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Old January 11, 2012, 10:21 PM   #1
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getting rid of the shakes

All my life I've had issues with freehand shooting and the shakes(more of a constant slow sway,up,down,right,left).I stayed away from handgun shooting for this reason,but I like handguns and am just starting pistol league locally(bullseye type) but am having serious problems with shaking .It isn't a "nervous"or"competition induced" shake,it is simply a problem with holding my arms out ,with no support,and staying still.Is there any sort of excersize or technic that can be used to steady my arms better?

I just shot tonight and with ten practice shots,with just my right elbow sitting on a rest,(still not perfectly steady)I got a 4inch group with half in the x-ring. I took my elbow off the rest and shot the normal position and in twenty shots not one even hit the center and many didn't even hit the paperThey were basicaly scattered,not even off in a general direction.

This summer and fall I went through about 3000 rounds in my pistols to try to get things smoothened out but so far nothing has stopped these dang shakes.
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Old January 11, 2012, 10:58 PM   #2
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My guess is your shake is your arm trying to balance the weight

Try pushups with various hand positions (outside, inside, etc) from different and/or unstable surfaces. In my various workouts I do around 400-500 pushups a week. I have and love my Bosu for pushups!

Alternatively just find something much heavier to hold out as practice.

This is not me however he has great examples.
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Old January 11, 2012, 11:25 PM   #3
Willie Lowman
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Excessive caffeine and withdrawal from alcohol can cause shaking of the hands.

Exercise helps. My Dad used to tell me about a roommate he had when he was in college. The guy was a bullseye shooter and he would hold a small dumbbell at arms length while he did his homework.
"9mm has a very long history of being a pointy little bullet moving quickly" --Sevens
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Old January 11, 2012, 11:26 PM   #4
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You can exercise that should help. You should also consult your doctor. You might have something called "essential tremors".
Lots of people have it not many get treated.
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Old January 12, 2012, 01:31 AM   #5
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I do exercise and it has made a huge difference in keeping a steady sight picture, and being able to shoot better for extended range sessions:

Physical fitness is important.

I have a routine I do to keep muscle mass in my shoulders and forearms, as well as keep my grip strong.

I had a regular exercise regimin that was cycling, pushups/situps, leg lifts - the usual stuff. When I picked up a Glock 34, I got tired after awhile at the range and I got the shakes. I now have a regular exercise regimin designed to strengthen my grip and be able to hold that Glock out there steady. I do running and cycling when I have time but my exercise regimin now is:

Hammer curls:

Ulnar dumbell:

Wrist curls:

Reverse wrist curls:

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Old January 12, 2012, 01:35 AM   #6
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Wrist roller:

Except I hold my arms straight out when I do the wrist roller.

I also exercise the fingers to improve grip. I notice it's improved my ability to hold a steady sight picture for longer range sessions:

Captains of Crush also to strengthen my grip and to increase muscle mass in my forearms:

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Old January 12, 2012, 01:51 AM   #7
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stop drinking! lol

all kidding aside, ive always struggled with that. im asthmatic and the meds have always made me shakey, when i repaired heavy equipment some days i was so shaky i couldnt even weld that day. its taken changing meds, and working to keep myself steady.
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Old January 12, 2012, 09:23 AM   #8
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Best is lots of dryfiring, concentration.

Even then you'll get "pre-match" shakes.

I get them mostly in Off hand because its my worse position and it's normaly the first stage you fire.

One of the best things that works for me, and those team members I've coached is, just before the match, set on your shooting stool, (or chair) and relax as best you can, the lean over with your head in your lap and take deep breaths, hold it in as long as you can, Let it out, and try to wait before you suck in more air.

Do this three or four times. Then just set there, totally relaxed for a few minutes.

It works.

Get a hold of the USAMU Pistol Marksmanship Guide and/or the International Rifle Marksmanship Guide; they both have excellent excersizes for controlling shakes and other aspects of mental conditioning. Both books are $6.95 each from the CMP Bookstore.
Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
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Old January 12, 2012, 10:21 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advise.I'm starting today on several of the excersizes along with a book order.This is something I should have attempted to control better long ago.It is definately about 80% muscle issue because I can first load up the gun and shoot 4 or 5 good shots offhand(slight wiggle,but liveable) and then progressively worsen.The problem is those first shots are "practice" or sight checking and don't count, then when it does count I'm starting to wiggle bad.It would be nice to start off with a rock steady hold to begin with,then it would take more shots before things get bad.

Plus from now on only 1/2 a liter of Cap'n Morgan,see if that helps also.
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Old January 12, 2012, 05:10 PM   #10
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Get rid of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine and a lot of the shakes will be gone.

That may not take place immediately as there can be 'withdrawls' associated w/ addictions.
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Old January 13, 2012, 03:18 PM   #11
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Over gripping the pistol will cause the shakes, too.
As will a less than stable shooting position.
As will taking too long for the shot and shaking from fatigue.
As will low blood sugar, from skipping breakfast.
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”
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Old January 13, 2012, 03:34 PM   #12
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Lots of good advice. I have watched a guy i shoot with at the range, he is one of the best shots in the club and you can see the pistol moving a fair bit before he takes the shot . Trigger control is more important, the only time people dont shake is when they are dead.
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Old January 13, 2012, 08:13 PM   #13
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Some other guys that were shooting at the same time I was,pretty much rapid shot their groups and were watching me waiting(I didn't know they were behind me).They kind of laughed and said that my muzzle was sure moving a lot. I definately took too long between shots.The last 10 shots all went low and left. I know someone here will know by that, what I started doing wrong. I believe I ended up jerking the trigger as soon as my sights crossed the center. Somewhere there is a chart that shows the common misses and the reasons why.
My practice shots and the first five of my scoring rounds were around the center(I was able to control my trigger pull to fire when I was on target,even though I was moving around more than normal).After that I couldn't slow the movement down enough for good shot placement and was taking longer,thus shaking more.
Plus I think used the wrong gun for this situation,it shoots great with the loads I am using, but I do shoot both of my XDM's or 1911 better(way better & crisp triggers).I just like that gun though,so that is what I used.Next week I will try a XDM45. My bad wrist will pay for it though.
PS. I don't drink(maybe I should start).Don't smoke,caffeine yes,maybe.
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Old January 13, 2012, 09:35 PM   #14
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Caffeine is the mortal enemy of the competitive shooter. My coaches were rightfully fanatical about our abstinence back when I was a serious shooter. I have since grown to love coffee, and it's a terrible dilemma.

If you can dry out from the buzzjuice, I guarantee you will see significant improvement.
"A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards."
-George Orwell
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Old January 14, 2012, 12:02 AM   #15
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Somewhere there is a chart that shows the common misses and the reasons why.
I don't know if it's on here, but look for a "Wheel of Misery". It's a target with the most common problems listed and where they will appear on your target when you shoot.
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Old January 14, 2012, 03:56 AM   #16
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Beyond accepting your wobble which is hugely important, try some upper body exercise as mentioned. When money was no object, my exercise was shooting itself. More cheaply, use free weights. I will grip a dumbell and extend it arm locked out in a firing stance and hold it as long as possible. 30 seconds with 25 lbs out there will quickly make that pistol feel like nothing.
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Old January 19, 2012, 09:51 AM   #17
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It is rare that one reads a thread in which every piece of advice is good.
This is one such thread.
Great stuff.
About "wobble"....and accepting it. As long as you have a pulse, you will have sights that move. a little or a lot. Which of those it is is what all the advice is about and also why "trigger control" is important. Learning to phase shot and wobble together is the basic skill of 10s and Xs.
“Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports ... all others are games.” Ernest Hemingway ...
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Old January 22, 2012, 11:25 AM   #18
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On accepting your wobble, it is one of those key pieces of advice that new shooters get a lot less value from than they should. They hear it and think "Great, I accept that I wobble, a lot! Now what?"

For me that advice translates to once I've started trigger movement I am not stopping barring something really dramatic happening such as the target blowing over or my trigger pull becoming 1000 lbs. Trying to pull through chicken finger doesn't work. I keep the sights where I want them in black but do not try to muscle the gun to perfection.
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Old January 22, 2012, 01:02 PM   #19
Clifford L. Hughes
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Even national champions wobble when they shoot a match: no one can hold a pistol perfectly steady. The sloution is to manage the wobble. Most of the time the wobble is in the form of a figure 8 laying on its side. If you keep your sights perfectly aligned and you have a good trigger release your pistol can wobble the size of your target and you will still hit the bull's eye.

The way that I practiced when I shot for several Marine Corps pistol teams is with serious dry firing. I practed to develope my grip, my trigger finger placement, my sight alignment and my trigger release. I dry fired at least thirty minutes a day. Because I was developing the above procedures I snapped in aginst a blank white wall. Any miss alingment of the sights when the trigger was relesed was apparent. When I practiced using ammo I shot in cadence for timed and rapid fire. Meaning that as soon as the sights were aligned I released the trigger whether the sights were at six o'clock or not. Soon I was putting most of my bullets in the X or ten ring.

If you have the shakes and not a wobble I don't know what to tell you. I'm seventy five years old now and I have the shakes so I shoot off of a bench and with sand bags.

Semper Fi.

Gunnery sergeant
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