Beginners Guide To Pistol Shooting

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Thanks for the vid. Brand new shooter here. Definitely flinching and pushing downwards 🙁 A little confused about the sight alignment using my thumb. Am I actually ever looking directly at my thumb with both eyes, dominant eye what? Thanks again. Love your page. A little overwhelming, but following!
    God Bless!

    • Don,

      Look at your thumb with your dominate eye. This practice is a good way to ‘see’ with your dominate eye and still keep both eyes open. It is important to keep both eyes open in case you are ever in an active shooter situation. There could be someone approaching (or aiming) at you from your non-dominate side. You may not see that person/situation if you have your non-dominate eye shut.

      Also, when I teach (I am an NRA pistol instructor) I stress that when you pull the trigger, it should be a complete surprise to you when the gun goes off. This is only mentioned once in the video. IMHO it should be stressed to new shooters.

      Hope this helps!

      • OhioPrepper says:

        Good points on dominant eye and keeping both eyes open. Another thing in this arena is presentation of the firearm to the shooting position. The gun is brought straight to the level of the eyes from high or low ready and not down to them from over the head, and not in a arc from below. We tell folks we are not bowling (arc from below) or fishing (arc from above the head. Additionally, the arc from over your head at some point obscures the eyes and can allow you to lose track of a moving target.
        Also, we do not teach pulling the trigger except for shotgun, we teach squeezing the trigger. While concentrating on the sight picture as shown in the video, you gently squeeze the trigger until the gun fires. This is the surprise Kate mentioned.
        For flinch drills I assume you already use ball and dummy, where the instructor loads the gun with a few rounds of real and dummy ammunition. When the student fires, the gun will recoil; but, if the gun recoils when shooting the dummy round which doesn’t fire, it becomes a clear indication to the student that they are flinching.
        Another good drill that isn’t in the official NRA material that we teach new instructors and use with basic students is the penny drill. With an empty firearm ready to practice dry fire, balance a penny or a stack of 2 or 3 pennies on the front site. Aim the gun and squeeze the trigger smoothly until the action operates (e.g. the gun dry fires). When everything is done correctly, the pennies will stay on the front site. Any flinching or pull of the trigger to either side instead of straight back, and the pennies fall onto the floor. Keep practicing until you can fire numerous times with the pennies staying in place.
        A good final drill is the do the penny drill with a double action revolver and have the student fire several times. After firing 3 or more times in double action mode with the pennies still sitting on the front sight, the student has pretty much mastered the trigger squeeze.

  2. Is it OK to dry fire a Glock 26 while practicing? I have 1911 Airsoft pistol. Can I use the Airsoft to practice this in the living room? Thank you for posting this video.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      To see if you can dry fire the Glock without damage, consult your manual; but, I suspect it would be OK.

  3. Labgirl says:

    Thanks for the video. I have a small revolver but have never shot it much. The sight alignment was a very valuable instruction to me.

  4. I am a retired U.S. Customs Inspector, this gentleman teaches much as we were taught in Customs. Do what he teaches faithfully and you will be an excellent shot. Having a firearm nowadays can be a great source of comfort, it makes a 5’2″ lady equal to a 6″2″ man. Practice these basic steps as he teaches and yo are on your way. I am new to this website, but I like it, and find I now go here often and enjoy the articles. Thanks, Robert
    Prescott, Az..

  5. Chuck Findlay says:

    Personally I find that the sites are not too important on a short barreled handgun when shooting at a target that is the size of 12-inches or the larger 1/2 scale man silhouette. I think there called the B-27 targets.

    Normal combat distances (25-feet or less) it’s easy to score good hits.

    Just look at the target and not at the sites or even look down the sites. Look at the target and point the gun and I always get good hits in the black.

    Try this; point your finger at an object then look along your finger to see if it’s pointing at the object. You will find your body knows how to point. Practice this with a gun and you will become good at instinctive shooting and once you practice it a bit, it becomes second nature to hit a target without much thought about site picture. If you have access to an outdoor range you can fill pop bottles with water to shoot, they are a good size target to practice on, if you can hit them a man-sized target will seem ridiculously large and easy.

    I still use the sites on most of my handguns for longer range target shooting, but not when practicing combat shooting.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Good points. In self defense distances, typically 1-7 yards, we train point shooting, also called point shoulder shooting or natural point of aim. There is a good drill to learn to shoot this way. Start with your eyes open and bring the gun to the high ready position (arms extended in isosceles position). Align the sights with your eyes on target. Close your eyes and bring the gun to partial low ready by bending both elbows and keeping the gun parallel to the ground. Bring the gun back to the high position aligned in front of your eyes. Open your eyes. If the sights are not aligned when you open them, you need to practice again. If the target is off in the horizontal, keep your hips in place and slowly shift your feet to rotate your position to align the sights. Do this until you can consistently bring the gun up to your shooting position with your eyes closed, and upon opening them, the sights are aligned. This will take some practice, and won’t work for targets at 50 yards; but, for those close in encounters (1-7 yards) you’ll easily be able to hit the target in a hurry, without stopping for critical sight alignment. The trigger control as shown in the video will still be crucial.

  6. PatrickM says:

    Good video for novice shooters! Stresses sight picture and trigger control. Work the basics, develop the motor skills and the rest should fall into place.

    Keep your shooting range (or area) clean and safe.

  7. Michael says:

    Like the vid but would like it better if I could get rid of the ad covering the bottom of the video. any tips on how to do that??

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      Download Addblocker and 99% of all U-Tube adds go away. It’s free and works in the background so you hardly know it’s there.

      Google it, download it and let it install. Well worth having if you are a person that likes U-Tube, and who doesn’t like U-Tube?

      But be aware it also blocks links sometimes on sites like this one. If you support MD through an Amazon link Addblocker may block it.

      • Chuck Findlay,

        The ads on the sites (including this one) help pay the person for their time and effort to share free information with the public. Without ads most of the free information that is available now would not be.

        • Chuck Findlay says:

          I know, that’s why I mentioned the effect it may have on your site so others would know about it and act accordingly.

  8. We are complete beginners! We just got our first 243/22 recently to use on Tannerite! Good video ty!

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