The Top 10 Reasons Why Your Shooting Pics and Vids Suck.

It’s the gift-giving time of year, people will be getting and giving firearms, which is a fine tradition and a very exciting thing, particularly for a new shooter. What inevitably follows are pics and videos posted to social media of trips to the shooting range. Here are a few tips on what to avoid:

  1. You’re holding it wrong. The biggest problem I see with novice, and even some “experienced” handgun shooters are tea-cup grips, support hand index fingers on the trigger guard, crossed thumbs just waiting to get bitten by the slide and gripping too low. Here’s how to hold a handgun properly: shooting hand high up on the grip, web of the thumb up in the tang (the curved part of the grip at the top). The trigger finger should be indexed high on the frame or slide unless you are actually firing… let me repeat that: the trigger finger should not be on the trigger unless you are actually in the act of firing, at all other times, it should be straight and indexed on the frame or slide of the firearm. When firing, use just the tip of the finger, not the whole finger on the trigger. The support hand fingers should all be wrapped around the firing hand fingers and the support hand thumb should be parallel with the line of bore with the base of the thumb pressed into the top of the grip. For a great explanation on grip, check out this video from the late, great Paul Gomez.
  2. Milking the Grip” This is shooter terminology for adjusting the grip between shots, loosening and tightening the fingers, etc… If you have to adjust your grip between shots, your grip was probably wrong to start with. Get a good grip and hold it, don’t change your grip shot to shot. This not only slows down your follow up shots, but it also hinders consistency, therefore accuracy.
  3. "Lifting the Head” This is lowering the firearm and/or raising the head between shots to look at the last shot and see how badly we missed. In 1978, Kenny Rogers admonished us not to count our money while we’re sitting at the table. This holds absolutely true in shooting. No matter what we are shooting at, whether it is tin cans, paper targets, lions, tigers, bears, home invaders, parking lot muggers, terrorists or aliens, the last thing we want to do mid-shooting is deliberately break the connection between our sight-picture and the target until we are good and finished shooting at it. Once a shot is fired, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway, so realign the sights on target and get ready to fire again. If the target did not react appropriately to the first shot, we are now in a much better position to fire again than if we had lowered the muzzle or raised our head and have to rebuild our sight picture while under attack. There will be time enough for counting shot holes when the string of fire is done.
  4. “Extraneous Motion” Bruce Lee’s Martial Art was “simply to simplify,” to remove the unnecessary. There are many unnecessary mannerisms people cling to in shooting, particularly handgun shooting, such as lowering the muzzle slowly onto the target 1950’s cowboy fashion (usually before smashing the trigger). All of that Hollywood gunfighter stuff is unnecessary complexity that impresses gullible TV audiences. It does nothing for one’s shooting other than waste time and reduce accuracy.
  5. Stance – Americanized martial arts have become more physical exercises than fighting techniques. As such, students spend a lot of time learning various “stances.” The horse stance, the fighting stance, etc… This isn’t really a great idea because standing still in any kind of a fight just makes you a better target. Unfortunately this has carried over into the shooting sports. While it is true that there are some static stances that can assist stationary shooting activities like one may find in pristine competition or long range rifle shooting, those are less than optimal for defensive firearms use, where the participants might be (should be) in motion. Let’s face it, there is a surge of interest in defensive firearms use, everyone is shooting “dynamically,” and there is something fundamentally odd about shooting at a silhouette target in a Bullseye pistol stance. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen; it’s just odd, or maybe old-fashioned. Then there are the Weaver stance and modified Weaver guys. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, the “Weaver stance” is named after Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver who popularized the stance in 1959, when we were still watching black and white television and shooting monkeys into space. A lot has changed since then, and while we might acknowledge that Mr. Weaver’s contribution was significant, paving the way for later advances, we also need to recognize that five and a half decades later, we have better ways of doing things. If you are shooting from a static position, make sure your hips and shoulders are parallel to the plane of the target. The feet should be just over shoulder-width apart and if necessary, one foot slightly in front of the other won’t hurt anything as long as your hips remain square to the target. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet, but keep your heels planted. Don’t lock the knees, and lean slightly forward. The tendency of many shooters is to lean backwards, particularly with heavier firearms and petite shooters (or less developed physiques).
  6. The Bubba Factor I personally find it contemptible when someone hands a firearm to an untrained, inexperienced person, knowing that it is bigger than they can safely handle, and then films them getting bashed in the forehead, knocked over or injured when the weapon recoils. Seriously, if that is how you get your jollies… Over the past 10 years, women have embraced the firearms culture in unprecedented numbers. They have excelled in the ranks of competitive shooters as well as keeping the wolf from the door. They are a strong ally in the political battles over firearms rights. We are shooting ourselves in the foot with all of the “watch my 90-pound girlfriend get knocked over by a 12 gauge loaded with 3” magnum slugs” videos. If that is you… just stop Mr. Man, she isn’t impressed, and neither are we.
  7. Explosions There are hundreds and hundreds of videos of stuff getting blown up by binary explosives. We get it… explosions are cool, I’m right there with ya’, but it’s jumped the shark. It isn’t so much the explosions that make these videos suck, but all the “he-hawing” and “yahooing” by off-camera participants, that’s just annoying. What’s worse than annoying though, is when people do ridiculous or dangerous stuff with binary explosives that attracts the attention of busybody legislators. Recently, an individual tried putting several pounds of binary explosive in a lawnmower by shooting it from only 45 yards away. The video captures the moment he amputated his leg in the process. Also keep in mind that some states, (Ohio, for example) have outlawed the use of binary explosives by non-licensed personnel. Yes, it is still legal to buy the components, that doesn't make it legal to mix and use them. There is a regulatory answer to everything that looks too fun: ban it for the protection of children. This is why we can’t have nice things.
  8. Terminal Ballistics Experts “Here we are today doing a completely redundant test of the effects of the new Bubba’s Bazooka Burglar Blaster Bullets through water-filled milk jugs…” Even if we were interested in watching the effects of a particular bullet’s jug-slaying capabilities, we don’t want to endure the 15 minutes or more of rambling, disjointed dialog that doesn’t really tell us anything interesting before the “bang-splat” portion of the video. Here’s the thing: milk jugs, wet newspaper, silly putty… none of that stuff gives a scientific measurement of a projectile’s performance potential. Unless you are using ordnance gelatin, you are probably only spreading hype and disinformation.
  9. Death or Glory Soundtracks Dude, those cardboard silhouettes knew they were toast the moment you turned on your sound system.
  10. Lousy Marksmanship “Dude check out my target, I’m like a sniper!” Um… the target was only 3 yards away and holding still. You have a 9” group that is low and left. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not post another photo or video of your “mad skillz” until you get some real training. Look, you don’t know what you don’t know. Firearms instructors are writing articles every day pleading with you, begging you, to get some competent training from someone, even if it isn’t them personally. Every round you fire “wrong” takes 3 rounds firing “right” in training to correct. Do you like guns? Cool! Do you like to shoot? That’s awesome! Why not learn how to do it correctly? Taking a professional firearms class can actually be enjoyable as well as instructive.