Accuracy Is Within Your Grasp

By Brian Lovett

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shooter holding a handgun with both hands

Many factors contribute to good pistol shooting technique, but grip might be the most important. After all, you can’t consistently put rounds on target if you’re not holding the gun correctly. Just ask CCI ambassador Todd Jarrett, winner of several world Steel Challenge aggregate championships. He’ll tell you it’s no secret why top shooters focus so intently on grip and stance.

“The detail the pros put into pointing the gun is so precise in how we manage our hands on the gun every time,” he says. “The draw is probably as important, and it starts the grip. Everything in the action shooting world starts with a handgun in the holster, and the proper grip with your strong side gives you speed and accuracy out of the holster.”

The Foundation

Jarrett was one of several shooting pros who pioneered the isosceles-style stance and grip in the 1980s, and he still prefers that method. One of the most critical aspects of the technique involves the placement of your weak hand on the gun after drawing with your strong hand.

“My technique is to keep all four fingers together—your index finger all the way down to your pinky—in kind of a clamshell effect on the gun, and putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the gun,” he says. “All the top pros hold the guns extremely tight—to the point where we’re trying to maintain the steadiest front sight so that during recoil, the gun will return to the target every time for speed shooting and accuracy.”

shooter holding handgun with one hand

Students sometimes have difficulty establishing proper weak-hand grip strength and technique, but Jarrett says a simple drill can help.

“Maintain a good hold on the gun as you drive it to the target, and shoot a whole magazine as fast as you can while keeping it on target, 12 to 15 yards away,” he says. “If you see that your support hand has a tendency to come off the gun, that tells you automatically that your support hand is not maintaining the proper grip on the gun or is not gripping hard enough.”

Other Factors

After you establish the correct grip, other elements of the isosceles style come into play. Jarrett teaches shooters to keep their hips and shoulders square to the target and extend their arms so their elbows are almost but not completely locked out.

“You want to have a little bit of bend in the elbows to basically help stabilize the front sight on the target,” he says. “You’re using the shoulders to hold the arms up, and your forearms are establishing the correct hold on the gun.”

shooter holding a handgun with both hands

Jarrett also teaches shooters to drive the gun to the target, coming from underneath the intended point of impact so the gun doesn’t cover up the aiming point.

“Bring it up to the target,” he says. “That allows my focus to be on that target, bring the gun up and then release that shot.”

Alignment Matters

In addition, the alignment of the pistol in the web of your strong hand is important. Jarrett makes sure the gun’s front and back sights are in line with the center of his wrist, which is then in line with the tip of his elbow, creating one line from the front sight to the rear of the elbow. Another drill can help illustrate that. Point an unloaded pistol straight up in the air, and look at the slide and barrel to see that they’re in the center of your wrist and forearm, not slightly cocked to the inside of your forearm.

shooter aiming a handgun straight up with one hand

“It’s a good way to establish the most consistent grip, whether it be out of a holster or range shooting,” he says. “That’s a great guide to show that you’re holding the gun the same every time.”

When all the elements of a correct pistol grip come together, it can seem like second nature. Of course, it can take a lot of practice to reach that point—practice that Jarrett says will only improve your rimfire pistol performance.

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