WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Concealed Carry Journey: Diagnosing Pistol Targets

In the previous installment of the series, “Concealed Carry Journey,” Elizabeth and I went to the range to practice shooting her Springfield XD-S for the first time. While she shot, I watched her grip and trigger press, then checked the targets. The only way to find out what a shooter is doing wrong and make adjustments for her is by diagnosing pistol targets. For the 5th part of the series, I’ll describe how I help shooters determine what they can do to make more accurate shots. 

Springfield Armory Hellcat banner for WON

Sponsored by Springfield Armory

If you’ve been following along on this journey, you may recall Elizabeth was a nationally known bullseye competition shooter in college. These competitions involve slow-aimed, single-shot, 1-handed shooting while in a bullseye stance. It’s a completely different approach when compared to defensive shooting. I felt pleasantly surprised as I watched Elizabeth shooting on our first trip to the range

Elizabeth Bueriling shooting XDS

Diagnosing Pistol Targets

The Problem

Most bullseye shooters set their sights for a 6 o’clock, or lollipop hold, on a target. That means they position them just below where they want the shots to hit. The target below shows Elizabeth’s first shots. Notice how the majority or group is below the horizontal center line.  

Concealed Carry Journey: Diagnosing Pistol Targets
Diagnosing Pistol Targets: Notice how low the shots are on this first target.

The Solution

Self-defense pistols arrive from the factory with sights set at point-of-aim, point-of-impact. This means where you set your sight, the shot hits. So, you have to cover up the spot where you want your shots to go. When some shooters begin making holes in a target, they want their other shots to go in the same hole. To do so, they often focus so hard on looking at that hole that their ensuing shots fall below it. 

diagnosing pistol targets FOR Concealed Carry

To better explain sight picture  to Elizabeth, I used our training aids to show her where she needed to set her sights to bring up her shots. 

The Problem

Since this was Elizabeth’s first time shooting with 2 hands, I expected to see her shots going slightly to the left. If you look at the target below, 2 of her shots went farther left of center than the others. However, her grouping of shots concerned me more than placement on the target. When you look at all the shots as a whole, they migrated left-of-center. I love, though, how she already corrected her low shots by covering up what she wanted to shoot. Those are centered top-to-bottom.

Concealed Carry Journey: Diagnosing Pistol Targets
Diagnosing Pistol Targets: Elizabeth brought her shots up in this second target.

The Solution

When my shots begin to go left, I always try increasing the grip of my support hand. To help Elizabeth understand what her support hand should do while shooting, I complimented her grip. While she held the gun with her dominant hand, I held the gun with my support hand. This way, as she shot, she felt how strong I clenched my support hand, where I placed it and what it looked like. 

Complimenting Elizabeth Grip Cerino
Michelle complimenting Elizabeth’s grip.

Elizabeth knows how to shoot a pistol and put her shots where she wants them. She understands safety and respects firearms. In the future, when training on the range, she’s going to work on getting her shots off faster. She also needs to decide how she wants to carry, on- or off-body. 

Cerino Complimenting Elizabeth grip

In the state of Ohio, our attorney general, David Yost, has all the information a person needs to get a concealed carry license on this website. I suggest going to your attorney general’s website to find out how the process is handled in your state.

Elizabeth’s Concealed Carry Journey Posts

From Bullseye and International Pistol to Concealed Carry

Grip, Trigger Press and Sight Picture

Getting the Gear and Drawing from a Holster

A First Trip to the Range

  • 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 owner of Pervenio LLC. She also manages social media for Vera Koo and GTM Original. Michelle encourages others to step out of the comforts of home and explore.