On the Flinch
Thought I would open a new thread on flinching / choking as it seems that is the way the old thread is heading.
Some good comments about how guys deal with flinching.
Shooting a rifle that doesn't beat the crap out of you or downloading to reduce recoil are mechanical fixes. IMHO the easiest fix is a mechanical one.
Dry firing probably doesn't do much because when a guy dry fires, he knows he won't get whacked by recoil and there won't be noise. Most people who dry fire normally see (literally) the difference in their hold between dry firing and actually shooting.
GM commented that it seems like his last shot is the one that gives him problems.
Why does a guy choke on a shot? The reasons really are mental. Mostly because a guy shifts his attention from an external focus to an inward focus. Instead of attending to sight picture, he starts to worry about recoil, noise, or the fact that his sight picture is jumping around his intended aim point. Or he knows he just fired a number of great shots and his focus shifts to "fear of what may happen instead of seeing what will happen." When this happens, and it can happen real fast as we all know, the only thing that may keep the disaster from happening is that 2% luck.
So, how do you guys contend this problem?
Ball and dummy (not balling the dummy) drill is the old timers way of combatting flinch. If shooting groups into tiny little holes is your game and anxiety is ruining your group; then practice by shooting one shot of the group on seperate identical targets and superpose them onto one target. That way, it's harder to talk yourself into blowing a shot.
On the old forum bwaites and I were lamenting on the effect of wind and mirage when shooting F class. bw said he has a friend whose solution when conditions get real shi--y, is to close his eyes and take the shot. I think that I have had fellows using that technique, beat me on occasion.
Bottom line is that we concentrate on the mechanics and forget about the mental aspects of breaking a good shot.
The shooter has to realize just how bad their flinch really is. Once they see it on a dummy round or others notice they are 'rope starting a lawn mower" with the trigger, most have no clue how bad it really is.
I used to teach Seal Team Two how to shoot. When I had a student who developed a bad flinch ( we used match grade M-14's ) with no shooting jacket, the flinch was hard to get rid of. Many years ago I read a book about early snipers and what they would do when a flinch was a problem.
The tip is to use your middle finger ( yes that one ) to pull the trigger. It is called the " Assassins trigger finger". The reason being it takes a completely different command from the brain to "pull" that finger while resting on the trigger. Your normal trigger finger is along the receiver pointing at your target.( out of moving parts). When I would see a student get in a flinch slump, I would teach them this trick. It works, and works very well. It is almost impossible to jerk the trigger.
When I was shooting a big match and was doing well,Buck Fever would sometimes set in. The only way to retain any sort of trigger control with the adrenaline pumping was to use this trick. It saved my bacon many times and won a few matches for me. give it a try sometime. Make sure you can put "that" finger into the trigger guard safely when the rifle is loaded.Once you get used to the pull you'll be surprised how well you can shoot.
Remember the old shooters saying...." if you know the exact second the rifle is going to fire you are jerking the trigger....when the rifle fires it should startle you...."
Last edited by Rapidrob; 03-23-2011 at 04:55 PM.
Rapidrob, that's very interesting and something I will try out. Do most people that switch to the middle finger method eventually go back to using their index finger or do they find success with the middle and never go back?
Originally Posted by Dogue
I don't think there is any true data concerning that question. My view of it is that eventually the brain will condition that finger just like it did the trigger finger. And if the brain conditions it to jerk when the eye sees a good sight picture, that is what will happen.
It is a excellent technique to give a guy confidence that he can shoot consistently well but the major problem lies in where the guy's attention is focused. If his attention is focused on holding a sight picture through the entire shot, it isn't focused on anything else so most likely there won't be a flinch. If something else enters his mind during the shooting process, you can expect that no matter what finger he uses, he will blow the shot.
May not be his trigger finger either. Ball and dummy shows if the barrel moves during the shot and which way it moves. It doesn't inform as to what part of the body is causing the movement. I have seen barrels move over an inch on a trigger pull and the shooter swear his sights did not move. His attention was on something else. Have also had to deal with guys who do see the barrel move but can't offer an explanation as to why. That is pretty common.
A way to troubleshoot it is to determine what parts of the body are in contact with the rifle and use the path of least resistance as a guide. Cheek, shoulder, firing hand, non-firing hand, trigger finger. They can use a process of elimination and come up with something. Interestingly enough, even if they choose the wrong reason, their attention has shifted enough for them to see some short term gains. Enough to give them some confidence which lets them progress to the next sticking point.
LR, that makes perfect sense and I appreciate the informative response. I would love to claim that I don't flinch but that would be a lie. I've caught myself doing it enough to know I do and I agree that focus should remain on the target. I seem to do that just fine for 4 shots.
Originally Posted by Dogue
Why are you flinching? Sure, it happens but why in your specific case? I have some ideas -- having gone through it many times and probably will many more times.
I am thinking he is anticipating the break of the shot, it happens when we know exactly how far the trigger moves before the break.
It seems to happen more when target shooting then when shooting at game or etc.
I think the focus of shooting at something animate distracts from the perception of knowing where the trigger will break.
I know one thing that helped me was to keep my eye focused. What I mean by this is keeping your eye open before, during and after the shot. Yes I still have the "Brain Fart trigger finger flier" sometimes, you all know that shot and you all know it soon as you pull the trigger. No use to even look thru the spoting scope!
I'd say you nailed it. My brain has learned where the trigger breaks, almost...sometimes it's a bit premature.
Originally Posted by warped
I've always been a better handgun shooter than rifles, likely because I have more experience and practice with them. I've started to notice that as I speed up that that my hands/forearms begin fighting the recoil to allow for a faster follow-up shot. But, when that shot isn't taken for whatever reason the fighting of the recoil is still present. I believe this is similar to the rifle except that with a rifle (on a bench) I have less contact with the weapon and other than my grip and my shoulder there is nothing that I can do to effect recoil...so, I've experimented with a lighter grip and also a light grip with all but 1 finger. I think this has helped but I've had little time to practice this lately so I can't really say for sure if it can or will help - and the obvious lack of practice time only magnifies the situation.
I actually plan on trying to ignore all other factors (grip, pressure, trigger, etc.) and work on complete focus of the target on my next range visit. I do know from playing a lot of golf in the past that when you get your brain out of the way and focus on the task that your results are usually much better. Unfortunatly I tend to un-learn that every time I go back to the course.