Part 2: Ammunition and Shooting Fundamentals


Ammunition selection

  • Most firearms have the ammunition caliber (diameter size) stamped on the slide or barrel
  • Each cartridge has its caliber stamped on the base of the casing
  • Carefully select the box of ammunition by matching the label to your caliber

Performance Ammunition

  • Some ammunition may be designed for higher performance specifications
  • Never use ammunition that exceeds your gun compatibility
  • Check you slide, barrel, manual or manufacturer if uncertain
  • Consult your gun store for defensive ammunition such as hollow points and make sure your selection works flawlessly in your gun

Ammunition malfunctions


  • Failure of the cartridge to fire after the primer has been struck
  • Keep your gun pointed in the safe direction
  • Wait 30 seconds then unload and properly dispose of the cartridge


  • A delay in firing is experienced after the primer has been stuck
  • Keep your gun pointed in the safe direction until the cartridge discharges
  • Unload, and you may want to retire that batch of ammunition


  • The cartridge fires but the discharge is significantly underpowered
  • Keep your gun pointed in the safe direction
  • Wait 30 seconds while safely assessing this situation
  • Make sure the squib fired bullet has cleared the barrel by removing the barrel for inspection
  • Do not use this gun until the bullet is cleared 

Shooting fundamentals

Body position

  • Use an athletic stance with feet aligned left to right and perpendicular to the target at shoulder width
  • The stance is similar to a tennis or golf ready position
  • Arms are fully extended


  • Grip the handgun with your dominant hand first, then overlap with your weak hand, fingers stacked and up to the trigger guard
  • For Semi-automatic handguns, make sure both thumbs overlap on the same side of the gun with the strong hand thumb on top

Sight alignment

  • Use your dominant eye or both eyes open for sight alignment
  • Initially using only your dominant eye opened is easier to focus on the sights
  • With your arms fully extended and gun at eye level, look through the rear sight and position the gun until you can see the front sight through the rear sight at the center of the target
  • Maintain your focus on the front sight to make sure you stay aligned until the shot is complete

Breath control

  • Take a breath, exhale half way and hold as you squeeze the trigger
  • The goal is to steady yourself during the shot

Trigger Control

  • Place your fingerprint on the trigger
  • Take the slack out of the trigger and continue to smoothly squeeze the trigger until the gun fires


  • Remove your finger from the trigger
  • Maintain safe control on target for another shot or pull your gun back in to a high or low ready position 

Part 2 practical exercise


Name three cartridge malfunctions

  • Misfire
  • Hangfire
  • Squib

Shooting fundamentals

Name three of the six shooting fundamentals

  • Body position
  • Grip
  • Sight alignment