any input will be greatly appreciated. I will gladly owe you one, but you'll need to come over to Switzerland to enjoy it :) ...


February 15, 2009, 10:36 PM
Sounds like more practice, practice, practice. It took me almost a year to understand the technique require to properly release the hammer without moving the front sight post/end of the barrel. Not sure what your experience is, but here are a few tips that I followed:

1. Proper grip. There are a couple of good videos on this site, but I don't know where they are. One of a retired LE that demonstrates the proper technique with a 1911. You also need to put the correct amount of finger on the trigger.

2. Focus on the sites/alignment. The target will be a blurr. It takes alot of practice (with the same weapon) to get a consistent site picture. I make my best groups when I only focus on the sites when the hammer falls.

3. The most important breakthrough for me was learning not to pull the trigger, or squeeze the trigger, but rather, slowly apply enough pressure to the front face of the trigger to cause it to break (release the hammer). Most (single action) triggers will break at 4-6 lbs and release the hammer. I call it hammer release instead of trigger pull. I gave up anticipation of the explosion and let the hammer fall whenever I reached the pressure necessary to release it. Once I learned trigger pressure, I was also able to discern creep very easily. Speed has been coming to me slowly over many thousands of rounds. I am able to apply trigger pressure, faster, while maintaining really nice shot groups.

4. Control wobble by breath control and rythm.

Dry fire practice is good, because you maintain constant focus on site alignment, and since there is no recoil, you can see if the front site post moves when you release the hammer. Any tiny movement at all is unacceptable since the slightest movement will equal inches at the point of impact.

It really turns out to be a thinking man's game combined with muscle discipline/memory, and lots of (correct) repetition.

That's the way I see it anyway...

February 16, 2009, 02:11 AM
Thank you!
As far as dry firing is concerned, the owner of the range isn't that keen - to put it mildly - that we do this repeatedly. Can't imagine why, but I won't discuss with someone who at this stage is THE knowledgeable reference point.

As far as breathing is concerned - I'm trying to let the shot go at the apex of my inhalation. I am trying to squeeze the trigger sweetly as I inhale so that I am at maximum pull at the same time as my lungs get at full cycle. So far it's working about half the times. What I've noticed is that when it happens, the finger is very light on the trigger and the second shot can take off very easily as soon as I let the barrel return to the proper position. It's the sort of sweet-spot I'm aiming for (no pun intended).

I do think that a great part of the problem might be the way I'm looking through the sights. Many seem to agree that the best approach would be an eye patch - but I'd rather be able to sight with both eyes open...

Keep them coming :) and thanks again!


February 16, 2009, 12:51 PM
Accuracy will vary from what type of shooting you are looking at. Your gun will also factor in for this as some models will lend itself to shoot like for shear accuracy or bullseye shooting you want a pretty good set up, full frame with adjustable sights and a match barrel. Ammo will also play into this type of shooting as you want the best you can get for the money.

For service stock shooting - meaning guns you just buy off the line. Sights can be pretty rugged and crued but on the mark from the factory. So, distances you are shooting really tells me a lot of what you want to achieve.

Shooting at 21' - 30' (7-10 yards) is more to self defense, target shooting.
Shooting at 75' - 150' (25-50 yards) is more of the bullseye shooting.

So, what is acceptable? This variable also lends to how are you shooting it? Who you are shooting with and how good you are. Meaning, are you standing (I know you are). Sitting and on a benchrest or rapid fire (and timed). Are you shooting from the move?

So, I break this down... if your standing and shooting 10 rounds (no time limit) versus shooting 10 rounds rapid fire (under 5 seconds) than what you would expect regardless of distance would be different.

For you I would say work on your 10 yard shooting - keeping your shots within 5 inches is pretty good, depending on how much time you are taking.

Shooting to the left indicates you are putting too much pressure with your trigger finger causing the muzzle to change your POA (point of aim) just before you fire. Working at minimizing your groups at 10 yards will also help you work on getting your 25 yard groups down too. At the closer distance you can see and work on the finner aspects of marksmanship. At 25 yards unless your using a good scope placed where you can easily see it without adjusting your grip - since if you change your grip you just lost the fine edge of understanding the finer points of shooting.

Shooting is all about consistency. Like someone else has mentioned it's all about practice too. You can't get consistency without a lot of practice. Practice dry firing to familiarize yourself with the trigger and feel of the gun.

Lastly, you may want to get a .22LR pistol. This will let you shoot about 10-100 times more for your buck. Practice, practice practice. A good conversion for your current gun may also be good since it retains your frame (grip). This will also help you get more comfortable with sight picture and just shooting without the recoil.

Fundamentals: it's all about fundamentals. I teach Grip, Sight Picture and Trigger Control. For fine accurate shooting besides getting your sights on target is that TRIGGER.

Hope this helps! Keep on shooting.

February 16, 2009, 01:22 PM
Thank you all - very precious tips indeed!


February 16, 2009, 08:30 PM

My father, an old infantry soldier, told me that for breathing, you take two deep breaths, then on the third breath, let it half way out and hold it. It was a trick they used in the jungle to spot movement in the trees. If you do the same technique and then be perfectly still, only moving your eyes, you can detect very small movements around you.

I use it for shooting.


February 17, 2009, 12:58 AM
Breathing is very important when it comes to rifles but for the most part it's not that for pistols (again unless for Bullseye shooting).

For rifles since the third point of contact is your shoulder - your breath control will actively impact your shooting.

For defensive or target shooting the other fundamentals need more priority (stance, grip, sight picture and trigger control). Breathing is somewhat important but you can offset with your arm movements.

Unless your a marksman shooting at 25 or 50 yards and placing shots of 2-4 inch groups than breathing is not your most important factor that you need to work on for pistol shooting.

February 17, 2009, 01:25 PM
Unless your a marksman shooting at 25 or 50 yards and placing shots of 2-4 inch groups than breathing is not your most important factor that you need to work on for pistol shooting.

I guess it sort of makes sense, come to think of it - in a real world situation I won't necessarily have time to adjust my breathing etc.

So *how* do you manage to keep the *proper* finger technique while under stress? Just how much does one's shooting degenerate in a real, stressful situation?...



February 17, 2009, 05:26 PM
I haven't seen anyone mention eye dominance.

Check that you are right-eye dominant and not left-eye dominant. That could easily be the problem. Also, if you have a buddy with a video camera, have him
set it up on the bench in front of you and flip around the screen so that you can check the focus. Focus on your face and you'll be able to figure out if you've got a flinch preceding the shoot.

Rent a revolver, have your friend load only four chambers, and randomly spin it so that when you get it, you don't know which shot will fire. This is called the ball-and-dummy drill. If you cannot spot a flinch or other flaw in your method from this, I don't know what will.

If the range owner continues to object - especially to this drill - find another range. I have yet to hear ANY good reason why dry fire is a bad thing - other than possibly hurting the firearm.

Some pistols can be safely dry-fired. If that's the owner's objection, ask for a revolver that can be. Alternatively, buy some snap caps and load the chambers with some live rounds and some snap caps. That should address his concerns.

Hope this helps.. let us know.


February 17, 2009, 05:38 PM
Thank you.
The range owner doesn't want the SAs he rents to be dry-fired. I could / should indeed insert dummy caps, and plan to do so at my next session.
Great idea, the video thing. Will try to figure something out.
Eye dominance is definitely THE thing IMHO.
I'm right eye dominant, but cannot manage to close my left eye so I'm sort of forced to keep both open. I do turn my head to the left, in order to decrease the influence of the left eye.


February 17, 2009, 06:20 PM
Well, under stress it all kinda hits rock bottom. That is why training as you would see yourself is the best method.

Trigger: two methods are the pad or finger tip for fine shooting but another is the first joint used for rapid fire.

*You'll hear from people either a preference (pad or joint) but look at the uses of each and decide which works better for you.

When you have the trigger on the pad you're using the fine motor and sensory abilities to pull the trigger which is idea for accurate shooting. Now the joint area gives you the ability to leverage and hold the gun more securely. This lends to better shooting rapid fire and under stress.

February 20, 2009, 11:53 AM
OK. Went back to the range. Rented the trusty 'ole 226, and added a training cap to my box of live ammo.
Boss said "DA only, tonight. One shot at a time".
Warmed up with the dummy cap, just to get a feeling of the DA only pull.
Pretty hard on my index finger.
Popped some rounds @ 10mt (33 ft). All were falling squarely in the pie-wedge between dead center, 12 o'clock and 9'o clock. The curse of the "left".
Tried modifying my grip, tried different breathing rythms.
After 50 rounds, 80% fell in the pie, the rest being in the paper, on the left side (again). Found that I didn't really need to strain in order to aim properly, even though my sights weren't really very sharp (a combination of so-so lighting and plain old sights w/ no contrast whatsoever) - not bad IMHO.
However - I played some more with the dummy cap. Really watched what was happening to the barrel itself. Basically, since my index and my palm are pretty long when I grasp the gun, the base of my index is practically aligned with where the trigger will need to be in order to release.
I.e. I'm folding my index so much that I need to "push" with a slight rotation of my hand in order to compensate for the very uncomfortable position.
My index joint is acking like cr*p today, trust me :-/

So that's the long and short of it - I need a wider (longer?) grip, and/or a shorter trigger pull (apparently impossible to do on a regular 226).
Tomorrow I'm going to shoot a swiss Sphinx pistol that someone is kindly lending me. I've held it for a couple of minutes, and the ergonomics and the trigger distance seem to work better.

Will let you know what happens :)



February 20, 2009, 12:03 PM
Just how much does one's shooting degenerate in a real, stressful situation?...

Speaking from real world experience...a LOT!

That's why it's pretty important to get a lot of practice in with regards to both shooting and just plain gun handling.
Finish an incident and you'll be amazed at how tough some things can be such as simply re-holstering.

One of the best training tools I've found is to tape a cheap laser to the gun and practice dry-fire (obeying all safety rules of course). You'll be astounded at how that laser dances!

February 20, 2009, 12:55 PM
OLD Army ditty

Breathe in deeply
Relax let out half the breath
Aim get sight picture alignment, can be in conjunction with relaxing
take up the trigger Slack
With practice these should be one fluid action.
I find that the BRASS helps me remember the fundamentals

February 20, 2009, 10:46 PM
Swiss sig, All the above sound like good suggestions. First, are you sure this is the pistol for you? It sounds like it is too small for your hand. I also have "larger" than normal hands. (XXL gloves are tight) I shoot a Colt mdl. 70 .45 automatic, with a large main spring housing, beaver tail and adjustable length trigger. This allows me to fit my trigger finger so just the center of the pad is on the face of the trigger. Second, the trigger travel on the Colt is adjustable, so there is no long squeeze distance before the round goes off. Last, are you shooting with both hands? Have you tried shooting with just one hand? Concentrate on sight picture and trigger control. Each round that goes off should be a surprise. Try three round groups on the BACK (blank) side of a target. Just aiming for the center of the paper. See if your group moves back to the center. As far as your left eye goes, have you tried an eye patch? It might get you used to ignoring the view from the left eye when you are shooting. Hope this helps. MG

February 21, 2009, 01:04 PM
Hey guys - thanks a lot, really!
Did my thing with the Sphinx cal 9 today.
That trigger was LIGHT, LOL... talk about being "surprised" by the shot going off. Waaay too light (appx 3.2 lbs I was told) - but it is a competition gun for precision target shooting, not a "tactical weapon".
Still all in all, despite the uncomfortable feeling of the gun going off practically on it's own ;) I was in the paper all the time, and the center shots were more distributed (I am not aiming for inch wide groupings yet, being still a newbie).

I also tried holding a 228 in my hands and it felt right, trigger position et al. I'll probably take it for a run sometime the coming week.

Cheers from Switzerland


February 22, 2009, 02:01 AM
I'm cross dominant but find I have no trouble hitting the center.

Most RH shooters that hit left have too much finger in the trigger guard, and/or they are squeezing their entire hand as the gun fires. With Sigs they have a long trigger pull and a long reset, the DA pull exacerbates it.

You want to only use the tip of your finger. Basically the part of the finger with the fingernail. If you are at the joint, you will pull the shot on anything that does not have a very short trigger pull.

Hand positioning on the gun is what worked the best for me, and this has alot to do with how my trigger finger interacts with the trigger. You want the gun in the middle of your hand. If you hold the gun straight down you should have a straight line between the muzzle and your forearm. This also has the benefit of reducing recoil and stress on your wrist.

Your trigger pull should be straight back every time. If you make the gun go off at the last second you will tend to pull the shot. Generally you can even get a grouping out of this, but will tend to push a shot high, or dump one every so often.

Breathing is bull**** in my opinion. You will be hyperventilating or holding your breath when you are in that situation. I held my breath, and it was purely involuntary. You will result 100% to what you train yourself to do. Breathing is used by hunters because they are in ambush and have the luxury of time. When someone is 9' away from you and that sight comes on target, the only thing in your mind should be sight-picture, pull straight, sight-picture, pull straight, until that target goes down and out, whilst you are moving to cover.

I agree 100% with the person that said practice at 3 yards (10'). Practice acquiring your sights and focus more on your mechanics than the shot placement. In fact, try to shoot an entire magazine without moving your focal point from the front sight.

February 22, 2009, 02:50 AM
Precious, thanks...
Strangely enough, I had tried the fingertip-pull on a Taurus and indeed the shooting that resulted was very accurate. Unfortunately many vids of the well-known experts had me thinking that this fingertip position was "wrong".
Will re-experiment some more and let you know.


February 22, 2009, 04:53 AM
Unfortunately many vids of the well-known experts had me thinking that this fingertip position was "wrong"

Everyone's hands are different. I'm sure I'll blow this wide open but to paraphrase... "If it's wrong but it works, it's not wrong".

I know a guy who shoots "cup n' saucer" and does a very nice job of it. Well we've known for a long time that "cup n' saucer" is no good right? :rolleyes:

February 23, 2009, 12:09 AM
Alot of the higher end shooters use the fingertip, those that use more of their digit, or interior on the first digit tend to shoot guns with a very short and light pull (think 1911).

Cup in saucer is fine for single shots, but you don't have as much control as a high grip. Range warriors that just sit there and shoot do just fine with cup and saucer, but it's no different than shooting one handed. That's the beef. Your follow-ups are slow.

March 8, 2009, 01:13 PM
Tried a CZ SP01 Tactical today.
DA/SA like the 226 but with a much smoother trigger in DA (but maybe a tad too light in SA); the mass of the gun help to absorb the recoil - the overall impression was very satisfactory.

AND most importantly...

I'm finally hitting to the center of the target :)
Ergonomics are indeed something that needs to be factored in! Next tuesday I will do a final A/B vs. the 226 I used to rent and see how much difference there actually is between these two....



March 8, 2009, 05:26 PM
Sounds like with using both eyes open your finding your dominant eye as your left, or it's messing with the other eye, shut one and retest on each, that is of course with a gun that shoots in the middle of the target where it's sighted to.

Rarely have I seen anyone use both eyes with any hundgun or style of shooting/match, probably for very good reason, only time I would use both eyes is point shooting or shooting from the hip with a semi-auto shotgun.

March 8, 2009, 06:02 PM

Fundamentals first, sight picture, trigger squeeze
Learn to separate the action of the trigger pull from the sight alignment
The trigger pull should begin when the sight picture is correct and continue
while you are fine tuning it. The shot should come as a complete surprise.

Don't anticipate the shot. Keep your eye on target and front sight
Don't anticipate the shot. EASY trigger squeeze
make each shot sent downrange contribute to improve your skills.

My index joint is acking like cr*p

get one of these and build the strength in your fingers and hand


good luck