Grip

Your shooting grip and stance are keys to good shooting. They are the foundation that holds the gun in a position to shoot accurately. Both should be comfortable and both should be consistent. Your grip should be firm but not so tight your knuckles are white or your hands are trembling.  Every time you pick up a gun, you should pick it up the same way using a correct grip. Make correct grip a habit.

Choosing your Shooting Hand

This seems like a silly decision for most people. “I’m right handed. So I shoot right-handed.” Not so fast! Deciding what hand to shoot with starts with deciding what your “dominant” eye is. If you hold the gun on a different side than your dominant eye, it will do all sorts of problematic things to your shooting stance later because you will shoot with the dominant eye, regardless what hand you are holding the gun in.

Why? For the vast majority of people, one of their eyes is much better than the other one. Regardless whether you want to or not, you will focus on your gun’s sights with the dominant eye. You should shoot with the same hand as your dominant eye, even if that is not your dominant hand. We will refer to that hand as your “shooting hand.”

To determine your dominant eye, hold your arms in front of you level with your eyes. Orient your palms away from your face and make a small triangle you can see through by bringing your hands together. The hole should be in the space between your thumbs and index fingers when your hands come together.

Testing for eye dominance-Note the triangle formed by the thumbs and index fingers

Testing for eye dominance-Note the triangle formed by the thumbs and index fingers

Now, pick a spot on the wall you can see through the triangular hole. Keeping both eyes open, slowly bring your hands toward your face—making sure the spot you picked remains in the hole. Stop when your hands are about a foot in front of your face. The triangular hole will be in front of one of your eyes. That is your dominant eye.

Revolver Grip

To grip a revolver, take the following steps—first, we will position your shooting-hand and then your non-shooting hand:

Positioning your shooting-hand.

  • Form a “V” between your four fingers and your thumb with your shooting hand, as follows.
Forming a 'V' with your shootnig hand

Forming a ‘V’ with your shootnig hand

  • Place the center of the V high on the grip of the revolver.
  • Wrap your middle, ring and pinkie finger of your shooting hand around the grip.
  • The index finger of your shooting-hand should lie on the side of the gun pointing at your target (not in the trigger guard and not on the cylinder).
  • The thumb of your shooting-hand should lie comfortably on the left side of the grip.

From the non-shooting-hand side of the revolver, your shooting-hand grip should look like this:

Revolver grip with one hand

Revolver grip with one hand

From the shooting-hand-side side of the revolver, your shooting-hand grip should like like this:

Revolver grip with one hand (trigger finger view)

Revolver grip with one hand (trigger finger view)

The revolver should be a straight-line extension of the bones in your forearm. In addition, when your trigger finger moves to the trigger in this position, it should comfortably land on the trigger in the fleshy part of the last joint of the finger.

Now that your shooting hand is in the right spot, we can position your non-shooting hand:

  • Place all four fingers of your non-shooting hand over the knuckles of your shooting-hand.
  • The thumb of your non-shooting hand should cross over the thumb of your shooting-hand.

From the non-shooting-hand side of the revolver, your two-handed grip should look like this:

Revolver grip with two hands

Revolver grip with two hands

From the shooting-hand side of the revolver, your two-handed grip should look like this:

Revolver grip with two hands (trigger finger view)

Revolver grip with two hands (trigger finger view)

The purpose of crossing the thumbs is to allow you easy access to the hammer. You cock the hammer with the thumb of the non-shooting hand. With double-action-only revolvers, there is no hammer. So the following picture shows an alternate grip when cocking the hammer is not possible. When using this grip, it is important not to let the tip of the thumb of the non-shooting hand to go in front of the cylinder as you can get burned that way.

Alternate grip for double action only revolvers

Alternate grip for double action only revolvers

Your grip should be firm but you should not grip the gun so tightly that your knuckles are white. When you shoot, the only part of your hands that should move is the trigger finger. Your grip should not change during the trigger pull or follow through.

Some notes about your revolver grip:

  1. No part of your hand (including the thumb on your non-shooting hand) should extend in front of the cylinder. Hot gasses and even small pieces of metal can come out of the front of the cylinder and injure you. For a visual demonstration of why your thumb should NOT be in front of the cylinder, please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFBAcz16GvU&list=SP7C6A6C518C448426
  2. If you are shooting single-action (that is, you cock the gun manually before each trigger pull), the crossed thumb on the non-shooting hand is in a good position to cock the revolver without changing your grip.

Semi-Automatic Grip

Like the revolver, we teach a two-handed grip.

Position your shooting hand:

  1. Form a “V” between your four fingers and your thumb with your shooting hand, as follows. 
Shooting hand with 'V' ready to push into the beavertail

Shooting hand with ‘V’ ready to push into the beavertail

  1. Place the center of the V (the fleshy part of your hand) firmly into the beaver tail
  2. Wrap your middle, ring and pinkie fingers of your shooting hand around the grip.
  3. The index finger of your shooting-hand should lie on the frame of the gun pointing at your target (not in the trigger guard and not on the slide).
  4. The thumb of your shooting-hand should lie comfortably on the left side of the grip, pointing forward.

From the non-shooting-hand side of the semi-automatic, your shooting-hand grip should look like this:

Shooting hand grip for semi-automatic

Shooting hand grip for semi-automatic

From the shooting-hand-side side of the semi-automatic, your shooting-hand grip should look like this:

Shooting hand grip for semi-automatic (trigger finger view)

Shooting hand grip for semi-automatic (trigger finger view)

The handgun should be a straight-line extension of the bones in your forearm. When your trigger finger moves to the trigger in this position, it should comfortably land on the trigger in the fleshy part of the last joint of the finger.

Now we will position your non-shooting hand.

  1. Place all four fingers of your non-shooting hand over the knuckles of your shooting hand.
  2. The thumb of your non-shooting hand should lie below and parallel to your other thumb and rest comfortably against the frame of the gun.

From the non-shooting-hand side of the semi-automatic, your two-handed grip should look like this:

Both hands gripping a semi-automatic

Both hands gripping a semi-automatic

From the shooting-hand side of the semi-automatic, your two-handed grip should look like this:

Both hands gripping a semi-automatic (trigger finger view)

Both hands gripping a semi-automatic (trigger finger view)

When both hands are together, your grip should be firm but your knuckles should not be white. When you shoot, the only part of your hands that should move is the trigger finger. Your grip should not change during the trigger pull or follow through.

Please note the following: The thumb of the non-shooting hand should NOT be crossed over the other thumb on a semi-automatic. This is very important as it prevents the thumb on the non-shooting hand from being cut by the slide on the gun as it moves back during shooting. Please do not ignore this warning. We have seen this injury and it bleeds a lot. Thumbs parallel on a semi-automatic when in the Isosceles stance, both pointing towards the target. (Other stances have different thumb positions. However, the non-shooting hand thumb is NEVER behind the slide.)