Originally Posted by Dogue
It is good to focus on one thing at a time but you need to set yourself up for success or your attention will shift during a string.
It comes down to what you believe you can control and what you believe you can't. So, those things we can control we do and things we know we have no control over we accept.
You can control your rifle if you set yourself up for success by developing a good position before you shoot. So, set yourself up for success by setting in a good bench position. A position does two general things for you. It brings the sights to your eyes when your head and body are in a comfortable position, and it points the barrel into the target well enough that it takes only minor shifts of pressure by the firing hand to get it perfectly in the middle. Also, if you intend on firing strings as opposed to individual shots, the position needs to control recoil. I suggest to anyone who isn't specifically into bench rest competition to develop their position in terms of recoil control as well as pointing and bringing the sights to the eye. Just set in your bench position to fit you -- not the bench, bags, rest, or rifle. Force these tools to do your bidding. When you get something that will most likely work, you will fit into the position very easily and also very tightly in terms of your physical control over the rifle. This isn't what competitive bench rest guys do but they aren't shooting high recoiling service rifles either.
Where you have to accept what you can't change comes in with the mechanical accuracy of your rifle and ammo in terms of bench blasting. That is fixed and no amount of physical or mental skills will change it. So you accept it. Also, a position will crap out over a number of rounds fired in succession so that too needs to be accepted. There is no reason to shoot more than five shots in a string from the bench and developing a very strong position will hold for those five shots.
So, spend a few minutes setting in and testing your position dry firing. You will know when it is OK because you will get an honest feeling of confidence in it. Also, when dry firing see that the sights go back to center after each dry fire. You can also use the closed eye routine to check your bench for NPA.
Once you have gotten a decent position established and have dry fired a few times, you need to accept the position and move on to your shooting. Accepting your position really means it in this case. By doing so you put that part into a periphery of your consciousness where it won't interfere with what is important while shooting.
When you shoot your strings, I recommend you do so with your attention focused on holding your sight picture through each shot. This encompasses the entire process. You are still focused on holding a sight picture but you will condition your brain to view the event in its entirety and not just a single part. That is where your visualization skills can come in handy so run it through your brain a couple of times -- exactly what it will look like as you hold your sight picture from lead in to stop to shot to recoil and back to center.
What you ought to avoid is scrutinizing each shot. When you do that, your attention shifts from the process to results and if you are shooting a string, your feedback needs to come from your calls and not a visual inspection until the string is done. Yes, as you re-index following each shot your eyes will probably pick up bullet holes. It will happen so accept it. What you can control is what you do with that information. If you shift focus to each bullet hole, you have shifted focus from what you must do to shoot well and it will take time to get that focus back. So, note that holes appear and put them far enough away in your conscious mind that they won't let you shift your attention. They may be damn good shots and some will say that you must see damn good shots. The problem with that if a guy scrutinizes each shot -- his attention shifts from perfect execution of what he believes is a perfect process towards his results. Then he goes to shit unless he or she has developed another set of mental skills but that is for another discussion.
Call your shots but adhere to your process for the string and you will at least execute the process as well as possible for you. After the string, scrutinize the group based on your calls and then do any sort of AAR.
Thanks LR. That all sounds like excellent advise and I will work on everything you talked about in your post. The part that really jumps out at me is not "scrutinizing each shot." I do find myself doing that, and it makes perfect sense that by now focusing on where the previous shots went that my focus cannot be completely on the target...even if I think that's now what my eyes are looking at.
The dummy round approach doesn’t work well for the practical shooting types. It can show a flinch, but when you’re trying to shoot fast you tend to compensate for recoil and the muzzle will dip with the dummy round. Compensating for recoil isn’t wrong but some folks mistake it for a flinch when there’s a misfire or a dummy round gets mixed in and the muzzle dips.
Even then the dummy round thing with slow fire type shooting might show a flinch, but does not correct it. Correcting a flinch comes through mental conditioning and requires a good amount of work. For me the best mental conditioning comes from shooting a lot with lower power loads then working up to major ones. Shoot a bunch at lower power and get in a rhythm. Once I’m seeing what I want to see I go up in 1 or 2 increments till I get to the desired power level. Each time making sure I’m seeing everything before I move up. It takes a little while but works for me. Then I can shoot the major loads almost as fast as the minor ones and not sacrifice accuracy. I think this only works though if you’re good at calling shots, if you’re not seeing things very well it makes it harder for your subconscious to do the shooting for you.
I’ve found when I flinch it’s because of lack of confidence with a particular platform. I can shoot my pistols great but if I don’t shoot my 12g shotgun for a couple months then pick it up and shoot slugs it’s not unheard of for me to pull shots. Shooting a couple rounds of sporting clays helps me get comfortable with the gun again and the flinching goes away.
As for anticipating the shot, you should be able to anticipate the shot and not allow it to affect your hits. Anticipating a blast or recoil and having it affect your sights is a flinch. I don’t believe making every shot a surprise gets rid of a flinch. IMO it masks a flinch, not eliminates it. Plus, if every shots is a surprise, you’re probably shooting too slow and you won’t be as effective with movers. You should be able to make the gun go off when you want and not have it affect your sights. Once again, mental conditioning is key, conditioning to allow your subconscious to drive the gun for you.
I think this has a lot to do with it. I notice my flinch mostly on rifles I've never shot before.
Originally Posted by BlueOvalBruin
Recoil I think is another one, trying to free recoil a .308 for instance. being slapped in the face by the scope is a good way to develop a flinch.
I think that when you shoot enough, without any unexpected events, then you will become more comfortable with it, and flinching will be less of a problem.
Go out and shoot a flintlock. That will cure your flinching.
I don't know how to put a "half smiley" in there, but there is some truthiness to this issue. Flintlocks, even good ones, have some interesting behaviors during "lock time." That's assuming you get ignition in the first place. But you learn to get very "zen" about the moment.
My personal issues from flinching come from wanting to see where the shots go, rather than any fear of recoil. I have the same problem with golf, but unlike shooting, I gave that stupid game up YEARS ago
The British army had to get a lot of men up to handling rifles competently in a vey short time at the start of hostilities and one of the difficulties was than many men had no experience with a rifle at all, let alone the less than comfortable military stocked 303 Lee Enfield. Flinching was a real problem and one trainer found that he would get those worst effected to fire a round or two from a 50 cal browning and the 303 seemed quite mild in comparison so the flinch quickly dissapared.
I usually take my 404 Jeffery to the range when I go for a play and a round or two from it gives perspective and makes relaxing into the shot for my other rifles much easier. When I was doing load testing with the 404 from the bench I could get up to 45 full power rounds away (no lead sled, just a past pad and concentration) before having to give it away till another day.
Flinching can be overcome and I found simple concentration to be the best "tool for the job".