By Will Andrews, Training Director
Anyone who has trained with me will tell you that I’m a stickler for grip technique. A strong grip technique locks the pistol in place and allows consistent accuracy. It reduces felt recoil, making shooting more comfortable and hits at speed possible. A strong, consistent grip is the basic foundation of performance while shooting a handgun.
And in this entry I’d like to discuss the other reasons I’m a stickler for grip technique. Once the dominant hand is on the pistol, a “master grip” is attained, and maintained. The dominant hand locks onto the pistol, and the non-dominant hand will seat magazines and cycle the slide. The controls of the pistol should be operated by the dominant hand. This is a critical safety safety function.
Many beginning shooters switch the pistol hand to hand for loading and clearing functions. They will move the pistol from the master grip to the non-dominant hand, in something other than a controlling grip, and seat the magazine, cycle the slide with their dominant hand, then switch the pistol back into the dominant hand to begin shooting. Inevitably, they will lose mental awareness of the muzzle somewhere in this process, and point the pistol in an inappropriate direction, often at their own mid-section. A proper master grip, consistent and unchanging, is a huge advantage in maintaining mental awareness of the muzzle, and therefore a safety function.
Most instructors speak some variant of “Never point a firearm at anything you’re not willing to destroy” in a safety lecture. While this is an excellent safety rule, I believe it is insufficient for teaching gun safety to beginning shooters and gun handlers. I teach the same concept, but use the phrase “muzzle awareness” in place of the traditional phrase. I teach shooters to maintain an awareness of where the pistol is pointing. Until a shooter is constantly aware of the direction of the muzzle, it is folly to attempt to teach them where not to point it. A master grip is the fastest, easiest way to attain this awareness.