Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Overcoming "Flinch" When Shooting

Below are a list of articles, and a video, discussing the "flinch"--anticipation of recoil--when shooting. As is noted therein, this problem is generally not the result of the fear of the recoil, but instead the unconscious attempt to brace the body in anticipation of the recoil so as to not upset your balance.

        When I teach combat pistol, anticipation is the problem I most frequently need to address. Every shooter I have ever met deals with anticipation to one degree or another, but many misunderstand its nature. The most common misunderstanding of anticipation is that it is fear of recoil. This is untrue. Fear of recoil is one reason to anticipate, but it is not anticipation. Another reason to anticipate—and the most common for advanced shooters—is trying to actively control either recoil or the timing of the shot.
             Anticipation is the mind focusing on what it considers important (what is about to happen) instead of what is important (what needs to happen in the moment). An example of anticipation off the range can be found in driving a vehicle. Imagine a deer running in front of a moving car. The untrained driver will concentrate on what is about to happen—hitting the deer—and will reflexively jam on the brakes while continuing to focus on the danger. This results in locking the wheels and, usually, steering into the deer. The trained driver, however, will assess the danger and focus on what needs to happen now: stopping the car and looking for a safe direction to turn. This results in proper braking (just short of lock-up) and steering toward safety. The ability to not worry about potential outcomes, but simply execute what is important in the moment, is often the difference between a positive outcome and disaster.
               When shooting, anticipation is the mind focusing on the recoil of the firearm, either from fear or desire to control it. This results in a change in grip and stance—an instantaneous, reflexive tensing of the grip, arms and/or body—as the mind reacts to what is about to happen (recoil). If our reflexes were fast enough that we actually reacted to recoil at the instant it happened, there would be no problem. Go ahead and react. Human reaction times aren't that quick, however, so we often tense before recoil. The problem with this sudden tension, no matter how slight, is it changes sight alignment and sight picture if it occurs before the round leaves the barrel.
                 Try this:  Adopt a good isosceles stance and two-hand grip with your cleared pistol. Relax your grip completely without opening it. Acquire a sight picture (pointed in a safe direction, of course). While you are watching your sights, suddenly increase the pressure on your grip and forearms. You will see the pistol dip, thereby ruining sight alignment. This usually happens so close to the actual shot, the recoil disguises the flinch and the shooter swears he or she didn't anticipate. This reflex is why anticipated shots are almost always low and left of the target (for a right-handed shooter). If a shooter relaxes, allows recoil to happen (as it must) and allows the shot to happen in its own time, the result will be a good hit.
        This is a great article, so be sure to read the whole thing.
        Some other articles I came across:

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