View Full Version : New to handguns

March 2, 2012, 03:49 PM
I was raised on long guns and shotguns and have only recently started shooting handguns. In my second trip to a range with the S&W Bodyguard 380, I seem to be going low and to the left (see range picture below).

From what I've read, this could mean that I'm anticipating the recoil and pushing. I've tried the dry fire technique with the laser only and I don't seem to have the problem then. Any advice on getting more center shots.


March 2, 2012, 04:01 PM

Try to push with your trigger finger toward the frame.

March 2, 2012, 04:04 PM
What distance where you shooting from? Also how fast were you shooting?

That target looked like it had a lot of holes in it. I would recomend trying a B-27 target, or somthing similar. Bad guys usualy do not have a bull's eye painted on the spot that makes them drop instanly when hit. Good solid hits to the torso area are what you want out of a defensive handgun. In a self defense situation you are not going to be able to have time to fine tune aim. More likely than not it will be at bad breath distance anyway.

There is taget shootin, and then there is combat shooting. Though target shooting a lot does help in the combat situation. The muscle memory is greater.

March 2, 2012, 04:08 PM
This one was at 12 feet. For the most part, I was taking a shot, waiting a second or two without moving, then shooting again. A few of the shots were attempts at double taps, which seemed to be group closely even though they were off from where I aimed.

I'll try the different targets and the pushing advice. Any other suggestions are welcome.

March 2, 2012, 04:23 PM
Here's target set #2 from 25 feet. In this one, I was doing more double taps, but I'm still low and left. I was getting more consistent placement, but still not where I want to be.


March 2, 2012, 09:54 PM
I find that when I get that, its almost always a result of me tightening my right hand too much. Lately I have been holding it only nominally in my right hand a squeezing with my left, and now basically all I do with my right is pull the string for the trigger and keep the gun in line with my arm.

Im not sure why I have never had that problem one-handed shooting.

March 2, 2012, 10:52 PM
Try looking through the sights. If it has the 3 dot Novak style sights then the proper sight allaingnment is 3 dots lined up and even with eachother. Where the front site is the bullet will go. If you are trying to shoot like it is a rifle with open sights then that could be why you are hitting low. As far as hitting left that tends to be from either too be from either jerking the trigger, or not enough finger on the trigger. I forgot which.

Frank Ettin
March 3, 2012, 12:50 AM
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.

Also, while practice in very important, remember that practice doesn’t make perfect. It’s “PERFECT practice makes perfect.” More frequent practice shooting fewer rounds, but concentrating hard on what you’re doing, will be more productive than less frequent, higher round count practice.

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. I try to take classes from time to time; and I always learn something new.

Think: front sight, press, surprise.

March 3, 2012, 01:50 AM
Look at the shooting wheel if your shots land in any location that correspond with the wheel this could tell you what your could be doing. Some believe in this and other do not. I feel it can't hurt.


March 3, 2012, 11:23 AM
Thanks guys. I've got my homework for my next trip to the range.

March 3, 2012, 05:13 PM
I suggest work on single taps.

March 3, 2012, 07:22 PM
I have shot this gun and as I remember it has a pretty good trigger. Make sure you are squeezing the trigger. I have a bad habit of jamming the trigger with autos. When I do I get bad groups like this.

March 3, 2012, 11:12 PM
Your BG380 has a built-in training device for you: the laser. Do some dry firing with the laser on, keeping the dot from moving off the target all through the trigger pull and release.

March 4, 2012, 01:15 PM
other thing that you could be doing is tightening your trigger hand fingers while firing. Dry fire your pistol alot to get used to how it moves, and try to minimize the effect on the lay of the gun (just as with a long gun)