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Course Outline

Controlling breathing while shooting a handgun


Your breathing can move the handgun just enough to throw off your shot. Proper breathing helps you steady your hold on the gun and maintain a correct sight picture.

Practice with these two methods to see which one works best to control your breathing and keep the gun steady. When you are ready to shoot:

  • Draw a deep breath and exhale about half of it. Then hold your breath as you squeeze the trigger.
  • Take several deep breaths. Then squeeze the trigger after you exhale one breath and before you inhale the next breath. This is known as your natural respiratory pause.

Bear in mind that if you hold your breath too long, your heart beats faster, which increases your pulse and causes the handgun to move. If you notice this happening, take more breaths and start over.

Trigger Squeeze

Jerking the trigger or abruptly clenching the trigger hand can move the gun enough to cause a miss.

To squeeze the trigger without jarring the gun:

  • Place the pad of your index finger that is halfway between the tip and the first joint on the trigger.
  • Apply slow, steady pressure until the gun fires. Do not slap or jerk the trigger.
  • Squeeze the trigger directly toward the rear of the gun. Uneven pressure on the trigger can shift the sight picture and cause the shot to go wide of the target.

When a revolver is fired, powder flashing at the front of the cylinder can cause burns. Be sure to keep your fingers away from the front of the trigger area.

Follow Through

Following through prevents you from jerking the gun before the bullet has left the barrel and improves your accuracy.

After the bullet fires, do not lower the gun immediately. Instead, follow through on the shot. For at least two or three seconds:

  • Keep squeezing the trigger and…
  • Hold the sight picture.
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