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Old May 22, 2018, 03:26 PM   #1
labnoti
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Methods to correct flinching

I've researched methods to correct flinching, but overwhelmingly the advice is only to identify that flinching is happening not to correct it. It's easy to shoot a round, open the cylinder, spin it and close it without looking and then notice the flinch when randomly coming upon the already spent cartridge, or if using an autoloader, have someone load some dummy rounds among live ones in the magazine. So I'm flinching. Now what do I do to correct it?

I'm asking this for the sake of gaining knowledge. I realize I can improve somewhat by merely giving trigger control some attention. Focusing myself on muscular calmness, like meditation can prevent unnecessary tension. What else?

Is it better to decrease power factor and increase gun mass so felt recoil is diminished? Does this condition oneself so that as power factor increases and gun mass decreases in the future flinching will be less likely? Or is it better to face heavy recoil and overcome it? By facing heavy recoil I mean within one's ability to be under enough control to be safe, but where it is quite likely to cause one to flinch.

You either flinch or you don't flinch. If you're shooting a powder puff load all day, you haven't really faced the flinch. If you're shooting a magnum, every shot is an opportunity to overcome the flinch -- or is it just reinforcing a bad habit? What do you think?
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Old May 22, 2018, 03:40 PM   #2
mete
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Start from square #1. Some dry firing, then up it to 22RF, then to 38spl, then magnum. Check and have someone watch you --are you standing properly , gripping it properly? Concentrate on trigger control and sight picture .It may take awhile .
My flinch was due to a wrist injury which took 6 months to heal and no more flinch !!
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Old May 22, 2018, 04:14 PM   #3
44caliberkid
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I have the person dry fire, concentrating on sight picture. Then I say, "Ok, keep doing the same thing only this time it will go bang." I taught the 1911 in the Army, and cured many a flincher. Just did it again with a new shooter a few weeks ago. It has worked for 40 years.
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Old May 22, 2018, 04:38 PM   #4
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I think the above folk have given you the answer.

Just a note though, if your gun is HURTING you when you fire it then change your gun.

I've shot a lot over the years but most recently a Ruger LCR in .357 magnum has brought me to my knees (figuratively). I just refuse to shoot the thing unless somebody gives me 125 grain rounds or lower. If I shoot 158 grain .357 magnum loads out of the thing my hand will HURT and I will flinch.

If I go back to a .22LR I won't flinch because even subconsciously I know the .22LR isn't going to hurt. I also know my 1911 .45 ACP isn't going to hurt.

So, shoot a lot of guns that don't hurt you. Maybe you will build up a tolerance to the heavy hurting guns. Please note you can find really heavy hitting guns that won't hurt you. In the mean time you'll have fun, get a lot of experience and maybe find that golden compromise, the gun that hits heavy enough for you but doesn't hurt you.

Again, I think the above posts have given you some really good advice.
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Old May 22, 2018, 05:07 PM   #5
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Dry fire. Dry fire. Dry fire. And when you're done, dry fire some more. Three weeks ago I had a long conversation with a High Master Precision Pistol (Bullseye) shooter, trying to get as much advise as I could from him. He told me, more than once, for every one live shot you take in competition, you should have previously taken 10 shots of dry fire. So if you shoot a 90 round match, your preparation for that match should have been 900 rounds of dry fire. It trains your sub conscience. A shot should be sub conscience. It should come automatically. You shouldn't even have to think about it. Yea, you have to start the shot process by telling yourself it's time to shoot, but after that, it's all automatic. The shot should happen without conscience thought.

There is a clip on you tube of a guy that explained how he went from a middle of the pack International Sport Pistol shooter to winning the world championship in less than a year. During his time of training, he live fired less than 500 rounds, but dry fired over 100,000 rounds. He knows the dry fire count because he knows how long a battery lasts for his electronic trigger.

Dry fire. Dry fire. Dry fire.

It's hard to do. Your mind knows that there is about to be a loud noise, and a violent explosion happening in your hand, just a couple feet away from your face. I still struggle with it, but things are getting better.
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Old May 22, 2018, 05:19 PM   #6
briandg
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There are many reasons for a flinch and just as many ways to fix one and sometimes it's nearly impossible.

My personal take on it is that you must very deliberately decide when you want the trigger to break, and use a steady press to do it.

My dad taught me that I should squeeze so slowly and carefully that it should surprise me when the gun went off, and I personally found that the surprise would make me jump.

That system was doomed to fail, and now, i do what I described, I make absolutely certain that I know when that trigger will break. You don't have to jerk, all it takes is a bit of a pull with one joint of the finger.
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Old May 22, 2018, 05:22 PM   #7
David R
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Hold the sights on the target. Squeeze the trigger more and more until it goes BANG.

Repeat......

Speed will come with time.

Make EVERY shot that way.

I find shooting my 44 mag makes everything else a pussycat.

Good luck
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Old May 22, 2018, 06:03 PM   #8
labnoti
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I appreciate the responses, but I notice most of them are not specific enough. I think flinching is an involuntary response, so simply dry-firing or holding sights on target while squeezing the trigger doesn't address flinching unless there's more to be said of it that hasn't quite been written yet.

By recommending dry-fire practice, I assume the goal is to practice dry firing while maintaining sight-picture. Otherwise, what is the point? Dry-fire practice should allow one to fix issues of trigger control where unwanted movements are disturbing the sight-picture. Are you advocating that practice without recoil will result in conditioning that will somehow preclude the anticipatory response to recoil once recoil is introduced?

After a dry-firing regimen of whatever length, would you introduce recoil gradually or all at once? For example, would you start with a heavy .22LR or go straight to a snubnose magnum? If introducing recoil gradually is necessary, why not introduce recoil at whatever point the shooter can avoid flinching and work up from there? Or can you go from perfect dry-fire practice even of extreme repetition to a snubnose magnum? If not, then how is dry-fire practice working to cure flinch?
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Old May 22, 2018, 06:21 PM   #9
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Dry firing wont help. Flinching is an anticipation to recoil. Dont focus your mind on the actual trigger squeeze. Focus on watching the front sight through the shot, you should see it lift off the target. You need a distraction from the anticipation. If you can watch the sight through the shot you wont flinch. If you jerk the trigger when you think the sights are on target you may start to anticipate recoil and flinch. The sight will move around a bit. You wont be able to hold it perfectly still, accept that and keepp pulling the trigger and focusing on the sight
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Old May 22, 2018, 06:22 PM   #10
labnoti
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Here's another way of looking at it:

Desensitization - is the process where a stimulus that causes an adverse response is repeatedly introduced until the adverse response is diminished and becomes extinct. Practically speaking, if your dog barks at the doorbell, just keep ringing the doorbell three hundred times a day for three months until your dog realizes it doesn't mean anything. This would mean shooting a snubnose magnum until you're so used to it that the involuntary response doesn't happen anymore.

Conditioning - is the process where the desired response is practiced with sufficient repetition so it becomes automatic even with the introduction of distractions. Practically, this would be thousands of repetitions of dry-fire or light recoil loads so the practice of sight-picture maintenance is ingrained somehow in a way that heavy recoil does not disturb it.

I understand the point about pain or injury. I'm not attempting to desensitize to pain or injury, just involuntary movement due to recoil. As a point of reference, shooting an Airweight J-frame with +P ammo. The recoil is significant, but not painful or injurious to most people. Another example might be a N frame .44 magnum with a short barrel. Importantly, the recoil is sufficient that most people will be better at shooting guns that recoil less, and while not the only factor, some of that is due to involuntary flinching.
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Old May 22, 2018, 06:44 PM   #11
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Dry fire with a coin on the front post until you can press the trigger without it falling off. Repeat as much as necessary. Then go live fire with it.

Last edited by JohnKSa; May 24, 2018 at 01:28 AM. Reason: Removed inappropriate remark.
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Old May 22, 2018, 06:45 PM   #12
David R
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Squeezing the trigger until the gun goes off makes anticipating the shot a thing of the past.

Squeeze with more and more pressure. You will not know when the gun is going to fire, so you can't flinch when it does.

Anticipating recoil is when your mind decides to fire the gun, and tells your hand to push back before it goes off throwing your shot.

Was having a hard time shooting 25 yard groups with my Micro 9. 3" barrel 9mm. 15 ounce gun.

I watched the front sight keeping the steadiest hold and putting more and more pressure on the trigger until the shot broke.

The gun went off, I did not tell it when. Groups shrunk for a while, then fatuge got the best of me and I could no longer hold the little gun firmly.

I shoot bowling pins, even the best ones flinch sometimes. They have to overcome it too.

When shooting for speed, you still can't yank the trigger, squeeze the trigger finger only. Relax, fire one shot at a time, making each one count.

I was told when I started shooting the two most important things are sights and trigger control.

This counts for rifle and pistol.

Good luck you can do it!
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Old May 22, 2018, 08:04 PM   #13
labnoti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R View Post
I shoot bowling pins, even the best ones flinch sometimes. They have to overcome it too.
Indeed, flinching happens to people who have easily surpassed criteria for good trigger control. Hikock45 has demonstrated flinching numerous times on empty magazines in his videos, and he readily admits it. It's easy to see because of how much video is there. I can't tell you how many other internet gun guys have videos where they're flinching, wincing, or closing their eyes when shooting. By "flinching" I mean involuntary muscle movements that disturb the gun's intended point of impact, but those same involuntary movements aren't limited to the parts of the body that provide gun support.

I recommend making a video of one's own face while shooting. I think most people would be surprised how much they've got their eyes closed even when they think they're focused on the front sight or whatever.

Last edited by labnoti; May 22, 2018 at 08:12 PM.
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Old May 22, 2018, 09:12 PM   #14
CDR_Glock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labnoti View Post
I've researched methods to correct flinching, but overwhelmingly the advice is only to identify that flinching is happening not to correct it. It's easy to shoot a round, open the cylinder, spin it and close it without looking and then notice the flinch when randomly coming upon the already spent cartridge, or if using an autoloader, have someone load some dummy rounds among live ones in the magazine. So I'm flinching. Now what do I do to correct it?



I'm asking this for the sake of gaining knowledge. I realize I can improve somewhat by merely giving trigger control some attention. Focusing myself on muscular calmness, like meditation can prevent unnecessary tension. What else?



Is it better to decrease power factor and increase gun mass so felt recoil is diminished? Does this condition oneself so that as power factor increases and gun mass decreases in the future flinching will be less likely? Or is it better to face heavy recoil and overcome it? By facing heavy recoil I mean within one's ability to be under enough control to be safe, but where it is quite likely to cause one to flinch.



You either flinch or you don't flinch. If you're shooting a powder puff load all day, you haven't really faced the flinch. If you're shooting a magnum, every shot is an opportunity to overcome the flinch -- or is it just reinforcing a bad habit? What do you think?


What caliber and what model gun are you using?
What is the trigger weight?

For flinching, to me, it is a matter of desensitizing the shooter to recoil, noise and the general action of the gun. First and foremost is determining the proper technique of holding a firearm and controlling the trigger during the evolution of pressing it. I started out in revolvers, in Double action. These triggers are heavier than most firearms, weighing 12-14 lbs. Though most people say it’s best to pull the trigger straight back, I find it helping to pre-stage a Double action trigger. That’s a matter of feel and experience of where the break is. Also in Double action, the trigger is between the pad of my finger and the distal interphalangeal joint (DIP), because it lends me more strength and control.

Now, I did this gradually, over short period, progressively from 357 Magnum, to 44 Magnum, to 454 Casull, 500 Magnum and the 460 Magnum. Handling the recoil was a matter of grip, stance, arm position, proper arm tension, and losing the aversion to noise and recoil.

As for pistols, after going through that progression, there aren’t too many pistol calibers that are as punishing as a snubnosed 454 Casull. But I preload or take up the pretravel, right up to the trigger break. Even with doing controlled pairs, I’m waiting for the reset, taking up pretravel and actuating the trigger.

There’s a few things that you can do to ensure you’re doing things along the way. I used to put a dime on top of the handgun, depress the trigger and tried not to drop the coin. In revolvers, I’d have empty chambers and check if I were flinching from shot to shot (loading 3-4 live rounds in a 6 round cylinder, for example). Same goes for a semiautomatic, by placing a training round into the magazine.

Dry firing does wonders for trigger control, learning the action and getting comfortable with the intended handgun. Live fire is still necessary but I find a graduation of going from one caliber or load to the next, to defeat the flinch.

Unfortunately, the number of people who go beyond 357 becomes less and less, as we progress up the caliber chain of choices. There are even fewer who go beyond a 44 Magnum, and even less beyond into the 454 Casull, 460, 500 Magnum, Linebaugh, etc.


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Old May 22, 2018, 11:35 PM   #15
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Here are some things that have helped some people:

Shoot on a count. Start with the gun at low ready, count 1 as you bring it up, 2 as the sights settle and 3 as you press the trigger. The count should be smooth and consistent and you should not count slower than 1 count per second--you're better off doing the whole count in about 2 seconds. Do NOT slow the count down unless you need to do so to be safe. This forces the shooter to focus on technique and maintains focus on shooting which distracts from anticipation.

Concentrate on watching the front sight as it recoils and on trying to see the muzzle flash when the shot breaks. This gives the brain something to do other than to try to flinch away from the loud noise and movement in an effort to protect itself.

Try some double action shooting, if you have any guns with double-action triggers. Be sure to keep the trigger press one smooth action, don't try to stage the trigger--make it all one consistent movement.

Practice with a gun that is comfortable to shoot and make sure that you have good hearing protection so the report isn't causing any issues.

Dryfiring is always good. It has limitations in terms of curing anticipation because there's no recoil or noise during dryfire (we hope) but it does help train the body and mind as to how a trigger pull is supposed to happen.
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Old May 24, 2018, 04:36 PM   #16
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First you need a shot plan.
That way you do the same thing at the same time each shot.
Within the shot plan should be a mantra that you use while waiting on the shot to break.
A typical shot plan:
Visualize perfect sight alignment
Tighten your grip
Raise gun and focus on front sight
Move gun into aiming area
Apply initial trigger pressure
Start final trigger pressure
Mantra Front sight Straight to the rear, Front sight straight to the rear continue repeating till firearm is fired.
Call the shot
Scope the shot and analyse.
Tips

Abort the shot plan at the first negative thought..
Apply grip with three fingers to hold the pistol as solid as possible.
Never think the sights are perfect,I need to make the pistol fire.
The shot needs to be an involuntary movement of the trigger finger and not a caused action.
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Old May 24, 2018, 06:19 PM   #17
Mike38
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Quote:
First you need a shot plan.
That way you do the same thing at the same time each shot.
This helps too!
I have a decal I made for my pistol box. It's my current shot plan, which can and does evolve at times. Line one and two are only for the first shot of a string, but lines three through five go through my head before each and every time trigger pressure is applied. It takes your mind off of the actual shot recoil.

Stance
Grip
Sight alignment
Trigger control
Follow through
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Old May 24, 2018, 08:54 PM   #18
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I also believe that dry fire does help a lot since you get used to the gun not going bang. You focus on a good smooth trigger pull and keep your front sight on target. If the lack of shot confirmation bothers you, you can go with an airsoft pistol. The idea is to trick your brain into not reacting when you pull the trigger.

I always teach new shooters with an airsoft (safety, how the gun functions, proper grip, proper stance, proper sight picture, proper trigger pull). When we start live fire, I always start them with .22 LR.

Another thing that may help is using ear plugs AND good ear muffs. Some people flinch from other people's shots and it throws them off.

For me, I teach people to pull the trigger nice and smoothly, letting the shot catch them by "surprise". You know it is going to go bang at some point, but don't jerk the trigger and don't anticipate when the shot will fire. Once they get used to shooting, they learn where the "wall" is and exactly when the trigger will break.
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Old May 24, 2018, 10:15 PM   #19
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I developed a pretty bad flinch a few months ago, I was shooting a fairly good group about 6" below the target pretty consistently.

I did this drill over and over hundreds of times over several days and it really helped, using both Shield 9 and also my BHP with snap caps. I found this drill on TFL by searching.

1. Insert mag and rack slide to load.
2. Remove mag.
3. Aim and fire one shot.
4. Aim and fire again on the empty chamber, and verify that the sights don't move up to and through the hammer strike.
Repeat from step 1, over and over and over again.

I also used this drill with my revolvers by skip loading 3 rounds. One goes bang, one goes click. Make sure the sight never moves on the click.

What works best for me is a smooth but fast pull. Not a jerk, but almost a slap.
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Old May 25, 2018, 09:30 AM   #20
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My name is zukiphile and I am a chronic flincher. Hi, zukiphile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by briandg
My dad taught me that I should squeeze so slowly and carefully that it should surprise me when the gun went off, and I personally found that the surprise would make me jump.

That system was doomed to fail,...
I never understood that surprise break explanation. If you pick up a firearm and press the trigger, how many times can the result be a surprise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnKSa
Concentrate on watching the front sight as it recoils and on trying to see the muzzle flash when the shot breaks. This gives the brain something to do other than to try to flinch away from the loud noise and movement in an effort to protect itself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stmar
You need a distraction from the anticipation. If you can watch the sight through the shot you wont flinch. If you jerk the trigger when you think the sights are on target you may start to anticipate recoil and flinch. The sight will move around a bit. You wont be able to hold it perfectly still, accept that and keepp pulling the trigger and focusing on the sight
Emphases added. I've found both of these important in controlling flinch. With a pistol, my focus is on aligned sights and the target is a distant second priority. I may not be perfectly centered on the target but that matters less than alignment. With a scoped rifle, the intersection of cross hairs will show wobble. This has to be accepted. A small wobble zone is better than a big one, but trying to cure it with a jerky pull can induce a flinch.

All of that focus gives my walnut sized brain something to do besides trying to dip the muzzle as the shot breaks.
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Old May 25, 2018, 02:07 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
I never understood that surprise break explanation. If you pick up a firearm and press the trigger, how many times can the result be a surprise?
Hahaha... That's an astute observation. Love it. Except when it goes 'bang' when I expected it to go 'click.'

Flinching is a learned, conditioned response to anticipated recoil PRIOR TO the bullet leaving the chamber. The caliber itself makes little difference.

An abused spouse, child or pet will flinch every time the abuser lifts his or her arm.

Dry fire helps - a lot - but when I consciously know whether there's a round in the chamber or not, my unconscious mind responds accordingly.

I can do the wall drill 15 minutes a day for a week and not see my sights budge, but when I go to the range and shoot live ammo, my brain knows that it's going to go bang. 22lr will be a little bang and my brain adjust accordingly, 9 mm a bit more, 357 even more, but I always know what's in the chamber.

The ball and dummy drill, or a half loaded cylinder, has been the best option for me. The only way I can unlearn this particular learned response to consciously anticipate that every pull of the trigger will be 'click.'

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Last edited by Skippy; May 25, 2018 at 02:51 PM.
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Old May 25, 2018, 03:11 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zukiphile
My name is zukiphile and I am a chronic flincher.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by zukiphile
...I never understood that surprise break explanation. If you pick up a firearm and press the trigger, how many times can the result be a surprise?....
Perhaps there's a relationship there.

In any case, the point of the surprise break is not that you're surprised because the gun fires. It's that you don't know exactly when, within some time interval, the gun will fire. And the group of instructors I teach with have found the concept to be very useful in teaching beginners.

I'm with a group of instructors putting on a monthly Basic Handgun class (originally it was an NRA Basic Handgun class -- our class hasn't changed but the NRA class has). We're older guys, most of us retired or close to it. We've all done a fair bit of shooting and training -- multiple classes at Gunsite, classes with a number of instructors, USPSA or IDPA competition, NRA instructor certifications, and three are POST certified. Our training group is organized as a 501(c)(3) corporation. We're all volunteers, and none of use receive any compensation (except the company buys us dinner after the class where we do a debriefing). Our class fees are set to just cover our expenses and operating costs. We supply everything -- guns, ammunition, eye and ear protection, a book on California gun laws, etc.

Probably 80% to 90% of our students had never touched a real gun before. Our class enrollment runs roughly 30% female. We have students of all ages from early 20s into to the 80s. We've had entire families attend together.

Most of our student show varying levels of anxiety at handling real guns. We try to address this by bringing them through the course material in a step-by-step, measured and supportive way. We limit class size to 10 students, and will have at least five or six instructors at each class. The class runs about ten hours, but we try to provide adequate breaks. Periodically we discuss breaking the class up into two days; but since we often have students travel from some distance doing so might be a greater hardship.

In addition to the core lectures, the first of which is on safety, we do a lot of "hands-on" work with the students. The students handle a variety of revolvers and semi-autos under direct supervision, one-on-one, of an instructor. They use dummy rounds to load and unload the guns, dry fire and generally learn how things work and feel, and they get continual safety reinforcement.

These initial hands-on exercises help students get familiar with handling a gun and lay a foundation for safe gun handling habits. For beginners handling guns for the first time is pretty awkward. Guns feel strange in the their hands. Many are surprised by how heavy they are. They have no sense of how much or how little force is needed to operate the various "do-dads." The students begin to realize that although guns can be dangerous they can learn how to handle them safely and that safety is in their hands.

In preparation for live fire we put on a lecture and demonstration about how to actually shoot (grip, stance, sight alignment, trigger press, surprise break, focus on the front sight, and eye dominance). I usually do this one, and I like to use an airsoft gun fitted with a Crimson Trace laser grip to illustrate a controlled trigger press compared with jerking the trigger. We then work one-on-one with students on grip and stance using "blue" inert training guns.

Before going to live fire with .22s, the students shoot airsoft (the quality type) in the classroom so they can get a feel for sight alignment and trigger control (and reset) without the noise and intimidation factor (for beginners) of firing real ammunition.

After the students fire their 25 rounds of .22 (working one-on-one with an instructor), we put out a variety of guns from 9mm to .44 Magnum so the students can get the experience of firing the larger calibers. Shooting the centerfire guns is at each student's option. Most fire them all, but some choose not to.

During the live fire exercises it's normal for a student to shoot 2 to 3 inch groups at seven yards with even the heavy calibers. A few months ago, a petite young woman who had never fired any type of gun before out shot everyone, including her husband, with the .44 Magnum -- putting three rounds into about an inch at 7 yards.

Going through our process most students shed a good deal of their initial anxiety. Some remain anxious to a degree but still manage to master their anxiety and perform well. In the last several years only one or two (out of perhaps a couple of hundred) could not complete the class.

And about trigger control:
  1. The first principle of accurate shooting is trigger control: a smooth press straight back on the trigger with only the trigger finger moving. Maintain your focus on the front sight (or the reticle if using a scope) as you press the trigger, increasing pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks. Don't try to predict exactly when the gun will go off nor try to cause the shot to break at a particular moment. This is what Jeff Cooper called the "surprise break."

  2. One wants to place his finger on the trigger in a manner that facilitates that. Usually, the best place for the finger to contact the trigger will be the middle of the portion of the finger between the first knuckle and the fingertip, and that part of the finger should be perpendicular to the direction in which the trigger moves.

    • With some triggers, e. g., heavy double action triggers with a long travel, that placement might not provide enough leverage to work the trigger smoothly. In such cases, the trigger may be placed at the first joint.

    • In either case, the trigger finger needs to be curved away from the gun sufficiently to allow it to press the trigger straight back without the trigger finger binding or applying lateral pressure to the gun. If one has to reach too far to get his finger properly on the trigger (or turn the gun to the point that the axis of the barrel is significantly misaligned with the forearm), the gun is too big. (For example, I have a short trigger reach and can't properly shoot some handguns, like N frame Smith & Wesson revolvers double action.)

  3. By keeping focus on the front sight (or reticle) and increasing pressure on the trigger until the gun essentially shoots itself, you don’t anticipate the shot breaking. But if you try to make the shot break at that one instant in time when everything seem steady and aligned, you usually wind up jerking the trigger.

  4. Of course the gun will wobble a bit on the target. It is just not possible to hold the gun absolutely steady. Because you are alive, there will always be a slight movement caused by all the tiny movement associated with being alive: your heart beating; tiny muscular movements necessary to maintain your balance, etc. Try not to worry about the wobble and don’t worry about trying to keep the sight aligned on a single point. Just let the front sight be somewhere in a small, imaginary box in the center of the target. .

  5. In our teaching we avoid using the words "squeeze" or "pull" to describe the actuation of the trigger. We prefer to refer to "pressing" the trigger. The word "press" seems to better describe the process of smoothly pressing the trigger straight back, with only the trigger finger moving, to a surprise break.

  6. You'll want to be able to perform the fundamentals reflexively, on demand without conscious thought. You do that by practicing them slowly to develop smoothness. Then smooth becomes fast.

    • Again, remember that practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

    • Practice also makes permanent. If you keep practicing doing something poorly, you will become an expert at doing it poorly.

  7. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of the gun firing "by surprise." They feel that when using the gun for practical applications, e. g., hunting or self defense, they need to be able to make the gun fire right now. But if you try to make the gun fire right now, you will almost certainly jerk the trigger thus jerking the gun off target and missing your shot. That's where the "compressed surprise break" comes in.

    • As you practice (perfectly) and develop the facility to reflexively (without conscious thought) apply a smooth, continuously increasing pressure to the trigger the time interval between beginning to press and the shot breaking gets progressively shorter until it become indistinguishable from being instantaneous. In other words, that period of uncertainty during which the shot might break, but you don't know exactly when, becomes vanishingly short. And that is the compressed surprise break.

    • Jeff Cooper explains the compressed surprise break in this video beginning at 36:04. This article by Jeff Campbell and this article by Jim Wilson might also be helpful.

    • It may help to understand the way humans learn a physical skill.

      • In learning a physical skill, we all go through a four step process:

        • unconscious incompetence, we can't do something and we don't even know how to do it;

        • conscious incompetence, we can't physically do something even though we know in our mind how to do it;

        • conscious competence, we know how to do something but can only do it right if we concentrate on doing it properly; and

        • unconscious competence, at this final stage we know how to do something and can do it reflexively (as second nature) on demand without having to think about it.

      • To get to the third stage, you need to think through the physical task consciously in order to do it perfectly. You need to start slow; one must walk before he can run. The key here is going slow so that you can perform each repetition properly and smoothly. Don't try to be fast. Try to be smooth. Now here's the kicker: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. You are trying to program your body to perform each of the components of the task properly and efficiently. As the programing takes, you get smoother; and as you get smoother you get more efficient and more sure, and therefore, faster.

      • I have in fact seen this over and over, both in the classes I've been in and with students that I've helped train. Start slow, consciously doing the physical act smoothly. You start to get smooth, and as you get smooth your pace will start to pick up. And about now, you will have reached the stage of conscious competence. You can do something properly and well as long as you think about it.

      • To go from conscious competence to the final stage, unconscious competence, is usually thought to take around 5,000 good repetitions. The good news is that dry practice will count. The bad news is that poor repetitions don't count and can set you back. You need to work at this to get good.

      • If one has reached the stage of unconscious competence as far as trigger control is concerned, he will be able to consistently execute a proper, controlled trigger press quickly and without conscious thought. Of course one needs to practice regularly and properly to maintain proficiency, but it's easier to maintain it once achieved than it was to first achieve it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnKSa
...Concentrate on watching the front sight as it recoils and on trying to see the muzzle flash when the shot breaks. This gives the brain something to do other than to try to flinch away from the loud noise and movement in an effort to protect itself....
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stmar
....You need a distraction from the anticipation. If you can watch the sight through the shot you wont flinch. If you jerk the trigger when you think the sights are on target you may start to anticipate recoil and flinch. The sight will move around a bit. You wont be able to hold it perfectly still, accept that and keepp pulling the trigger and focusing on the sight...
Exactly.
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Old May 25, 2018, 04:03 PM   #23
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
Perhaps there's a relationship there.
Sometimes correlation reflects causation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
Before going to live fire with .22s, the students shoot airsoft ...
That's interesting. I don't teach shooting semi-professionally, but I never thought of that intermediate step. I go from explaining function and dry fire to shooting a 22lr. I have a target up for them to point toward, but I discourage concern for where the hits land because too many people think a big group is a sign of failure, when I just want them to experience and become used to the act of firing.

I suppose the other advantage of a shooting non-firearm (airsoft) would be the opportunity to communicate with them more easily and conduct that part somewhere other than a range.

Last edited by zukiphile; May 25, 2018 at 06:21 PM.
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Old May 25, 2018, 10:26 PM   #24
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zukiphile
....I suppose the other advantage of a shooting non-firearm (airsoft) would be the opportunity to communicate with them more easily and conduct that part somewhere other than a range.
There's that as well as being able to experience the mechanics of firing with the least distraction -- no recoil, noise, or muzzle blast. And since the airsoft guns we use are quite accurate at the distance we're using them at, we can begin diagnosis and correction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zukiphile
...I discourage concern for where the hits land because too many people think a big group is a sign of failure, when I just want them to experience and become used to the act of firing....
We don't over emphasize where the hits are, but we do pay attention to groups and location of hits. We can identify and start to correct eye dominance issues or trigger control issues or sight alignment issues. So starting with the students' first shots on paper with airsoft and continuing through live fire, the students continue to improve.

Being able to show the students improvement we avoid discouraging them. It also helps give them confidence that they can achieve some level of proficiency with coaching and practice.
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Old May 27, 2018, 08:52 AM   #25
Wag
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Frank Ettin nailed it all in one post. It's a little long but it covers all the valuable things you need to know. I think it comes down to habituation: if you do something right enough times, you'll always do it right. It's the reason dry fire is so important. You can practice it correctly without any incorrect repetitions. If you do it the right way 5,000 times, you can be pretty sure you'll do it right another one time.

Then, of course, reinforcing that in between live shooting sessions will only help.

One other thing I'd like to re-emphasize is the need to practice slowly and smoothy. Frank nailed this too but it's essential to practice slowly. If you can do it slow every time, you can do it fast. If you can't do it correctly slow, you'll never do it correctly fast.

Anyhoo, read Frank's post a few times. Everything he posted matters.

--Wag--
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