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Old September 22, 2014, 11:46 AM   #1
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Friend is starting to flinch while shooting his rifle

We went out yesterday afternoon to shoot a bit. My friend is a fairly new hunter, having taken it up year before last when his family bought a farm. he bought a .270, a TC. A budget rifle, but it shoots well. it does not have any more recoil than my Remington 700 in .270. we went out then, he became a fairly good shot. Last season he got two deer with it.

He has started to flinch while shooting it now, and he knows it. I don't know why it would make any difference, but he mounted a bipod on his rifle because of the stand he hunts out of. I am fairly good at starting a new shooter and avoiding flinching, but starting flinching after not doing so is new to me.

How to help him? go back to .22's and review proper technique? shoot more? Any help would be appreciated.

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Old September 22, 2014, 12:05 PM   #2
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I only know of two treatments for flinching. 1st step is LOTS of dryfires. On a bench, aiming like you mean it but without being loaded. The other is doing the same thing but with a .22.

There may be other treatments but I know those can work. They get the mind used to the idea of pulling the trigger while remaining still.
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Old September 22, 2014, 12:06 PM   #3
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.22 with ball and dummy practice ( look it up) or with just raw experience, putting aa bunch of rounds through the .22 after that, and when the flinch is gone, get him like a recoil pad or something (I don't know if a .270 recoils much, never fired one) or light loads and progress from there. I dont have a flinch anymore, but I am just now getting over blinking every shot. Hope he gets rid of it. God knows it's a bad habit.
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Old September 22, 2014, 01:07 PM   #4
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I started to develop a flinch when I bought my first .338 years ago. I was able to talk myself out of flinching. At the bench I really concentrated on proper form and would tell myself over and over "Concentrate on sight picture and gently squeeze the trigger, this thing doesn't hurt, 90lb. women shoot bigger things." I thought about it a lot even when I wasn't shooting and convinced myself that there was no rational reason for flinching. I quickly lost the flinch.
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Old September 22, 2014, 02:16 PM   #5
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Are you guys shooting a lot or just getting ready for deer season?

22 therapy can work but I almost wonder if picking up something that looks like the hunting rifle would work better. maybe a 223 look a like rifle so that there is still some power to kick vs none from a 22.

Of course something that works for me is shooting clays with my 12 gauge. It kicks and i'm not so focused on shooting a bullseye.
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Old September 22, 2014, 02:46 PM   #6
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If shooting from a bench is where he is "learning" his flinch then a good set of ear plugs with a set of ear muffs over the top will help. Also a weight behind the but (assuming he can still get the proper eye relief) will help, and if a flinch sets in during a range session, stop shooting for a while and take a break. To continue shooting with a flinch would seem to be re-inforcing the habit. Sometimes something simple like an air rifle will help develop follow through and control the flinch, a good .22 and trigger time concentrating more on the follow through will also help, but sometimes finding the time to shoot a .22 may be problematic for some, an air rifle all you need is a back yard and a pellet trap, and the trigger pull on most of them require you to reall concentrate on the follow through. At least it helps me if I get a little flinchy.
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Old September 22, 2014, 02:55 PM   #7
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I have found that my overall wellbeing has a lot to do with how I shoot, and if I flinch when other people shoot next to me on a given day. If I am having back spasms on previous days, I am apprehensive while shooting. I won't shoot well. If I drink my normal 5 or 6 cups of coffee, I do not shoot well. I have to limit myself 2 regular size cups of coffee, and not drink any alcohol the night before if I want to shoot rifles on a given day.
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Old September 22, 2014, 03:12 PM   #8
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Man, Zach, only 2 cups of coffee and no whiskey the night before. I might just live with the flinch
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Old September 22, 2014, 03:29 PM   #9
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The 2 coffee cup limit is the hard part.
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Old September 22, 2014, 08:28 PM   #10
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Sounds like 'your friend' could use better hearing protection. Try doubling up on it and see if that helps.
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Old September 22, 2014, 09:14 PM   #11
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Find "your friend" some reduced recoil ammo(or load some for him). Let him get more comfortable shooting his .270 with less recoil and slip a dummy round every so often to remind him not to flinch.
I have extensive experience shooting precision rifles and still find myself doing the trigger jerk once in a while. It happens and is just human nature sometimes. It's much harder to break the bad habit if allowed to continue for a length of time.
Worst case scenario will require "starting over" with a low recoil rifle like a 243 and moving up as the shooter regains confidence.
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Old September 22, 2014, 10:50 PM   #12
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What Mobuck says---

Quoting this from:

"Handgunners long ago invented the most effective and fool-proof and by far the dirtiest trick anyone could ever play on a flinch. Revolver shooters simply leave one chamber empty and spin the cylinder as randomly as a roulette wheel. Semiauto shooters have an accomplice insert a dummy round somewhere between the first and last round in the magazine. Bolt action rifle shooters can do the same. There is no escape from this dirtiest of all tricks. Even a flinch that has been perfectly camouflaged and hidden down deep in a shooter’s subconsciousness sucking out his brains for years is suddenly revealed in all its ugly nakedness as it jumps out and bites you in the face with all the teeth in its bloody little alien head the moment the hammer falls on an empty chamber or dead primer, its rude discovery accompanied by the loudest click anybody ever heard, the silliest jerky little dance any slapstick comedian could ever come up with, and embarrassment as brutal as an ice cold shower out in front of the blizzard-battered tent up in the snow-covered mountains at elk camp. It’s an unforgettable lesson. The absence of a flinch, on the other hand, sets off a classical string quartet and the soothing sound of a French horn drifting in on a warm breeze from enchanted green hills somewhere as the firing pin smoothly lowers itself into its waiting bed. Absolutely works every time."
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Old September 22, 2014, 11:11 PM   #13
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There have been a few shooters over the years whose flinch I could not cure. They will never be bench rest shooters, but with proper adaptation, they can be good shooters despite the flinch. First step, very light crisp trigger. Second step, pull the trigger fast yet controlled. (slow squeeze does not work for flinchers. Third step, decrease lock time. ie. Titanium firing pin.

I have seen shooters zeroing in their hunting rifles that literally looked like an alcoholic going into D.T.'s when squeezing their triggers. I tell them, come over here and shoot my rifle. They touch the trigger, boom, they hit the dot. It amazes them. 14 oz trigger is usually an easy cure for "the flinch."

The best way is to cure the flinch, but for a few; that is just not happening.

Last edited by reynolds357; September 22, 2014 at 11:19 PM.
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Old September 22, 2014, 11:36 PM   #14
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I do not necessarily agree that pursuing extra light triggers ,etc is the path.

Seems like "jerk quick before you flinch"

Tail chasing.Hardware solution for a software problem.

Physical things(noise,recoil,pain)aggravate flinch.Few flinch from shooting pellet guns.

So,mitigate those:Ear protection,better bench position,butt placement,etc.

A thinner PAST recoil shield makes tremendous difference.

Those things done,there is the software problem.All mental.Focus or flinch.The most powerful anti-flinch tool I know:

Put the same target you are shooting at on the bench next to you.

For each shot,totally focus on seeing the reticle on the target as the gun recoils and the scope blacks out.Now,with a pencil,or cartridge tip,point out exactly where you saw the crosshairs on the target when the shot broke.And keep your finger conciously pressed on the trigger for at keast one full second after the shot.

Shooting your deer,focus the crosshairs on a spot on a rib.Totally focus on seeing the crosshairs on that spot as the gun recoils.

Get cringe?Let off trigger pressure,breathe,focus,begin again.Call the shot.
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Old September 23, 2014, 12:31 AM   #15
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Make sure you have good hearing protection, as a lot of times the flinch can be associated to the noise, which seems weird but can certainly help.

Get good hearing protection and a 22 and shoot lots.
Make sure he is aware of the flinch and when he feels he's starting to, to tell himself that it's only a 22 and it wont hurt.

I'd shoot at paper targets and as well as consciously telling himself not to flinch, concentrate on trying to shoot as small group as possible.
If you can find something more interesting or better to focus on you wont even think about the recoil.

When shooting paper targets with my shotgun it feels like it recoils a lot, but when it's a duck flying over or a clay bird I don't even notice it. Well sometime I do but it's the next day usually.
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Old October 22, 2014, 02:23 PM   #16
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snap caps,
lots of dry fire
when you go shooting again, somebody load the gun for him, alternating between live and dummy rounds. That will get him to sqweeeez again.
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Old October 22, 2014, 02:36 PM   #17
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Colorado Redneck has the answer.

This works very well.
Flinching is a subconscious act.
The brain is anticipating the recoil and the report.
By following this tactic you relearn the brain to focus on the trigger pull and not anticipating the recoil and the report
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Old October 22, 2014, 03:10 PM   #18
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I'm a benchrest shooter, I have been shooting the same rifle for 9 years. The rifle by this time is a part of me. Alot of range time, don't rush your shots, consentrate on your form. It's a matter of get use to the rifle. I always mix in a dummy round to check myself, try an think every round is the dummy. Takes time.
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Old Yesterday, 01:13 PM   #19
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Your friend may very well have a super sensitive shoulder from nerve damage or whatever and is anticipating the recoil.
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Old Yesterday, 02:34 PM   #20
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Might also try getting him off the bench if its the recoil that is making him flinch. Shooting off the bench is harder on the shoulder.
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Old Yesterday, 04:19 PM   #21
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Flinching is a semi-subconscious reaction to a concious (fear, resentment or discomfort; pick at least one) of the noise and/or recoil produced by the firearm. Until that's tamed, minimized and brought under control and management, nothing else will help. Some people can do that, others cannot and a few will need professional help to mentally adapt to mastering control over flinching.
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Old Today, 02:44 AM   #22
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dirty trick practice

For this drill you need two particpants, the shooter and the assistant. The shooter is on the firing line in a firing position. I don't see why this could not be done on a bench, but any reasonable shooting position (that allows the shooter to receive the firearm handed to him....safely) is acceptable. Muzzle integrity is

The assistant handles the rifle, either loading a live cartridge, or simply cycling the action to cock the weapon on an empty chamber. This is done in such a manner so that the shooter cannot tell if the gun is loaded or not. The firearm is then passed to the shooter, who aims and completes a proper trigger press on a safe target. A flinch, or a good press, will be apparent on every empty chamber.

Triggers are pressed and controlled, not necessarily squeezed, and certainly not jerked. Good, safe dry practice will help, as will shooting a light rifle. I am completely against lightening up on trigger pullweight. to conceal poor trigger management.
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