The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: General Handgun Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 31, 2010, 06:44 PM   #1
Hoss Delgado
Join Date: November 1, 2008
Posts: 42
How can I keep my hands from shaking?

I just went to a formal handgun training course for the first time recently. I've shot handguns before, but not that often, and not very accurately. I mostly just shot for fun. I thought the course would help me be a better shot, but it really didn't. The main problem seems to be that my hands shake when I'm aiming. I'm not quite sure why that is. I haven't been raised around guns, but I'd like to think I'm not afraid of them. The guns I was using were a .22 and a 9mm, and the recoil wasn't that bad on either one.

Is this common for "new" shooters? Is there anything I can do about it?
Hoss Delgado is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 06:51 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: March 29, 2007
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 1,391
Do your hands just shake?
If so, then join the club.
try a one of these
and a squeezy ball. Quit watching the fine tremours and try to watch the big picture.
How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished?
w_houle is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 06:56 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: August 22, 2004
Posts: 664
It is almost impossible to hold something still. There is always going to be some type of shake or movement. The best you can do is try to control the movement. With a handgun this means limiting your movement to one axis: vertically or horizontally, then pausing only slightly to squeeze the trigger when your sights are on target. If you pause to long the tremors or shaking will re-introduce themselves. Also, remember to breathe. If you hold your breathe while aiming it we exacerbate the shaking.
Why has INTEGRITY become such a rare commodity?
jon_in_wv is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 07:03 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: July 11, 2008
Posts: 2,350
Yes, it's common with new shooters.

Holding a handgun uses muscles that you may not use for much else. Think about it; how many things do you do where you hold something up at arms length for any extended period of time?

Dry fire practice will help some. So will building the strength in your hands, wrists, and arms. One exercize that I've used involves a round stick (like a piece of broom handle), a length of cord, and a weight of some kind. Drill a hold in the stick to run the cord through, and tie it. Attach the other end to the weight, and then hold the stick at arms length and roll it up and down several times, once or twice a day.

That'll build the strength in your hands and wrists faster than anything else I've tried.

Then practice dry firing while aiming at a target (make sure dry-firing is ok in the owner's manual for your gun; otherwise use "snap-caps".

Dry-firing will help with your hand/eye coordination and motor-muscle memory.

Daryl is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 07:06 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: February 18, 2008
Posts: 323
Shake is common to all shooters. With practice and training, you will learn to ignore it, stay focused on your front sight and properly squeeze the trigger. It's part of being alive.
Nasty is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 07:09 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: June 4, 2007
Location: Shenandoah Valley
Posts: 3,276
Firstly, we shake and there's no way to completely stop that. Heck even braced on a bench we still move at least a little bit. Given that it amazes me how accurate some of us are in the first place.

Things that have worked to reduce shake for me.
-No caffeine
coffee, soda, tea

-Learn some stretches for the hands and arms
there are such things in yoga and they do help.

-Learn your "pattern".
Between natural movement and breathing I move in a slanted figure eight so once I learned to time things to the "center" of the pattern I got a lot better

-Strengthen your forearms and grip.
I use a "ProHands" sometimes but mostly I play around with a Dynaflex "power-ball".
"The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on"
ZeSpectre is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 07:17 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: December 20, 2007
Location: S.E. Minnesota
Posts: 4,295
Lots of reps with a 15# or 20# dumbbell will help. (curls, straight up like a military press, holding it straight out as long as you can, etc) But don't strain your rotator cuff (shoulder joint tendons)
"The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun"
zxcvbob is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 07:22 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: March 14, 2008
Posts: 1,695
To the OP, how old are you? As we age, we develop tremors. It's natural, it's unavoidable, and it's incurable. Well, there is a cure which I'll explain shortly but I don't recommend it in combination with shooting.

As others have pointed out, we all tremble a little. It's impossible for nearly everyone to hold his/her hands rock steady. It just won't happen. Furthermore, if you're an old dude like me (I'll be 64 in a month) then you'll know that the tremors get worse as you age. I'm at the point where, sometimes, holding a spoon or a fork steady in my dominant right hand becomes an impossibility. For me, eating something like soup in the company of others has become a bit embarrasing.

Still, I remain a pretty accurate shooter at distances of up to 25 yards. I've learned to compensate for my tremor by timing my shots to coincide with periods of relative quiet. My tremors are never the same from moment to moment, I'll have stretches of 10 seconds where I shake like a leaf and of 10 seconds where I'm as steady as if I've been carved from marble.

Here's a "cure" as told to me by my doctor. Drink a couple of glasses of wine. You'll be amazed that your hand shake will have disappeared. I don't know why it happens but it does. For obvious reasons, however, one can't do that before or even during a trip to the range.
stevieboy is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 07:23 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: December 20, 2007
Location: S.E. Minnesota
Posts: 4,295
I started to say something about 1 shot (no more, no less) of whiskey, but I didn't want to be the first one to mention it.
"The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun"
zxcvbob is offline  
Old May 31, 2010, 09:32 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: April 12, 2010
Location: Lake Martin, AL
Posts: 2,868
Try the 60% vs. 40% two hand shooting. This means apply 60% push out on the shooting hand and a 40% pull back on the other hand on the pistol. This tends to steady your shots. This is not intended to say you have to make a strength dual or applying a lot of effort to it, but simply you should use this approximate balance of pushing out and pulling back while firing the pistol.

I seem to remember a Sig Sauer youtube explaining and demostrating this method.
lamarw is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 12:23 AM   #11
44 AMP
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 17,154
What worked for me.....

Get a Ruger Blackhawk, 7.5" barrel. Balance a dime on the flat part of the front sight. Practice holding the gun until you can do it without the dime falling off.

Do that for 25 years, and I guarantee you will see improvement!

If you really want to impress the kids, cock the (EMPTY) gun, and dryfire it with the dime on the front sight. Dime should stay in place until the hammer hits the frame.

Yes, I can do it.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is online now  
Old June 1, 2010, 12:31 AM   #12
Join Date: May 29, 2009
Location: Wellington
Posts: 53
I found I was squeezing witrh my thumb. A big no no. As soon as I stopped this things improved.
BillD is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 12:49 AM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: January 31, 2006
Posts: 822
What kind of hearing protection are you using?

It might sound strange, but I usually wear foam plugs underneath earmuffs--If i forget the plugs or skip them, my hands start to shake after a few rounds.

Double hearing protection, I can shoot all day without shakes.
MikeGoob is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 02:10 AM   #14
Junior member
Join Date: April 10, 2010
Location: Kodiak, Alaska
Posts: 791
It might sound strange, but I usually wear foam plugs underneath earmuffs--If i forget the plugs or skip them, my hands start to shake after a few rounds.
That's one of the best pieces of advice I've ever read on any gun forum.
kodiakbeer is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 05:48 AM   #15
mega twin
Senior Member
Join Date: August 15, 2006
Posts: 432
I stuff a lot of extra foam in my muffs,to the point when I shot IDPA,they had to hold the beeper really close to my head for me to hear it,
mega twin is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 06:57 AM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: March 1, 2010
Location: Hopewell Junction, NY
Posts: 454
This might sound silly, but do you drink a cup of coffee before you go to the range??

I actually used to and had a "shaking" problem. I asked the same question you did to the other guys at the range and one of them jokingly said I should "ease off the caffeine". I though about what he said and the next day I didnt have my coffee. There actually was a difference!!

Bottom line, I get my coffee AFTER my shooting!!!

l98ster is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 07:27 AM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: March 5, 2010
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 850
Unfortunate truth...

This is something that not a lot of new shooters like to hear from my experience; (including myself when I heard it).

The sure-fire fix to well over 90% of problems that new guys experience when shooting is very simple...

...shoot more.

There are tricks, and guidelines, and techniques that will help you, and I'm the first one to go right along with that; but in the long run, there is nothing that is going to help you more than putting more rounds down range. This is not to say that you should just stock up on ammo and spend 500 rounds at the range every time. But several meaningful shots at the range with an increase in frequency is your best bet.

It is the same as anything else. The more familiar you are to it, the less it will physically affect your sympathetic nervous system. Ever notice how when you first get into an amusement park and onto a coaster, your stomache drops at the first hill? Then towards the end of the day, you're almost placid doing corkscrews and double loops? Or the first time you ever witnessed someone hammering a nail when you were a kid; unable to keep your eyes from blinking at each sound? Now you can roof an entire home without reacting.

Handling a concentrated, directional hand-held explosive device isn't something natural to the human body. So naturally, you're experiencing the results of your sympathetic nervous system telling you, "Something is VERY ODD HERE!" It's dumping adrenaline into your system and you're getting the shakes. Putting some more rounds down range and exposing yourself and your body to recoil more often will most certainly solve your problem, as your body becomes more accustomed to the gunfire. Cutting down on stimulants like caffein and crystal meth will help you as well, but I am a firm proponent that well over 90% of early shooting problems are solved with a simple diagnosis of "More Shooting". It's expensive, and it takes time, so it's not something that people like to hear, but it's the God's Honest truth.

Hope this helps,
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ- Greek:"Come and take them..." Meaning: Here we peaceably stand as armed and free men, willing to defend that peace, and ready to make war upon anyone who threatens that freedom.
LordTio3 is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 10:53 AM   #18
Senior Member
Join Date: June 29, 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,284
when I first started shooting, my hands didn't shake per se, not like Capt. Miller from saving private ryan, but the gun wasn't still and the sights would wander.

for me, it was a combination of stance, breathing, lower and upper body all moving and doing stuff.

you need to find the best grip (how you hold the gun) and stance that works for you. ask and look at how people hold guns(also look at their groupings and see how well they shoot before imitating them). some grips and stances are better than others, and some grips and stances will work better for you than others.

Me personally, I hold the gun in my right hand, and I mate my left palm to the 2nd knuckles of my right hand. so my left hand is significantly forward of my right. compared to the pancake grip where the 2 palms of each hand are opposite each other.

and I use modified weaver stance, where my feet are perpendicular to each other

and dry fire practice really helps out. get in your stance(don't practice dry firing sitting down), and hold your gun in your chosen grip, and then aim at something. focus on the front sight. is the front sight steady? shakey? wanders? its ok for your front sight to wander to a certain degree(very minimally), but it should be slow and steady. when your sight is on the target, dry fire the gun by slowly squeezing the trigger. do not snatch at the trigger when the front sight wanders over your target. did the front sight move? if it did thats not good. after you dry fire, are you still aiming at your target? you should be.

practicing this a lot will help you develop good shooting techniques. just sending lead down range without purpose will not

Also, how far away from you you hold you gun affects movement. A lot of people are inherently afraid of being near the gun, and hold it as far away from their face and body as possible. you can see then because they have locked their arms straight, and they are leaning away from the gun.

in my stance, both my elbows are bent and I lean forwardmy face not being more than 2 feet away (more like 18") from the gun. if you hold even a pencil at locked arms length your arms will move.

also, if you hold your gun at arms length, and take too long to aim, your motion and shaking will magnify, but in no way am i endorsing quick unaimed fire. you just need practice. the more practice you have, the faster things get through repetition.
"Some people think they can outsmart me. Maybe, maybe. I've yet to meet one that can outsmart bullet." -Heavy

si vis pacem, para bellum

Last edited by greyson97; June 1, 2010 at 10:59 AM.
greyson97 is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 11:17 AM   #19
old bear
Senior Member
Join Date: November 3, 2009
Location: Not close enough to the beach
Posts: 1,442
AS others have posted we all are shake to one degree or another. Muscle memory is just that, and has to be worked on to improve. I use a three (3) pound "Heave Hand", hold at arms length 15 seconds, turn arm 90 degrees to left hold for 15 seconds, turn arm 180 degrees to right and hold for 15 seconds. If you can do 5 - 10 reps of this several times a day.
old bear is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 11:30 AM   #20
Don P
Senior Member
Join Date: December 17, 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 5,615
A couple of good snorts of Jim Beam should cure the shaking BUT REMEMBER booze and guns don't mix so therefor you have a dilemma, shoot & shake or drink and not shoot. My,my what a choice
NRA Life Member, NRA Range Safety Officer, NRA Certified Pistol Instructor,, USPSA NROI Range Officer,
ICORE Range Officer, ICORE Match Director
,MAG 40 Graduate
As you are, I once was, As I am, You will be.
Don P is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 12:01 PM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: September 9, 2004
Location: Sweet Home Alabama
Posts: 1,475
Just food for thought....

We all have that tendency to shake to some degree at the range....can you imagine what that is like in a real live defensive engagment? That's when the ole pucker factor kicks in In Vietnam, I never fired a side arm in a fire fight, which I am thankful because that means their too close However, fired plenty of M16s, shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Aftermath of one....
Ed Brown Alpha Carry| Sig P238, P938, P232, 1911 C3 | Colt Defender, Mustang Pocketlite, 1911 | Rohrbaugh R9 | Browning, Buckmark 22LR(suppressed) | Kahr PM9 Black Rose | S&W|M&P C.O.R.E RMR Trijicon | Dan Wesson ECO
IMTHDUKE is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 12:39 PM   #22
Junior Member
Join Date: July 30, 2008
Posts: 11
Shakiest gun in the west?

You may be trying to grip too tightly, that will amplify any natural tremors. What kind of health are you in? I had a very bad increase in my tremors a couple years ago and asked my doctor about it, He told me to hold my hands out at arms length palms down, and when I did, he laid a single sheet of paper on top of both hands. WOW!!! I had no idea how much I was shaking until he did that! Turns out I had some thyroid problems. He prescribed some meds and I took them for about 6 months and the problems cleared up! Do you have a family history of thyroid problems? Try the paper test, you may be surprised!
gunokie is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 01:29 PM   #23
Join Date: August 23, 2009
Posts: 28
Pretty much everything people said above is true.

Basically everyone has tremors to a certain extent in any extremity. You can't erase it but there are ways you can reduce it.

A trick I learned is not to take any stimulants for atleast 48 hours prior to shooting. Caffeine counts as a stim so anything with that is out.

There are also some depressant drugs you can get over the counter designed for calming someone down which will lessen tremors in your hands/legs/neck. I know its been said many times but being relaxed helps a lot too. You might also want to try holding the gun as loose as possible without risking it flying out of your hands. Lastly, if you can monitor your heart rate, keep track of it while you shoot. Tremors in your hands will be less noticeable if you heart rate is lower. Find out what raises your heart rate and avoid what ever does.
Nubcakes is offline  
Old June 1, 2010, 02:03 PM   #24
Senior Member
Join Date: November 20, 2008
Posts: 10,526
Practice more shooting. Do some grip strengthening exercises, and maybe some other strength training as well. Hold the gun with two hands. Unless you have a medical condition that causes you to have tremors, what I recomended should help.
Skans is offline  
Old June 5, 2010, 09:56 PM   #25
Senior Member
Join Date: June 21, 2009
Location: St. Francisville, LA
Posts: 151
I've recently developed a tremor that comes & goes. Sometimes, I shake like a leaf. My neurologist said my tremor has a "postural" component, i.e. it manifests itself most when I'm doing something with my hands, especially fine motor skill stuff. He also suggested wine, as another poster stated.

On the other hand, my handgun shooting is primarily defense-oriented, and I've recently become enamored with point shooting. As taught by Fairbairn & Sykes, Applegate, etc., they emphasize convulsive grip, "aiming" w/o sights, and firing as soon as the gun covers the target. Under these conditions, tremor is a non-issue When I sight in loads, I shoot off sandbags, which ameliorates the tremor.

With all of the above said, I agree with others that practice will help, if it's not a physical-medical condition, per se. Specifically, practice establishing your "natural point of aim" as you prepare to shoot. If that's new to you, it means take aim, close your eyes briefly, and then open them. If your aim has wandered off target, adjust your stance. Repeat as necessary until the problem is remedied. This is your "natural point of aim" in that stance, with that gun, and it allows you to reduce or eliminate muscle tension caused by having to strain to re-position your gun on the target. Thus, you shake a lot less.
LouisianaMan is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:05 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13857 seconds with 7 queries