The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Preview – The Handgun Skills Triad – Pistol Fundamentals

At RECOIL, we review every product fairly and without bias. Making a purchase through one of our links may earn us a small commission, and helps support independent gun reviews. Learn More

Photos by Corey Lack

Elevate Your Shooting By Practicing These Pistol Fundamentals

Safety Disclaimer: When handling firearms and training tools, always observe all firearm safety rules.

A triad is defined as a “set of three.” In handgun shooting, there are many skills that are important to understand, practice, and master if you ever want to excel, but just three of them are the real keys to success. Oftentimes when teaching a class I find that the real failure to perform in many student’s skill sets is their inability to manage three key areas successfully. Can you guess what they are?

You might say manipulation skills, like drawing, reloading, or clearing malfunctions. Nope! Or maybe you’re thinking something more advanced, like movement skills such as pivoting, stepping offline, or shooting on the move. Once again, wrong.


The skills triad is way more simple than that, yet they are absolutely the keys to handgun shooting success. Without understanding and mastery of them, really nothing else matters.

They are:
1. Recoil Management: Gripping the handgun.
2. Trigger Management: Making it go bang without moving it.
3. Sight Management: Keeping the gun aligned on target.

Think about it for a second. It matters not if your draw is blindingly fast, or if you can reload quicker than The Great One, Rob Leatham. Or even if you can shoot on the move as well as World Champion Eric Graufell. If you can’t hit the target, rapidly and on demand, all else means squat. And managing those pesky three things is everything when it comes to actually hitting something at speed.

The goal here is not to write another fundamentals of marksmanship article, but rather to teach some things that might be missing, along with dispelling some common misconceptions. Before we start, though, we need to set our basic goal: To develop the ability to shoot faster and more accurately. This goal can be applied to both the defensive and competition arena — with that defined, let’s break the skill triad down in order of importance. Keep in mind that the three are always interrelated.

Recoil Management
If I had to identify one key area that will give you the single most measurable improvement in your handgun shooting, I would pick a proper grip. While important, managing the trigger does not make a significant difference if the grip is right. Managing the sights, while also very important, is not the key, so long as we are talking distances that replicate those in which the handgun is best deployed (3 to 25 yards). But developing a proper grip — now that is the real secret! I would guess roughly 95 percent of all of the students I have trained were not gripping their handguns as well as they could to maximize their shooting speed, while maintaining a measurable level of accuracy.

So how do we obtain that level of control on a handgun? Simple, pay attention to the physics that actually cause recoil, and then work on minimizing it with proper leverage and friction.

High-Performance Grip Definition
The method used to hold the gun with both hands to create “positive, neutral, maximum control.”
Positive: We control the handgun, versus it controlling us.
Neutral: The muzzle recoils and returns to the exact same spot it started in without our pushing it in any particular direction.
Maximum: The most control possible with leverage and friction, in relation to our current level of strength.


For the rest of this article, subscribe here: Concealment 2

Enter Your E-Mail to Receieve a Free 50-Target Pack from RECOIL!

NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOIL

For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.

You want this. Trust Us.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free