Although I’m a firearms instructor and have been for many years, I just so happened to receive some high quality instruction recently about the importance of follow-through. Receiving instruction with humility is when learning comes best, so my mouth was shut and my ears were wide open.
It’s the basics of marksmanship that will make you a great shooter or tactical operator. After all, experts are expert at the basics. Therefore, it follows that when it comes to learning yourself or teaching others to shoot better, explaining, demonstrating and performing the fundamentals really is what matters most.
To this point, a very qualified instructor posed a basic but important question in a class I was attending: Why is follow-through important?
Whether you’re swinging a golf club or shooting at a duck, follow-through is essential to faithfully launching the projectile and hitting the target. If not, all the energy ceases before the bullet has left the crown of the barrel. This means keeping your eyes aligned with your sights and the target all the way through the complicated process of trigger squeeze, firing pin movement striking the primer, igniting the primer and powder, and the sending of the bullet into the rifling and out the muzzle. If there is any shaking, moving, flinching, etc, through this process, it will affect the shot.
While follow-through is a fundamental in shooting that must be adhered to, doing it right also means mastering some other basics. Being good at follow-through means having a good, aggressive stance, and if shooting a pistol, having the proper recoil management with a good thumbs forward grip. Conversely, follow-through will be hindered if the shooter has the bad habit of riding the recoil (deliberately recoiling or holding the recoil unnaturally), pushing (pressing the gun downward to avoid natural recoil), heeling or some other jacked up thing.
In the context of a gunfight, follow-through is important because there is no such thing as “one shot-one kill.” At least it’s not tactically prudent to ever think that there is; whether you have a 9mm, 00 buckshot or a 6.5 Creedmoor, you need to be ready to keep shooting until the threat stops. Consider watching the body going to the ground while following or tracking him (or her). Even veteran snipers are always ready for a good follow up shot.
Which brings me to a shooting axiom: When it comes to shooting, it is only possible to not be perfect. While I know some really mind blowing, seemingly flawless shooters, I’ve never met a perfect one. To me, that’s the fun thing about shooting: it’s difficult to be perfect every shot, all the time. It’s a challenge.
Safety warning: Jeffrey Denning is a long time professional in the art of self-defense and any training methods or information he describes in his articles are intended to be put into practice only by serious shooters with proper training. Please read, but do not attempt anything posted here without first seeking out proper training.