Having good grip is essential to shooting accurately. A while ago (about a year and a half ago from the time of this post), I recorded a video shooting a Ruger Mark III Target .22 LR pistol. Up to that point, I had often found it more challenging to shoot well with .22 caliber than with larger calibers, such as my favorite .45 ACP or .44 Magnum. After posting the video, I considered the advice I received with through comments and personal messages and then sought out the counsel of my pistol instructor. He gave me a few tips to improve my grip, and implementing his advice has made all the difference in my range performance with handguns of any caliber.
One piece of advice he gave me was to first ensure that I was gripping the pistol as high up on the grip as it would allow. This allows the bore axis of the pistol to sit lower. This makes recoil management easier because the forces of recoil can then be managed by the larger forearm muscles than the comparatively weaker controller muscles of the hand (this also helps to reduce the strain on the wrist when stabilizing the pistol during fire).
The most important lesson my instructor had for me was in how to grip the pistol from back to front. In an effort to keep the pistol steady, some have a tendency to “squeeze” the grip of their handguns in their fist (also called “thumbing”). However, too much pressure on the sides of the pistol can twist the gun across its left-to-right axis, which lands shots to the left or right of center. Think of how a C clamp functions. As it tightens, it increases pressure solely from back to front. Applying that mentality to how the firing hand grips the pistol allows the shooter to establish a firm hold on the pistol grip (keeping the same degree of force on the grip without squeezing it all around) without angling the grip sideways at all.
This advice applies to two-handed shooting as well as single handed shooting. While the trigger hand grips from front to back, the non-firing (or support) hand helps to maintain stabilization on the horizontal axis. The concept of front-to-back pressure has a larger application when shooting two handed. Imagine pushing against a wall with one hand. “Pushing forward” with the firing hand and meeting that force in the opposite direction with the support arm, that is “pulling back” with the non-firing hand, allows the larger muscles of the upper arms, shoulders, and upper back muscles to help keep the pistol steady (this grip component is especially helpful for recoil management when shooting large caliber handguns).
Grip is only one element to having good overall shooting technique and shooting accurately. However, these pointers helped me to keep the pistol steady and reduced my tendency to “thumb” the grip. Implementing this tips for better grip helped me to keep the handgun stabilized during fire, and improved my shooting precision and accuracy. However, these are only a few pieces of advice to improving one’s grip. What are some recommendations you’d give a new shooter to improve their grip?