As with any sport, success comes when your “position” is most conducive to achieving your goal. Just as in baseball, soccer, football, or tennis, unless you have a balanced, relaxed, and stable stance, you cannot achieve your best results. Think of the baseball or softball batter. The hitter will not achieve maximum efficiency at bat if his or her stance is not balanced, stable, and comfortable. The same is true with shooting. If the standing position is required for pistol, rifle or shotgun shooting, then you must look first to creating a stable “shooting platform,” starting with your feet.

Once your feet are positioned approximately shoulder-length apart, check to make sure that your torso can be supported in a relaxed manner. Actually, the most stable position is prone. But, the “game” you choose will dictate the positions you will be required to assume once the signal is given.

Sight Alignment

Sight alignment is exactly that. The front and the rear sight must be aligned together and with the target. Typical open sights are found in the following styles: Front Post and Rear Open; Front Post and Rear Aperture; and Front and Rear Aperture.

The Front Post/Rear Open configuration is probably the most common and familiar to the beginning shooter.

Proper alignment places the front sight exactly in the center of the rear sight’s opening. The top of the front sight should be exactly level with the top of the rear sight. The same principle applies to other variations. With the Front Post/Rear Aperture, the Front Post must appear in the absolute center of the circular aperture of the rear sight. Equal amounts of “daylight” should be seen to either side of the front sight.

Sight Picture

Traditional sighting instruction recommends a sight picture that has front and rear sights aligned and the target sitting directly atop the front post much like a cat on a fence. This is also called a “Six O’Clock” Hold as the front sight is positioned at the 6 mark on a clock face.

Some, however, prefer to take a “Center Hold,” where the front post is held directly in the middle of the target.

When using open sights, concentrate your focus on the front sight, not on the target and not on the rear sight. With three separate items before your eyes, any illusion that you will be able to keep all three in sharp focus is exactly that, an illusion. The eye can hold sharp focus on only one thing. Make it the front sight.

A good sight picture will have the rear sight slightly fuzzy, the target slightly fuzzy and the front sight razor-edge sharp.

Trigger Control

Proper Trigger Control is another key ingredient in the accurate and safe shot.

For rifle and pistol shooting, the trigger must be squeezed slowly and steadily. As the sight picture takes shape, increase pressure on the trigger in a motion drawing the finger and trigger straight to the rear. The instant the trigger disengages the sear and the shot is fired should come as a surprise, because your concentration is focused on the sight picture.

Breath Control

Breathing plays an important part in maintaining your good health. Similarly, it plays an important role in how well you shoot. Holding your breath may put a temporary tamper on the in-and-out motion of breathing, but not for long. Deprived of oxygen for any length of time, the brain begins to channel your attention to its needs, not to your sight picture or trigger control.

Just as a relaxed attitude and stance are fundamental to good shooting, so too is relaxed breathing. Keep the oxygen coming until the very moment when the shot is fired. Gentle rhythmic breathing to that point is desirable. As you are exhaling, stop midway, gain your sight picture, squeeze off the shot, and resume breathing.

Follow Through

Even though you’ve pulled the trigger and sent the bullet on its way, it is important that you regain your sight picture after the rearward movement of the shot has caused you to move the muzzle of the gun. Bring your firearm back in line with the target by again acquiring your sight picture after the shot has been fired. This is called follow-through. Once learned, it will improve your ability to shoot accurately.

If you maintain consistency in your stance, breathing, trigger control, sight alignment, and sight picture, you will better be able to compensate for factors such as the wind or a drop in the bullet’s flight path due to gravity.