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  • How do you prevent or cure a flinch?

    Brownbear (in another thread) got me thinking about training a new shooter, particularly with respect to preventing development of flinching from too much noise or recoil and in general of avoiding learning bad habits.

    I am primarily focused on handguns, but if anyone wants to address long guns (and how recoil management differs from hanguns) they are welcome, too.

    I manage my recoil issues by mixing high-power and low-power loads in my cylinder's chambers randomly or leaving a spent round in one or more chambers while I shoot. That way, I plainly see if I am flinching when I drop the hammer on the dud. I also regularly switch between 22rf and the more powerful pistols (both revolver and self-loader).

    What do y'all do? Especially for new shooters?

    Thanks in advance.

    Lost Sheep

  • #2
    I like to load for the shooter and if they are showing signs of pulling shots, leave a empty in one cylinder or just hand them an empty gun once in awhile. Alex

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    • #3
      I bought a set of azoom snap caps and spend time dryfiring with them. I do it if I haven't shot in a while, and it helps with accuracy at the range without having to spend money on ammo. One easy challenge is to try dryfiring while balancing a coin on the front sight.

      Does it help prevent flinching? I suppose so. It doesn't seem to hurt.
      Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.

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      • #4
        Rimifires, rimfires, rimfires! Start small and work-up the recoil level, then WHEN a flinch develops, back to the rimfires for a spell until it is worked out. I use all the techniques you mentioned also, and snap-caps at home shooting moving targets on the TV.

        Laser-sights work wonders on your trigger-pull and hand-hold as well. You never realize how much you shake and twist the gun in your hand till that little red dot is skating all over the target at 25yds while you're trying to hold steady.

        When I start flinching, I pick-up my bull-barrel mark III 22lr and shoot fifty rounds or so, then move back to the big-bores, and repeat. Practice and more practice is about the only thing I have found that will prevent flinching.

        JAY

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        • #5
          Use double hearing protection to prevent flinching

          Muzzle blast is often forgotten when considering the causes of flinching. One of the best ways to avoid flinching is to use earplugs under earmuffs. It quiets the whole thing way down, and you will be surprised how pleasant the shooting becomes. I am fairly certain that recoil gets blamed for a lot of the problems actually caused by the muzzle blast.

          The downside, of course, is that the shooter can't hear much of anything with that much interference. One good way to help with that is to use electronic muffs, with the volume turned up. They still cut off the loud sounds, but amplify sounds in the volume range of conversation. Electronic muffs used to be pretty darn expensive, but in the last year or so, I have seen some in the $25-35 range that would probably work pretty well.

          I bought some of the Peltor muffs 4 or 5 years ago. They cost me about $150, and I have never regretted that purchase for a second.

          Best Regards,
          Jim

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          • #6
            snap caps

            I've been using snap caps at the range, typically two or three chambers per cylinder. I constantly switch it around, but half way through you know the rest of pattern. I also use the snap caps at home, dry firing with the holster practice.

            I haven't really detected a flinch yet. I would be curious on how a flinch would show up in your patterns.

            -hiker
            "Happiness is a warm gun - bang bang, shoot shoot!"
            -Lennon/McCartney

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            • #7
              dry fire ... dry fire ... dry fire

              And then do it some more.

              Your "surprise break" needs to be just that.

              Beyond that, rim fire is a good intermediate step, but correct grip and stance are even more important.
              Winter is Coming...

              Go GeocacheAlaska!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lost Sheep View Post
                Brownbear (in another thread) got me thinking about training a new shooter, particularly with respect to preventing development of flinching from too much noise or recoil and in general of avoiding learning bad habits.

                I am primarily focused on handguns, but if anyone wants to address long guns (and how recoil management differs from hanguns) they are welcome, too.

                I manage my recoil issues by mixing high-power and low-power loads in my cylinder's chambers randomly or leaving a spent round in one or more chambers while I shoot. That way, I plainly see if I am flinching when I drop the hammer on the dud. I also regularly switch between 22rf and the more powerful pistols (both revolver and self-loader).

                What do y'all do? Especially for new shooters?

                Thanks in advance.

                Lost Sheep
                I don't know if you ever "beat" a flinch completely once it starts. When I was a kid in high school just old enough for a drivers license, I worked in a gunsmith shop with a quarry about a quarter mile away. As a service to customers one of our features was to completely sight in their guns. Not bore sight, but take them to the quarry and put a few rounds through them prone, rested across an old rolled sleeping bag. Almost like sweeping the floor, one of my daily chores was to take a rack of guns out there every day after school and go bang. Nice job for a kid, eh!!!!!

                The heaviest we usually saw were in the 06 class, with an occasional 300 mag thrown in. No prob. Then a guy came in and wanted his M-70 custom 375 H&H tuned up with both 270 grain softs and 300 grain solids for an Africa trip. No sissy recoil pads on this fine rifle, rather it had a checkered bone buttplate. Somehow I managed to get the job done, but it ate my skinny butt. After that I flinched with 22's.

                And I still do 40 years later. That is, unless I shoot lots. First shots in a shooting session after a long break, especially with a boomer, might as well be aimed at the moon. I'm lots older and slyer now, and can shoot in all sorts of positions to match the recoil level of the particular caliber. Not long after the 375 incident, I started shooting with an older family friend with a huge collection of double rifles in almost any caliber you've ever heard of including the really big ones. Shot the heck out of them, but the old guy showed me how to do it. But I went away to college each fall, and when I came back at Christmas, I could flinch with a 22.

                Best solution once the flinch starts is to back WAY off. All the way to a BB gun if necessary. And the more often you can shoot, the better. Not a whole lot of shots, but if you can shoot 20 rounds a night through an air rifle with weekend range sessions using 22's and a little heavier stuff (but not too heavy), you can usually get the flinch behind you before the range session is over. But you'll start over again at ground zero if you go without shooting for awhile. Keep up the shooting and the flinch is going to stay in the closet, but quit for a couple of months and it will be there waiting for you. You have to consciously think about it and fight it the first time you pick up any rifle. The best "trick" I've found for getting past it is concentrating on your followthrough, really straining to watch what happens after the bang. Call your shots each and every time you pull the trigger.

                Same applies for handgun flinching, though I've never been bit by them. I might flinch with the first shot or two through an unfamiliar boomer, but pretty quick I can get past the commotion and concentrate on the followthrough. Lucky I didn't get bit by a handgun too when I was young, I guess.
                "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                Merle Haggard

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                • #9
                  It is tough to beat. I developed a flinch when I was young. Now I have to think about every action when I start shooting. and if you start to feel sore stop immediatly! I like to switch out to smaller guns as I go allong. so start with my 44 then shoot the 357 for a spell then go back to the 44. Dont let your arm, hand, wrist, or sholder get sore. Some times I will switch to the long guns for a spell. I also find shooting some clay pidgions helps. When shooting shot guns I find I don't even think about pulling the trigger.

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                  • #10
                    Flinching cures with a rifle

                    Flinching cures with a rifle:

                    (A) Donít forget the 4 fundamentals of marksmanship 1) Steady Position, 2) Aiming, 3) Breath Control, 4) Trigger Squeeze. Once you start to notice a flinch you are also generally violating one of the fundamentals. Back off, take a break and hit it again. At the range go over all 4 fundamentals each time before you fire. Your mind is thinking about that instead of flinching. Here is a good link for a refresher of the 4 fundamentals: http://www.armystudyguide.com/conten...-of-mark.shtml

                    (B) If you shoot a lot from the prone, get up. Sit, kneel, stand so your body is moving more from the recoil instead of absorbing all of it/trying to stop it all.

                    (C) One last trick I learned a while ago is to take your thumb on your trigger hand, while you are sighting in, about to pull the trigger, press in your thumb really hard, like a tight grip, but only your thumb. If you are squeezing the trigger like you are suppose to, instead of just pulling it you will be more surprised when it goes off, concentrating more on your 4 fundamentals and thumb squeeze instead of the recoil. And even if you do flinch doing that, it's after the round is long gone.....

                    A final note on flinching. If you are prone to flinching and have a gun with a really cruddy trigger, like 5lb pull or more, get it worked on, your flinching is a lot more worse than it could be just by this. Get it down to about 3 to 3.5 and this will help a lot. That along with the idea that you just did something to help your gun, your marksmanship, just the physiological idea that it will be better, it usually will be because you will have more confidence with your gun and abilities now.

                    Hope this all helps and good shooting!

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                    • #11
                      I like the .22 for practice in the pistol and the bench rest. I like very good ear muffs and side blinders on my glasses to isolate everything and so I can concentrate on the all mighty front sight. Learning to dis-regard everything except the front sight and seeing the target only in perifial vision then the gun will fire itself almost. When the shot suprises you it is going to be good. This is where confidence comes from. Good breathing habits and muscle relaxation works for me. I must chew myself out sometimes to get my habits working together, you must be your own cretic. I hope this works for you. Concentrate on your actions ..Good Luck

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                      • #12
                        I agree with the posts on this topic. I think the best mothod is to have sombody load your weapon for you. Then you wont know if there is a live round in the chamber or not. When you squeeze the trigger and it goes click with no report and you flinch, your pulling the trigger and not squeezing it. Squeeze the trigger and let the recoil suprise you. The best teacher is experience.
                        "One shot, one kill" :cool:

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                        • #13
                          I reckon I have a very different take on this subject of flinching.

                          Flinching is a learned behavior, and it's so easy to learn that I believe everyone flinches on occasion. How could it be otherwise, when there is recoil, and noise that is unpleasant?

                          The only way I know to prevent it is to concentrate, and make sure you don't do it EACH TIME you pull a trigger on any firearm.

                          Shooting something that doesn't hurt you may allow you to forget the pain and unpleasantness, but it comes back as soon as the unpleasantness does, and you hafta concentrate to keep from doing it anyway.

                          Tricking yourself, or letting someone else do it is embarrassing, and only tells you that you ARE flinching, and that's only important if you're in denial. If you pay attention, you will know if you flinch, and when.

                          Smitty of the North
                          Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
                          Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
                          You can't out-give God.

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                          • #14
                            It is a mental problem, 100%. Even without pain or recoil, the mind gets screwed up.
                            I had a friend over years ago and mounted a scope on his rifle. I handed him the empty gun and told him to aim at the target at 100 yd's and squeeze the trigger. Dead, rock solid without any movement. I thought "GREAT".
                            But as soon as the shells were put in, he tore the ground up from 30 yd's to the target. This was a 30-30 too. No way on earth he could ever hit a deer.
                            Every single shot has to have full concentration and thinking to prevent flinch. You can dry fire until the gun is worn out but if you stop thinking when you shoot, it will come back. You have to learn to talk to yourself.
                            I do NOT flinch from the bench with any gun, rifle or revolver, no matter how big. But off hand, if the hammer drops on an empty chamber, I'll be darned if the gun doesn't move a little.
                            Need someone with a shocker to poke us when we do it! Or a billy club! Need to have a fear of something that hurts more then recoil. Maybe a hug from a 6', 350 pound stinky, sweaty old lady! :rolleyes:
                            The only way to help a beginner is to teach him how to think and talk him through each shot. Teach target concentration and squeeze.
                            When you get old and shaky like me, not much helps! :cool:

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                            • #15
                              I don't know which is worse, my tendency to flinch or seeing Two front sights.

                              Smitty of the North
                              Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
                              Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
                              You can't out-give God.

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