Shoot gooder: 3 ways to aim a pistol

Aiming a handgun has a lot with where you put your focus. In the Skills and Gunhandling video below, Shaw demonstrates how to aim a handgun using three different methods. Each method has its advantages, so it’s worth it to learn about all three. The actual name of the video is 3 ways to use your sights. Most of us have been taught how to aim a pistol using the usual “accepted” way of accurately acquiring the sights by focusing on the front sight blade before putting accurate rounds downrange. As you’ll see, however, there are a couple of other ways. 

This article is from October 2019.

How to Aim a Pistol

1. Hard Sight Focus.

Focus on the front sight. That’s how most of us are taught. We’ll talk about that briefly, then discuss a couple of other methods.

how to aim a pistol, hard front sight focus

Chances are if you’re reading this, you know the drill. Focus hard on the front sight blade, center it in the rear notch with an equal amount of space to either, and flush across the top — then take that sight alignment, focus hard on the front sight, superimpose it over where you want to hit, and press the shot.

how to aim a pistol and shoot accurately
This is not a hard front sight focus – but it is a viable option for shooting accurately under certain circumstances.

2. Hard target focus.

A hard target focus doesn’t really involve the sights at all. It depends on skill level and training and is very situational (range, backdrop, etc. – which really is any shooting, but it’s even more critical here). Aiming a handgun with this method involves, as the name implies, a hard focus on the desired target area. Though the sights are not directly referenced in this shooting style, body alignment and weapon position in relation to the target are important.

how to aim a pistol, hard target focus

Aiming a handgun. Soft front sights, soft rear sights, but aligned and superimposed over the target area - it works well, particularly for those who have corrected vision.
Aiming a handgun with soft front and rear sights that are aligned and superimposed over the target area works well, particularly for those who have corrected vision.

3. Target Focus with Soft Front Sight

This final method for how to aim a handgun is particularly effective for shooters wearing progressive (not transition) lenses, bifocals, trifocals, or the like. It does not involve a hard focus on the front sight, but rather is an alignment of soft front and soft rear sights, superimposed over the target before pressing the shot (i.e. aligning a blurry front sight instead of a blurry rear sight). This means you’re effectively using the front and rear sights much like you would a red dot sight.

Aiming a pistol, target focus with soft front sight.

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Josey Wells is a former military man who spent most of his career assigned to 11th Special Forces Group and JTF-6 (including a little work with Coronet Nighthawk in its final days and a couple of OEF-CCA missions), moving on to a civilian billet around the time JTF-6 transitioned to JTF North. He is an intemperate gambler who enjoys shooting 2-Gun Action matches (though he never seems to win any). Formerly a SOF team leader with the Triarii, Wells currently works "GFC Violent Persuasion Services" serving as an advisor to an SMU south of the US-Mexico border, and lets us use his name for some of our basic news posts because "Admin" is boring. Like many other fictional characters, the Missouri native is capable of frequent and improbable feats of valor.

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