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Old October 2, 2006, 09:22 AM   #1
Samurai
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Slow analysis of my trigger-pull flinch...

Ok. I spent some time at the range this weekend, and I think I've finally taken apart my INCREDIBLY bad trigger-pull flinch. It goes like this:

I start in a left-foot-forward stance, dominant grip, reinforced with the weak hand, Springfield 1911-A1 pistol at low-ready. I flex my quads, flex my hips, flex my feet, bend my knees, and generally dig into the stance. I relax my shoulders, arms, neck, head, and hands (and as much of my back as I can). With my finger off the trigger, I push the pistol away from my torso to full extension. I breathe slowly as I carefully align the sights to one another, and then to the target. My right thumb eases the safety down. I slowly slip my finger down past the trigger guard and onto the trigger.

Now, HERE'S WHERE THE TROUBLE STARTS...

I begin to put some weight on the trigger. I put just enough weight on the trigger to reach the point of firing. Now, to make the trigger go *click*, I need to put more weight on it. As I go to squeeze the trigger, my right deltoid (the outside of my shoulder), my bicep, tricep, and the inside of my forearm FLEX. As they do, my wrist is made to flex slightly! In an instant (The CRITICAL instant! The instant right before the hammer falls!) my whole hand is pulled down and to the left! It's too late! I've done it! The hammer falls, and $0.39 worth of pretty metal is rapidly converted into a beautiful medely of smoke and noise...

I look to the target. It's 15 yards away. My shot has fallen about 6 inches down and about 4 inches to the left. I place the gun on the table, hang my head, and breathe slowly. Time to try it again...


Now, that's the problem. WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?!?!?!?! I've dry fired until my thumb bleeds from cocking the hammer. I'm at my wits' end, here!
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Last edited by Samurai; October 2, 2006 at 11:14 AM.
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Old October 2, 2006, 10:17 AM   #2
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Based on your description, it sounds like you're milking the trigger (moving your whole hand instead of just the trigger finger). First thing you need to do is relax. Then, try this:
Next time you are at the range, load the pistol, point it at the target and close your eyes. Focus your mind on feeling the trigger move as you press it. It should move slowly and surprise you when the gun discharges. If it doesn't, then you are anticipating (not flinching) and you need to start over and do it more slowly. Do that a couple of times with eyes closed, then do it with eyes open. There may be some other issues as well, but that will get you started in the right direction.
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Old October 2, 2006, 11:00 AM   #3
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Accept it. People can do all sorts of things when their warmed up after the 100th try, but its irrelavent in a defensive encounter. Heck even I can shoot decent on the last magazine of the day but my first shot usually sucks. This is a blessing in disguise however if looked at from a critical perspective. False confidece in your ability can get you killed. I see no point in sitting there firing hundereds of rounds getting in the zone and shooting tiny groups. The zone is the one place I KNOW I wont be if faced with a deadly encounter so why train from there? Unless of course your refering to target shooting. 15 yards is a long shot for a gunfight also. Its important to train at all distances but remember its an execptional distance rather than the rule. Have two people stand 15 yards apart and look at the from the side 10 yards back and you'll be suprised. A full power 45 in an all steel 1911 kicks alot also and if you can keep your shots on target at 15 yards I'd say your doing alright and probably great at 7 yards a more relavent distance. If your flinching with that gun you probably always will and should consider that. But dont be influenced by things you read in magazines either. You know, the review of the gun you own, and you read the authors results of 2 inches at 25 yards but it was his fault and the gun could probably shoot better than that. Then you go out and try it say what the hells wrong with me? I say nothing and who cares. Maybe your the worst shot in the world, maybe the writer is lying and got to keep the gun. Who cares because your still going to use it if you need it right?
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Old October 2, 2006, 11:00 AM   #4
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Very good advice from Lurper.

I would also do some dry firing excersises. Get the feel of the trigger action and convert that to some muscle memory. Relax, take your time and sgueeze the trigger to a suprise shot. Keep at it. Slow, smooth and relaxed trigger work.
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Old October 2, 2006, 11:13 AM   #5
Samurai
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Well sure, Timothy. But, this is training for IDPA, not for self-defense. For self-defense, I'll just accept the fact that I hit 'em in the liver instead of the heart and move on... learn to cope with the failure... or whatever.

But, I'd still like to know how to keep it in the "0" for IDPA matches. And, I AM getting better... You should have seen me when I started.

Thanks, Lurper. I'll try that this Saturday.

Any more advice?
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Old October 2, 2006, 11:52 AM   #6
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I don't know you, your background, or your experience; however, you say you have dry fired until you bleed so I presume you have the muscle control and muscle memory to hold the gun steady when there is no recoil/noise. Like Lurper said - sounds like you are anticipating the recoil/noise. Try using a gun with less recoil/noise - I strongly recommend a .22. Once you find yourself being able to fire that without anticipating the shot - move up to the .45.
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Old October 2, 2006, 12:50 PM   #7
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I have two guns, a .45 Springfield 1911, and a .22 snub revolver. The snub .22 has a hair trigger when the hammer is back. I shoot both as often as I can, but I only dry fire the 1911.

The problem is, I do this trigger-squeeze "thing" with the .22 as well! It's not so much that I'm preparing for the recoil, but rather, in order for me to flex my index finger enough to pull the trigger, I have to also flex my forearm and shoulder. (It's like some kind of involuntary muscle connection, thing..., stuff..., whatever...) That's what causes the bad trigger squeeze.

I do not necessarily believe that it is a "flinch" per se. In fact, I suspect that it's improper alignment of my arm/wrist/hand. I plan on trying Lurper's "eyes shut" drill this weekend. However, I do not necessarily believe that it is an anticipation, as I am continually "surprised" at the shot. (My wrist goes all "flimsey" when the gun recoils, because I'm intentionally trying not to brace for the recoil.)

Could this be some sort of improper joint alignment throwing my shots off? Or, am I just in denial?

S.
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Old October 2, 2006, 01:12 PM   #8
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Sounds like you have a grip problem. You should be able to pull the trigger without using your arm, wrist, and shoulder muscles. What part of your finger is on the trigger? I don't see how you can pull the trigger until it is staged, and then need to use your arm to get it to go the last tiny distance.

Try using a little more or less finger on your trigger and see if you can fully depress the trigger with only your trigger finger moving. If you need to use your arm or wrist muscles then you need to have someone show you a correct grip, or the grip on your gun may be too large for your hand.
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Old October 2, 2006, 01:57 PM   #9
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I have HUGE hands. I have some rubber wrap-around Colt grips on the 1911, and I can STILL wrap my trigger finger around the outside of the trigger guard. I'm currently squeezing the trigger with the second joint of my index finger.

I've been shown a (presumably) correct grip by my soon-to-be-father-in-law (STBFIL). He's an IDPA nut. (Fanatic? Zealot?... this is going to get me into trouble later!... ) But, I might simply not be doing it right...

You think that's the problem? I mean, the trigger finger, not the STBFIL!
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Old October 2, 2006, 02:06 PM   #10
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One other thing that may help (keep in mind that I'm certainly no expert):

You may be taking too long (and thinking too much) to take a good shot. By the time that you actually pulling the trigger enough to shoot, you've psyched yourself out and react with a flinch. I'm not saying that you should wildly jerk the trigger as quickly as possible. Instead, try aligning the sights, and then pull that trigger in a fluid, decisive manner. Don't take enough time to let yourself think so much.

I had to do this when I started deer hunting because I found out that deer don't like to stand in the perfect position for half a minute while I slowly checked my form and slowly squeezed the trigger; I had to learn to concentrate on the cross-hairs and just take the shot in a controlled manner. It had the added benefit at the range of really tightening up my groups. Hope it helps, and don't give up!

Edited to add: I just saw this

Quote:
I'm currently squeezing the trigger with the second joint of my index finger.
You need thicker grips, and maybe an arched mainspring housing, too. That would certainly help.
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Old October 2, 2006, 03:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
The problem is, I do this trigger-squeeze "thing" with the .22 as well! It's not so much that I'm preparing for the recoil, but rather, in order for me to flex my index finger enough to pull the trigger, I have to also flex my forearm and shoulder. (It's like some kind of involuntary muscle connection, thing..., stuff..., whatever...) That's what causes the bad trigger squeeze.
Maybe I misunderstood - so what are you saying you do during dry fire?

1) Is it the case that you can dry fire fine (i.e., without moving the gun) and have problems when live firing? Or

2) is it the case that even when dry firing you have problems (i.e., move the gun)?

If it is the case that you move the gun while dry firing then live firing won't be any different until you improve your technique. If it is the case that you dry fire fine and only have problems with live firing then you are anticipating the shot. I assumed (maybe incorrectly) that you were dry firing fine.
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Old October 2, 2006, 04:10 PM   #12
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Flinch?

Maybe because you use too much trigger finger the rest of your finger is up against the pistol. When you pull the trigger the whole finger interacts with the pistol causing it to go down and to the left. Try using the pad of the trigger finger and leave a space between the rest of the trigger finger and the pistol (no contact). Try to pull straight back on the trigger. John
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Old October 2, 2006, 04:33 PM   #13
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Lurper always has good suggestions.

Here is one or two to help you out:

Have a friend randomly distribute snap caps in your magazines. They cannot be the first round, nor the last round. Try firing with those and see if it helps. Sometimes dry fire practice like this in the range, helps fix the issue.

Work out your WRIST muscles by doing wrist curls and half moon flexes. I use 15 Ibs weights and go with 2 sets of 20 reps. You can start out with 5 Ibs and 10 reps work your way up.

There is another device called the gripmaster - you can buy it on amazon. Just remember biceps are "beach" muscles, and although toned, they are attractive to the opposite sex, they are quite useless in reality.

Stronger wrists and a stronger grip - definately improves your shooting.
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Old October 2, 2006, 04:56 PM   #14
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I think i can equate the problem you're having to a problem I have had with an air rifle of mine, unless it's something else entirely.
with my air rifle, i used to take my time with pulling the trigger, i mean about 30 seconds from initial pressure to sear release. I found that using this technique, I unintentionally divided the trigger pull into separate stages, gradually increasing pressure, until the sear released. During this time, the crosshairs would wonder over the target slightly. this was the way i was taught to pull a trigger, gradually increase pressure until the sear releases. However I learned on an anschutz .22 which had an awesome trigger, nice crisp pull which had 2 stages, but was very short anyway, and rather light aswell. My air-rifle on the other hand, has a 2 or three stage trigger with a pull as long as manhattan island, and its rather heavy, with varying tensions throughout the pull.
during the past week, I decided to give something else a try. I was going to pull that trigger reasonably quickly, but practise to make it smooth and consistant.
i am in the process of teaching myself how to pull the trigger quickly, but evenly and smoothly, so far my groups have at least halved in size, and getting better.
i think you might be taking too long to pull the trigger, concentrating on that movement too hard.

just an idea, i could be completely wrong...

Last edited by Dre_sa; October 2, 2006 at 04:59 PM. Reason: editing
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Old October 2, 2006, 06:44 PM   #15
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Samurai,
You have way too much finger on the trigger. While that much works well w/da revos, with an auto it is far too much. Put your trigger finger in your mouth and bite down about halfway across your finger nail. Flip your finger over and where the toothmarks are is about where the trigger should be. At most it should be almost to the first knuckle. What happens when you do this is one of two things. Either the end of your finger goes all the way through the trigger guard and effects either the gun or your weak hand, or the third segment of your finger hits the gun on the strong side and pushes it (left if right handed). Try less finger and the eyes closed focus exercise. Just to clarify, there is no relationship between the speed in this exercise and real speed. I can shoot sub .13 splits, but I can also do this exercise and have it take 13 seconds. The problem is in your mind. This takes your mind off the problem and re-focuses it on the solution. Then you can go back to real time trigger press (it should be a press, not a pull).
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Old October 3, 2006, 08:21 AM   #16
Samurai
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To answer barton's question, yes, it happens during dry fire, as well. I can't seem to get it to go away.

OK! So I've got too much finger through the trigger guard! Excellent! (I'm just glad it's a fixable problem!) I'll try the biting thing, and I'll get back to you...

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Old October 3, 2006, 09:46 AM   #17
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Suggestions

Lurper is right. You are "milking" it, and it causes a less-than-perfect follow-up. My suggestion is to do two things to help correct it.

First - do dry firing practice. Make sure the firearm is unloaded before doing so. Check it twice everytime. But drying firing can help you with muscle memory.

Second - use a partner to place dummy rounds at intermittent frequency in your magazine so you never know (when practicing) whether you are about to fire a 'real' bullet or a dummy round. It helped me tremendously.
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Old October 3, 2006, 10:36 PM   #18
Jeremy Stafford
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Snap Caps are an excellent way to cure an anticipation problem. However, skip loading (the practice of alternating Snap Caps and live rounds) needs to be done in a prescribed manner in order to prevent it from becoming a class 1 malfunction clearance drill. The drill should start (in a 1911 magazine) with 5 Snap Caps and 2 live rounds. As the shooter progresses, (usually over several practice sessions) the ratio of Snap Caps to live rounds is slowly reversed, until you end up with 5 live and 2 Snap Caps. Magazines should always be loaded by someone else. Whenever I start feeling like I'm getting a little out of control, I finish my session with some skip loading.

What you are describing though, sounds like an advanced anticipation problem that has been exacerbated by doing the wrong thing over and over again. Lots of dry practice will help, but when you do it, have a coach stand next to you and watch what you are doing. You need to go very slowly and when you press the trigger to the rear, you really need to try and be surprised by the hammer fall. The coach should be providing you feedback such as "good press" or "bad press".

Sometimes with big, powerful recruits, I would see lots of upper body movement because they are used to doing big, powerful, compound movements with their muscles. It was really difficult for them to seperate their trigger fingers from the rest of their support muscles. If this sounds like you, it can sometimes be fixed by holding the pistol with the strong hand only and taking the ring and small fingers off of the stocks. This forces the shooter to concentrate on the small muscles in the hand only. Shoot a couple of skip loaded magazines then rest. Those small muscles fatigue easily!

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful for you. Good Shooting!
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Old October 16, 2006, 10:34 PM   #19
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here's how I mitigated mine

mine was purely and simply from my body (ie the deep parts of my brain) being afraid of the recoil. I would push the gun down to "pre-compensate".. oddly enough my timing must have been pretty good because shots were on-target. The only time I knew I was doing it was when I'd put a dummy in.

Anyway I started pulling the trigger Slooooooowly. REAL slooooowly. Like 10 seconds to pull the trigger. If I felt myself start to flinch I'd ease up a millimeter or two and start pulling sloowly again. I got so that the hammer fall would take me by surprise and I wouldn't have time to flinch. After awhile my body realized that it wasn't going to be hurt if it didn't shove the gun down to compensate, and now my flinch is far far less. Still needs some work but it's a big improvement.
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Old October 17, 2006, 03:05 PM   #20
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It sounds to me likt you're thinking of the trigger as a two-stage affair. You mention taking the trigger almost all the way back then stopping, and making a concious effort to squeeze... It should be a single, smooth squeeze from beginning to bang. As another poster said, the "bang" should come as a total surprise.

My $.02 is... buy a larger caliber double-action revolver. Something .38 or up. Have a friend go to the range with you, and load your cylinder. The order should go: Live round, snap cap, two live rounds, two snap caps. Close the cylinder without looking. This way, you'll never know whether the next round will be a bang, or a click. (You can do this yourself, if you honestly close the cylinder without looking to see how the snap caps are arranged.) When you squeeze the trigger on a click, if you see the muzzle jerk, you know you're flinching.

This drill gives you all the benefit of being able to see your flinch, without turning it into a malfunction drill. It also reinforces the idea that the "bang" should come as a surprise... after a few cylinders this way, every "bang" will be a surprise! You may be able to do this with your .22, but I think the low recoil would make the drill less effective.
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Old October 17, 2006, 05:42 PM   #21
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Doggie,
You hit the nail on the head when you said it was all in your mind. Having said that, let me point out something that most shooters don't understand. The muzzle dipping after you pull the trigger on an empty chamber/cylinder is not a bad thing. All the excercises with snap caps etc. do nothing for that and there is no reason to worry about it.

Your mind does not know when the gun is loaded or not. What happens immediately after you pull the triigger? The gun fires and recoils. So you are just doing what you usually do when you fire. If you notice the muzzle dipping after the hammer falls, you don't have a problem. When the muzzle dips before the hammer falls, you have a timing problem. The easiest way to fix a timing problem is to focus on pressing the trigger. Press the trigger slowly and smoothly. Focus your mind on feeling the trigger move every nanometer until the shot breaks. If it doesn't surprise you, then you are pressing too fast. Do that for a few shots and then go back to shooting normally and you should find that you no longer have a timing problem.
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Old October 17, 2006, 07:14 PM   #22
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that makes sense
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Old October 17, 2006, 08:26 PM   #23
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Sit down in a relaxed position and set your arm on the arm of the chair in a relaxed position.

Completely relax your arm.

With everything COMPLETELY relaxed, practice moving your trigger finger while KEEPING everything else completely relaxed. In the beginning, you may find that you can only twitch it very slightly without having the rest of your fingers move. With practice you should be able to get it to move through a long enough arc of movement to be sufficient for a trigger pull.

Now you've proved to yourself that you CAN move your finger without flexing any other muscles.

Also, in your dryfire practice, don't focus on the trigger going "click"--instead focus on smoothly applying increasing pressure to the trigger without thinking about when it's going to "click". Forget that the object is the click and concentrate on being smooth and holding the gun steady. Leaving the safety on is a good way to practice this at first.

You might be able to help yourself with some DA revolver shooting. Don't try to "stage" the trigger, instead concentrate on a smooth, one motion pull, that takes the trigger at constant speed through its entire arc and fires the gun.
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Old October 22, 2006, 07:54 AM   #24
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Since you're in Kvile also, if you'd like we can get together and work on it.
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Old October 27, 2006, 01:17 PM   #25
Glenn Bartley
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Quote:
Ok. I spent some time at the range this weekend, and I think I've finally taken apart my INCREDIBLY bad trigger-pull flinch. It goes like this:

I start in a left-foot-forward stance, dominant grip, reinforced with the weak hand, Springfield 1911-A1 pistol at low-ready. I flex my quads, flex my hips, flex my feet, bend my knees, and generally dig into the stance. I relax my shoulders, arms, neck, head, and hands (and as much of my back as I can). With my finger off the trigger, I push the pistol away from my torso to full extension. I breathe slowly as I carefully align the sights to one another, and then to the target. My right thumb eases the safety down. I slowly slip my finger down past the trigger guard and onto the trigger.

Now, HERE'S WHERE THE TROUBLE STARTS...

I begin to put some weight on the trigger. I put just enough weight on the trigger to reach the point of firing. Now, to make the trigger go *click*, I need to put more weight on it. As I go to squeeze the trigger, my right deltoid (the outside of my shoulder), my bicep, tricep, and the inside of my forearm FLEX. As they do, my wrist is made to flex slightly! In an instant (The CRITICAL instant! The instant right before the hammer falls!) my whole hand is pulled down and to the left! It's too late! I've done it! The hammer falls, and $0.39 worth of pretty metal is rapidly converted into a beautiful medely of smoke and noise...

I look to the target. It's 15 yards away. My shot has fallen about 6 inches down and about 4 inches to the left. I place the gun on the table, hang my head, and breathe slowly. Time to try it again...


Now, that's the problem. WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?!?!?!?! I've dry fired until my thumb bleeds from cocking the hammer. I'm at my wits' end, here!
I can understand why you are at your wits end going through all of the above to identify what you are doing wrong, instead of doing the simple thing to do it right.

Next time you aim in and are ready to fire, start to say the word squeeze to yourself mentally, say it slowly, really dragged out and just keep squeezing until the gun goes off. You do not time your pull with saying the word, you just start to squeeze and say it. Keep doing this, over and over again each time you shoot. When you realize the gun went off as if by surprice while doing so, then you did not anticipate recoil or otherwise flinch.

Once it works, don't stop it. Do it everytime you shoot. Your shooting will improve markedly. I have seen this work with everyone to whom I have taught it, no exceptions. of course you can stop doing it and revert back to the old ways, but if you say that word to yourself each time and just start to squeeze as you say it, it should work very quickly.

All the best,
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