Preventing Surprise Misses

Rushing the trigger pull exact moment the sights are “perfect” creates surprise misses - but it is easily avoidable

Preventing Surprise Misses Pistol Drill

“But I knew that was gonna be a hit!”

Rushing the Shot

It is very common for surprise missed shots to be caused by the shooter watching the gun wobble around in the target area and then as soon as the sights get into the central aiming point to yank the trigger instantly and as quickly and as hard as possible.

That rushing of the trigger pull generally yanks the gun down and often to the left. It’s where the “low and left” misses often come from.

Rushing the shot creates misses – not hits.

Embrace the Wobble Zone

We’re not robots – when we hold a handgun out, there will always be some amount of sway in the gun. We can’t avoid it completely, the best we can do is minimize it. That means we need to work with the wobble zone and not fight against it.

Try something – hold a handgun out on target and watch the sights in relation to the target. Doesn’t matter if it is a red dot or iron sights, the handgun will have some amount of sway. It can be easier to see on smaller/farther targets. The stronger your arm muscles, the less sway there will be – but the sway will be there.

Pull the Trigger when the Wobble Zone is Acceptable

In practical accuracy, we don’t need the pistol to hit perfect bullseyes. We simply want fast and accurate enough hits on target. I would much rather get six fast hits on the central-ish area of a torso than one really slow perfect bullseye hit.

This means while the gun is wobbling anywhere in the acceptable area of accuracy, that’s good enough! Just pull the trigger smoothly back inside that area and the hit will be there. It’s the rushed janky trigger pulls that cause the misses – smooth trigger pulls get the hits. And smooth can be fast!

How to get a Smooth Trigger Pull

When working to achieve a fast and smooth trigger pull, start off slow. And when I mean slow, try actually rreeeaaallllyyyyyy slow. Pull the trigger smoothly back as slowly as possible. Take several seconds for a shot.

Do this a bunch of times. It’ll help teach the body how to smoothly pull the trigger.

From there, slowly speed up the trigger pull. Pull the trigger smoothly straight back. Pay super close attention to the sights and make sure they don’t jerk around. The sights need to stay lined up during the trigger pull.

The idea is to eventually be able to pull the trigger smoothly back in a hurry without disturbing the sights. This takes practice, but isn’t difficult.

Putting it All Together

It’s quite easy to put these steps together to have a smooth, fast, and accurate shot on target.

  1. Hold the gun out and don’t worry about the gun’s sway
  2. Get the gun swaying evenly in the center of the target
  3. Smoothly pull the trigger straight back when the gun is swaying in the area of acceptable accuracy

That’s really all there is to it.

Smooth trigger pulls while the sights are on target.

Shooting a handgun doesn’t have to be complicated.


Written by - always a student, sometimes a teacher.

I'm not a competitive shooter - I'm a performance shooter. I am all about performing at as high of a level as possible. Towards that end, I am obsessive about learning how to perform. I spend a lot of my life learning from the best across the entire firearms world and even into other areas of performance and other sports. I am a USPSA Carry Optics Grandmaster, currently working towards my second GM title in the Open division.