This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.*
Owning a gun is one thing, but knowing how to wield it is something else entirely. If you don’t know how to properly use your firearm in a self-defensive situation, not only do your chances of survival go down, but your chances of accidentally harming yourself or somebody else go up.
Fortunately, this can all be cured by just a little bit of regular practice on the shooting range where you can train with your defensive shooting skills and grow comfortable with your weapon of choice. The tips you are about to learn in this article apply regardless of what type of firearm you’re using.
Here are the top ten defensive shooting tips that could save your life:
1. Buy Enough Ammo
What good is a gun without ammo? It could serve you well as a club, but that’s about it. Therefore, the first defensive shooting tip is to actually buy enough ammo to practice your defensive shooting in the first place. Since ammo is a little costly, you can get around this by making it a habit to buy just one or two boxes a week. Your stockpile will grow steadily as a result.
2. Get A Proper Firing Grip
To hold a handgun correctly, you need to have both hands wrapped firmly around the grip of the gun with both of your thumbs forward. The fingers of your weak hand should be wrapped around the fingers of your firing hand. Hold the gun at eye level so you can peer down the sights.
3. Line Up Your Sights
Line up your front sight to your rear sight. You want the front sight to be aimed directly at the target. Your eye should then be focused directly on the front sight. Your rear sight and your environment beyond the front sight should therefore be a little blurry.
4. Keep Both Eyes Open
A natural thing to do is to shut your non-dominant eye when peering down the sights of a firearm. This is a big mistake for two reasons: it causes extreme fatigue in your eye lids, and it shuts out half of your field of vision (so you may not be able to see an enemy approaching). Remedy this by keeping your front eye wide open and your second eye squinted but still open.
5. Keep Your Finger Indexed
One of the core rules of gun safety is to never place your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Keep your trigger finger indexed, meaning it’s resting on the frame of the handgun above the trigger guard.
6. Control Your Firing
Spraying and praying with guns is fun in video games, but it’s a horrible shooting technique in real life. It makes the gun uncontrollable, decreases the chance of you hitting your target, and increases your chance of accidentally hitting someone else who you don’t want to.
Rather, control your firing so that each individual shot is deliberate. If you want to practice double taps, that’s fine, but you should never fire any rounds that you didn’t intend to or that were out of your control. Avoid flinching as well (where you jerk the gun when it doesn’t fire). To practice not flinching, load some live rounds and dummy rounds into your magazine, but don’t know the order they are in. When the primer hits a dummy round and you flinch, you’ll need to correct that.
7. Reload Without Looking
Looking at your gun while fumbling around with a reload is a terrible thing to do. It removes your focus from the environment and it shows that you’re not a properly trained shooter. Therefore, put lots of practice into swapping out magazines and racking the slide to re-chamber the weapon. Keep your eyes focused on the environment around you as you eject the spent magazine, draw a fresh new one, insert it into the weapon, and rack the slide. Draw the gun in closer to you when you reload as well before re-assuming a natural and proper firing stance.
8. Know How To Shoot One Handed
While you should try to get a two handed grip if possible, some defensive scenarios may require you to only shoot one handed if you need to act quickly. Therefore, you should practice shooting one handed as well. When shooting one handed, keep your firing arm stretched out, while your non-firing hand should be clenched into a first and held to your torso. This way you know where your non-firing hand is and you don’t risk it being out in your field of fire.
9. Learn How To Clear Jams
It doesn’t matter if you purchase the most reliable pistol on the planet; experiencing a jam is a very real possibility. Just as you must practice reloading, so you must practice clearing jams as well so you can get back into the fight. Standard procedure with a jam is to firmly tap the magazine (most jams are caused by a not-fully inserted magazine) and then rack the slide to eject the failed round. If this fails, eject the existing magazine and load in a new one and rack it again. If this also fails to clear the weapon, you have a bigger problem on your hands.
10. Practice a Lot
The old saying goes that practice makes perfect, and practicing firing your weapon on the shooting range is not going to cut it. Make it a rule that you’ll practice on the shooting range a minimum of once per month, with a minimum of two hundred and fifty rounds fired each time.
Between owning two guns and not knowing how to use either of them or owning one gun and being a master at it, the second option is certainly more preferable if you’re serious about defending your life. Take the tips you have learned in this article seriously and apply them during your real life shooting range time.