The Most Common Target Shooting Mistakes: Pistol & Rifle

Target shooting is an enjoyable and challenging sport that requires precision, focus, and discipline. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced shooter, it's important to be aware of the most common mistakes that can hinder your accuracy and prevent you from improving your shooting skills. In this blog post, we will explore the most common target shooting mistakes made with both pistols and rifles, and provide tips on how to avoid them.

Poor Grip and Stance

One of the fundamental aspects of accurate shooting is having a proper grip and stance. Many shooters overlook the importance of a consistent and firm grip on the pistol or rifle. A loose grip can cause the weapon to move upon firing, leading to inconsistent shots. Similarly, an incorrect stance can negatively affect your balance and stability, resulting in shaky aim. To avoid this, ensure a firm grip with your dominant hand and a relaxed, supportive grip with your non-dominant hand. Additionally, maintain a balanced and stable shooting stance, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your body aligned with the target.

Improper Sight Alignment and Picture

Achieving proper sight alignment and sight picture is crucial for accurate shooting. Sight alignment refers to aligning the front and rear sights of the firearm, while sight picture refers to the alignment of the sights with the target. The most common mistake is focusing solely on the front sight and neglecting the alignment with the rear sight and the target. Remember to align the front and rear sights so that they form a clear and crisp sight picture while simultaneously focusing on the target. Practice proper sight alignment and picture to improve your accuracy.

Jerking the Trigger

The trigger pull is often the culprit behind inaccurate shots. Jerking the trigger, or applying too much pressure too quickly, can cause the firearm to move off target at the moment of firing. It's essential to maintain a smooth, controlled trigger pull to avoid disrupting your aim. Practice a steady and deliberate trigger squeeze, applying even pressure until the shot breaks naturally. This technique minimizes any disturbance to your sight alignment and helps improve accuracy.

Anticipating the Shot

Anticipating the shot is a common mistake that can result in flinching or jerking the firearm just before firing. It usually occurs when shooters expect the recoil or noise of the gunshot. Anticipation can lead to a downward or sideways movement, throwing off your aim. Overcoming this requires mental discipline and focusing on the fundamentals of sight alignment and trigger control. Concentrate on your technique, and with practice, you will develop the ability to maintain a steady aim without anticipating the shot.

Lack of Follow-Through

Follow-through is often an overlooked aspect of shooting technique. It refers to maintaining your sight picture and grip even after the shot has been fired. Many shooters tend to relax or drop their arms immediately after the trigger break, disrupting the sight alignment. To improve accuracy, maintain your focus on the front sight, and keep your grip firm until you've observed the impact on the target. By practicing proper follow-through, you can make adjustments and better analyze your shots.


Target shooting is a sport that demands precision, focus, and technique. By avoiding these common mistakes and practicing good shooting fundamentals, you can improve your accuracy and overall shooting skills. Remember to maintain a firm grip, employ proper sight alignment and picture, execute a smooth trigger pull, eliminate anticipation, and maintain follow-through. With patience, practice, and a commitment to continuous improvement, you'll be on your way to becoming a more proficient and accurate shooter.