How to Shoot a Handgun (Safely & Accurately)


Don’t know how to shoot a handgun? Read this guide.

I’m going to walk you through step-by-step on how to properly shoot a handgun.

learn to shoot a handgun

The best part?

It’s super easy. Learn these steps, put them in practice and you’ll be a pro in no time.

Let’s get started! 

Gun Safety (Most IMPORTANT Advice!) 

Gun safety should be (and probably is) the #1 priority of every gun user, regardless if you’re using a handgun or a Mini 14

Imagine if you accidentally shot your friend because you didn’t follow gun safety rules? That wouldn’t be good at all.

When handling ANY firearm, treat it as if it’s loaded. Even if there is no magazine in the weapon, imagine there is. 

Also, get into the habit of always pointing your gun downwards and keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. That way, you avoid harmful accidents.

Always know your target and beyond. Handguns are powerful and some can penetrate through the target you’re firing at and continue going straight. So definitely make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and the targets. 

Lastly, when operating a handgun, wear safety goggles and headphone-style ear protection to help protect your eyes and ears. You don’t want anything flying into your eyes nor damaging your hearing! 

1. Always treat the gun as loaded. 2. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. 3. Always keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 4. Always keep the gun unloaded until your are ready to shoot it. 5. Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy. 6. Be certain of your target and what is beyond it. 7. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of your gun before you use it. 8. Always use the proper ammunition. 9. Be sure the barrell is clear of obstructions before loading and shooting. 10. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, hold your shooting position for a few seconds, then with your muzzle pointed in a safe direction, unload the gun. 11. Don’t rely on the gun’s safety to keep it from firing. 12. Be aware of your surroundings when handling guns so you don’t trip or lose your balance and accidentally point and/or fire the gun at anyone or anything.

To reiterate, the most important takeaway here is to treat every gun as if it’s loaded. Always be cautious when operating a firearm. If you can understand this, then let’s move onto…

How to Properly Hold a Gun

Carefully pick up your gun while keeping your finger outside the trigger guard.

Again, even if your handgun isn’t loaded, you want to get into the habit of keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. 

Now, use your dominant hand and grip the gun high on the back strap. This will help you control recoil and give you more leverage. Next, firmly press your supporting hand against the exposed portion of the grip and under the trigger guard. 

Make sure you’re holding your gun with a firm grip. This is a common mistake with new shooters and often leads to bad shots. 

Shooting Stance

Have you ever seen a boxer’s stance?

Their feet and hips are shoulder-width apart while a slight bend in the knees. This is the type of stance you should follow when shooting a handgun because it allows for more stability and mobility.

Now, if you’re firing with your right hand, your left leg should be forward and the right leg back. And vice versa if firing with the left hand. That way, you’re balanced and it will be much easier to hold and fire the gun. 

How to Aim 

Properly grip the handgun and hold it at arms-length.

Next, you want to aim with your dominant eye. If you’re unsure, then perform a quick eye test (you can find a lot of articles online on how to perform an eye test). 

Aim at your target and align the post in the middle. If you have a scope or red dot sight, you’ll want the reticle to be centered. Talking about scopes, you should check out this guide to find the best scope for your firearm.

Once your target is aimed down, take a deep breath and calmly press the trigger. When fired, just hold the shooting position for another half-second or so to ensure the gun doesn’t move before the bullet leaves the barrel. 

Practice, practice, practice!

You now know how to shoot a handgun. Great!

However, it’s going to take some real practice to really understand how to shoot a gun. Before you head to the range to unload a couple of clips on a target, perform these exercises:

Practice loading and unloading your magazine. Practice dry-firing, or shooting a gun without ammunition. If you’re going to perform dry-firing, please triple-check that the gun isn’t loaded. Then go to a safe place where there is no one around and start practicing.

Shoot with different stances, both eyes open and various targets. Once you internalized how the handgun works, go to the range and start your real practice session. Good luck! 


Author Bio:

Richard Douglas is an avid rifle scope user for over 10 years. He hand-tests every single scope on his site, Scopes Field and reveals only the best scopes on the market. His friends call him the “James Bond of Scopes.” 

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Gregory Beckman

About the Author:

Hi, I am Gregory Beckman, as the main owner of Military Hunting and Fishing let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I am currently an active duty member in the United States Coast Guard. I have been privileged to traveling the world. My experiences have shaped the way that I see the world and my memories will stick with me for a lifetime. Although I may not live in the country, the country lives in me. Traveling the world I have had the chance to experience the wonders of nature in many different places, meeting many different people and tasting wild game that the normal person would not get to experience. Although these experiences have kept me away from home, it has instilled a deep passion of hunting and fishing in my blood. Thank you for joining our site, and I look forward to interacting and sharing stories of our hunting adventures. Gregory A. Beckman