Concealed Carry Hand Guns - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Brad Fitz­patrick

Mas­ter these three ba­sic shooting prin­ci­ples be­fore you face a deadly en­counter.

Leg­endary football coach Vince Lom­bardi preached ob­ses­sively to his play­ers about the im­por­tance of re­ly­ing on fun­da­men­tals. Lom­bardi be­lieved— and of­ten said—that mas­ter­ing the fun­da­men­tals led to suc­cess on all lev­els, from the be­gin­ner to the pro­fes­sional.

Sim­i­larly, mas­ter­ing the fun­da­men­tals is key when it comes to shooting. Shooting is a sport that re­quires quick re­flexes, mo­tor skills and con­di­tion­ing, but when you are prac­tic­ing with a firearm, you are pre­par­ing your­self to sur­vive a life-and-death strug­gle, some­thing far more weighty than sim­ply win­ning a game. Nev­er­the­less, proper shooting has ba­sic el­e­ments that must be mas­tered be­fore you can ad­vance, and that will be our fo­cus here.

For­get about short­cuts. Try­ing to mag­i­cally im­prove your shooting with a quick fix rem­edy rarely works. These three pri­mary tenets of shooting ap­ply no mat­ter what brand or style of gun is in your hand and whether you’re aim­ing through a Tri­ji­con RMR or a gut­ter sight on a com­pact re­volver.


I’m amazed at how many dif­fer­ent meth­ods of eye align­ment I see at the range. I’ve wit­nessed shoot­ers with one eye open, two eyes open, us­ing the op­po­site shooting hand and eye, and all sorts of other vari­a­tions on the ba­sic theme. So, it’s worth start­ing this one at the very be­gin­ning.

Be­fore you ever pick up a firearm, you need to de­ter­mine eye dom­i­nance and hand dom­i­nance.

Eye dom­i­nance is a re­sponse of our brain’s learn­ing to bal­ance stereo­scopic vi­sion with in­tense fo­cus, and it means that one of your eyes takes on a dom­i­nant role in pro­vid­ing a clear and bal­anced im­age.

There are sev­eral meth­ods to de­ter­mine eye dom­i­nance, but the sim­plest is to find a clock or pic­ture on a dis­tant wall, reach out with your in­dex fin­ger and point to the bot­tom of the clock/paint­ing, and then close both eyes one at a time. When one eye is left open, your fin­ger will re­main in po­si­tion un­der the object, and that is your dom­i­nant eye. The other eye, when left open, will move the fin­ger’s po­si­tion away from the object.

Like­wise, you can over­lap your hands and leave a tri­an­gle open­ing be­tween your thumbs and in­dex fingers. Place that tri­an­gle around the

object on the wall and slowly bring your hands back to your face, al­ways main­tain­ing the object within the open­ing be­tween your hands. You’ll automatically bring your hands back to one of your eyes—the dom­i­nant one.

If you’re par­al­lel dom­i­nant—mean­ing your right eye and right hand are strong­est (or left eye/left hand), then you’ll have lit­tle trou­ble de­vel­op­ing a proper sight pic­ture. If you’re cross dom­i­nant, you have a few op­tions for de­vel­op­ing a proper sight

pic­ture. You can close one eye—not the best op­tion be­cause A), you have to re­mem­ber to do so in a vi­o­lent en­counter, and B) clos­ing one eye lim­its your field of view at a time when be­ing able to see ev­ery­thing around you is crit­i­cal. An­other op­tion is to learn to use the other hand to shoot.

Your pri­mary fo­cus in any de­fen­sive sit­u­a­tion should be the front sight. That stereo­scopic vi­sion that was dis­cussed ear­lier al­lows you to com­pre­hend the world around you in three di­men­sions, but the Achilles’ heel of this abil­ity is that you can only fo­cus on one plane at a time. In the case of shooting, that needs to be on the front sight.

Of­fer­ing pri­mary fo­cus to one object does not make it im­pos­si­ble to see an­other. When align­ing your sights with the tar­get, use the front sight as your an­chor and align it with the rear sight and tar­get in your pe­riph­ery. It takes prac­tice, but you can mas­ter this all-im­por­tant skill.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard shoot­ers say that the iron sights were “off” only to watch an in­struc­tor take the same gun and drill a half-dozen holes dead in the cen­ter of the tar­get. The pri­mary rea­son this hap­pens? Your trig­ger con­trol is lousy.

Trig­gers come in all dif­fer­ent shapes and styles. Some, like those on a good 1911—break at 3 or 4 pounds and have lit­tle creep. Oth­ers, like


those found on ham­mer-fired double ac­tions, may re­quire 12 pounds of pres­sure to break and trig­ger travel is very long. But the ba­sic tenets are the same, and they will work on any of these trig­gers.

Trig­ger con­trol be­gins with us­ing the right part of your fin­ger—namely the pad of the in­dex fin­ger just ahead of the last joint. This is the part of the fin­ger that con­tacts the trig­ger and does the fir­ing. If you wrap the fin­ger around the trig­ger like you’re fir­ing a spray bottle of chlo­rine bleach into a toi­let you’re clean­ing, then your ac­cu­racy is go­ing to suf­fer.

Also, it’s crit­i­cal to keep the trig­ger move­ment directly back­ward to­ward the shooter, not down and left (or down and right, for you south­paw shoot­ers) as many have a ten­dency to do. Trig­ger con­trol is, in my opin­ion, best de­vel­oped by dry fir­ing an un­loaded weapon or us­ing a laser tar­get sys­tem. When you aren’t fir­ing live ammo, and aren’t deal­ing with re­coil and muz­zle rise, you can more closely ob­serve what the gun is do­ing when you pull the trig­ger. Is it stay­ing on tar­get? Good; you are con­trol­ling your trig­ger by us­ing the proper part of the fin­ger to fire and you are pulling the trig­ger straight back.

You learn these ba­sics when dry fir­ing, but you must mas­ter them on the range. This is where rep­e­ti­tion be­comes key. When I see my shots drift from the cen­ter of my tar­get, I don’t im­me­di­ately start fid­dling with my sights but fo­cus on my trig­ger pull and make sure that I’m ap­ply­ing pres­sure straight back to­wards me. Slow down, fo­cus on these prin­ci­ples, and get back on tar­get.

Here’s an­other crit­i­cal point, and it’s closely re­lated to mas­ter­ing fast, ac­cu­rate de­fen­sive shooting: You don’t need to re­lease the trig­ger com­pletely be­fore fir­ing a fol­low-up shot. Many of the mod­ern de­fen­sive pis­tols on the mar­ket have a very short re­set—the dis­tance from the trig­ger’s rear­ward po­si­tion un­til it

trav­els for­ward enough to re­set the gun for the next shot.

If you’re fir­ing, fully re­leas­ing the trig­ger and then fir­ing again, then you’re wast­ing time and fin­ger move­ment— not what you want in a de­fen­sive sit­u­a­tion. Af­ter you’ve mas­tered trig­ger pull, con­cen­trate on shooting slowly and, af­ter a shot, slowly re­lease the trig­ger un­til you feel it re­set or hear the au­di­ble click. But be pre­pared—you won’t have to pull the trig­ger back very far to fire an­other shot—which is why this is crit­i­cal to de­liv­er­ing rapid shots that hit where you’re aim­ing.


A proper grip be­gins with a high hand­hold on the gun. By grip­ping the gun high, you can mit­i­gate the ef­fects of muz­zle flip. A weak hold on a semi-auto can ac­tu­ally im­pede the gun’s ba­sic cy­cling, lead­ing to jams. The most com­mon hold for semi-auto pis­tols is a two-thumbs-for­ward hold wherein both thumbs are po­si­tioned par­al­lel along the top of the frame (but not on the slide) on the side of the gun op­po­site the trig­ger fin­ger.

This offers ex­cel­lent con­trol, and from the isosce­les stance (feet roughly shoul­der-width apart, knees slightly bent, both arms ex­tended so that when viewed from above the arms give the im­pres­sion of an isosce­les tri­an­gle) you can con­trol the muz­zle and de­liver fast, ac­cu­rate shots. I pre­fer a bit of for­ward lean be­cause it fur­ther helps con­trol the gun, and lean­ing a bit for­ward with the weight on the balls of the feet is com­fort­able and doesn’t im­pede move­ment.

The isosce­les stance is also widely ac­cepted be­cause it offers a wide leftto-right field of view and it is so well bal­anced that you can move quickly. Once you’ve mas­tered proper shooting tech­nique, adding move­ment drills to your train­ing reg­i­men bet­ter pre­pares you to sur­vive a tac­ti­cal sit­u­a­tion.

A cou­ple of key points for proper grip and stance are worth men­tion­ing. First, bring the gun up to your eye, not the eye to the gun. When you get in your stance with a slight for­ward lean, the gun should come out of the hol­ster (se­cur­ing the high grip early with your shooting hand), and up to the chest to meet the sup­port hand.

From there, the hands fix on the gun and the firearm ex­tends for­ward from the body. As it does, you should el­e­vate the gun to align it with your eye. An­other crit­i­cal el­e­ment is fix­ing the up­per body. If you’re go­ing to shoot at mul­ti­ple tar­gets, you want the tran­si­tion to come through the hips. Main­tain your proper grip and up­per body po­si­tion, and ro­tate at the waist to en­gage mul­ti­ple tar­gets.


De­fen­sive shooting is a game of fun­da­men­tals. Learn the proper tech­niques, ap­ply them and you’ll be bet­ter pre­pared to sur­vive a deadly en­counter. But mas­ter­ing these skills takes time and prac­tice, and that means dry fir­ing and live fire at the range. For you to be­come a com­pe­tent shooter—or to ad­vance to the next level—you need to fo­cus on the ba­sics. It worked for Vince Lom­bardi’s football teams, and it will work for you.

The two-thumb­s­for­ward grip is com­mon and works well, pro­mot­ing a high hand­hold on the gun. No­tice the iri­des­cent green paint on the front sight of this FN

509, which helps fo­cus the shooter’s at­ten­tion where it needs to be. Far Left: If you want to hit the cen­ter of the tar­get, then you need to fo­cus on trig­ger con­trol. Sloppy trig­ger oper­a­tion tends to move groups away from cen­ter. Left: Laser Train­ers from LaserLyte are avail­able to fit var­i­ous firearms and of­fer a cost-ef­fi­cient way to train with­out mak­ing a trip to the range.

Some shoot­ers have a ten­dency to move their head to align with the sights. This is im­proper. Lean for­ward and bring the gun up to align the sights with the eye.

You can fo­cus on the front sight and still see the tar­get and the rear sight in your pe­riph­ery. De­vel­op­ing that skill is es­sen­tial for de­fen­sive shooting.

Left: The isosce­les stance is so named be­cause, when viewed from above, the arms and up­per body form an isosce­les tri­an­gle. This helps pro­mote a proper grip and helps mit­i­gate re­coil.

Above: There are many ways to de­ter­mine eye dom­i­nance. One is to cre­ate a tri­an­gle with your hands around a dis­tant object and slowly move them back to your face, keep­ing the object cen­tered at all times. The hands will nat­u­rally move back to the...

This shooter has a high grip, the sights have come up and he has front sight-fo­cus, and the trig­ger fin­ger is prop­erly po­si­tioned—all keys to de­liv­er­ing fast, ac­cu­rate shots.

There are good trig­gers and bad trig­gers (this is a Nighthawk Cus­tom Hi-Power, so it’s a very good one), but re­gard­less of their de­sign or qual­ity, the fun­da­men­tals of trig­ger con­trol re­main the same.

Trig­ger con­trol is crit­i­cal. The pad of the in­dex fin­ger just past the last fin­ger joint should rest on the trig­ger, and pres­sure should be di­rected rear­ward to­ward the shooter for max­i­mum ac­cu­racy.

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