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Zins on Bullseye: Proper Pistol Grip

Zins on Bullseye: Proper Pistol Grip

Twelve-time NRA National Pistol Champion Brian Zins knows a thing or two about NRA Precision/Bullseye (Precision is the new official name for Bullseye) pistol competition. Brian’s thoughts on competition and technique are especially valuable, because he doesn't always follow the old traditions with his technique. Previously, Brian shared his tips on trigger control, in this article, he shares his thoughts on proper pistol grip.

To start off, I am not saying that the grip I describe here is the only one to use. It is merely an option, it may work for you, or it may not—it all depends on your hand size and structure. It works for me, and it has worked for many shooters that I have taught it to. And just to be clear, it is not UNSAFE for those who have questioned it, because the gun will move less with this grip. Therefore, if you do use a grip that aligns the sights and gun up your arm to your shoulder, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage.

So here we go, on to the grip.

A proper grip is a grip that will NATURALLY align the gun’s sights to the eye of the shooter, without having to tilt your head or move your wrists around in order to that. Also, most importantly, a proper grip is a grip that allows the gun to return to the same position that allowed the sights to be aligned without having to search for the sights after each and every shot. 

Too many times I have seen, and I am sure most of you have done it yourself. Someone shoots and you can see the front of the gun waving around as they try to get sight alignment back. This is not a problem with recoil management, grip strength or position. This is a grip issue.

As a result, if you line the gun up your arm and to your shoulder in order to align the sights one of two things must happen. Your head leaves a natural position in order to see the sights since they are lined up with your shoulder or you have to turn your wrists until the sight are aligned to your eye, but then the gun is no longer aligned up your arm. This was called “grip alignment.”

Yes back in the day they taught “grip alignment.” Well grip alignment as they described it is BS, just like Natural Point of Aim with a pistol is BS. But that’s a completely different conversation. Two-handed shooters don’t even shoot with the gun aligned up their strong arm to their shoulder. Unless you have some deformity and your head is growing out of your shooting side shoulder, why would you want the gun aligned up your arm to your shoulder?

Now keep in mind, this is for a 1911 slab style grip or a .22 with slabs. Unfortunately, if you are using orthopedic grips you can’t do this with them.

Zin’s Grip
My grip is simple, it’s not hard to get into and once you get it, it will feel better, recoil will be better managed and the sights will always come back to alignment. If you rotate the meaty portion of your hand below the little finger behind the back-strap of the gun, every time you shoot, it will want to move off of it. It is just a squishy, fatty portion of your hand that cannot control the gun or offer any resistance to recoil whatsoever. The fatty portion of the hand there cannot be moved, it is just fat. Try to move it. The movement caused by making a fist does not count, because the rest of the hand causes that movement. The place the gun tends to move to is the valley formed between that meaty portion below the little finger and the meaty part of the thumb. So I ask—why not start with the gun in the place it wants to be?

Unfortunately, even with a picture this is hard to describe. When done in person, I usually have to work individually with shooters to show them how to do it.

The best and easiest way to get the proper grip, at least a good starting position as you may need to tweak it around a bit until it feels good, is with a holster.

Put your 1911 in a holster on the side of your body; not in front or behind, but on the side of your hip. Put your hands in the surrender position, like the action shooters form. Keep your eyes and head straight and allow your shooting hand to come down naturally to the gun; don’t move it around but just let it come down and grab the gun. The fatty part of the little finger should all be on the right panel of the grip. Now, keeping the gun in your hand with the grip, assume your one handed shooting position. The sights should be pretty close to being aligned. If they are not then you will need to tweak the grip a bit. But like I said this is best done in person, where someone who uses the grip can actually show you.

So if you ever run into me at a match or anywhere, please ask—and I will show you someone who has attended a clinic or uses the same grip and ask them the same thing.

For more tips from Brian Zins, or if you are interested in his training classes, please visit his web site: www.brianzins.com.

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