WON Landing Page March 2022

Run Your Gun: What You Need to Know to Become a Gunslinger

One of the most important things I believe a firearms owner needs to know (besides the fundamentals of shooting) is how to run her gun. A competent pistol shooter does much more than just shoot at a target and send lead down range – she becomes a gunslinger. 


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Two years ago I wrote about taking the next step and becoming a gunslinger and why it’s so important to continue a firearms journey by mastering the fundamentals, taking classes and practicing with dry fire. Two common problems I see in classes and while watching people on the range are a lack of understanding of the fundamentals and sloppy, haphazard firearm manipulations. 

Firearm Manipulations – Aim for Auto-pilot

A gunslinger can perform the following manipulations with her gun on an auto-pilot mode.

SLG2 Springfield Firearm Manipulations Clearing malfunctions

1 Locking the slide to the rear. It’s important to do this effortlessly. It’s part of the sequence of unloading a pistol and clearing malfunctions. 

2 Loading and unloading magazines. A spare magazine needs to be removed from where it is stored (whether it’s a pocket or magazine carrier) the same way every time. This allows the gunslinger to insert it into the magazine well in the same, positive manner without fumbling consistently.

Pistol Draw Cerino 3

3 Drawing from a holster, or wherever you carry. When drawing from a holster, a gunslinger attains a firm grip with her strong hand. She doesn’t need to make adjustments when her support hand joins the grip.

4 Clearing malfunctions. Eventually everyone who shoots a pistol will experience some type of malfunction. A gunslinger recognizes the malfunction and knows how to clear it quickly. 

Hammer De-cocked safety off

5 Working a safety or de-cocking a DA/SA gun. If a gunslinger chooses to carry a DA/SA gun, or one with a safety, she knows how and when to use those features. 

6 Put holes in the target where you intend them to go. Most likely, when on the range, she will be shooting at a target glued to cardboard stapled to a stick. It’s not moving and it’s not shooting back. A gunslinger knows how to diagnose her shooting and make the changes needed to put her shots exactly where she aims. 

Cerino-Springfield-Practice gunslinger Run Your Gun Become a Gunslinger Clearing malfunctions

On the Range

These following tips, found in my first post and reiterated here, will help you get more out of your time on the range.

  • Make a conscious decision to draw your pistol quickly from the holster every time you get a chance, rather than “taking” it from the holster in a lackadaisical fashion. When returning the gun to the holster everything slows down, If you need to, in the beginning, go ahead and look the gun into your holster. Eventually you should be able to do so without looking. However, if you ever feel something is not right, look down and double check. It’s very easy for brass, clothing and other items to migrate into the holster opening. 
  • Load your pistol positively, like your life depends on it. When your gun runs dry, press the magazine release and let the empty magazine fall. At the same time your support hand should move to wherever you store your spare magazine. Grab this magazine and insert it into the magazine well in a fluid motion. Do not slap the magazine. That can cause the slide to go forward (or even fall out) and you won’t know if a round loaded into the chamber. Now, charge the pistol and get right back on the target.
  • Start your drills from any position but a ready position. Have your hands in the air, folded on your chest or holding something like a phone. Learn to move to the gun and draw it. Create your grip on the way out to the target without having to make adjustments.
  • Slow is the way to go – In the beginning take your time. Don’t be slow just to be slow. Instead, try to make your movements smooth. Eventually speed will come. 
Springfield in holster cerino Run Your Gun Become a Gunslinger

Run Your Gun

A gunslinger knows how to run her gun; it doesn’t run her. She knows how to put shots on paper where she wants them to go. She knows how to work her gear and get through malfunctions. Become more than just that person who throws lead down range, strive to be a gunslinger.

  • About Michelle Cerino

    Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, entered the firearms industry in 2011 when Cerino Training Group was established. She immediately began competing in both 3-Gun and NRA Action Pistol, becoming a sponsored shooter. Michelle is currently a columnist and Managing Editor of Women’s Outdoor News, as well as Event-Staff for CZ-USA Field Sports. She also manages social media for Vera Koo and GTM Original. Michelle encourages others to step out of the comforts of home and explore.