10 Reasons Why You’re Not A Better Shooter

  1. LACK OF PROPER EDUCATION: First and foremost, have you taken lessons? If not, that’s your first problem. It can be difficult to learn on your own without a trained instructor or mentor (and ideally one who can shoot ha, ha). It can be hard to detect your own shortcomings if you’re doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If an instructor is watching you, they can easily spot what you’re doing wrong and find bad habits you’ve already acquired. Take their advice and try applying it. Also, be sure to research finding a good fit instructor first.


  1. NOT SHOOTING THE RIGHT FIREARM OR CALIBER: We all started with training wheels on a bicycle. So, if you have a fear of firearms or just starting out, shooting a 30-06 or even a 9mm may not be the ideal first gun to shoot. Many students in my classes hated the shooting experience solely because the recoil was new to them and they couldn’t handle the caliber. Try a .22 (no recoil) to get down the basic fundamentals of shooting first. Then, add in the recoil management later. Once you learn to manage recoil, you can essentially shoot any firearm with recoil. Ok, we will leave the “Deagle” out of this for now, ha ha.


  1. GRIP IS OFF: One of the first fundamentals an instructor will teach is proper grip. If you “cup” the bottom of the magwell or cross your thumbs, you’re just wasting perfectly good utilization of your hands. A good grip will help to apply downward pressure on the upward recoil and control muzzle flip. As I tell my students, you control the gun, the gun does not control you. 

  1. PRESSING (NOT, PULLING) THE TRIGGER IMPROPERLY: What’s the most important fundamental of shooting? Surprise, it’s something you would have never guessed. If you “yank”, “pull” or “slap” the trigger, chances are you’re consciously allowing the sights to be misaligned. The entire objective to aiming is to keep your sight alignment on point throughout the entire shooting process. If you do any of the above mentioned, you’re only going to move the sights off the picture of the bullseye. Instead, slowly apply methodical pressure of the trigger towards the rear. 


  1. NO FOLLOW THROUGH: If you played a sport growing up, you know “following through” with the motion of the action allowed the ball to get on target more accurately. Same goes with shooting; if you hold the trigger after ignition for 1-2 seconds (the follow-through), you allow the cartridge to fully cycle through the barrel, the trigger to reset and time to re-align your sights. Just because you pressed the trigger, doesn’t mean that’s when your job is done.


  1. POOR RECOIL MANAGEMENT: If you haven’t heard the term “arc of movement”, you need to become familiar with it if you intend to be a decent shooter. Arc of movement refers to the arch your arms make when they go from stationary to upward after you pull the trigger caused by recoil. The goal of shooting is to reduce your arc of movement. If you are not actively absorbing the recoil into your hands, your arms, your shoulders, your body, etc..the recoil will cause your hands and arms to move upward, increasing the arc of movement. You need to get over the fear of recoil and learn to work with it. It’s not going away, so you might as well figure out how to get along. ;)


  1. FLINCHING: We all do it. No one on Earth has shot a caliber over a .22 without ever flinching. Overcoming it can be a challenge but not impossible. As conscious humans, we have a fear of unpredictable outcomes. We live our lives trying to prepare for the worst, or better yet, keep bad things from happening at all. So, naturally, we hate unanticipated recoil. This is the surprise reaction your gun gives off after you pull the trigger. Because not all of us are mentally and physically ready for it, we have an unconscious reaction to the stimulus. Right as we pull the trigger, we flinch our eyes, move our hands or something of this nature. This causes the sights to go off target. In order to control the recoil, you must first get over the fear of recoil. So, how do we avoid flinching? Dry fire practice at home and at the range. Your goal is to teach your nervous system to relax when you pull the trigger and train your body for what’s about to happen.


  1. YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN YOUR ABILITY: I’m honest with all my students. I tell them before I became an instructor, I really wasn’t a great shooter. I couldn’t hit the bullseye repeatedly. It wasn’t until I became NRA certified that I knew if I wanted to teach people to shoot, I needed to know how to shoot (ha, ha). I read every article, every book, went to the range, and still no big changes. I thought it was something competition shooters only knew how to do. I really thought I wasn’t meant to be a good shooter. Finally, I started to see improvement. What changed? I changed my attitude. I didn’t give myself a chance to fail. I was going to hit bulleyes if it was the last thing I did. And, guess what, the minute I started to just apply myself with intention, I hit the bullseye.. every.. single.. time.


  1. YOU'RE NOT SHOOTING WITH PURPOSE: A big reason why many people fail to be better shooters is because they “half fast” the shooting process. They shoot like they’re well.. at a shooting range. If I see a student being lazy or not trying, I ask them, “is this how you would shoot if your life depended on it”? Their efforts generally change after I ask this. So, next time you’re at the range, don’t shoot like you think something might happen to you. Shoot like if it does, you’ll be ready.


  1. NOT ENOUGH PRACTICE: I myself am bad at getting in practice. We’re all adults. We have errands to run, jobs to work, gym time to accomplish, maybe children to take care off.. How are we supposed to fit in range time? It doesn’t have to be often, but at the very least, I’d say get to the range two to three times a month. You may not think you’re making progress, but then again, how much progress can you be making with your guns sitting in your safe? Practice dry-fire drills at home and live rounds at the range. Find a drill that’s fun so you have something to look forward to. For added challenge, test yourself on accuracy and speed by investing in a shot timer. As they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it.