Cheap Pistol Practice

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

I recently read an article on more accurate pistol shooting. Although several experts contributed, the constant emphasis was on a smoother trigger pull. Bullets have become more scarce and more expensive. I would like to practice without depleting the ammunition I have.

I decided to practice with a laser beam. I could have bought a bore sighter, but I really need only a dot on the wall to tell me if my trigger pull is jerky or smooth. I decided to go to a pet supply store and get a laser toy for teasing cats. It cost less than $6 US. I also bought some Snap Caps for my pistol.


  • Tubing cutter
  • Vise
  • Angle head grinder and cutting wheel
  • Round file


  • 1/2 inch Electrical Metallic Tubing
  • Laser toy for cats
  • Plastic electrical tape
  • Rubber band
  • Snap Caps

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Step 1: Cut the Tubing

I cut a piece of Electrical Metallic Tubing about 1 1/4 inches long using the tubing cutter.

Step 2: Lessen the Diameter of the Tubing

The outer diameter of the laser toy is almost exactly 1/2 inch. The inner diameter of the tubing is greater. The switch is a button that must be depressed and held in that position. I cut a lengthwise slit in the tube and used the vise to squeeze it to close the slot. It is necessary to keep the tube from becoming egg-shaped. Rotate the tube in the vise and squeeze as needed to keep the tube round. I found I needed to cut the slot again to reduce the inner diameter sufficiently. When the inner diameter was about right, the laser toy would stay lit. To turn it "on," I press the switch button and slide the laser toy into the tube.

Step 3: File the Ends Smooth

The tubing cutter leaves a ridge inside each end of the tube. I used a round file to remove the ridge. This makes it easier to insert the laser toy.

Step 4: Attach to the Gun Barrel

I may make a more permanent attachment for the metal tube. Right now, a rubber band suffices. I did wrap the metal tube with black electrical tape to protect the finish on the gun barrel. This is not a bore sighter. It is not designed to calibrate the sights. It's purpose is only to make a dot on the wall that can be seen when pointing the pistol.

Step 5: Aim and Practice Squeezing the Trigger

I loaded the pistol with Snap Caps that function like a bullet in that they protect the firing pin from damage when the pistol is fired, but they have no slug and no explosive charge. The pistol slide must be pulled each time to cock the pistol for firing again.If you look closely, you can see the laser dot on the wall. It appears brighter in actual use. I had to tweak the metal tube in the rubber band mount to align it, but all I need is to notice whether the dot moves when I squeeze the trigger. It is not even necessary that I aim through the pistol's sights. I am looking forward to getting some good practice and muscle memory for a good trigger squeeze and more accurate shooting, but without the cost of using up scarce live ammunition for practice.

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    9 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Two-hand holds, Isosceles, Weaver, & Chapman stances are for "practical" or "combat" shooting.

    Bullseye shooters use one hand - the dominant hand.

    Wrist and arm strength training, along with breath control and trigger control make the difference between the 100-10x winner and the rest of us.

    Phil B's method lets him work on those cheaply!

    If you ever see an Old Guy turn sideways, stretch out his shooting arm and put his off-hand in his pocket , watch out - he is probably an old bullseye shooter that shot at Camp Perry, knocking out groups the size of a dime at fifty yards in competition, and shooting the eye out of a rabbit for supper.

    Watch them shoot in the Pentathalon at the Olympics - it's all one hand.


    3 years ago

    For maximum accuracy, always use both hands, not one, even though it looks cool.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Good metal work, I do recall being taught to slowly squeeze the trigger.

    I keep a ketch all box, of plastic parts including old pen bodies one of which was perfect for the led button diameter.

    1 reply
    Phil Biceng

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yours is an even less expensive solution, and you can make your own switch that does not require a fitted steel tube. Anything that produces a reasonably focussed beam of light will work. Since you are an experienced electronics guy, you can make choices in your selection of an LED and the compromise between limiting current to the LED and the brightness of the LED. Thank you for your comment.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Why did you make the metal tube? Couldn't you just rubber band the laser directly to the gun, perhaps taping down the switch if you needed to?

    1 reply
    Phil Bjkimball

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The push button switch has a spring much too strong to be held by a rubber band or by tape. A closely fitting metal tube was necessary to keep the light beam "on."

    Phil Bonemoroni1

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for looking and for commenting. I like practical Instructsbles,too. Most of mine are solutions to problems I had and think others might encounter, or contain something others can adapt.