Competition Shooting: What is this called, and why am I so MISERABLE at it??

When I had time and bucks to shoot my pistol at the range, I tried shooting in the following fashion:
I, standing at the end of the range, was not facing the target. The target was at 12 o’clock. My body was facing 3 o’clock. My arm, and weapon, was extended, at shoulder level, toward the target, and I was looking down my arm towards the target.
Problem: I could shoot pretty well while I was facing the target…IIRC, I got 8 out of ten in the head area (of the target), and others were not too shameful. However, when I tried the above mentioned stance, I could not even hit the large piece of paper, what, 3x4 feet in size???
This was so remarkable that I actually checked my cartridges and weapon to see if there had been some kind of misfire. How sad.
So, following up with a fellow gun nut, he said something like “Yes, in competition that’s called X shooting, and it’s pretty difficult…”

Alright, the question is: What is this stance/type of shooting called, and why is it so difficult? I thought that just looking down the barrel with the sights aligned properly was all that there was to it. Can anyone here enlighten me?


What hand are you shooting with? That stance sounds impossible for a right-handed shooter.

If you’re left-handed, that would be called offhand shooting. It’s the stance used in traditional bullseye pistol competition.

Sorry, there’s some miscommunication here. I’m left handed.
That’s what I meant. Hope this clarifies.

If I understand correctly, I think you would call it a duelist or bullseye stance. The second from the bottom here.

I believe that’s called “duelist” style. Where I’m from, it’s just called showing off :wink:

I’ve heard it said than when a rightie shoots one-handed, the rifling will torque the gun into the palm, allowing the shooter to retain control. When shooting leftie, the torque will pull the gun away from the palm and into the fingers. This may be hogwash, but it’s something to think about.

Sounds like you were shooting “Bullseye” aka Conventional Pistol, but possibly not with a proper stance. Assuming you’re not right eye dominant, you may need to adjust your stance back towards 12 o’clock in small increments until you’re shooting well again.

If you are right eye dominant while being left handed, it’ll be a bit more complicated and involve jiggling with the sights (if adjustable) or learning to use “Kentucky windage” to compensate.

First of all, you usually won’t be as steady with one hand as you are with two.

If you’re using iron sights you have to keep them really aligned. It’s more important than where your arm is pointing. They’re only a few inches apart on a pistol, so just a bit of misalignment that you can see can mean the gun can be off by a large angle. If you see the sights perfectly aligned but the gun is pointing 6 inches off of where it should, you’ll miss by 6 inches. If the sights are misaligned by the same apparent angle or distance in your sight picture, you’ll miss by way more than 6 inches.

What kind of gun was it? If you’re shooting a double-action gun or something with a rough or excessively heavy trigger, it can be tough to keep it the gun from moving around in your hand as you pull it. This is probably worse when you’re shooting one-handed. Bullseye pistol shooters would normally use a single-action gun, ideally with a trigger that’s crisp and relatively light.

Most small-arm barrel rifling is an (approximately) 1:10 right-hand twist (although there are a few LH twist arms out there), but the recoil is (largely) caused by expanding gases etc as the bullet is propelled down (and leaves) the barrel; there’s just not enough torque being generated from the projectile (which, assuming a 9mm calibre handgun, weighs between 115-125 grains, or approximately 8 grammes) to really affect accuracy to the extent the OP is describing.

The problem- at least in my experience as a Range Officer and Firearms Historian- is usually either “flinching”, or the trigger being pulled incorrectly.

How do you “Incorrectly” pull a trigger, I hear you ask? Well, each gun has a different “trigger pressure”, which is the amount of pressure that must be applied to the trigger before the gun will discharge. A common mistake made by relatively new or inexperienced shooters is to try and “wrap their finger” around the trigger, so that as they pull the trigger (using the joint in their index finger) the gun will be forced to either the right or left (depending on which hand they are shooting with).

However, if you use just the forefinger of your index finger (ie, the fleshy bit your fingerprints are on), and gently squeeze the trigger, you’ll get a “cleaner” pull (with less jerking) and, subsequently, a more accurate shot.

Flinching, on the other hand, can only be overcome with practice. :wink:

Dueling style (The position you appear to be describing) is more difficult that the standard “Weaver style” (the two-handed shooting style most people use) but is used in certain competitions, and lends itself to different types of handgun- a Ruger Redhawk is a lot harder (IME) to use accurately “Duelist-style” than a Beretta, for example.

What sort of gun are you using for the competition, out of interest?

When you shot your good target while facing the target square on , were you using both hands or just 1?

The stance you were doing a very poor job of attempting IS the most difficult shooting stance. that is why it is used for NRA bull’s eye matches.
What you need to do is study the stance and that means to research everything you can about this shooting stance. We can point out snipplets here and there but I would dought anyone would take you step by step through every aspect of it.

That stance was the only one taught to soldiers and Leo’s into the 80’s even when the real combat shooting stances like Isosceles and the Weaver stances were well known.

Here is an interesting article from the Ayoob files. Mr. Ayoob is one of the top gun writers of our time.
And here is a list of over 80 more articles.

Thanks, everybody, for the help. In light of everything that was said, it appears that I have violated **all **of the rules associated with hitting the target! You have explained it quite well, and I am grateful.
Thanks again,

Figure out which eye is dominant. look at a distant object and then make a circle around it with one hand’s thumb and first finger held at arm’s length. Then close one eye at a time. Whichever eye is still looking at the distant object when you close the other eye is your dominant eye.

Shooting with one hand while the eye on the other side is dominant can lead to really bad shooting. There are ways to fix it. If this is true for you, look it up. You don’t change your eye dominance, you adapt.