Fixing Horizontal Stringing On Pistol Groups

When I’m working with a single shooter on a live fire range, I spend most of my time assessing the shooter…not looking at their target.  I look at what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and figuring out the 1-2 highest leverage opportunities for improvement.

But when I’m working with multiple shooters at the same time, I end up having to use the target as a forensic tool to diagnose why each shooter shot the way they did.

This is important because if you’re shooting alone and don’t have a video camera, you’re in the same boat and reading your target correctly can help you identify and fix problems quicker.

And the quicker you can diagnose and fix shooting problems, the more value you’ll get out of your training time and the fewer bad habits you’ll form.

The challenge is that most shooting problems that you see played out on a target can have more than one cause.

Is it the gun?

Is it the technique?

Is it a vision issue?

Is it a mental or biological issue? (blood sugar, stress, anxiety, mental or physical exhaustion, low blood oxygen, etc.)


Is it slow fire or trying to get a fast first hit from the holster?

Is it a single shot, or are you also trying to get timing right on recoil management for fast followup shots?

Are you or the target moving?

Are you standing?

If the number of possible causes sounds intimidating…it doesn’t need to be.  You just eliminate causes until you’ve got your answer.

To start with, slow down and shoot single shots while standing still.

If you’re shooting slow, deliberate shots and still have horizontal stringing, like this…

There are a few easy solutions that go beyond the answers a typical “diagnostic target” will give you.

You may be asking yourself why the shots are going both directions from the bullseye.

They don’t always.

But it’s common to be inconsistent with shooting errors…sometimes you make them and sometimes you don’t.

And it’s natural to try to correct by aiming at a different spot on the opposite side of the bullseye.

So if you’re pushing alignment to the left with your index finger for 3 shots, it’s tempting to aim further right…and then randomly NOT push with your index finger for the next few shots.  Now the group will be off to the right and the target will look like the one above.

When this happens, it’s VERY confusing and frustrating.

It’s called “chasing your shots” and it’s a lot like chasing your tail.  Shooters normally blame their gun when this happens…and that’s worth checking…but chances are extremely good that it’s the user and not the gun.

That’s why it’s important to trust (but verify) your sights and try to use consistent form from rep to rep.

So, here’ a few reasons why you might be stringing your shots horizontally…

  1. You may be having a problem isolating your trigger finger from your other fingers and disturbing sight alignment with your thumb or fingers. (relax your shooting hand, apply more rearward force with your support hand)
  2. You could be pushing or pulling laterally with your trigger finger. (move your trigger finger further in or out of the trigger guard and see if it reduces horizontal stringing)
  3. It can be a visual suppression issue because your visual cortex is causing you to line up your sights between your eyes instead of the sights lining up with the center of either eye. (Try closing your non-dominant eye and shooting again. If that fixes the problem, consider doing the Brock String drills from Tactical Vision Training.
  4. It could be, as a very experienced federal law enforcement instructor recently reminded me, something simple…like loose sights. (look at your sights…if they’re not centered, there’s probably a problem.  If they move, there’s definitely a problem.)
  5. If you’re drawing and shooting fast and are shooting tight, but not accurate groups, it could be that the visual and vestibular (inner ear) aiming systems aren’t synchronized & calibrated. (this sounds complicated, but it’s relatively simple to fix)

These aren’t the only 5, but it covers the majority of the issues that cause horizontal stringing.  Feel free to share others by commenting below.

So it’s really cool to read about how to diagnose patterns on a target, but it’s hard to remember all of the different patterns and the different causes for the patterns.

And that’s why I broke down and finally created the Brain Based Diagnostic 2 Handed Pistol Target.

It simplifies what I see when I look at a target, the causes of the most common shooting problems, and how to quickly fix them.

You’ve probably seen or used a diagnostic pistol target at some point that looks like a pie chart.

The problem is…they don’t work for 2 handed defensive pistol shooting!

They were originally made for calm, slow fire, one handed, bullseye shooting, but the biggest problem is that they completely ignore the fact that most shooting problems have a mental, visual, and even mechanical component in addition to technique.

They end up causing shooters to chase their tail and waste time and money.

I got frustrated and decided to fix the problem.

It’s ridiculously simple…you simply shoot 5-10 rounds, see which of the 5 zones you hit the most, and then look at the Problem:Solution chart to see the most common problem and solution is.

It works with live ammo, it works with lasers, and it’ll save you a TON of time, money, and frustration.

It will give you technique, mechanical, mental, and visual solutions to tighten up your groups as quickly as possible.

How do you get yours?

I’m going to start selling these next month for $27.  But right now, you can get it as a free bonus when you click >HERE< and scroll down.

For people who take action now, you’re going to get the print-at-home version so that you NEVER have to pay me for printing, postage, or handling for these targets OR the Problem:Solution chart.

If you’re an instructor, it’s a great sustainment training tool to send students home with.  If you ever shoot with a group, it’s a great gift to give your friends.

So, go ahead and get yours now by clicking >HERE<  (If you’ve already got 21 Day Alpha Shooter, the target is in the members’ area)

Questions?  Comments?  Let me know by commenting below!







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  • Dave Lowe

    Reply Reply October 16, 2017

    Just another lefty checking in. LOL

    • Ox

      Reply Reply October 20, 2017

      We added the left handed version…and black and white versions of both the right and left handed targets 🙂

  • scott wolff

    Reply Reply October 13, 2017

    As a lefty (and in my right mind)I’m in


    Reply Reply October 13, 2017

    So if we basically reverse things, can it be used for lefties?

    • Ox

      Reply Reply October 13, 2017

      Yes…absolutely. I wanted to see what demand was like before making the left handed version.

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