Friday, April 17, 2009

"The sights on this gun are off..."

The K-22 I purchased recently had the rear sight cranked all the way up and to the right. No doubt the previous owner thought it shot low and left. If you go and look at the rear sights of just about any used handgun that has adjustable irons, you'll probably notice the same. It's an epidemic!

One time I had a guy come off the range at CCA with a target in his hand and an upset look on his face. "The sights on this gun are off..." he began.

"You're left-handed, aren't you?" I interrupted.

He looked as though I'd just pulled a quarter out of his ear. "Yeah. How did you know?"

"Because you're hitting low and right instead of low and left."

Xavier has more on the problem, as well as a pointer to some advice on solutions.

One of the best instructors I'd seen when it came to actually teaching new shooters to hit would stance behind them and murmur "Okay, take your time. You're not trying to make the gun go off. You have all day. You're just increasing pressure on the trigger gradually, that's all. You're not trying to make the gun go off. Just slooowly increasing the pressur..." and BANG! Nine times out of ten, the result was a perfect bullseye. Most novice trigger control problems are caused by trying to make the gun go off rather than just pulling the trigger and letting the break surprise you.


FatWhiteMan said...

Low and left. 9 times out of 10 they are "slappin' the dog piss outta the trigger" as one eloquent instructor from West Virginia once told me.

Tango Juliet said...

That accursed trigger thing again!!

atlharp said...


It's JERKIN' THE TRIGGER! Dry firing is the only way to solve it. Which most of these dudes will not do. It's a real shame more people do not dry fire.

Paul said...

In a Rangemaster pistol class, the instructor told us that a significant percentage of officers he knew who had been shot had been hit in the same spot. Another student correctly guessed it: The right love handle.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Hey! That's me! Mr Low And Right!

TJP said...

A flinch while diving the muzzle.

Come on, Tam, all the cool kids are doing it.

Anonymous said...

Shooting low and to the side commonly comes from "wristing": Sqeezing with all the fingers instead of just the trigger finger.

That causes the forearm muscle to tense, and pull the hand down and to the side.

Try it. Hold your hand out and only curl the trigger finger. You'll see almost no motion of the forearm muscle. Then, squeeze with all four. See how that muscle tenses? Feel how it pulls on your hand?

The deal is that you train yourself to get a firm grip on the handgun, and then move only the trigger finger.


Mikee said...

My 9-year old daughter, on her first trip to the range, with her first shot from a 22LR Ruger, hit dead center X-ring at 5 yards, hand held in a Weaver stance. She had only fired a CO2 BB pistol before then. She was quite proud, although subsequent shots did stray hither and yon. We stuck that first cartridge case in the bullseye and took the target home, where it had a place of honor on her bedroom wall for years afterward.

I have tried to shoot like a perfectly innocent little girl ever since.

Robb Allen said...

A few years ago, my father became a cop (again). This required courses on basic law, how to score the best deals on donuts, and speech therapy so that he could announce "YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH" and have people understand it.

Kidding aside, he did have to qualify with a pistol. Let me fill you in on a back story.

I grew up shooting guns. My dad would take me to the range every time he went. So, it's not like guns were a mystery to the man.

However, they were about to fail his ass because he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from the inside using a fixed mount.

Right before they told him "good-bye and thanks for playing" the instructor was watching him fill out some paperwork and remarked "You're LEFT handed????"

Switched hands and it was bullseyes all the way.

Mikee said...

There is another problem that arises when one changes from 7 yards to 25 yards. The angle of the shooter’s arms, relative to the ground, has to change. If instead you squinch your head down a bit more, rotate your wrists up a bit, and try to align the sights on target from this unconsciously contorted position, you will likely shoot low.

Try raising the gun, held in both hands, up about 30 degrees above level, and then lower it to align your eyes with the sights.

Worked for me.

Then when I also very consciously stopped jerking the trigger, I really started to see improvement in my groups at distance.

pax said...

Right on.

My own favorite instructor trick is the "exemplar drill." Have the student align the gun on target, place their finger on the trigger but do not pull the trigger. Then the instructor reaches in with a trained trigger finger placed over the shooter's untrained one, and slowly increases pressure until the shot fires as the student continues to verify sight alignment.

"That's what I want you to do, just like that."

It's amazing how many people are perfectly immune to words and never do figure out even a great explanation. Most of the time, you can see a giant light bulb flash on over their heads as soon as they have felt what a good trigger pull feels like.

Somerled said...

It used to be a lucrative business to trade for S&Ws whose owners said the sights were off. They were Models 15s, 19s and 66s mainly. I was handy at fixing them after the previous owners cranked the windage screws too much. The sideplate screws were usually burred, too--those dang little silver and black S&W screwdrivers could be overused.

Michael said...

One of the best instructors I'd seen when it came to actually teaching new shooters to hit would stance behind them and murmur "Okay, take your time. You're not trying to make the gun go off. You have all day. You're just increasing pressure on the trigger gradually, that's all. You're not trying to make the gun go off. Just slooowly increasing the pressur..." and BANG!The thing I whisper into a new shooter's ear is, "Not yet, don't let it go bang yet." while slowly increasing pressure rearward on the trigger. Lather - rinse - repeat.

Ed Foster said...

First thing I learned in the Marine Corp about pistols (I grew up shooting .22rf rifles and 12 gage shotguns, but had never fired a pistol) was this: don't fire a pistol the way you fire a rifle.

Arch your finger away from the reciever, contact the trigger with the ball or tip of the trigger finger, not the crease at the first joint. If your right finger isn't pressing against the reciever you won't push the pistol down and right.

Of course that was helped by the fact that just about all the ancient 1911's used in familiarization had very short triggers. Perhaps deliberately, or perhaps people way back when knew something about shooting handguns.

Ed Foster said...

I suppose I should have said "down and left" for most people. Not that many are blessed with left-handedness as I am.

Frank W. James said...

Yeah, it's always that old 'trigger' versus 'sights' thing isn't it?

I'll take 'trigger' for $500, Alex.

It's the most important part, isn't it?

All The Best,
Frank W. James

B Smith said...

Drill Sgt. Taylor:
"Priiii-vaaaate!!! Don't give ME that bullsh*t!!! The sights are ALWAYS aligned!!! YOU are not aligned!!!"

WV: boreat (Hey, where's your boreat? Not where your sightsarepointin...)