1. Correct Stance and Hold
by F. E. MORTON
H.Q. Staff Instructor,
THESE notes are written with the desire to help those who wish to become reasonably good shots with revolver or pistol.
Although it may be argued that one has not time to pay attention to details, such as the position of the feet, for example, when using these weapons on service, it should be remembered that, if training is properly carried out, these details become automatic; and, having learned to shoot correctly and well, slight deviations from correct stance or hold will not make so much difference, especially at a larger target, and possibly at shorter range.
The three essential factors in shooting well with a revolver or pistol are:- Stance, Hold, Aim, Trigger Pressing.
In this short series of articles I propose to deal with each of the above in detail, with a special note on double-action shooting and automatic pistols to conclude with.
Importance of Stance
The novice and the inexpert or average revolver shot takes but little notice of the position of his feet. The result of this is shown by the varying position of groups shot with the same revolver. He wonders why his group is sometimes to the right, and at other times to the left.
He may attribute this to many things, but rarely will he put it down to the fact that his feet are the cause of the trouble. Stance in revolver and pistol shooting is as important as position in rifle shooting.
Watch the expert, and you will find that he moves his feet until they are in the correct position and distance apart, so that when he comes on aim, his sights come directly on the mark.
If he found that his sights came up to the left of the centre line, he would move his left foot further to the left; if to the right, his left foot moves back to the right. The novice, not troubling about this, would get a left group in the first case, and a right group in the second, because lie holds over to the right in the former when aiming; but as he presses the trigger his sights move back to the left, and a left group is the result.
When using the correct stance, the feet should be just far enough apart to feel comfortable, with the weight of the body equally disposed.
The toe of the right foot should point almostly directly at the target, the toe of the left foot should point directly to the left, the left heel being 8 to 12 inches to the left of the line of the right heel (according to height of firer). Keep the body upright with all the muscles relaxed.
The disengaged hand should be placed on the hip, as a slight movement of this hand is transmitted to the revolver hand. Some people put the hand in the pocket; I contend that this looks slovenly and leads to bad position.
A table or bench should always be used at target practice. The revolver should be rested on this when re-cocking in deliberate or slow fire, in order to give the arm a slight rest between shots. When a table or bench cannot be used, the arm holding the revolver should be at an angle of 45 degrees, with the revolver pointing downwards.
Arm Muscles Relaxed
When bringing the revolver up to the aim position, the arm should be kept straight, but the muscles relaxed; directly the muscles are tensed, the revolver starts to vibrate and move about. When this occurs, come down off the aim, relax the tension of the arm and wrist muscles, and lift the revolver up on aim by using the shoulder muscles.
Arrange, when practising, for someone to watch your position, and correct errors. These are likely to be:- Feet too far apart or too close; right foot not pointing to front; left foot not pointing directly to left; body leaning backwards or too far forward; head in strained position; muscles braced up instead of being relaxed.
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Holding the Revolver
It is upon the way the revolver or pistol is held when on aim and the trigger is being pressed that a great deal depends.
As a general rule, the novice or inexpert makes the fundamental mistake of applying the instructions imparted to him for rifle shooting of placing his finger well around the trigger, and as a result his hand is brought too far round to the right front of the butt. The trigger finger will also be found to be taking some of the weight of the weapon, and cannot be under complete control to carry out the job of pressing the trigger.
On firing, with the revolver held in this manner, the weapon kicks up and to the left badly, and one does not feel comfortable as the weapon seems to be taking charge, as it were.
When held in this way it will be noticed that the knuckle of the thumb is almost behind the hammer, and the thumb invariably points downwards.
The Correct Grip
To learn this properly, first make sure the revolver is empty, then cock the hammer. The trigger moves back a certain distance when this is done, and it is in this position when you fire in the single or cocking action.
Next, place the pad of the forefinger on the trigger (holding the revolver in the left hand while doing so) and bring the hand round the butt, so that when held by the remaining three fingers the top of the butt is in the centre of the crotch formed by the fingers and thumb.
The thumb should lie close to, and horizontally along, the left side of the revolver, just clear of the barrel catch lever in weapons of the Webley type, and just clear of the cylinder latch in the Colt and Smith and Wesson types.
If the weapon is now brought straight up on aim, it will be seen that a dead straight line is formed by the barrel, wrist and arm.
Source: "Defence - The Services' Magazine" Feb 1941