For shooters, breathe control is often overlooked. Breathing is an important factor that impacts the accuracy of your shot. You can practice your stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture all you want, but if one does not breathe properly, you may never hit the target as accurately as possible. The further away the target is, the more important breathing comes into play.


You must try to avoid holding your breath. By holding your breath, you rob oxygen from the major muscle groups in your body and several things will happen: (1) your eyes lose their ability to focus, (2) your body will begin to tremble and shake, and (3) your fine motor skills will rapidly diminish. By breathing, it helps oxygenate the body and helps reduce the effects of stress.


To maintain body movement, your breath must be held while firing a shot. “Before each shot take a breath, let enough air out so you are comfortable; hold the remaining breath while firing the shot. By holding your breath for longer than 8 seconds, muscle tremors will start. Breathing while handgun shooting is essential to proper body functions.


Proper breath control allows the shooter to remain steady once a good sight picture is attained. The shooter should inhale while bringing the handgun to eye level. When it’s at eye level, the shooter should exhale approximately half of a breath. By allowing some air to remain in the lungs, the shooter will not fight to exhale or inhale. The optimum time to fire the round during slow fire is 4 to 7 seconds.


So, remember:

  • Don’t try to hold your breath while you shoot.
  • Don’t shoot on a natural respiratory pause (during the inhale or on the exhale).
  • Before firing, take a “half-breath” inhale followed by exhaling some air out.
  • During long range handgun shooting, vertical tracking is often noticed when the shooter fires on the inhale, then fires on the exhale causing the muzzle to travel up and down.

Let’s be honest, in a gun fight, none of us (myself included), will be breathing properly. If you think you will, you are sadly mistaken. How many times do you get winded just walking up a flight of stairs? So how do you think any of us are going to have the clarity of mind to breathe properly when someone is trying to kill us? So, how do you prepare?  


Take your training to the next level by adding movement drills, failure drills, combative drills and see if you can spark that muscle memory of proper breath control. Yes, as a disclaimer, any of the drills that I just mentioned should be done with strict supervision by a competent training facility, like us.