What is low left shooting?

To put it simply, low left shooting is quite literally exactly what it sounds like. When you fire your gun, your shot appears to always land low and left of the target. This can be particularly frustrating, especially for those using a shooting range for target practise. However, no matter how much you attend the shooting range and practise your shots, there doesn’t seem to be any improvement.

Why is it happening?

Essentially, it’s a subconscious defence mechanism. It’s not normal for people to hold a piece of steel or plastic 18 inches from their face, especially when anticipating an explosion after pulling the trigger. Your subconscious doesn’t think it’s a good idea, and it develops a protective mechanism after learning from repeated shooting that the right-handed shooter’s gun, and therefore your hands are jolted up and to the right. Just before you pull the trigger, your subconscious sends a signal to your hands that counteracts the up and right motion you’re about to make. This means you’re inadvertently moving the gun down and to the left, or sometimes heeling it forward, which is what low and left shooting is.

So, while you may feel absolutely fine with shooting a gun and enjoy doing it, your brain and subconscious are causing you to shoot off target in an attempt to protect you from any harm or danger. 

There are also other aspects that could be affecting your shooting such as the grip you have on your gun. Your trigger finger needs to operate independently, and if it’s affected by the squeeze on the gun from your other fingers and your palm, it could cause your aim to be low and left. Or, sometimes when the trigger has lots of slack this can cause your shot to be low and left. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to correct low left shooting.

How can I correct it?

Trigger reset

If you’ve noticed lots of slack in your trigger you can reset it manually. Making sure the gun isn’t loaded, pull back the slider and press the trigger. Once you’ve heard the click, keep your finger on the trigger and pull back the slider again. Now, gently release the trigger until you hear another click. Once you’ve heard the click, press the trigger again. This resets the trigger and eliminates slack that could be causing you to shoot low and left. This might not eliminate your problem, but it will remove slack from the trigger and give you a much better shooting experience, particularly if you’re looking to make a fast follow up shot.

Practising your grip on the gun

New shooters have a habit of convulsively squeezing their shooting hand’s palm. When shooting, whether with one or two hands, keep in mind that your three-finger shooting grip must remain stationary. Your trigger finger should be able to function on its own.

It will help if you practise by squeezing three fingers firmly in a partial fist, or a three finger grip – using the same three fingers on your shooting hand that grip the gun – and then slowly and smoothly moving your trigger finger backward. Give it a shot. You may find that your thumb moves as well. Nothing should move except your trigger finger.

You may also practise this technique when holding a racquetball in your three-finger grip. As every shooter knows, sight alignment is crucial, so don’t lock your sights and then slam, slap, or jerk the trigger – this will always throw your round off.

Regular practise

With an unloaded gun, grasp the gun in a “crush” grip with the trigger finger extended and not part of the grip, and hold as tightly as you can until your hand shakes from muscle tension. Then relax your hold until the shaking stops. Your trigger finger is uninvolved and slack. Place your trigger finger on the trigger and pull back smoothly before the sear releases.

Dry fire 40–60 times. Concentrate on the crush grip and the independence of your trigger finger. Smoothly pull the trigger with a deliberate and slow motion. You’re training the trigger finger and hand muscles to function independently, and over the space of around 2-3 weeks you should notice you have more control over your trigger finger. When you feel confident about your training, head to the shooting range to practise doing the same motion while experiencing the kickback from the gun and further practising your aim.