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  Accuracy for Handguns Part 2 - *Hold*
« on: November 12, 2007, 19:47:27 PM » by MSS Forum Admin
Well, following up from Part 1 - Dry Firing - we obviously need to correct any deficiencies in our technique, and the most obvious place to start from is the way we actually hold the pistol or revolver.

Actually, we are not really going to speak about the precise way you should hold a handgun, but just some basic principles that will hopefully help one to shoot straighter.

As with everything shooting, the number one secret is consistency, so once we are happy that a particular grip style is giving us good results, we should try to stick with it, at least through a shooting session. With this in mind, we should adopt a hold that is easily repeatable, and one which is easy to remain consistent with both at the start and at the end of a shoot. This is one reason why I feel that an extremely stiff or tight grip, as advocated by some, is not ideal. Fatigue will set in rapidly, and when this happens our body will tend to compensate by shifting some of the duty from the primary muscle groups to secondary muscle groups, so even if unconsciously, our grip is altering. Not to mention that a white-knuckle death grip is hardly very relaxing or conducive to our concentrating on the target ahead.

So moderation is the key - a hold that is suitably firm to keep the gun steady while the trigger is being squeezed, and control recoil. In short, a comfortable firmness of grip that does not need too much thinking about is probably best. For some disciplines, mainly when shooting single handed, some advocate a loose grip - one in which the gun is held only tightly enough to stop gravity from taking over. This is an option, with the following provisos - your gun will need to have a trigger that is at the hairy end of the scale, and your trigger technique must be flawless. Plus, something with a long, heavy barrel, acting as a motion damper, makes things easier. For this reason I would consider this loose hold to be best for a revolver, where the weight is already naturally forwards, and with at least a 6" barrel, preferably with a solid underlug.

As to the actual style of hold - there are a few options, some do appear to me to be rather wacky, but if they work for the proponent, then who am I to judge. We are not made identical, and neither are our guns - so what works for you may not work for me, and vice versa. Again comfort and repeatability are key factors here, but what is also certain is that your style of hold must make it as easy as possible for you to stay on target throughout the firing cycle.

We are back to dry firing, and close examination of what happens when we pull the trigger. Assuming for a moment that we have acceptable trigger technique (here's one for another thread), we should alter/fine tune our hold to help us stay on aim during the critical moments. Probably, dry firing will reveal sideways motion of the front sight as the sear breaks and the hammer falls. Up and down is less common or noticeable, because the pistol is much better supported in this plane. This sideways motion will be greater with a trigger that is heavy and creepy, which to be honest possibly encompasses 80% of all pistols in production. Thus our hold must have enough lateral support and firmness of grip to hold the gun steady. Normally, this is a function of the second supporting hand in a double handed grip. The second hand is ahead of the first, and the second hand's thumb, critically rests against the side of the frame, as comfortably forwards as reasonably possible, applying moderate sideways pressure. In response to this applied sideways force, the rest of your grip will set up an opposing counter pressure, and together, you have established a hold with substantial lateral stability. Dry fire repeatedly until you find the perfect balance, at which point the sideways motion should be eliminated.

Firing in double action will however also cause noticeable up-down movement, as the pressure that needs to be applied to the trigger is considerable. If double action is all you are going to be shooting, then an adjustment of hold and pressures applied is mandatory. However the basic principle is the same - create a stable, firm platform in the plane that you need to control. Pre-loading does this, so if you have up and down movement, then pre-apply the necessary forces. Very importantly, make sure that trigger pressure is NOT one of the pre-applied forces however - an easy DA trap to fall into. Otherwise, you may well aggravate the situation. Stabilise the gun with the trigger finger totally out of the picture, and reserve its energies ONLY for pulling the trigger.

Well, I can hardly resist asking you to "hold on" for the next article in line!


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