The ed­i­tor lets us into the world of grip and de­liv­ery

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Phill Price re­veals his pis­tol-shoot­ing tech­nique - prac­tice for per­fec­tion

Areader wrote to me re­cently and asked what I meant by my ‘ twohanded com­bat grip’. It’s all too easy to for­get that things which seem ev­ery day to some peo­ple might be a com­plete mys­tery to oth­ers, and as a long-term pis­tol shooter, per­haps my words were con­fus­ing. Many pow­der-burn­ing hand­guns de­velop sig­nif­i­cant re­coil and when used in com­pe­ti­tions that value speed, this needs to be man­aged. Luck­ily for us, those same tech­niques work just as well for Co2 and spring-pow­ered pis­tols.

It’s a shame that many peo­ple take their tech­niques from the aw­ful use of pis­tols they’ve seen in movies, such as the early James Bond films and their like. The strong hand (trig­ger hand) might be on the pis­tol grip, but the weak hand of­ten cupped the bot­tom of the frame, or worse still, gripped the wrist of the strong hand. Nei­ther of these ridicu­lous po­si­tions of­fers any sup­port to the pis­tol at all

The tech­niques shown in some of to­day’s movies are bet­ter, and the ac­tors have clearly taken some pro­fes­sional tu­ition, but we’ve all seen 58 shots taken by a re­volver that ac­tu­ally held six bul­lets, and other cin­e­mato­graphic non­sense like hit­ting a man on a gal­lop­ing horse at 100 yards with a pis­tol. The grip and stance film stars dis­play show all too clearly that they have not the least idea about guns, but of course, that’s not why they’re em­ployed. They might be good-look­ing and charis­matic, but they’d be the low­est scor­ing en­trant in any com­pe­ti­tion.


So, what does it take to hold and shoot a pis­tol well? Let’s take one of the all­time clas­sic, semi-au­to­matic hand­guns to demon­strate – the Colt 1911. Firstly, the web be­tween your in­dex finger and thumb should go fully into the ‘ beaver tail’ just as high as it can, and the mid­dle finger should be fully against the bot­tom of the trig­ger guard. The thumb points along the side of the frame to­ward the tar­get, with only mod­est pres­sure against the frame.

Next, the in­dex finger should nat­u­rally ap­ply its pad to the trig­ger blade. Do not reach through the trig­ger guard so that the joint of the finger touches the blade, nor use the tip of the finger. The grip should be firm but not tight. Ten­sion in the strong hand will trans­mit to the trig­ger finger, re­duc­ing fine con­trol. Pis­tols do not con­tact our shoul­der, so they lack the sta­bil­ity that makes ri­fles much eas­ier to shoot, and a pis­tol is light com­pared to a ri­fle, so is nat­u­rally eas­ier to wob­ble off aim. Worse still, the move­ment of the muscles that con­trol your trig­ger finger will al­ways af­fect your aim, which is why good tech­nique

“The grip and stance film stars dis­play show all too clearly that they have not the least idea about guns”

and a high- qual­ity trig­ger make such a dif­fer­ence.

The two-handed com­bat hold uses the weak hand to lock down the strong hand, and com­pletely trans­forms our abil­ity to hit the tar­get. The pho­to­graphs will ex­plain bet­ter than words, but the fin­gers of the weak hand wrap around the strong hand en­clos­ing them with as much con­tact as pos­si­ble. The thumb of the weak hand sits un­der the thumb of the strong hand, again point­ing at the tar­get, de­liv­er­ing yet more con­tact with the gun and the other hand.


With so much con­tact, even light pres­sure de­liv­ers a huge in­crease in sta­bil­ity which is al­ways pos­i­tive. Us­ing lots of grip pres­sure works against a sta­ble and re­laxed shot re­lease, so ‘firm but re­laxed’ is the way for­ward. Get­ting this hold cor­rect from a fast draw takes a huge amount of prac­tice, but is well worth the ef­fort.

Once you have this per­fected, it will be­come eas­ier to con­trol the trig­ger and there’s more you can do in that area. In your per­fect hold, place your sights on the tar­get and squeeze the trig­ger gen­tly, feel­ing and see­ing all the move­ments as the shot re­leases. Try again, but this time sub­tly try to iso­late the muscles that con­trol the trig­ger finger from the rest of the hand. It takes some con­cen­tra­tion, but over time you’ll find a solid grip and a steady hold can be sep­a­rated from the trig­ger ac­tion and your group sizes will re­duce. Once drilled into your sub­con­scious, the ben­e­fits will show even at full speed.


Like all tech­nique-based sports, reg­u­lar COR­RECT prac­tice will pay div­i­dends that will make you smile. I em­pha­sise cor­rect prac­tice be­cause sloppy prac­tice is al­most as bad as no prac­tice at all. Start slowly with pre­cise, de­lib­er­ate shots and only when they all land on tar­get start to build up your speed. If your ac­cu­racy falls off, go back and start again with proper tech­nique un­til the ac­cu­racy re­cov­ers.

The sat­is­fac­tion of shoot­ing a hand­gun well is some­thing all air­gun­ners should feel, and it’s a skill to be proud of; Co2 pis­tols are in­ex­pen­sive and ideal for back gar­den shoot­ing, so why not give it a try? Per­haps you could show Mr Bond how it’s re­ally done.

“sub­tly try to iso­late the muscles that con­trol the trig­ger finger from the rest of the hand”

The weak hand en­closes the strong hand with max­i­mum con­tact

En­sure your mid­dle finger is hard against the trig­ger guard

Only the pad of the trig­ger finger should touch the blade

The fin­gers of the weak hand interlock with the strong hand

The strong hand should be as high on the grip as pos­si­ble

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