How To

INFOGRAPHIC: A Quick Guide to Shooting Fundamentals


Becoming a competent shooter requires mastering the basics—to the point that they become practically instinct. With the help of the NRA, we’ve detailed six shooting fundamentals below. Whether you’re a beginner looking for an introduction to shooting or an experienced marksman reviewing your form, it can help quite a bit.


Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • Timothy Shannon

    Is this available as a poster. I would like to use it when teaching the NRA Basic Pistol Course?

  • Pam

    This is excellent! Especially as a quick reminder to those just learning!
    And a good reminder for others who may have not shot in a while.

  • Great illistrations

  • No1ofconsequence

    AGREED!!! Good material – POSTERIZE this IMMEDIATELY!!! 🙂

  • Would like a poster for classes.

  • This is what we call “gun control.”

  • Scott

    Can we please have blown up posters for classes

  • Monica Musgrave

    Agreed on the posters, one for each fundamental would be great!

  • John Kill

    I would like to use it when teaching the NRA Basic Pistol Course? I use something similar but this is way better.

  • Can I embed the image to our website? Thanks.

  • This would be great for our 4-H Shooting Sports program. Please let us know if these become available or we can get copies of the graphics to make for our training materials!

  • T

    This is one of the BEST posters I’ve seen – MUCH better than the “Pistol Instruction Charts”

    PLEASE make this into a POSTER (or two)
    I’d gladly pay for a nice 24*36 poster of this – nice and big and easy to read

    Ranges would probably hang these up as well

    Beautiful graphic

  • Kevin

    Good article. Good intent. But to show a student this would possibly mislead them. #1 and #2 are my primary concerns. They should line up with the target almost like #4 does. Otherwise the student will think the site picture should have the bottom of the target sitting on top of the front site instead of the center.

  • Blake Boswell

    Excellent visual tool for NRA instructors. Can I get a copy in a PowerPoint version to use during my NRA Basic Pistol classes?

    NRA Certified Pistol Instructor

  • Jo

    I agree with everyone above – would make fantastic posters! But … I would also like to be able to incorporate these as slides in my NRA Basic Pistol powerpoint. Any way to get the individual graphics? Thank you.

  • Larry

    Is this available in a PDF file so it can be printed for youth training?

  • Karl

    About #4… Holding your breath is not known as “respiratory pause”. It’s known as holding your breath. That’s why they call it that. Respiratory pause is that brief pause at the end of exhaling during natural breathing. That’s why it’s called respiratory pause and not holding your breath. Having this quick, easy to explain informational bites are great. It infuriates me when then are out of context, inconsistent, or just plain wrong. I always wonder who proof reads these types of things and do they give it to someone who isn’t working on it to read as well?

  • Mark Avery

    Maybe I’m too picky, but I find more problems than helps in this. Nothing here is particularly wrong, but it’s missing far too many key essentials. Although I’m an NRA-certified instructor, we don’t normally teach many NRA classes. The range president and lead instructor trainer is a retired police firearms training instructor in departments, at state level, and in the training academy. He has trained with most of the nationally-recognized instructors and, as he says, has stolen the best from all of them to build our program.

    This diagram, as several have noted, is cosmetically and aesthetically pleasing. It’s as pretty as they come, much better quality than most similar diagrams. Unfortunately, it brings to mind a quote from General George S. Patton as he passed troops lined up for inspection – “Very pretty, General, but can they fight?” This diagram is like a drugstore cowboy, all hat and no cattle…

    There’s nothing here about grip, and it’s one of the areas where we see significant problems, especially with “experienced” shooters. Like me, they were originally trained “old school” by other shooters who were trained by other shooters, going back to the first single action revolvers. They don’t understand how little changes in the grip, like moving the support hand from under the butt of the stock to the front under the trigger guard, can pay huge dividends in managing recoil. They don’t understand that making sure your strong hand is centered on the web between thumb and index finger as high on the backstrap as practical reduces strain and improves accuracy. Very few recognize that you don’t squeeze the support hand, only apply reverse tension, pulling back while pushing forward with the dominant hand to lock the two together and, at the same time, helping lock the wrist. That’s the first of the basic fundamentals, and it’s completely missed on this chart. Properly extending the arms to lock out without locking elbows or squeezing the shoulders up to the neck isn’t even touched. Neither is having the weight forward on the balls of the feet instead of rocking back on the heels. There is a casual nod to proper hand positions in one of the drawings, but not even that is very clear because of point of view.

    Sight alignment is addressed in the first diagram, but you can’t do that properly unless you already have the proper focus on the front sight, which you can’t do unless you already have the proper grip and arm lock. At the very least, those two should be reversed, and, as already mentioned, the sight pictures on the targets should always be correct. The sights pictured are for a tactical self-defense handgun, not an NRA Bullseye competition pistol, so the top of the front sight should not be at the bottom of the black circle – the sight picture should be set so the bullet goes right above the front sight to the center of the target. However, when you’re talking about sight alignment, that’s just the shooter and the gun – no target is involved, and there shouldn’t be one pictured. In addition, that third point of alignment isn’t even mentioned – the shooter’s dominant eye, how to figure out which that is, and what to do if it’s not on the same side as the dominant hand. I’d also argue that the targets should be silhouettes, not bullseyes, but that’s a completely different discussion for another day.

    The trigger control description only covers finger placement on the trigger and little else. That is an important point that many people get wrong, but it’s by no means the cause of most problems with proper trigger control. It’s just the starting point for properly activating the trigger with control. This chart even uses the term “pull the trigger” – a phrase that usually leads to jerking the trigger, pulling it like they’d pull a lamp cord or dog leash. A far better term is to press the trigger. As someone already mentioned, using squeeze often results in the entire grip getting tightened as the trigger is pressed, another source of problems. More than anything, trigger control needs to be about taking up any slack in the trigger, then increasing the pressure smoothly until the trigger breaks on its own – the surprise break. Yes, that includes follow through, but if the focus is on increasing pressure instead of slapping or pulling the trigger when you want the gun to fire, follow through happens almost automatically.

    If this really is a tactical or self-defense pistol as the sights would indicate, breath control and hold control are interesting but irrelevant. I put breathing on my slides as an afterthought, mostly because people ask. Sure, breathing is critical if you’re placing a pistol shot at 100 yards or a rifle shot at there or beyond. If you’re firing a handgun in self-defense at those distances, you’d better have a very clear explanation for why you believed that was the only available action to stop a deadly threat. Sure, I know this is a generic infographic that might include target shooting at longer distances where breathing control is important, but that is such a small minority of the pistol students we see that it barely justifies mention. The key is to keep breathing, and stopping the threat makes that much more likely.

    Hold Control is missing the entire point, a focus on the result instead of the process. A solid hold is a result of proper grip, proper weight distribution, and proper arm lock. None of those things are described, only the result. That’s like telling a driving student that their objective is to get home without covering any of the basic fundamentals of doing so properly.

    I’m somewhat disturbed by the number of instructors who look at this produced graphic and got their eyes all watery. I’m even more disturbed, and somewhat angry, that the graphic itself was produced in cooperation with the NRA. They even posted it on an NRA Blog article. It’s time for some of the bureaucrats at NRA headquarters to be allowed to pursue other interests and get some competent shooters in to redo all the training. No, I’m not volunteering because I don’t consider myself qualified, but whoever put this together is far less so.

    Yes, it’s very pretty. Kudos to the digital artist.

    • Sam M.

      Yes this needs to be made available to instructors made as a durable high quality poster.
      I agree the Graphic Artists should be assigned to creating an equally high quality poster of each of the points Avery makes.
      All of the posters should then be made available as singles or as an instructor bundle.

  • Can I get this as a poster?

  • Sam

    As I started reading Mr. Avery’s comments, I thought to myself: Here is another whiner of the kind that always finds fault with someone else’s work. HOWEVER, as I kept reading his comments I realized that he is absolutely right! Furthermore, he is right on every point he made, in my opinion… After all, the points he brings up are all in the NRA Basic Pistol book!
    Indeed, the Graphical Artist did a fantastic job creating the images above – now – if he takes Mr. Avery’s points and create similar style/quality images for each one – we would have an incredibly effective visual tool to use when we teach the course!!

    I hope that someone of influence with/at the NRA is reading this and will make it happen…

  • Sharon

    NRA instructor would love as quality poster…. For class ….. Great job

  • Doug R

    For any who want a poster, I pulled the following PDF URL out of the page source. It apparently was intended to be printed.

  • Gary Forehand

    As an NRA Life Member and aspiring new coach/instructor, this graphic is just what is needed for teaching basic pistol. Yes, dittoes to comments above, it needs a little tweaking, but is beautiful and represents the kind of presentation I would be proud, as an NRA instructor, to show the public.

  • Linda Thompson

    I would love to be able to buy this to use as a tool when teaching CCW class. Is this for sale?

    • jco415

      @ Linda…they have these crazy newfangled things now-a-days called….hold on….PRINTERS! Yep, some of them do color too. Oh, and there are different sizes too!