Wilson Combat Vickers Elite at The Range at Austin (courtesy thetruthaboutguns.com)
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When I practice shooting a handgun, I start by trying to stack rounds on top of each other. (Aim small, miss small.) Once I realize once again that I’ll never be a competitor, I try to shoot a dinner-plate sized group, as fast as possible, from as far away as possible. Having been instructed by some of the world’s best shooters, I reckon my grip, stance and breathing are A-OK. But the one thing that constantly bedevils me is . . .

flinching as I pull the trigger. I tend to push the gun’s nose down as I pull the trigger, sending the round lower than the point-of-aim.

If I concentrate, I can cure the problem. But if I’m under stress, I revert to this bad habit. I’m working on perfecting my trigger press  — which gun guru John Farnham reckons is a Sisyphean task — by shooting/dry firing revolvers and hypnosis.

What’s your shooting weakness? What have you done/are you doing to fix it?

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  1. My shooting weakness is not shooting enough!

    My plan to fix it: go shooting more often!

    And to kick things off, I went to a local shooting range twice in the past week.

  2. I have the same problem of flinching. I’m also shaky, so my offhand shooting is rather poor. Hickock45 or Jerry Miculek I ain’t.

  3. Okay, back to being serious. If you are flinching and pushing your handgun down in anticipation of recoil, I can think of three possible ways to overcome that:
    (1) Start your shooting super slow and accurate and then work your way up to progressively faster shooting.*
    (2) Have a friend load a full-size revolver and leave any number of cylinders empty. Then practice focusing on the front site and shooting slowly, like one shot every 20 seconds or so. Repeat this exercise a hundred times if you can.
    (3) Acquire a handgun with a flat area on the top of the barrel/slide. Place a penny on the flat space and practice dry firing without that penny falling off. Practice that hundreds of times.

    * Starting your shooting super slow means firing maybe once every 30 seconds or so with your entire focus on accuracy, which includes NOT dipping the barrel in anticipation of recoil. Do that for a couple hundred rounds over the course of several days. Then increase your shooting speed to once every 20 seconds or so, again with several hundred rounds over several days. Repeat this pattern reducing your time between shots to something like 10 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 3 seconds, then 2 seconds, then 1 second, then a half second. That entire process could easily take 3 months or longer.

  4. I need to knock off some rust. No, not on my guns. On me. But until the Christmas shopping season is over, I’m afraid that there won’t be much time for the range. 🙁

  5. I love my SiRT laser pistol. Not only can I dry fire much more, but i easily notice how much the laser wobbles from my trigger pull. I just wish the build quality was a little better.

    • I use a cheap laser snap cap I got off Amazon in a Bersa thunder 380 plus. It’s far better than a Sirt IMO. It’s going to be a lot less frustrating if you pick a firearm that has a hammer you can thumb back instead of racking the slide.

      And I still shoot pistol like crap. I just have them as range toys more than tools since I don’t typically CC. I would rely on my rifles and shotguns if SHTF.

  6. Flinching/Trigger control. Shooting with only one eye open. Gripping harder with my left than my right hand.

    Once, I fixed my flinch by mentally singing to myself. It distracted me enough and my (good) instincts took over. Since I shoot at a public range, I normally just dry fire and slow down.

  7. Depending on how far/fast your shot string goes down, that could actually be a good thing. If you are able to reliably put the first shot in the attacker’s upper chest area, subsequent shots would go down just like buttons on a shirt, eventually getting to your attacker’s pelvic girdle.

    That could actually be a feature, not a bug!

  8. Looking for impact on target rather than concentrating on getting sights back on target. Amoungest a host of other things. But I do watch that Navy Seal show on TV!

  9. (1) Try shooting a lower caliber handgun like a .22 LR or use mild target loads for a while and then transition to larger calibers or defensive loads which have more recoil. Heavier handguns also have less felt recoil.
    (2) Make sure that you are focusing your eye(s) on the front sight: before, during and 2 seconds after the shot breaks. Don’t let your sight picture and alignment change.
    (3) Squeeze the trigger. The discharge should be a surprise. If you know when the shot will break then you are jerking the trigger and flinching. You need to slowly increase the pressure on the trigger until it breaks.
    (4) The amount of muscle tension in your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back should be medium, not light or heavy and it should not change until 2 seconds after the shot breaks.
    (5) I instruct my students to tell themselves “Focus on the front sight… focus on the front sight…..” continuously from the time they start a new shot until they hear the shot and one more time after the shot breaks. Then they can relax their muscles and look at the target.
    (6) Drop your arms and rest them after a maximum of three shots. Fatigue leads to sloppy technique.
    Accurate pistol shooting is a simple process but it’s not easy. All you have to do is minimize barrel movement after you properly align the sights, get the right sight picture, hold your breath and then slowly squeeze the trigger until the shot breaks and then continue to minimize barrel movement until the bullet hits your target. Simple, right?

  10. Flinching can be cured! I met a new shooter many years ago who was shooting a Smith and Wesson Model 29, .44 magnum with an 8 3/8″ barrel. He was flinching so bad that the bullets were hitting the ground under the target’s backboard at a distance of 25 feet! I heard him cursing that his new $800 pistol was a piece of junk so I stopped shooting and started talking to him. I found out that this was the first handgun he had ever shot and that he didn’t have any training either. That really scared me! I spent the next hour teaching him Jeff Cooper’s four Cardinal Rules of Gun Safety and instructing him how to shoot using my Smith and Wesson Model 18 revolver which was .22 LR. I also included some cap and ball dummy drills to show him how badly he was flinching. At the end of the hour he went back to shooting his .44 magnum and he was able to consistently shoot 6 inch groups on target. Learning how to shoot from someone who knows how to shoot makes all the difference. This gentleman is one of the reasons I got my instructor certification many years later. I still enjoy teaching today.

    • Thnx fer yer help.
      That was the same help I received from a RO on a VERY slow (drizzle) day at the public range.
      I asked him one question about the 7yd target and an hour later I was hitting an empty water bottle (litter) that had blown/rolled onto the berm 65yds away.
      My first real lesson. And I thought that Glock 27 was the problem !!
      LoL That was 5 yrs ago and today I shoot 12″x12″ steel plates at 150y.
      THAT is why I “pay it forward” every chance with a newbie.
      That RO was a karmic gift to my shooting experience.

  11. “I reckon my grip, stance and breathing are A-OK.”

    You might be wrong on that. Dipping of the muzzle can be caused by milking the grip. Lots of the diagnostic targets omit it, or if they have it have it in a place that is wrong for many people. At least it was for me. Combining large hands (particularly large hands and long fingers, which I have) and a slim gun like the 1911 makes it harder to rid yourself of.

    This was one of the things it took me a while to overcome and make it second nature. I spent a lot of time dealing with it as if it were a matter of trigger control, and the more I fought to pull the trigger “just right” the more sympathetic tightening of the pinky would come into play. For me it would pull hits to 7 oclock and I’d wind up with people telling me that I must be breaking my wrist or jerking the trigger.

  12. Took my new 45 to the range for break-in. I’ve never been sure that “break-in” truly means breaking in a new gun, or breaking in me to my new gun.

    Anyway, the first hundred rounds did not go smoothly. The second hundred rounds were fine. I finished, went home, and nursed a sore arm for a few days.

    Next time out with the 45, I flinched every single shot. Have not had it out, since, due to family illness. My planned cure is to take it out again, soon, shoot 50 rounds, and remember my arm will not be sore.

  13. I started shooting before hearing protection was a big deal, the concussion started hurting my ears, and it got worse, that’s when I started flinching. Now I double up, ear plugs and muffs, helps me a lot.

  14. I need to work on my weak hand shooting, only hit 60% on an 8 inch gong at ten yards -ugh. was 100% right hand only.
    In the spring I’m going to invest in several full size steel silouettes and work more on my move and shoot drills.

  15. My shooting weakness is my cheapness. Ammo is not cheap at all—even Winchester White Box is costly enough that I don’t want to shoot it up quickly.

    So I tend to revert to slow fire for maximum accuracy no matter what I shoot. Glock 19? Slow fire trying to shoot the same hole. Kahr CM9? Kahr CW380? Slow fire trying to shoot the same hole.

    So I basically don’t train with my defense guns like I should.

    But I’ve gotten really good at making small slow fire groups with tiny pistols.

  16. The most effective method I’ve found for a flinch is “ball and dummy.” Have a partner put a live round in the chamber or not. When you flinch, it’s obvious, and dry fire until it goes away. Keep repeating until you can fire the 1 round without flinching. If you have snap caps, you can move to a combo of rounds and snap caps in a magazine or cylinder. Graduate to all live rounds. Go back to previous exercises whenever a flinch shows up.

    Some tips to mimimize the noise of firing:
    Close your mouth when shooting since sound travels through your mouth and up the eustrachian tubes. Wear muffs to minimize the sound transmitted through the bone. Go with plugs and muffs. Get rubber grips that cover the backstrap or wear shock absorbing gloves for high caliber handguns.

  17. “Question of the Day: What’s Wrong With Your Shooting?”

    As far as I’m concerned, nothing, HOWEVER, ask one hundred different “instructors” and you might get on hundred different answers…

  18. What’s wrong with my shooting is that I can no longer afford it. Thanks to inheriting $9k+ in debt from my mom, I can’t even afford lunch.

    • Unless you co-signed on the debt, how did you inherit it?!? If you didn’t co-sign, the creditor has no power to make you pay it.

  19. Too many different guns/grips/manual of Arms

    G19, 43
    EMP C3
    Kahr CM9 and CT9
    PPQ, CCP
    Metro Arms 5” 9mm

    If I’d quit serial buying (I shoot them all-so not a collector) and focused on one or six, I’d be better.

  20. Nothing. I am a superb shooter, with no deviations what so ever. I don’t need to work on a thing, in fact, I spend most of my time telling other people what’s wrong with them, because I’m so superior. Doesn’t get any better than me.

  21. Too much tension in my entire upper body. I have the grip, sight and trigger press down but I find myself sweating and glasses fogging after 50 rounds or so from just shooting “tight”. I need to work on breathing and relaxing.

  22. My shooting weakness is not being able to shoot fast. Since the local ranges don’t allow rapid-fire, I can’t practice correctly.
    Other than that, shooting with my non-dominant hand is an exercise in frustration. I should work on that next time out.

  23. Not knowing your shooting history, I would say dropping the muzzle before a shot is a simple flinch that developed from ramping up the cartridge power curve before being really comfortable with recoil. Bewilderingly, from what I see on the internet these days it seems like a lot of people who are introduced to shooting as adults are thrown right into centerfire pistols and not eased in with .22 rifles and pistols. There is no shame in backing off to a .22 to work on your trigger press or other techniques, then maybe up to a downloaded .38 Special revolver or something until you’ve forgotten all about that explosion at the muzzle.

  24. The biggest problem with my shooting is not having enough time or money. i feel like i speak for us all.
    Also i might have too much variety and spend too much time trying to be proficient with all of my collection, instead of trying to master a single gun.


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