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Old March 11, 2011, 05:18 PM   #1
steve1147
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WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? 38 vs. 45

Hello All, and thanks in advance for your advice!
I've been shooting poorly many decades, and reloading for a few years, but this problem seems to be ME and I can't seem to overcome it!
At ten yards with my GP100 shooting .38 specials offhand, I can consistently group about tennis ball size, which I don't consider too bad for an old guy with bad rotator cuffs and tennis elbow, not to mention the other things...
HOWEVER with my Glock 45acp, Rohrbaugh R9, Springfield 45acp, Glock 40, and if I load .357's in the GP, I'm all over the board! I know I MUST be flinching or something. I say "all over" but most bad shots seem to be low left. I know it's not the guns, 'cause if I sandbag rest, they all shoot excellent.
I've tried dry-firing in the house with just primers in an empty cartridge, and realized I'm anticipating the recoil and tightening up. I thought I got over that.... Any advice/practice drills would be helpful.
Thanks for your time,
Steve W.
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Old March 11, 2011, 05:36 PM   #2
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Yeah, from your description, it sounds like a classic case of flinch due to recoil anticipation.
There was a lengthy thread on this forum about just letting the gun recoil, instead of fighting it, and use just enough grip and control for the sights to settle back down on the target for the next shot.
Keeping the gun recoiling and returning in a straight line up and down is more important that trying to prevent recoil.
The thread had an excellent video link showing the process about half way down on the second page.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...=let+it+recoil
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Old March 11, 2011, 06:45 PM   #3
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It's in the head. Lots of people are psyched out by the 45. Even though in reality it doesn't really kick that much more.

Dry firing and "ball and dummy" practice helps. Something else that would help is putting a laser on your 45 for dry firing. After dry firing a bit the shoot it with the laser. After a while use it without the laser.

When your groups start to go south again, go back and start all over, Eventually you'll work around the problem

Don't fret, its quite common with the 45. Shooting is 90% plus mental anyway.
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Old March 11, 2011, 07:36 PM   #4
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Another good training tactic that works for me...
put the big guns away and shoot 20-40 rounds of .22LR pistol..
This helps me forget the recoil and re-focus on shooting technique.
I find that I switch to .22 less often as I go to the range..
It really works for me...
I had a big issue with my 3rd gen S&W 4566TSW shooting low and left(I'm right handed)Now I can poke out the bullseye at 7 yds and nearly as good at 10yds..

Last edited by hondauto; March 11, 2011 at 07:40 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old March 11, 2011, 08:48 PM   #5
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I can't hit the side of a barn with a 45ACP pistol. I've tried everything from Colt Gold Cup to Ruger P90. Dunno what it is, but I can't hit with it.

I'm a 9mm man myself because I can get good groups. That's what's important to me.
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Old March 11, 2011, 08:57 PM   #6
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May I suggest..

try taking a strip of brass shim stock, cut a square notch in it and affix to your pistol. take a few rounds and then open the notch wider. shoot some rounds, stop when you get nice groups and then open the regular rear notch to same size.

You might be losing the sight alignment with too narrow a notch and allowing more light to show might be your answer.

Also, use the 185gr lead target round for the .45, you might like them.
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Old March 12, 2011, 07:32 AM   #7
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If you think it's a flinch, try this. It always works.
Take a friend to the range with you. Have your friend load one round in the mag, and chamber the round, and hand you the loaded gun. Then take the gun and fire the one CAREFULLY aimed round. Give the gun back and have him do it again. Every now and then, have your friend hand you an unloaded gun. You won't know if the gun is loaded or not. If the piece moves at the trigger break, you are indeed flinching. This is known in police circles as "dutchloading". It will immediately let you know if you have developed a flinch. If so, dedicated dry fire practice is the cure. Balance a dime on top of the slide, and practice until you can dry fire without the dime falling off. Then use the same trigger squeeze when the gun is loaded.
Works every time.
This is easier to do then to explain, so I hope I have made myself clear.
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Old March 12, 2011, 07:36 AM   #8
steve1147
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The forum link above gives me lots to think about...
In my mind I know the GP100 38 isn't going to have much recoil, so I don't grip it as tight or wait for it, and by cocking it first, it has a nice trigger release, but with the Springfield xd45, I do try to have a 'death grip', and I have trouble reading when the trigger is gonna break. I read once that a good shooter has a grip like a vise, but that's probably my problem!
I'll practice some dry-firing with empty carts and let-off a little this afternoon and see if I can improve. THANKS!
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Old March 12, 2011, 10:10 AM   #9
JerryM
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Low left groups with a right hand shooter are almost always a flinch.

If I shoot 200 -300 rounds I tend to start flinching. I have a .22 conversion unit that I also shoot each session, and that reveals any flinch and a few magazines with it cures it for awhile.

Regards,
Jerry
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Old March 12, 2011, 10:20 AM   #10
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My son and I were at the range recently trying out my new S&W 686 and 625. My son started with the 686 shooting 38's and his groupings at 10 yrds was excellent. After half a box each we swapped guns and his first shot with the 45 acp was dead on (literally, the center of the bull's eye). But then his grouping went to hell. Clearly (and he recognized this first) he was anticipating the recoil that was absent with the 38s and then flinching. It was a very interesting if accidental experiment.

I shoot a lot of big bores (41 Mag to 460 Mag) and I keep pretty good groups when I first shoot, but as I approach the end of a box (sooner with the 460 M) I notice my groups getting bigger and bigger. Fatigue, anticipation and flinching. Thus the practice time!

I understand that this phenomena is why the FBI, a few years after converting to 10mm in a modified 1911 platform (the S&W 1076), switched to the much lighter .40 S&W.
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Old March 13, 2011, 07:47 PM   #11
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Quote; JerryM, Posted 03/12/11, 10:10 AM
Low left groups with a right hand shooter are almost always a flinch.


Jerry, you are correct IME.
I was consistent and shot good groups. It didn't matter what type action or if it was pistol or rifle or cartridge or caliber.

So, what I did was lighten the triggers and readjusted the sights to compensate for this.
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Old March 13, 2011, 08:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
so I don't grip it as tight or wait for it, and by cocking it first, it has a nice trigger release,
There is your problem. IMHO, there is no good reason to fire a double action revolver in single action (long range hunting excluded). In an SD situation, you will not (or should not) be cocking the hammer on your revolver.

You need to learn to shoot well with that revolver in double action...then you will be able to shoot anything (within reason).
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Old March 14, 2011, 05:51 PM   #13
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Try low recoil ammo in the .45.

Then work your way up to whatever you like.
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Old March 16, 2011, 05:14 PM   #14
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I think that Yankee Doodle (post #7) has given good advice on this.

Just make sure that the friend you choose is one who will not be critical, but will be helpful and supporting.
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Old March 16, 2011, 06:26 PM   #15
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Pushing, tightening the grip in anticipation, jerking the trigger, or anticipating recoil are the primary reasons for missing left.
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Old March 16, 2011, 06:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Shooting is 90% plus mental anyway.
Yes it is.

If you dry fire a bit each night, and concentrate on just doing everything right, just do the same when you get to the range. Just leave out the blast and recoil part in your mind, and know youre just going to hear a "click", just like you always do in dry fire, when the hammer drops. Just concentrate on the physical part of watching the sights and breaking the shot, and the round will go where the sights were looking when the shot broke.

Oh, and just relax. This is supposed to be soothing. The nerve wracking part comes later.
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Old March 16, 2011, 07:22 PM   #17
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OK, my $0.02 for what it's worth.

You can do a few things, some already mentioned. The first is shoot a round with less recoil. Hits are more important than a big bang and air whizzing by the target.

Second, I like to squeeze the gun so hard I tremble. If I'm not milking wood sap out of the stocks I'm not squeezing hard enough. Center the trembling barrel on the target and that's where the bullets will go. When I shoot I have the imprint of the grips or stocks on my hand for at least half an hour after shooting. Yes, it hurts a little, but it allows me to put the bullets where they need to go. The technique of squeezing the gun so hard that you have sap running off of your hand runs contrary to popular teaching, but strangely enough it works very well.

Third, FOCUS on the Front Sight!

Fourth, dry fire nightly after unloading your gun and moving the ammunition to another room and triple checking your gun to ensure it isn't loaded. Then, have a safe backstop just in case you left a round in the gun.

Fifth, when shooting use a firm aggressive stance. As strange as it sounds this helps to make you able to handle the recoil better. Heck I snarl when I shoot.

If you are plinking or shooting Bullseye Matches this may not be the right approach for you to take. If you are practicing for a possible defensive usage of a handgun in a lethal encounter you may be quite pleasantly suprised at the results.

Good luck and I hope that helps.

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Old March 16, 2011, 09:37 PM   #18
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+1 to all advice about "flinching" or in more clear cut terms "Pulling" the trigger rather than "Squeezing" it. The natural movement of a finger "pull" will put you low and left every time (R handed). Practice "squeezing" without hand movement and them implement.

How do you hold the gun?...what stance? If not "Isosceles", try it. It seems to work best for most people.
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Old March 17, 2011, 01:42 PM   #19
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The down and left may be from your finger on the trigger- you might be hooking the trigger or pulling it off center. Try just the tip of the finger. Old timers used to put a match book between the two middle fingers and practice moving the flap back with their trigger finger.
What about going in the other direction? Your flinch isn't good shooting form -if you are shooting 38 Specials okay. Get a 44 magnum and shoot the h$%l out of it. When you go down to a 45ACP the recoil will seem like zippo- problem solved.
And....not every hand fits a semi-auto- that's why there are revolvers.
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Old March 17, 2011, 02:35 PM   #20
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Everyone does it sometimes

Revolvers sort of require you to place the trigger finger on the trigger in the crease between the first and second joint, because of the strength required for the double action trigger. With an auto, the pad from the first joint of your trigger finger - not the crease, just above it - should contact the trigger. So you wind up pressing, not pulling, the trigger - particularly important if it has a short reset.

Interesting comment from Biker about the deathgrip. I play a lot of golf. They say hold the club firmly, but not death grip tight. However you need to remember that a merely firm grip for a touring pro may EQUAL OR EXCEED the deathgrip from many amateurs in terms of actual pressure exerted. Translated, it means your relative muscular strength figures in here too. Personally, i find a nicely balanced .45 has very little recoil, not at all as harsh as a lightweight 9mm. But i shoot both equally well (or poorly) on a given day. I don't know which is right - but i hold my pistols firmly, but not in a deathgrip. The question is, how "firm" is your "firm"? If the action cycles and you don't lose grip on the pistol, it's firm enough. If your knuckles turn white, it's too tight. If you're that tense, you lose both fine and gross motor function.

I'd try very slow firing, literally one shot every 30 seconds or so. This is similar to the dutchloading drill but doesn't take a buddy. Take your time aiming, then slowly press the trigger and allow yourself to be surprised by the shot itself. Your arms should be loosley tense. Or is that tensely loose? You can't flinch if the shot takes you by surprise. Remember, slow trigger. Go through a box of ammo this way, see if this changes your grouping.

Then i'd also try some double taps. Focusing on the quick recovery and follow up shot might ease the back of your brain that is saying "flinch now". Good luck!
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Old March 17, 2011, 03:05 PM   #21
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I havent read all the previous post so maybe someone already suggested this.

Simply put a snap cap in and than take a dime and place it right behind the front sight (assuming the surface is somewhat flat), when you squeeze the trigger if you flinch the dime will go tumbling to the floor, when you do it right it wont. Work on relaxing...
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Old March 17, 2011, 05:37 PM   #22
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Excellant advice.

Try double hearing protection. For example use ear plugs, with the muffs over them. The noise can be a contributing factor.

In a real situation you won't even hear the gun.

Practice the fundamentals so that it's all wired in.
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Old March 17, 2011, 07:44 PM   #23
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Suggestions
1. Avoid fatique by shooting fewer rds per session
2. Select one pistol and exclude the others until you have resolved the issue
3. Dry fire at home; you don't need primed cases. Use a mirror to fire into.
4. At the range, dry fire at the target and then load five rds. Fire these with
without praying over each shot. Fire the five within 20 seconds.

A common mistake is interrupting the firing process by checking to see where each rd went. Shoot the five and then check group size. Your concern should be grouping and not placement or impact point of the group.

Many sights have white dots. Black them and concentrate on sight picture and not dots. Use a bullseye that is large. A small dot won't work. Center the sight picture within the bull. Your mantra must be: FRONT SIGHT. PULL.
FRONT SIGHT. PULL.

During dry firing, decide on the best grip and finger position on the trigger. Use what works for you. Now you have reduced many variables and can work on technique Don't fret. Have fun.
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Old March 18, 2011, 10:26 AM   #24
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Strength ?

part of the issue might be hand strength, or the lack thereof to be more precise. You can use Gripper balls, GripMaster or other squeeze implements, or my personal favorite - the Dynabee (a gyroscope inside a plastic ball). Each will improve hand and forearm strength, allowing your muscles to better absorb the recoil. You'll feel it less, and shoot better.
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Old March 18, 2011, 01:51 PM   #25
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steve1147: If I understand your original post you can take your Ruger, stand upright, off the bench, and at ten yards put all your 38 Special shots into a tennis ball BUT if you shot anything larger- your shots are all over the place.
Conventional wisdom is that a flinch is occurring for fear of the heavier recoil and you solve that problem by dry firing- to over come the flinch.
But.....you said you already did that and it didn't work.
I realize what I said is not common and none of the magazine gurus go around pushing the idea so one one talks about it. As I see it the way to get comfortable shooting a heavier load is to start shooting a WAY HEAVIER LOAD and then go "down" to a 45ACP - 357 Magnum. Will it work for you? I don't really know but the dry firing is always recomended and that didn't work so you don't have that much to lose.
One last thought- having a grip that fits your hand can lessen the effect of recoil. To change topics a little- there was a Canadian Strong Man about 100 years ago Louis Cyr (I think that was his name) He had a barbell with a 2" diameter bar that a lot of others could not lift. They could lift the weight with a 1" diameter bar not not the bigger diameter bar.
What's the point?
Have you ever noticed that Elmer Keith- father of the 44 Magnum actually had rather small grips on his 4" barrel 44 magnum- Elmer knew what he was doing. I switched from the oversized grips and found smaller grips fit better and helped more on recoil- just the OPPOSITE of what everyone else says. In any event maybe a different grip- either larger or smaller might help. The 38 Spl is so mild the grip isn't an issue but it may help on the other rounds- I'd start with the Ruger and 357 magnum loads and when you can get those on target the other psitols ought to work out better.
Finally- the comment of ear protection could also be valid-make sure you have good ear protection.
Let us know how things work out.
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