The Cornered Cat

The myth is that if you purchase laser grips, you’ll never have to practice again. You’ll immediately be multitudes faster, and you’ll never miss the target again.

I wish.

The truth is that laser grips can help you shoot faster and more accurately. They are particularly helpful in low light or in unconventional shooting positions. But you still have to practice with them in order to get the full benefit.

Here are some things you might try.

Practice good light discipline. When the gun comes on target, tighten your grip so the light goes on, or flick the switch to the on position. As it comes off target, loosen your grip so it immediately goes off, or flick the switch back off again.

Practice trusting the dot. Do your standard draw and fire, but fire immediately as soon as you see the dot on target. Trust the shot. (Remember that smooth trigger pull and follow through are just as important no matter which sighting system you use!)

Practice transitioning instantly from dot to front sight if, for any reason whatsoever, you do not see the dot when and where you expect to see it. Practice the transition often enough that you don’t stop to analyze and instead just do it.

Practice accepting the wobble. One thing that often surprises people who are new to lasers is how much visible wobble that little dot has when it’s on the target. In truth, this visible wobble is nothing to worry about; the wobble is just as present when aiming with iron sights as it is with a laser, but is not as noticeable. School yourself to accept this minor wobble. As long as the trigger is pressed smoothly, the bullet will land within the small circle described by this wobble. If you try to fight the wobble, and yank the trigger during the brief moment that the wobbling dot passes precisely over the exact center of the target, what will happen is that the shot will very often land far outside the circle — usually quite low and often to the left of the target’s center. Instead of fighting the wobble by yanking the trigger (which is self-defeating), concentrate on a smooth, controlled trigger press.

Safety Tip

Don’t shoot the cat! Be aware that most cats and some dogs are highly attracted to laser dots. If you’re going to do a safety check with your laser, or practice dry fire with your laser, get all pets out of the room. The last thing you need to do is shoot your beloved Fluffy just as she finally pounces on that wonderfully mouse-like dot.

Use the laser for safety checks. If you have a favored low-ready position, unload the firearm, and in a safe area, activate your laser from that position. Does the dot land precariously near any of your favored body parts? Slowly turn in a circle while watching the dot. How large is your circle of safety? Walk forward slowly. Did your feet get into the dot? If so, you’ll need to find a safer low-ready position for moving around.

You can also use the laser to check the safety of the following items:

Practice a good draw stroke. You can do this in dry fire as long as you have a safe backstop. What you want to do is make sure that you habitually get the dot on target at the earliest possible moment (as the gun clears leather is ideal) and that as you draw, you habitually bring the muzzle straight forward onto the target rather than swooping the muzzle up from the ground or casting it over the top of the target before settling on it. The laser allows you to check that you’re keeping the gun aimed at the center of the target throughout your entire draw stroke. Use the laser to help you learn to do it right and then practice doing it right, over and over again, until you cannot get it wrong any more. Then turn the laser off and pat yourself on the back when you see how this laser practice has improved your iron sight skills.

Practice in all different lighting environments as much as possible. It is especially helpful to hit the outdoor range around sundown, and work until slightly after dusk, if your range will allow it. You need to become practiced enough in different lights that you will instantly intuit whether to use the laser or the regular sights, without having to take the time to think about it and without the need to transition from one to the other.

Do not stop practicing with iron sights. The laser is an additional tool, not a replacement for standard sights. The laser may be your best bet in low light situations, but in full daylight you will still need to know how to use the regular sights to best effect. You will also need to maintain some level of competence without the laser in low light, just so you don’t put all your low-light eggs in one basket.