View Full Version : What Am I Doing Wrong?

Single Six
February 27, 2012, 09:53 AM
Whenever I train on the range, as I draw my pistol, my goal is to bring the gun up and to have the front sight go directly to the center of the target. However, it seems that no matter how much I practice, when I bring the gun up into the firing position, my front sight first goes off to the left or right, or perhaps a bit too high. This costs me an extra second or two of readjusting, and in a real situation, I don't expect to have the luxury of time to adjust. I've tried going slow in practicing my presentations, knowing that speed will come as a by-product of deliberate practice...but so far, no luck; when the muzzle comes up, that front sight is still not centered as it should be. Any ideas, suggestions, or advice here would be most appreciated. Thanks as always, guys.

February 27, 2012, 10:18 AM
Put the gun away, use your trigger finger to point at the target.

Practice drawing an pointing. Go slow, as you find your finger pointing where you want it, speed up. If your finger starts pointing somewhere else, slow down and start over.

After you get it down using just your finger, try it with an unloaded gun (the blue training guns that match your pistol/revolver work just as well, safer too).

Now go back to drawing and pointing. Keep your trigger finger extended along the slide (auto) or just under the cylinder (revolver).

Forget about point the gun, point your finger. Make sure you have a proper grip on the gun that allows you to point your finger toward the target. As you do this, glance down the sights to see they are lined up with your finger.

Again, go slow until you get the sights/finger lined up perfectly, and slowly increase the speed, stopping again if your sights are off until you get back to where you are suppose to be.

The more (proper) practice you get the better you'll be, and the faster you'll be.

After you get t down, then try it by sticking your finger in the trigger guards as you line up on the target.

Only after you get consistent with the trainer (blue gun) or empty gun, then load your pistol/revolver and practice some more. If things go south, put away the gun and start over with your finger, then the gun with your finger along the slide/cylinder, etc.

Take your time, don't rush it. As they say, "build it and they will come", use your training session to build a proper grip and sight alignment, and it will come, speed will follow.

One of the best training aids for pistol/revolver shooting is a laser sight, Dry firing with a laser sight will do wonders to your shooting.

February 27, 2012, 10:31 AM
Regarding Grip:

Using just your finger as described above. Draw a line from your elbow to the tip of your extended trigger finger.

You see a straight line. No angling the hand at the wrist. That is what YOU DO NOT WANT.

Point your finger 'quickly" toward the target, You're off to the left (if your right handed". You don't want your "elbow to the tip of the finger straight".

Cock your wrist a tad to the right (assuming your right handed). Now point at the target "quickly". You now notice its easier to point at the target, not to the left.

Try it, using a straight hand, and a cocked hand, see which one points at the target more naturally. Try it with the unloaded gun. You'll see the same results.

As to the grip it self. You want a firm grip, not a death grip. With a tight death grip you cannot squeeze the trigger without disturbing the aim.

A simple test to demonstrate this would be to take a small salt and pepper shaker set.

Draw a line on the table. Use one of the S&P shakers as the grip, the other as the trigger. Set them up on the line. Squeeze the grip shaker as hard as you can and slide the other with you trigger finger along the line.

Try the same thing with more of a relaxed grip. You'll notice its easier to keep the trigger shaker straight with the relaxed grip.

Sights on a pistol/revolver work the same way, use a firm but relaxed grip so the trigger squeeze doesn't disturb the sights.

Single Six
February 27, 2012, 02:31 PM
Duly noted, Kraig. Thanks.

February 28, 2012, 08:02 PM
It sounds like your are trying to get speed before you have the basic mechnics committed to muscle memory.

Break your draw into segments.

Release the retaining system.

Grip the weapon.
draw the weapon
present the weapon
fire the weapon.

The grip is the key.

When I started with my department I followed this porcedure. I never tryed for speed. When I drew under stress the first time my revolver appeared on target aligned and ready to fire without thought on my part.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw my partner, who had prided himself with his fast draw, still bring his weapon up when I had allready determined that a shooting was not required.

February 29, 2012, 12:04 AM
I disagree.

Stay away doing it by the numbers, you want "ONE" number. Draw shoot, all in one smooth motion.

You dont want to get into the habit of counting.

Grab the gun, drawing it, bring it to the target, get on the trigger and shoot but all is one motion, not four.

Slow at first, speed up when you can, but one smooth motion.

February 29, 2012, 01:09 AM
I agree with ltc444. Break it down, and then work up the speed. Pretty soon it will all happen in one fluid motion. Muscle memory. Be safe, keep your firearm unloaded. I use snap caps and take it a little further, I do a tap rack after I fire, just in case I run into that situation.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 29, 2012, 07:36 AM
It sounds like you may be "bowling" the drawstroke by swinging the gun both up and out at the same time. The inertia causes you to swing past where you want the front sight to stop.

Try drawing straight up as high as you can, rotate the gun toward the target and then push the gun out towards the target while looking for your front sight. This lets you make those final corrections to sight alignment and the inertia is forward where it doesn't disturb your sight picture.

February 29, 2012, 09:01 AM
As you extend the gun, keep the muzzle slightly higher than the breech. This will allow you to focus on the front sight. As the gun reaches the extended positon lower the barrel to align the sights.

February 29, 2012, 11:03 PM
One other thing to do is index your body to the target. I use the modified-weaver stance.

Basically I use a field interview stance, bladed to the target, visualize the target, close your eyes and bring your UNLOADED gun up to the target. Adjust right or left aim by adjusting your feet to turn your body. Once you get comfortable with that and your grip is consistent, you can practice pointing at different angles and positions. It becomes easier and faster as you progress.

As Kraig states you want to practice slow, smooth actions from draw to presentation. Practice perfect slow presentation enough and speed will come organically.

February 29, 2012, 11:42 PM
As others have stated, OP's problem is his draw. He is "bowling".

You want to draw the gun up to your chest, keeping it against your body, when it gets to your chest you push the pistol out along the line from your eyes to the target. See this video:


March 1, 2012, 06:32 AM
I tend to have the same issue with pointing left when I allow my practice to slip. My practice slips because I spend too much time on the internet reading about guns and shooting rather than getting with the program.:rolleyes:

Fundamentals count, and that's what I return to when I see my performance slip. Go slowly and strive for a smooth presentation based on lots of repetition. Rushing the presentation is frequently the root cause of error.

Without seeing you and giving you specific feedback its not reasonable to expect anybody to accurately diagnose this issue and coach you correctly. I do agree, however, that trying to perform the presentation in one movement invites "bowling" and make it difficult to understand where the problem lies.

I fall into the "by the numbers" camp. Personally I like the Combat Focus presentation, espoused by Pincus, using a "high compressed ready" position, as it appears to build on what the body wants to do under stress.

March 1, 2012, 08:00 AM
I'm all for muscle memory and had the same issues as the OP. The thing that helped me the most, in addition to the fundamentals, is a section in Brian Enos' book "Practical Shooting". It's a competition book but has tons of useful info for any type of shooter. Overall, I strongly recommend this book. It's a little heavy reading but absolutely worth it. Brian Enos has given me permission to quote his book directly. http://www.brianenos.com/store/home.html

Don't forget to use an unloaded gun when practicing these. From Page 169-170. Section 6: Development:

I strongly suggest that you spend whatever time it takes to progress through these exercises. I think that developing the intuitive awareness these will help instill in you is critical to reaching your potential. Because you'll acquire the skills in increments...do these exercises in order. Make sure that you're completely satisfied with your ability to do each preceding one before you move onto the next...Don't attempt to do these exercises to gain any certain result because you're not going to gain any result that's joing to be immediate enough to even matter. Just pay attention to what you're doing and how you are feeling and eventually your body will start following your own images.

Start by holding the gun with your normal shooting grip and aiming at no place in particular. Lower the gun. With your eyes closed, raise the gun to what you feel is your normal shooting position, then open your eyes and verify sight alignment. Keep practicing this until you can raise the gun and always have the sights appear when you open your eyes.

From that exercise, you'll move on to starting with the gun in either hand so that now you'll have to assume your grip before raising the gun. You again aim at nothing particular. You can start with he gun in an aligned position, then take the gun out of your hand, reseat the gun, close your eyes, mount the gun, and see if you can verify sight alignment"

He has a couple of additional steps but this is where I'd want to send you to the book. My own take is even before Exercise 1, try this: get into your grip & stance, aim at no particular spot on the wall and just verify your sight picture. After you get your sights aligned, just close your eyes and keep them closed for a couple of seconds. Open them again and see if your sight picture is still in place. Keep practicing this until your sights stay in alignment. If they do, try and keep your eyes closed a little longer, or move onto Exercise 1.

Good luck!

March 1, 2012, 09:34 AM
If you feel like you are "bowling" it is just the way you are drawing. I was taught as a wee copper to draw and immediately rotate the gun into a forward facing firing grip. Think of Roy Rogers, from there punch the gun out towards the target, but do it as one smooth move. Drawing in that manner means that if the BG is on top of you or at 100 yards its the same draw stroke everytime and you are less likely to shoot the dirt in front of you because you are oriented on the target the whole time.

March 1, 2012, 01:54 PM
I was about to type exactly what Nanuk said but then I saw his post. You need to bring the gun up close to your body while you have your index finger pointed along the frame of the gun above the trigger. Then punch the gun out at head level. Before you do this just remember this mantra, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Say it before you draw and practice it, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

March 1, 2012, 02:06 PM
Order the little training book from GunSite and read it.

Speed comes after you have everything down smoothly.

In a real SD event you are not going to be indexed onto a target, so learn to draw smoothly and bring the gun up into your field of vision.

Smooth becomes fast with thousands of repetitions.

March 2, 2012, 11:33 AM
You sure about that Brick?

Even if you are not, it helps to build a solid foundation of from which to build skill on. You must have the fundamentals down right first. Think of a tree, the roots are its foundation.

You can go to the high speed schools, but, you need to have a foundation with solid marksmanship skills. I see it all the time in IDPA the guys who cook my goose at 3 yards can't hit a 25 yard target to save their lives.

March 2, 2012, 01:07 PM
Sure about what?

The question was not about marksmanship.

Of course you have to hit the target.

I spent many years shooting Bullseye.

It raised a loud "dang" from a Gunsite class lead when I hit an 8 inch steep plate at 60 yards with one shot from a 1991A1 compact.

And if you walk around indexing on every person you meet in case you need to shoot them it must be hell being you.

March 2, 2012, 03:38 PM
There are a number of things that could be causing you to index the front sight high and to the left of the target, and contrary to what you've read it's basically impossible for people on a forum to diagnose what you're doing wrong.

The problem is that it could be any of these things:

Your strong hand grip is wrong
your weak hand isn't making contact with the gun correctly
your hands are coming together too far away from your body
you're bowling the draw
you're rushing the draw

Sounds to me like it's time to take a class.

March 2, 2012, 04:12 PM
I had the same problem as Single Six with putting only the front sight on the target. Shots went off center, high, left, right, etc.
The only way I've been able to "engage" the bullseye for what might be called "point shooting", is to bring the gun (snub revolver for me) to eye level. Then both sights are in view without having to really "aim" with the sights aligned together.
Believe Cooper taught this. Check this old thread....

Anyway, my opinion.



March 2, 2012, 05:36 PM
Check to be sure the gun is fitted to your hand properly. A grip that is too fat for your hand can really mess up your ability to grab the pistol in a consistent grip every time and you find that you're readjusting every tiem you draw. If your natural finger reach doesn't put your finger in the right position (see below), you may need a different grip or different pistol altogether. All else being equal (and correct), this by itself could solve your problem.

As you get a grip on the pistol, make sure your grip is tight and firm but not so tight your muscles start to shake. The web of your hand between the thumb and forefinger should get squished up a bit.

Bury that trigger finger into the trigger guard so that the trigger sits behind the first knuckle, not on the fingertip. It's not how you've been taught for target practice but it works very well for SD and SD practice. The tight grip gives you the ability to grab the pistol more consistently every time and reduces the possibility that you'll lose the pistol to an attacker.

Draw up to your chest or even as high as your shoulder (same side of course) and then push the gun out toward your target. Raise it as high as is comfortable for you. While doing so, make sure your other hand comes to the grip as well for a two-handed hold OR be sure you get your other elbow out of the way. You don't want to shoot your own arm in the process!

(Raise your other elbow up past your eyes with your forearm resting on your forehead, palm out, while the gun is still at your chest level. It can be an additional defensive maneuver in close-quarters combat and can prevent your gun from being taken from you.)

All of the above can be adjusted to your needs and ability. Even if you don't do everything as described (hard to describe in writing anyway! :D ) it can give you some ideas about how to adjust your draw and presentation to the target to "fix" your problem.

Always practice slow. You HAVE to develop muscle memory and if you practice fast and get it wrong half the time, you're not building that muscle memory. Better to practice a thousand times slow and get it right EVERY time than to practice one time fast and get it wrong. I had an instructor years ago who said, "For every one mistake you make, you have to get it right 100 times to get rid of that mistake." (BTW, that's true of basketball, martial arts, guitar. . . . Whatever you're learning.)

Let us know how it goes.


March 5, 2012, 10:54 AM
Brick, my point is, in most self defense situations there is some sort of altercation before things go pear shaped. If you are a trained fighter it is automatic do get into some sort of defensive stance or to position your body as the situation escalates. Unlike most square range competitive drills where you start facing the target with your hands clasped together.

The idea here, or so I thought was to get him doing the BASICS right. Once he masters the BASICS he can move on to the more advanced techniques. Once the foundations of sound marksmanship and point shooting are learned it is very easy to shoot accurately in any position.

March 5, 2012, 11:40 AM
If you are a trained fighter it is automatic do get into some sort of defensive stance or to position your body as the situation escalates

That's fine for the firing line, or in classic tv western gun fights, but not in real life SD.

Which I think would involve shooting from lying on your back because you were knocked on your butt at an ATM machine, or setting in a car during a carjacking, or one hand shooting while you trying to push your wife or kids out of the way or behind you.

Wont work when walking around your house at night with a flash light, openning doors, or shooting from cover.

OR setting in you recliner as someone kicks in your front door.

Frankly, I can't think of many SD situations where you can get you good solid
"Defensive Two Handed" stance.

Thinking back on my 20 years in LE and my time with a pistol in combat in SE Asia, I can't think of very few times I could use a good two handed stance. Just don't happen in real life.

March 5, 2012, 05:55 PM
Well, every one is taking what I am saying out of context.

I was trying to give him (OP) advice for what I thought was beginning marksmanship training.

If you involved in a reactive SD scenario it is what it is, and you missed some danger cues along the way.

That is where GOTX and shooting on the move comes is IF it goes to guns. I just do not think those are what a beginner should focus on. A beginner should master the basics first, thats all I was saying. I totally agree that you are not going to be in ANY stance in a SD situation, I too was an LEO for 32 years.

March 5, 2012, 06:32 PM
This may have already been mentioned, but I use a thumbs forward grip and index my support hand thumb on the target. The sight picture then is usually spot on.

March 6, 2012, 10:44 PM
There was a drill for this, wasn't there? The pencil in the BBL/Paper on the wall drill?

found it: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4989509&postcount=22

March 6, 2012, 11:04 PM
A lot of good advice here. The only thing I have to add:

When you push the gun out toward the target, don't stop it suddenly at the end. It should stop gradually, like an elevator. You can stop quickly, but don't let it bounce at the end.

March 7, 2012, 12:37 PM
I was trying to give him (OP) advice for what I thought was beginning marksmanship training.

Except that is not what was asked.

Whenever I train on the range, as I draw my pistol, my goal is to bring the gun up and to have the front sight go directly to the center of the target. However, it seems that no matter how much I practice, when I bring the gun up into the firing position, my front sight first goes off to the left or right, or perhaps a bit too high.

You need to smooth out your draw and learn how to bring the gun up into your field of vision ON the target.

It is a practice thing.
Start off easy ('indexed' to the target) until the draw is smooth and reliably on the target.

THEN start working on targets that are not nicely positioned (like off to the side).

It takes a lot of practice, and there is no simple way to speed things up.

March 7, 2012, 03:40 PM
...goal is to bring the gun up and to have the front sight go directly to the center of the target.

Low-gun skeet shooters practice this as a matter of course.

Do NOT look at the front sight as the gun is coming up. Instead concentrate--and keep concentrating--solely on the target center "spot" and bring the bring the front sight up into the picture. Once there, track target & sight together.

Do NOT look down for the gun sight. It will automatically arrive exactly where you are looking. And if you look somewhere else, it will go that somewhere else.

Front sight, Front Sight, …FRONT SIGHT….. forget everything else in a close-mid range defensive scenario. The rear sight alignment is not your priority. The FRONT SIGHT coming into your line-of-sight is your priority. Everything else will automatically take care of itself if your laser focus on the FRONT SIGHT