Maine Shooting Range: The Fundamentals

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Here’s how to outshoot your buddies the next time you’re shooting handguns at your local Maine shooting range.  Really, this is just fundamentals. But learned properly, there’s no reason you can’t be a top-notch shooter.



Everything relies on properly gripping your firearm. For semiautomatics, here’s how best to hold your gun for control and accuracy.

Maine Shooting Range 101 Grip

1. Place your dominant hand on the gun the way it fits naturally on the grip.

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2.  On the inside of the gun, place the thick part of your non-dominant hand (that meaty part at the base of your thumb) in the gap created between the fingertips of your dominant and the base of that thumb, closing the gap and providing complete contact with the gun’s grip.

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3. Your thumbs will rest loosely on top of each other with the thumb of your dominant-hand on top. Then wrap your remaining non-dominant hand fingers around the others and complete the grip. The fingers of your non-dominant hand should rest in the valleys between your other fingers and not directly on top of them.

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4. Grip the gun tightly but not tight enough to cause fatigue. I compare it to holding a baseball bat or hockey stick. Firm but relaxed. Gripping too tightly will not only cause fatigue but will also throw off your accuracy. 

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The stance you use to shoot accurately is square to the target. Facing it straight on. I realize that’s not necessarily the same kind of stance you’d use in “tactical” situations. But here we’re talking about shooting one-hole groups, not just peppering a man-size target.


So stand square to the target, feet shoulder width apart, knees bent a bit. Raise the gun and lean forward some. Not so much to throw off your balance, but enough to absorb and recover from recoil without losing your forward lean. You can move your non-dominant side foot forward some if that helps maintain balance.

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Photo credit: Author Chris Lee

Trigger control

A lot of handguns have a large amount of slack in the trigger. Some handguns, like the Glock 17 I shoot most often, have the safety built in to the trigger so taking the slack out is basically taking the safety off.

To shoot accurately, you should pull the trigger in enough to take out that slack then just work within the fraction of an inch it takes to rock the trigger over the break point. Minimizing trigger movement will greatly increase your accuracy, especially when shooting multiple rounds. This is also critical for good double-taps, if you’re so inclined. Here’s how to best control the trigger for accurate handgun shooting.

  1. First, place the meat of the first segment of your trigger finger flat on the trigger. This is where you have the most nerve endings and best sense of touch. You’ll be able to feel the gun better and will know exactly where that break point is.
  2. Pull the trigger in slowly until you feel the resistance of the mechanisms inside beginning to move toward the break point where the hammer is released and the shot goes off. You can practice this by dry firing with an empty gun to save on ammo costs.
  3. Once the gun goes off (or clicks, if you’re dry firing), keep the trigger held in then consciously let it out until you feel the mechanism reset. As soon as you do, stop letting out the trigger. You’re set for the next shot.

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Aim Small, Miss Small

The smaller your target, the more accurately you’ll aim. I practice with blank sheets of paper, not bullseye targets. I start by putting one round in the paper. Then I try to hit that same hole.

I also enjoy challenging my friends to that very game. One of us starts by putting one hole in paper then the other tries to hit that hole. We alternate who leads off. You can either count actual hole-cuts or you can measure each time and see who got closest.

I can say from experience that if you master the fundamentals mentioned above, you won’t need to do much measuring. 

*The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to replace professional instruction. 

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From handguns to the heaviest rifles to busting clays with shotguns, there’s plenty of opportunity to challenge your friends. During your stay at Camp Katahdin’s Denney Lodge be sure to check out our shooting pavilion

Once in a while Camp Katahdin invites a small group to train with high level military trainers.  If you would like to learn more about our upcoming shooting courses.  Click here: