Millisecond Molly: How to shoot a revolver

My passion for revolvers is no secret. I’ve experienced many specialized revolver matches, matches not in any way specialized for revolvers, and “revolver-friendly” matches. Not surprisingly, when it comes to my competition preferences, nothing beats the classics — ICORE!


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Molly at an ICORE Regional event.


ICORE is the International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts – similar to USPSA for those involved with practical shooting. ICORE puts on the biggest revolver event in the world: the International Revolver Championship, a highlight every year. That’s not the only opportunity to be in a revolver competition, though, as ICORE also offers regional matches in every part of the country, and luckily I’m able to make it to 2 matches every year: the Southwest Regional and the Midwest Regional. Most recently, I completed the ICORE Midwest Regional in Fallon, Nev., and I’m proud to say … I placed Top Lady!



Molly Smith and her Smith & Wesson Model 627 and Atlanta Arms ammo.


Competition is not the only reason to shoot a revolver. Revolvers are incredibly reliable, more so than semi-automatics and because of this fact, they make excellent firearms for self-defense purposes. They also come in small sizes, making them ideal for concealed carry. Those reasons seem too practical? The most apparent reason to use a revolver, in my opinion, is because it’s fun! The challenge encourages skills outside of target accuracy, including patience, relaxation and focus.

Tips for shooting revolvers

Over the course of the last 5 years with Smith & Wesson, I’ve certainly picked up some interesting tips from some incredible shooters. The best place to start is always with the basics, regardless of whether or not competition is the goal. Compared to semi-automatics, following the fundamentals (stance, grip, trigger) are even more vital when shooting a revolver. Let’s take a brief look at all 3.



  • Stance: This varies with the stature of the person, but for the purposes here, I’ll be describing the most beneficial stance for a small person. Exaggerate. Especially when shooting larger calibers, leaning forward becomes especially helpful. Having arms partially bent, (not so bent that the firearm is close to your nose, but not locked elbows) and your feet firmly planted shoulder-width apart will better stabilize the coming shots. If you have a tendency to lean back, putting one foot forward will increase your lean; an aggressive stance isn’t a bad thing!
  • Grip: Comfort may not come naturally at first when holding a revolver, especially if you have abnormally large or small hands. The shooter needs to keep in mind having the strong-hand index finger above to the trigger (DO NOT put your finger on the trigger until your target has been acquired!) and the thumbs pointed toward the target, both on your support (left side for right-hander’s) side. Focus on having a tight, strong grip primarily with your support hand. The strong hand should be more relaxed. This enables a smoother trigger pull, and therefore, better shots.
  • Trigger: It takes a certain level of patience to shoot a revolver; yes, it’s difficult and heavy, but it even takes longer to pull the trigger! That means that the shooter needs to be extra careful with keeping the pull smooth in order to ensure that there will be no “flinch” shot, which is when the shooter flinches right before the shot breaks, causing a miss.

Speed loaders and moonclips

Finally, the way that you load your revolver may make life a lot easier — with either speed loaders or moonclips. I recommend moonclips for competition because they keep all the brass together in one clip. While speed loaders make loading faster, it’s a lot faster with a moonclip once you get some practice. The best way to practice is to load a few moonclips, shoot the entire clip (focus on accuracy!) and then reload slowly, taking your time to ensure that the moonclip goes into the cylinder on the first try and there is no fumbling. As you do this more and more, you will naturally speed up. Please note: Not all revolvers accept moonclips.



Molly prefers moonclips to speed loaders.


Be it competition, bulls-eye, just-for-fun or self-defense, I stand by revolvers as my favorite type of firearm. I encourage new shooters to give revolvers a try. Although they are difficult at first, when you practice with a revolver, you become better with semi-automatics as well because the amount of concentration needed is so much greater with the revolver.

  • About Molly Smith

    California teen shooter Molly Smith shoots for Team Smith & Wesson, and prefers a 627 Smith & Wesson iron-sighted revolver. She attends several matches each year, and loves to write about them at her column, "Millisecond Molly."


The Conversation

  • Molly Smith says: November 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Army Dave,
    Thank you so much for all that you have taught me and your wonderful friendship! 🙂
    Lots of love always,

  • SSG Medzyk says: November 8, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Once again, I get to brag that I and my buddy Jeff, started Molly on her love of guns and shooting when she was just a quiet and shy 10 year old.

    I wish I could brag that I taught her everything she knows about being a world class champion shooter 🙂