man at an outdoor shooting range aiming a pistol towards a paper target

How to Improve Shooting Accuracy

Every gun owner wants to improve shooting accuracy. You’ve spent a lot of money on a firearm that is a powerful tool for hunting, self-defense, and outdoor sports, and better accuracy and precision help you use that tool better. Every shooting-bench sage will tell you their top shooting tips, and you’ll find plenty of aftermarket parts, accessories, and gun optics at your next Midwest Arms Collector Show touted to help you put more rounds through the bulls-eye. If you want to take your shot placement to the next level, however, it’s not that simple.

You need three things: a better gun, better technique, and better practice.

Better Gun: Creating a More Accurate Weapon

If you want to immediately improve shooting accuracy and know your fundamentals are strong, upgrading or replacing your gun can be a great place to start. Not all guns are created equal, and those that are created to be equally user-friendly to the widest possible customer base. Choosing a better gun or better accessories can give you a better tool at the range, on duty, or while carrying.

  • Buying a New or Used Gun – Our first gun is seldom our best gun. While the old Jennings and current Hi-Point pistols are cheap enough that just about anyone can afford one, I don’t think anyone will argue they offer the same reliability or accuracy as top-tier guns. Glock, Smith & Wesson, and other major manufacturers have better engineering, manufacturing processes, and quality control, all of which equate to a generally better firearm. You’ll find guns from every top and mid-tier manufacturer at your local gun show, many available in good used condition for a steep discount off the MSRP sticker price. Do your research, know what you’re looking for, and be ready to make a deal.

Reticle view from a Gideon Optics precision reflex sight
  • Aftermarket Optics – Improving your sight picture can make better accuracy easier to achieve. Modern gun optics are easy to install, offer intuitive point-and-shoot aiming, and come with features like adjustable windage and elevation, illumination, and precision reticles. While these accessories used to only come with hefty military-grade pricetags that corresponded to their government-contract lineage, practical civilian versions, like those made by Gideon Optics, offer reliability and accuracy without blowing a hole in your bank account. 
  • Precision Barrels – The gun barrel is under a massive amount of stress caused by tiny, hot explosions it controls and channels to push a bullet downrange round after round. Over time, rifling grooves can wear, or the barrel itself can begin to change shape due to repeated stresses. If your barrel is going bad, you need an aftermarket barrel to improve shooting accuracy and restore your gun’s performance. Patmos Arms, a frequent vendor at our shows, makes forged barrels for Glock-type pistols–one of the most popular and used weapons platforms in handguns. Each one is built with quality steel, nitride-coated, and ready for a drop-in upgrade experience.

Better You: Building the Fundamentals

Even with the best tool, improving your shooting accuracy can depend on improving the mechanics of how you use your tool. Let’s leave the gun-influencer shooting tips from social media behind and talk about a few time-tested factors in hitting the target lined up in your gun optics.

  • Find Your Stance – There are many shooting stances out there, each offering its own benefits and drawbacks. For many pistol shooters, getting comfortable with a modified Weaver Stance is a great place to start. 
Man demonstrating weaver stance with a pistol

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart as you face downrange. Take a half-step back with your dominant (gun-side) foot and bend your knees slightly. Keeping your back straight, raise your gun to eye-level with your dominant hand, keeping the elbow bent and in tight to the body. Place your off-hand around the fingers of your dominant hand, but lower them slightly so your last digit or two can help cup and support the base of your grip. With most rifles, a similar stance is used, pulling the stock into the pocket of your shoulder and upper chest while the off-hand grips the forestock. With practice, this basic stance gives you support, strong posturing, and the ability to move well.

  • Control Your Breathing – You may not think your breathing affects much, but as your whole chest rises and falls, it can change the geometry of your stance and your aim. Under stress, when your heart is hammering, and breaths are coming in big gulps of air, it can be even worse. Work on controlling your breath as you shoot, smoothly inhaling and exhaling. Pause your breath for a moment halfway through the exhale, and take your shot. This will improve shooting accuracy and give you greater consistency in your shooting mechanics. 
  • Train that Trigger Finger – A bad trigger pull has been the bane of many otherwise good shooters. Cultivate a smooth, even pull that allows the sear to break over naturally without anticipation. This can be easily developed through muscle memory, but resist the urge to practice past fatigue. Remember that when those muscles get tired, you’re training your finger to jerk and anticipate, not to be the cool, confident digit you need it to be. 

Better Practice: Honing Your Skills

Finally, if you want to improve your shooting accuracy, you need to bring the tool and the shooter together for some good old-fashioned practice. While plenty of range time is involved, there are still drills you can do without ammo to save money in preparation for your next range visit.

  • Dry-Fire Training – Dry-firing a modern firearm will not lead to the same damage older guns could suffer. Modern revolvers, pistols, carbines, rifles, and shotguns are all made to allow dry fire by interrupting the forward motion of the striker or firing pin safely before damage occurs. Dry fire drills are great for focusing in on your trigger pull, draw, use of gun optics, or stance in the comfort of your home. Just make sure you follow basic gun safety rules and unload your weapon, verifying an empty chamber before you begin.
  • Live-Fire Training – While dry-fire training can improve shooting accuracy, there’s no substitution for the real thing. Eventually, you have to bust some caps. Make your range time count by choosing a focus goal for every visit. Spend 75% of that visit on improving that part of your shooting, whether it’s off-hand positioning in your stance, follow-up shot placement, or something else entirely.
  • Switch It Up – The other 25% of your visit, have some fun. Free practice should be…well, free. Now is the time to try out those Instagram or GunTok (the kids say that’s a thing) shooting tips and decide what stays in your repertoire and what you never admit to another shooter you’ve tried.

Get Ready for Your Local Gun Show

At your next gun show, you’ll have the chance to shop an unmatched collection of new and used guns, optics, accessories, equipment, and more. You’ll also be able to meet and talk with professionals in the firearms industry who might just have a few shooting tips that will help you out. Subscribe to our email list for the latest gun show news delivered to your inbox. Make your plans to visit a nearby MAC Shows Gun Show today.

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