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Competitive shooter Dillen Easley discusses pistol practice and improving your pistol shooting

There, I said it. You can literally hear the USPSA crowd snickering about the sport where bad pistol shooters go to play, and you can smell the fuel being added to the torches before the 3-Gunners come after me. The truth is, the pistol has the least number of points of contact with the body, takes the most attention to learn to shoot well, has the shortest sight radius when using iron sights, and is the skill that diminishes the fastest when you ignore it.

Pistol Practice at the Range

If you want to improve your pistol game, I recommend two things. First, take some classes from good pistol instructors. I’m lucky enough to have Merle Edington of Shooting Solutions, LLC within an hour of my range and have taken classes from him repeatedly. Leave your ego at the door, come with an open mind to learning a new way to do everything from reloads, grip pressure, and how you move. Merle once threatened to tie my belt to my shoes if I didn’t stop standing up completely at every shooting position. Second, shoot pistol sports! Let’s be real, USPSA shooters play in a game of efficiency where every position on the stage can cost you 0.2-0.3 seconds that results in big changes to your score on a 15 second stage. We play in a game of big chunks of time and you could easily be shaving 2-10 seconds from just the pistol portion on each of your 40-130 second stages! If you can go to a pistol match with your 9mm 3-Gun pistol and be relatively competitive with the local guys who shoot that sport every weekend, you have acquired the pistol skills that will allow you to podium at any major 3-gun competition!


Pistol Practice with 3/8" Speed Rack


You will still have to practice, pistol skills leave you like that high school girlfriend you did not pay enough attention to. For pistol practice, as much as I LOVE shooting steel, paper doesn’t lie. Merle only has us paste Non-A hits on paper in his classes. An honest shooter will know when a round is off paper, and if it was an A hit, it was accurate enough for what we need. That’s right, I intend to always shoot A’s in 3-gun, regardless if the scoring allows a more open interpretation of acceptable accuracy. I will mix steel in and always prefer to add some distance to my pistol practice. My go-to targets are static target packages where I will use 8” round as close as 15-20 yards away while moving and larger 12” or even 12”x20” silhouette targets at 50 yards, then 18” wide target stands with cardboard targets stapled to 1”x2” wood uprights cut to 4’ tall are used before and after longer shots. I try to keep my knees bent and incorporate as much movement as possible while shooting, only taking longer shots or tight shoots near “no-shoots” (the white back of the cardboard targets) stationary.