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Owning a gun is one thing, but knowing how to wield it is something else entirely. If you don’t know how to properly use your firearm in a self-defensive situation, not only do your chances of survival go down, but your chances of accidentally harming yourself or somebody else go up.

Fortunately, this can all be cured by just a little bit of regular practice on the shooting range where you can train with your defensive shooting skills and grow comfortable with your weapon of choice. The tips you are about to learn in this article apply regardless of what type of firearm you’re using.

Here are the top ten defensive shooting tips that could save your life:

1. Buy Enough Ammo

What good is a gun without ammo? It could serve you well as a club, but that’s about it. Therefore, the first defensive shooting tip is to actually buy enough ammo to practice your defensive shooting in the first place.  Since ammo is a little costly, you can get around this by making it a habit to buy just one or two boxes a week.  Your stockpile will grow steadily as a result.

2. Get A Proper Firing Grip

To hold a handgun correctly, you need to have both hands wrapped firmly around the grip of the gun with both of your thumbs forward. The fingers of your weak hand should be wrapped around the fingers of your firing hand. Hold the gun at eye level so you can peer down the sights.


3. Line Up Your Sights

Line up your front sight to your rear sight. You want the front sight to be aimed directly at the target.  Your eye should then be focused directly on the front sight. Your rear sight and your environment beyond the front sight should, therefore, be a little blurry.

4. Keep Both Eyes Open

A natural thing to do is to shut your non-dominant eye when peering down the sights of a firearm. This is a big mistake for two reasons: it causes extreme fatigue in your eyelids, and it shuts out half of your field of vision (so you may not be able to see an enemy approaching). Remedy this by keeping your front eye wide open and your second eye squinted but still open.

5. Keep Your Finger Indexed

One of the core rules of gun safety is to never place your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Keep your trigger finger indexed, meaning it’s resting on the frame of the handgun above the trigger guard.

6. Control Your Firing

Spraying and praying with guns is fun in video games, but it’s a horrible shooting technique in real life. It makes the gun uncontrollably, decreases the chance of you hitting your target, and increases your chance of accidentally hitting someone else who you don’t want to.

Rather, control your firing so that each individual shot is deliberate. If you want to practice double taps, that’s fine, but you should never fire any rounds that you didn’t intend to or that were out of your control. Avoid flinching as well (where you jerk the gun when it doesn’t fire). To practice not flinching, load some live rounds and dummy rounds into your magazine, but don’t know the order they are in. When the primer hits a dummy round and you flinch, you’ll need to correct that.

7. Reload Without Looking

Looking at your gun while fumbling around with a reload is a terrible thing to do. It removes your focus from the environment and it shows that you’re not a properly trained shooter. Therefore, put lots of practice into swapping out magazines and racking the slide to re-chamber the weapon. Keep your eyes focused on the environment around you as you eject the spent magazine, draw a fresh new one, insert it into the weapon, and rack the slide. Draw the gun in closer to you when you reload as well before re-assuming a natural and proper firing stance.

8. Know-How To Shoot One-Handed

While you should try to get a two-handed grip if possible, some defensive scenarios may require you to only shoot one-handed if you need to act quickly. Therefore, you should practice shooting one-handed as well. When shooting one-handed, keep your firing arm stretched out, while your non-firing hand should be clenched into a first and held to your torso. This way you know where your non-firing hand is and you don’t risk it being out in your field of fire.


9. Learn How To Clear Jams

It doesn’t matter if you purchase the most reliable pistol on the planet; experiencing a jam is a very real possibility. Just as you must practice reloading, so you must practice clearing jams as well so you can get back into the fight. Standard procedure with a jam is to firmly tap the magazine (most jams are caused by a not-fully inserted magazine) and then rack the slide to eject the failed round. If this fails, eject the existing magazine and load in a new one and rack it again. If this also fails to clear the weapon, you have a bigger problem on your hands.

10. Practice a Lot

The old saying goes that practice makes perfect, and practicing firing your weapon on the shooting range is not going to cut it. Make it a rule that you’ll practice on the shooting range a minimum of once per month, with a minimum of two hundred and fifty rounds fired each time.


Between owning two guns and not knowing how to use either of them or owning one gun and being a master at it, the second option is certainly more preferable if you’re serious about defending your life. Take the tips you have learned in this article seriously and apply them during your real-life shooting range time.

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2 thoughts on “10 Defensive Shooting Tips That Could Save Your Life”

  1. A suggestion about learning to shoot weak handed meaning the Left hand for most and Right hand for the Left handed people.
    IF one an afford or has a CO2 pistol and practice the basic grip and fundamentals with it as much as possible. There are numerous realistic ones out there available that closely resemble real firearms. Shoot the CO2 pistol with your Weak or Off Hand as much as possible It is A LOT less expensive and much easier to shoot most anywhere.
    This will strengthen the muscles in your arm and grip and allow one to keep practicing and instill the fundamentals. The OTHER PLUS… NO RECOIL so one can either not learning to Flinch OR an take on the task of UNLEARNING the habit of Flinching.

    NEXT is to acquire/use a .22 LR an shoot it and get used to shooting it accurately and gradually increase the power of the handgun….say to a .357 Magnum loaded with .38 Special and hen the are comfortable with it and then without telling the student m the loads with a couple of .357 Mag loads and see how they respond……There was an indoor range I use to frequent that would rent various handguns and one could buy their reloads at a great price.

    At least that would be an ideal way to properly learn and and instill proper fundamentals and teach to shoot without fearing and anticipating recoil and developing Flinching.
    That is my not so humble opinion and it has worked for me to teach with, an unknown number of individuals over the years.
    Anyway it is something to consider.

    As for jamming in ANY semi-auto no matter the type are normally One of Three things: Bad ammo Bad Magazine , or dirty or defective weapon.

    The best information I was ever given was on an semi-auto handguns we ere talking about a 1911 .45 APC but t does apply to an other as to take it out an shoot 500-1K of nothing but hardball and use several magazines. Doing so will help smooth all the parts out and then tr various other types of ammo JHP, Wad cutters,, whatever.
    At the time people were buying 1911s and sending them off to have work done on them ramp polished/ throated / ported whatever…
    I was told Don’t bother to spend your hard earned $$$ all that for work you may not need… putting that 500-1K of Hardball through the weapon will do polishing for you…and far cheaper. I did have a friend bought a 1911 an he did have reliability problems…NEW IN BOX…. one we fixed right away…..It was the brand new magazine.. we were shooting the same ammo….so just saying….. Buy get a lot of magazines never can have too many or know when they will go bad. BUT MAKE SURE EVERY MAGAZINE WORKS BY USING THEM SEVERAL TIMES…..I have had issues with NEW in package magazines ….You do not want to find out in time of need the magazine is not going to work.

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