View Full Version : The Flinch

April 6, 2012, 12:51 AM
Had a very disheartening day at the range. It was my first time since early December I've been able to shoot (yeah, I know, law school is a time thief), and I was shaky like a first time shooter. Once it was bad enough to cause a friend's pistol to FTE. Wasn't just with my .40, was also with a Ruger SR9 that couldn't have been a gentler shooter.

When I shoot regularly, this is no issue, but after these cold spells my shooting is truly dreadful. Any way to fight that flinch, especially those nasty anticipatory ones right before the shot?

April 6, 2012, 01:28 AM
You answered your own question. Get back into it and shoot regularly. and the little voice in the back of the head what makes you flinch by saying it going to hurt? Tell him to shut up and ignore him is what I do. :D

Single Six
April 6, 2012, 03:20 AM
I recommend getting back to the basics. Concentrating on my sight picture / sight alignment, thereby letting the trigger break come as a surprise, always works for me.

April 6, 2012, 05:34 AM
There is no human skill that is as perishable, or erodes so quickly as shooting a handgun. While after thousands of rounds, some muscle memory is retained, if you want to stay on top of your game, you'll need to shoot regularly.

Flinch is one of the banes of shooters that we've been fighting since I suppose the first guy picked up a gonne (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_cannon), turned his head, closed his eyes and let fly. When I was trap shooting we'd see it pretty regularly, even from seasoned shooters. Flinch manifests itself in many ways. One guy couldn't pull the trigger, but would take a step forward, then another, then another till he was walking toward the trap house. We'd start laughing and he'd awake from his reverie, beak open his gun and walk back to the line. Once, we even had a pool started about how many steps he'd take. One wag bet that he'd actually get one foot on the trap house, but he never got quite that far.

Another guy wore one of those cute little leather bags (http://www.opticsplanet.net/galco-single-box-shell-carrier-ambidextrous-chestnut-lt1047cn.html) that held a whole box of shells and when he'd flinch, his midsection would buck and shells would fly up out of the pouch. Quite entertaining.

Finish up law school and pass the bar. Then work on your flinch. It'll come in handy the first time you argue a case.

April 6, 2012, 07:12 AM
I think the core of the problem has been addressed, but, if time is a problem and you can't get in there on a regular basis, what about starting out with a .22 when you do get back into the range? If that is available, a few mags full of some .22LR should help and not cause you to flinch so much.

April 6, 2012, 08:24 AM
Buy a good pellet pistol like the Daisy 717 and practice at home. The gun's super quiet and accurate, there's no recoil, the ammo's almost free and you can use a box of newspapers for a backstop.

If you want to learn trigger control, follow-through and calling the shot, there's no better way.

April 6, 2012, 09:51 AM
Dryfire, dryfire, dryfire, .... One of the best cures for flinching. Occasionally I will catch myself flinching. When I do, I will dry fire 10 or so times, shoot a mag, then dryfire again. I may repeat this entire process during my entire time at the range. It does help.

April 6, 2012, 10:22 AM
Nothing but nothing works on a flinch like hour upon hour of dry firing.

Dry firing would be better if you had a laser sight so you can see what really happens down range.

It's cheap, doesn't cost a dime, you can do it most any where. Set on your couch watching TV, dry fire during the commercials, rest during the show.

A hint about dry firing; We all know the four basic rules of firearm safety, background or beyond the target is important. When you set up your dry firing target, step outside and see what would be hit if you screwed up and let one go while dry firing.

An example in my front room, I have a target set up, If I was to shoot that target I'd get a little bitty hole in my wall and the bullet would impact on a mountain hurting nothing.

In my shop I have another target for dry firing. If I screw up there I'd hit a dirt bank about 20 ft tall behind my shop. Also in my shop I have a window I shoot through during bad weather. I hang targets there and dry fire also. If I screw up, my bullet would impact at my pistol targets I shoot at anyway.

But Dry Fire, it develops trigger control, builds muscle memory which eliminates flinches.

April 6, 2012, 06:07 PM
Dryfire is great, but it will not teach you to call your shots.

You will not be a good pistol shot until you can shoot good groups on demand. You will not be able to do that until you can call your shots correctly.

April 6, 2012, 06:13 PM
When I shoot regularly, this is no issue, but after these cold spells my shooting is truly dreadful. Any way to fight that flinch, especially those nasty anticipatory ones right before the shot?

Not criticizing the previous advice, some of which is good, but here's a fact:

If you CONCENTRATE on the FRONT SIGHT, you CANNOT anticipate the shot and flinch. Your mind can't do those two things at the same time.

Thats the true, and often misunderstood, reason for the focus being on the front sight.

April 6, 2012, 06:18 PM
Nothing but nothing works on a flinch like hour upon hour of dry firing.

Dry firing is valuable practice, since it teaches you the proper trigger control.

However, practicing it for ever how long, and how ever many thousands of times, will never eliminate flinching. Why? We all know that it's easy not to flinch when the gun is only going to go "click". When we get on the range, there's still the anticipation that the gun is going to go "bang", even after all the "clicks" without flinching. You still have to do it under fire.

Flinching must be overcome thru actual firing while focusing on the front sight, after all that dry firing has taught you the proper way to pull the trigger, and how to line up the sights.

AGAIN: If you're focusing on the front sight while co-ordinating the trigger pull, your mind can't anticipate the shot and cause a flinch.

How do I know? Same as you and everyone else. I don't flinch during dry firing, but sometimes do when shooting. But NOT when focusing on the front sight like I should be. :cool:

And yet, we hear about dryfiring being the cure to everything over and over again, like a parrot asking for a cracker.;)

LASTLY: And NO, I don't always manage to focus on the F. sight. Not as easy as it sounds for every shot, especially under a little stress.

April 6, 2012, 08:14 PM
Dry firing does help and it is hard to fool the brain, but its easy to confuse, so switching back and forth from a 22 to your 44 Mag or whatever helps a lot. It makes you concentrate harder when you flinch on a 22! :p Conversely, you know you got it when you drop that hammer on a 44 Mag and your brain is expecting a 22.

April 7, 2012, 11:28 AM
Nnobby45 and I agree, concentrating on the front sight will greatly help flinch. About a year ago I was shooting OK with my 357 revolver with open sights, and decided to "up grade" to a red dot. Within 2 weeks I had developed a flinch that would come and go. Could not figure out what happened. In March I bought a Beretta 92FS with open sights and discover why I was flinching with the revolver. I had lost focus on the sight and was thinking about the recoil.

I would also recommend buying .40 snap caps. Have someone intermix the live rounds with the dummies so you do not know the difference. After 3 - 4 clips, your finch will be greatly reduced.

April 7, 2012, 06:03 PM
what i did to get rid of my flinch, limp wrist it on purpose, the gun came back pointed straight up and didnt hit me in the face (kind of the point right there) when i realized it didnt hurt, i stopped flinching

Clifford L. Hughes
April 7, 2012, 06:48 PM

Flinching is over come when the pistol fires as a surprise: if the pistol or rifle fires unexpectedly you can't flinch. There are several methods to snap in; Kraigwy gave you one good method, let me share mine with you. You need three thing to shoot accurately: a uniform grip, proper trigger finger placement and above all else, sights that are aligned when the trigger is released. All three are required to releasing the trigger without flinching.

I snap in against a blank white wall without a target. I stand about ten feet away and I practice different grips and different trigger finger placement. Any misalignment of the sights is readily apparent.

When you are at the range if your sights are aligned the targert will blur: a blurred target tells you that you are doing it right.

Semper Fi.

Gunnery sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired

April 8, 2012, 05:48 AM
When you are at the range if your sights are aligned the targert will blur: a blurred target tells you that you are doing it right.

Clifford, that's the whole point that some of us have been trying to make, though we use different words.

The target is blurred because the focus is on the front sight---and so is your concentration. That's why the shot comes as a "surprise", since you can't focus on the sight and on recoil anticipation at the same time.

You may not be "surprised" during rapid fire, but you still focus on the sight for each shot. Jeff Cooper called it the "flash" sight picture, because you're varifiying that your sight is back on target as you keep shooting.

Keep that focus during rapid fire, and you'll be amazed at what small groups you can shoot with practice---it's TIMING. Lose that focus and you'll be amazed at how many misses you get and you'll be just another shooter at the range sprayin' and prayin'.

April 9, 2012, 10:13 AM
If you have access to a revolver, I like to leave 2-3 of the chambers empty and shoot as normal. When you hit an empty chamber and flinch, you will see it. This helped me to stop flinching pretty quickly.

You can accomplish the same thing in an auto using inert rounds or snap caps. This will bonus as practice clearing malfunctions quickly.

April 12, 2012, 04:52 AM

Don't be giving me that LS stuff. BTDT.:p In four months you can't shoot because your studying too hard? ha,ha,ha,ha

Seems like you've had enough time since 2009 to amass over 1300 posts.:mad:

You deserve to be a flinching barrister to be.

Turn off your smart phone, turn off your pc, turn off your home theater, turn off you Wii, and all that other electrical crap, stop going to Starbucks for a double expresso, carmel macciado, or whatever that crap is your drinking and go sit in the woods for a few hours. Then go to the range and I guarantee you'l shoot just fine.

BTW, I've been a member of the Bar for 38 years, thank goodness I didn't have to be a lawyer for most of it.:D

April 12, 2012, 06:43 AM
Bookmarked. Great thread.

To the OP, have you tried the "ball and dummy" drill? While some may say it's only a diagnostic test for a flinch, for me I think the drill really helps suppress it. Especially after the trigger breaks on the dummy round for the second or third time. I work this drill into my routine when I feel like the flinch is coming back.

April 12, 2012, 07:48 AM
Inert rounds are worth a lot more than you pay for them. I love sneaking them into magazines for others. Big wakeup call.