Low Shots? Stop Peeking!

Think back to one of your recent trips to the shooting range. When you shot controlled pairs (two well aimed shots) was your second shot consistently low? What about when you shoot three, four or five rounds? Is your last shot below the group that started to form? If this is what you see on your targets I may have an easy solution … STOP PEEKING!

Yep, I said it, “You need to stop peeking.” You have to quit looking down range while you press your trigger. Heck, I bet sometimes you watch as the hole forms in the target from your final shot, well below the other shots in the group. Isn’t that frustrating! Fear not though … I have some simple solutions that may help you to stop peeking. 

peeking at target

First of all, without watching you shoot, I can’t say with 100% accuracy that peeking is the cause of your shots going low. However, if it’s the final shot in a string of shots, I have a really good feeling that is the answer. Following is the simplest way I know of to explain what is happening. And yes, I agree it may sound a little hokey, but it’s been proven over and over again in classes. 

What Happens When You Peek

Let’s consider everything it takes for the bullet in your pistol to make a hole in the target:

  1. Your eyes see the correct sight alignment/sight picture and signal to your brain that you should finish pressing the trigger. 
  2. As you’re pressing the trigger you need to maintain your sight alignment/sight picture for the shot to hit where you want. 
  3. Your brain needs instant gratification (especially on the last shot) and wants to know where the shots went. 
  4. Before the bullet ever leaves the barrel you’ve already lowered your gun, or raised your head (or both) to look down range at the target and see where the holes are.  

Sure, I know this is all in a split second, but think about it … doesn’t it make sense? Your brain is done shooting before the bullet has even left the barrel. Your eyes have already changed focus and are looking down range, usually over the top of your barrel. You did not maintain proper sight alignment/sight picture through the break of the round.

Follow Through
Practicing follow-through may keep you from dropping your last shots

3 Tips to Stop Peeking

  1. Practice follow-through after your last shot. By that I mean set yourself up as if you are taking another shot. Watch your sights as they align and settle back on the target creating another sight picture. In recoil take up the slack in your trigger, arriving back at the pressure wall in preparation for another shot. Then, once you’ve determined you don’t need to take another shot, index your trigger finger and bring the gun back to the high-ready. Now you can look at where your shots went. 

  1. Use a target that doesn’t allow you to see holes to limit your need to peek. I created a camo target that you may download here. It is REALLY difficult to see where the shots went when you look downrange. Basically, there is nothing for you to see. This should help you learn to feel and recognize where the shots. But, you have to get it through your head that there is nothing to see. 

  1. If all else fails, I used the following exercise many years ago to help someone who just couldn’t stop peeking, but admitted she did it. On your final shot make sure to follow through, but close your eyes as your sights settle back down. Then, remove your finger from the trigger, placing it straight along the frame. Bring your gun back to the high-ready and open your eyes. Now look downrange at your target. I’ve used this same exercise with other people and it seems to do the trick. Eventually they stop peeking and wait until they are back to the high-ready to take their eyes and mind down range. 
Oval Camo Targets Princess Gunslinger
Download camo target here

I’m sure there are many other tips and tricks to get people to stop peeking when they shoot, however these are ones I’ve used that you can do on your own. First though, if your shots are going low (especially the last ones) you need to confirm, recognize and accept that peeking is your problem. Then, it’s a matter of getting your brain to stop wanting to see immediate outcomes and taking your eyes down range. 

Happy Shooting!