If a shooter is consistently missing to the left or right, what’s the cause?

Diagnosing missed pistol shots is a bit of a challenge as the moment of the trigger breaking is such a small window and on top of that, there are so many factors that contribute to missed pistol shots. While anticipating the shot is generally the most common cause of missed shots, let’s talk specifically about missing shots to the left or right.

One of the commonly stated reasons for these missed shots is incorrect trigger finger placement. While correct trigger finger placement is important, it isn’t as important as many people would think. A weak and/or uneven pistol grip is a much more likely cause of missed shots to the left or right.

Tim Herron is a very skilled pistol shooter – a Grand Master pistol shooter as a matter of fact. Just take a look at some of his match videos if you doubt his skill. In this video, he very clearly demonstrates front sight drift on the trigger pull when a weak grip is used.

An inconsistent or weak pistol grip will result in missed shots.

How to avoid a weak/uneven grip

Even pressure on your pistol grip is quite simple: use proper technique applied consistently. Note that “simple” is not the same as “easy.” It takes a lot of training to achieve a solid pistol grip. This isn’t something that can be acquired by purchasing new gear.

Proper pistol grip

An incorrect pistol grip will apply inconsistent pressure to the pistol, resulting in missed shots to the left or right. A proper pistol grip gets the hands as high as possible and places as much contact as possible evenly on both sides of the pistol. The even pressure is very important to a good pistol grip as too much pressure from one side to the other will result in consistent shots missing towards that direction.

Strong/firm grip

A firm grip on the handgun is critical – but it can’t be too much. Gripping the pistol too tightly results in shaky hands. You want just enough pressure that you don’t shake and don’t get tired too easily. This requires having strong hands and forearms. Hand strength trainers are excellent tools for this, but so is simply getting behind the gun in live fire and dry fire.

Practice through dry fire

And that leads us into a nice segway into dry fire practice. The only way to get better at something is to practice, and dry fire practice is the cheapest and easiest practice possible for firearms proficiency. During dry fire, maintain a firm and even grip, and your hands will get stronger and your shooting habits will become subconscious.