Article: Shooting

For other uses, see Archery, Filmmaking - Production Shooting sports or Takedown (grappling),

Shooting is the act of firing a gun.

The four rules of firearm handling

There are four general rules for handling firearms[1] as prescribed by Firearm authorities (for example the NRA):

  1. To treat all firearms as if they are loaded.
  2. To never point a firearm at anything the firer is not willing to kill or destroy.
  3. To keep one's finger off the trigger and outside of the trigger-guard until one's sights are on the target and one is about to shoot.
  4. To know one's target, what the firearm and ammunition can do, what's between the shooter and the target, and what is beyond.


It is more correct to refer to gun "accidents" as negligent discharges. If these four simple rules were followed, there would be fewer negligent discharges.

Civilian Shooting technique

Precision marksmanship in shooting competition (unlike in combat) can be achieved by proper execution of the seven step checklist in shooting:

  • Stance
When handling a pistol, close your eyes and raise the gun naturally without thinking, (however, do this with an unloaded weapon with its safety on, as not doing so is extremely dangerous and not recommended) then open your eyes to see where your natural arm position points to. Move your feet along with your body to align the arm with the target. That is the best stance compared to pointing straight forward. Your body is less likely to move in this natural position when the trigger is pulled. Feet should be slightly apart. The shooting arm extended with straight elbow. Proper stance for two hand shooting can be achieved in similar way, though the natural stance will definitely be different.
When firing a rifle, the shooting stance is generally different, whether standing, crouched or prone. However, the same general principle applies - the body should be relaxed in the most natural position possible, to limit body sway and weapon recoil.
There are four basic shooting positions: prone, sitting, kneeling and standing (offhand). In the real world, standing is most used position while it is also the most difficult position to shoot.
  • Grip
There should be no gap between the top of the grip and the part of hand between the thumb and the index finger. When held tightly, this will prevent slippage when the gun recoils. For a spring piston-powered air gun, however, because of the subtle vibration and lack of felt recoil when fired, a loose grip tends to be favorable.
  • Sight alignment
When using iron sights, the eye and the sights at the muzzle and the back of the gun must align first. The front and back sights must be aligned both horizontally and vertically.
  • Target alignment
Align the "aligned sights" to the target.
  • Breathing
Accuracy will be at its best when the body is most relaxed. This moment is known as the "natural respiratory pause" and is the point at which two-thirds of the lung's capacity have been exhaled. During normal breathing, this usually lasts from about 2 to 3 seconds, but may be extended up to 8 seconds to allow time to aim and squeeze the trigger before lack of oxygen begins to adversely affect aim.
  • Trigger squeeze
A quick motion of the finger will jerk the gun and change the aim. Instead, squeeze the trigger slowly and steadily. You should not anticipate the exact moment of firing. The anticipation actually makes you nervous and causes unconscious movement in your hand which affects accuracy. The firing should ideally come as a surprise in every shot.
  • Follow through
After the firing, align the sights with the target again. According to shooting coaches, the discipline of realigning the gun to the target after the bullet has left the barrel somehow improves the steadiness of the hand, probably due to unconscious muscle memory that works against the recoil.


A stovepipe is a common firearm malfunction.

It occurs when the shooter fires a semi-automatic pistol with a limp wrist, causing the muzzle to rise excessively. As a result, the spent case is not totally ejected and the base (rim) gets caught by the slide slamming home. The end result is a shell case that sticks out of the chamber like a stove pipe, and must be manually removed, usually by racking the slide. However, this may also happen in a semi-automatic rifle if the feeding ramp is dirty or the cartridge has a malfunction. This can be remedied as stated above for a handgun.

See also

  • The Marksmanship WikiBook (still needs considerable work)