Physical conditioning for pistol shooting


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Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 11:06 AM
Greets folks!

Does anyone have any suggestions for exercises to help pistol accuracy, shooting, etc? I currently do 50 push ups in the morning, and 50 push ups and 50 sit ups in the evening, four days a week.

I'm wondering if there is anything I could be doing for hand strength (help get rid of the 'shakes' :p), and what would it be?

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Oldnamvet
January 23, 2006, 11:16 AM
I always found that, in the absence of actual trigger time, practicing holding the pistol on target would help. The human body is an unstable platform and you need to tone the muscles that you use for shooting. Hold the pistol at arms length sighting until you get tired. The more you do it, the more you will strengthen those muscles. Add a pillow to the end of your arm if you can't use the pistol (during breaks at work, etc) to give the weight needed. It takes time but eventually you will see the shakes take longer to appear and scores improve.

mete
January 23, 2006, 12:18 PM
You can get a grip strengthener or use a tennis ball.You can do that excercise with weights on your wrist too.

Jim Watson
January 23, 2006, 12:33 PM
Dryfiring will train the exact muscles employed. Wrist weights and/or an old magazine poured full of lead will help as you get steadier.

mister2
January 23, 2006, 01:25 PM
Upper body strength is good, in general.

For specific stances, I substitute a 10 lb or 12 lb weight and hold it in aiming position till muscle failure. Alternate with lifts from normal to shooting position. For grip, the popular exercisers are good, but I've found the musicians' finger exerciser (Gripmaster) good for individual finger strength and control, something that varies from one gun to another.

YMMV
My .02

waterhouse
January 23, 2006, 01:26 PM
I don't know how much it applies to pistol shooting, but pretty much any time you grip something you are using your forearms.

I have a wooden dowel about 1.5" in diameter that I drilled a hole in and tied some paracord to (about 5 feet of cord). I attach the other end of the paracord to a weight plate, and then hold the dowel out in front of me at shoulder level, and then start turning the dowel so that the cord starts wrapping around it (so the weight is being lifted).

Again, I don't know how well this work for pistols specifically, but it will help your grip strength. I'm not a doctor or physical trainer, so do the above at your own risk, consult a physician, etc.

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 01:26 PM
I always found that, in the absence of actual trigger time, practicing holding the pistol on target would help.
Thanks for the idea. Is this something that would help even sitting down? It would be nice to watch a movie and work on it. I suspect it wouldn't be quite as good as standing.

pcf
January 23, 2006, 01:27 PM
You can do these sitting or standing. Open your hand fingers spread apart, palm facing the deck, close palm into a fist, open hand again, repeat, do as quickly as possibly. Do 100 repitions.

Arm circles
Pushups
Pullups (requires pullup bar)
curls (requires weights of some sort, milk jugs work well)
crunches
leg raises
trunk rotations
Seated back release (requires a chair)
Back extensions
squats
lunges
walking or jogging

Your legs and torso provides most of your upper body's stability when shooting. A good shooting platform is built from the bottom up on a strong foundation.

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 01:28 PM
You can get a grip strengthener or use a tennis ball.You can do that excercise with weights on your wrist too.
Good ideas! I'd like something I can keep at work also. Have any recommendations on a grip strengthener?

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 01:29 PM
Wrist weights and/or an old magazine poured full of lead will help as you get steadier.
Ah! Good idea on the wrist weights. Fairly non-intrusive daily routine. :)

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 01:32 PM
You can do these sitting or standing. Open your hand fingers spread apart, palm facing the deck, close palm into a fist, open hand again, repeat, do as quickly as possibly. Do 100 repitions.
WOOT!! That's a goodie!! No equipment, fairly quick, can do at work! Thanks much! Just did it and definately felt the lower arm muscles.

TrapperReady
January 23, 2006, 01:45 PM
The best grip strengthener I've ever used has been a hangboard -- as used by rock climbers. You mount them over a doorway, and then spend a few minutes a day hanging from them using a variety of holds. When I've been using ours routinely, pickle jars shake in fear when I approach. :)

Metolius (http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/holds_home_boards.htm) carries quite a few. If you follow the link, scroll down to "Training Equipment".

The Grip Saver they have there is also good. It works like squeezing a tennis ball, but also allows you to build strength as you extend your fingers.

made2cut
January 23, 2006, 02:04 PM
Get a lightweight .45 and shoot it for a while. ;) After shooting my 45's the 9mm feel like .22's to me. I get the shakes too and they seriously su*k :mad:

jmorris
January 23, 2006, 03:01 PM
You did not specify what type of pistol shooting you intend to participate in. I can tell you; in IDPA/USPSA being smooth is more important than being strong. Dexterity is more important than overall strength. In USPSA you will have to run a little further than the 10 yd max limit of IDPA, but you’re not likely to become winded on many stages. Squeezing a spring for a few hours a day might help if you intend to shoot an HK P7; however, your time will be much better spent doing dry fire drills. Practice will help your shooting much more than working out.

thorazine
January 23, 2006, 03:44 PM
Lot's of coffee and lot's of cigarettes!

JMusic
January 23, 2006, 04:01 PM
When training for Bullseye shooting and PPC we were advised to "strengthen our grips". Morticians clay was what was giving to us to use. That was along time ago, ballistic clay is very simular, but the stress reducers sold over many Drug store's should be as effective. This will give you you strength in your hands and forearms.
Jim

benEzra
January 23, 2006, 04:22 PM
One thing that makes shooting a handgun much easier is to improve your grip strength. Get a Gripmaster (choose a model you can just barely squeeze once) and use it daily until you can fully compress every finger button individually. At least get to the point that you can fully compress a Medium strength one with every finger.

http://www.gripmaster.net/gripmaster/
http://www.gripmaster.net/gripmaster/wheretobuy.html

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 05:11 PM
The best grip strengthener I've ever used has been a hangboard -- as used by rock climbers. You mount them over a doorway, and then spend a few minutes a day hanging from them using a variety of holds. When I've been using ours routinely, pickle jars shake in fear when I approach. :)
That would be a cool think to have at home. :) Thanks!

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 05:12 PM
Get a lightweight .45 and shoot it for a while. ;) After shooting my 45's the 9mm feel like .22's to me. I get the shakes too and they seriously su*k :mad:
While most fun, I don't think my co-workers would go for that during the work day. :p

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 05:14 PM
You did not specify what type of pistol shooting you intend to participate in. I can tell you; in IDPA/USPSA being smooth is more important than being strong. Dexterity is more important than overall strength. In USPSA you will have to run a little further than the 10 yd max limit of IDPA, but you’re not likely to become winded on many stages. Squeezing a spring for a few hours a day might help if you intend to shoot an HK P7; however, your time will be much better spent doing dry fire drills. Practice will help your shooting much more than working out.
At present I'm looking for consistent accuracy, but I hope to do some IDPA in the future. My current goal is a good, solid, motionless grip. The P226 with the M6 has a bit of weight out at the end of the arm. :)

I certainly agree with the practice. Unfortunately I'm only getting to the range once a week, and I want to do what I can in between times. :)

Falconeer
January 23, 2006, 05:20 PM
One thing that makes shooting a handgun much easier is to improve your grip strength. Get a Gripmaster (choose a model you can just barely squeeze once) and use it daily until you can fully compress every finger button individually. At least get to the point that you can fully compress a Medium strength one with every finger.

http://www.gripmaster.net/gripmaster/
http://www.gripmaster.net/gripmaster/wheretobuy.html
Thanks for the input! I've seen those Gripmasters, but didn't know if they were any help. That looks like the perfect item; keep it on my desk at work and use it during the day. Anyone else have any experience with it?

johnnytang24
January 23, 2006, 05:20 PM
Hi,

I'm pretty new to shooting guns, but I have put a little time in grip strength. I think every shooter could benefit from an improved grip strength. When people refer to 'grip strength', they don't realize there are many aspects to a strong grip: wrist strength, finger strength, crushing strength, and static strength.

For wrist strength:
Someone already mentioned a wrist roller.
You can try taking a sledgehammer and while keeping your arm straight, lowering the hammer's head towards your head, then raising. It's called levering.
You can do are wrist curls with a barbell, or doing bicep curls while holding a weight plate.
Try tearing a deck of cards in half (or folded newspaper).

For crushing and static strength:
Grippers (don't bother with the cheap Wally World ones). Get a good one from somewhere like the Captains of Crush (http://www6.mailordercentral.com/ironmind/products.asp?dept=8), Heavy Grips (http://www.heavygrips.com), or elsewhere. These can be done for repetitions, or you can get a difficult one and just hold it closed (which will probably help with gripping a gun).
Try wrapping a towel around a barbell or dumbbell and doing exercises with it.
Try putting a towel over a chinup bar and grabbing both ends to do chinups.
Try taking weight plates, and with the smooth sides facing outwards, picking it up by pinching the plates together and lifting. Hold for time.

There are many other things you can do, but this is plenty. I think the most important aspects would be a strong wrist and static grip strength.

Thanks.

Black Majik
January 23, 2006, 05:21 PM
Lot's of coffee and lot's of cigarettes!

I was gonna suggest the opposite. Lay off the caffeine, no soda or coffe at any time during or near the range session! :D

johnnytang24
January 23, 2006, 05:38 PM
One thing that makes shooting a handgun much easier is to improve your grip strength. Get a Gripmaster (choose a model you can just barely squeeze once) and use it daily until you can fully compress every finger button individually. At least get to the point that you can fully compress a Medium strength one with every finger.

http://www.gripmaster.net/gripmaster/
http://www.gripmaster.net/gripmaster/wheretobuy.html

The only reason I wouldn't recommend these is that they very quickly get too easy.

If you are really interested in improving your grip strength, check out gripboard.com

Thanks.

f4t9r
January 23, 2006, 05:44 PM
Greets folks!

Does anyone have any suggestions for exercises to help pistol accuracy, shooting, etc? I currently do 50 push ups in the morning, and 50 push ups and 50 sit ups in the evening, four days a week.

I'm wondering if there is anything I could be doing for hand strength (help get rid of the 'shakes' :p), and what would it be?

Go shoot everyday for two weeks then call me the next mourning.
Dont forget to drink plenty of water and eat right.

Its like playing pool the more you do it , the better you get at it !!!!!!

Ankeny
January 23, 2006, 07:41 PM
Grip strength has very little to do with recoil management or wobble zone. A proper shooting platform relies on tendons and the skeleton. In fact, a tense grip is counter productive. A person can shoot at the highest levels of competition (IPSC and IDPA) with nothing more than a lot of dry fire and adequate live fire.

mister2
January 23, 2006, 08:10 PM
In the final analysis, it all depends on the individual's initial condition and where he/she wants to go with it. There's a saying the experts make everything look easy. It all depends on the foundation we each start with; some just need a little more reinforcement than others.

Let's just don't get into nature or nurture roundy-round.

perpster
January 24, 2006, 07:35 AM
You can try taking a sledgehammer and while keeping your arm straight, lowering the hammer's head towards your head, then raising. It's called levering.

Hmmm. I thought this would be called masochism. Well, at least it sounds like it's non-habit forming. :P

benEzra
January 24, 2006, 09:51 AM
Grip strength has very little to do with recoil management or wobble zone. A proper shooting platform relies on tendons and the skeleton. In fact, a tense grip is counter productive. A person can shoot at the highest levels of competition (IPSC and IDPA) with nothing more than a lot of dry fire and adequate live fire.
Actually, improving my grip strength helped me a LOT, and I found it did vastly improve recoil management as well. I think having a stronger grip allows you to hold the gun securely WITHOUT having your muscles fully tensed.

El Tejon
January 24, 2006, 09:57 AM
Fal, we have a thread on exercises for shooting, especially hands and forearms. It's entitled "Gunercise" I believe. I'll see if I can find it.

El Tejon
January 24, 2006, 09:58 AM
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=32879&highlight=Gunercise

Falconeer
January 24, 2006, 10:32 AM
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=32879&highlight=Gunercise
Coolness. Thanks kindly!

johnnytang24
January 24, 2006, 01:55 PM
Hmmm. I thought this would be called masochism. Well, at least it sounds like it's non-habit forming. :P

The exercise works a lot better if you don't hit yourself in the head.

As for grip strength helping, looking at pictures of competitive shooters, most of them have decent forearm development. While this can be achieved through practice of the sport, using weights is quicker means. Also, tendon thickness can be improved by lifting maximal weights.

Thanks.

rock jock
January 24, 2006, 02:26 PM
Based on the preponderence of jelly-bellies I see at IDPA and IPSC, I would imagine that eating twinkies and potato chips is the way to improve shooting skills.

Ankeny
January 24, 2006, 04:04 PM
Based on the preponderence of jelly-bellies I see at IDPA and IPSC, I would imagine that eating twinkies and potato chips is the way to improve shooting skills.

Any serious IPSC competitor knows the importance of physical fitness, but some folks just don't care. Great physical fitness in IPSC goes a long way towards building endurance and staying sharp over the course of a major match (not to mention movement) but it is not required for the simple act of shooting two Alphas. Hey rock jock, just out of curiosity, can you even shoot 60% of a jelly bellied IPSC Grand Master score?

As for the photos of Eric Graufel and Saul Kirsh, there is no reason to speculate about their opinions of grip strength or how firmly they grip the pistol. Saul has written a lot of instructional materials and you can read all about it in his book. Eric is a really good guy and if you register at his Website you can ask your questions directly to him and he will reply. What you see in the photos is not bulging muscles resulting from a death grip on the pistol. It is the result of some side to side pressure, the downward cant of the support hand wrist, the setting of tendons, and being set to shoot in time with the gun. I would bet neither one of the guys shown grip the pistol with any more pressure than the average person would grasp a 16 ounce claw hammer while driving an eight penny nail into a pice of pine. In fact, both guys are shooting open blasters and open shooters are known for a fairly relaxed, neutral grip.

I am not saying awesome grip strength isn't an asset (look at Jerry M.), but it isn't required in order to shoot extremely well. There is nothing wrong with improving your grip strength, but if you already have average (or even a bit below average) grip strength, your time would be better spent looking elsewhere for solutions to shooting problems. You can have the strength of a gorilla, but if your shooting platform sucks, so will your shooting.

JMusic
January 25, 2006, 02:05 AM
Ankeny I was taught bullseye shooting by a gentleman that won a bronze in the Pan American tournaments. What you stated about bone against bone is exactly correct. The statement this gentleman made was the ideal shooting platform would be a fixed arm coming straight out of your chest all solid bone. Position was what he preached in how to align bone to bone. He though was insistant on grip. We squeezed clay balls in all his classes and he taught a alot of forensic classes. A retired carrier Sergant Major of the Green Berea he could be rather insistant. Adjust you stance, hold your wrist a certain way all intended on aligning solid structure. You are correct and I have not seen anyone acknowledge that. Grip and forearm strength though sir is also part of the program.
Jim

cookekdjr
January 25, 2006, 12:38 PM
Upper body strength is good, in general.

For specific stances, I substitute a 10 lb or 12 lb weight and hold it in aiming position till muscle failure. Alternate with lifts from normal to shooting position. For grip, the popular exercisers are good, but I've found the musicians' finger exerciser (Gripmaster) good for individual finger strength and control, something that varies from one gun to another.

YMMV
My .02

Good advice, but never train to muscle failure. The Soviets figured out this was a terrible training method. Better to hold the weight until it stops being comfortable, stop and rest for a minute or so, then repeat. Gradually build up the time you can comfortably hold the weight (say from 10 seconds up to a minute) over the course of weeks, then start over at 30 second holds and build up to a new personal best. Then repeat. (The times I gave are hypothetical, but the principal is there: Increase your time and intensity, then back off every few weeks and start over at a level a little above where you began. This is known as "cycling" your training).
Dry firing is also excellent because it is the exact movement you'll be performing (duh). Build up your time and reps the same way as the weight hold- never to failure, and cutting back on your training every few weeks once you have reached a new personal best. Cycle this training the same way. You might vary the speed of you dry firing; do some rapid pulls to train rapid fire, and then after a few sets of that, do a number of longer endurance sets to train your general trigger-pulling endurance. Again, never to failure, and reduce your reps dramatically every few weeks before you build back up to a new personal best.
Some of this I got from some old Army manuals, and some from Soviet-style training methods. I have used this style on other exercises with great success. Good luck,

David

P.S. Don't forget to stretch and "shake-out" the tension from your arms and shoulders between sets and at the end of your exercise. Very Important.

cookekdjr
January 25, 2006, 01:00 PM
Grip strength has very little to do with recoil management or wobble zone. A proper shooting platform relies on tendons and the skeleton. In fact, a tense grip is counter productive. A person can shoot at the highest levels of competition (IPSC and IDPA) with nothing more than a lot of dry fire and adequate live fire.

I agree with your last sentence, but, in that case, the person has built their grip strength by engaging in sports-specific grip training, i.e., dry firing and live fire. Because they have built this strength, there is less wobble and excessive shaking from the person's arms, shoulders, and hands in their attempt to help a too-weak grip. In other words, the extra strength (a form of tension) in the correct muscles needed eliminates the need for assistance (and accompanying tension and shaking) from other muscles as they attempt to assist the correct muscles's attempt to aim and fire the weapon.
-David

Ankeny
January 25, 2006, 04:13 PM
Grip and forearm strength though sir is also part of the program.

I absolutely agree, especially for bullseye shooting because of the static position and fatigue.

MrBigStuff
January 26, 2006, 07:25 PM
Who are you shooting with, Richard Simmons. Unbelivable.

rchernandez
January 27, 2006, 05:01 PM
Run or play soccer!

Dryfire.











...that's for Bullseye!

Bill2k1
January 27, 2006, 10:00 PM
relax, shakes are rarely caused by being too weak. If you can hold the gun, its mental, not physical.

isp2605
January 27, 2006, 10:44 PM
In addition to the strength, if you're serious about target shooting then get the cardio down. When I was shooting I had my heart rate down in the 40 bpm range. I could feel my heart and would time shots so I wasn't putting one down range as my heart was beating. It was extremely beneficial when I was shooting rifle comp but it also helped with pistol.
Endurance. When I was shooting comp in the military a 3 day match was a piece of cake. I shot several 9 day matches where we'd put the first rd downrange at the break of daylight and be on the range until dark. Then it was clean weapons, after-action the day's events, regroup and plan for the next day, shower, eat, and then to bed, only to be on the range ready to fire at dawn the next day and do it all over again. By the end of the match you were to the point where shooting wasn't fun and you were physically and mentally exhausted.

MedGrl
January 28, 2006, 03:28 AM
I psoke with one of my professors about possible ideas (she specializes in hand and arm rehabilitations). She suggested getting s tennis or raquet ball to just squeeze idaly when you are just sitting at your desk. ANd she also suggested getting a small hand weight (looks like a miniature dumbell) and try holding it in one hand straight out supposrting from the sholder for one minute. Switch hands and repeat. then try with both hands at the same time. As you train the muscles you can slowly increase the time you hold your arm out and if you want the weight. She suggested starting with a weight the approximate weight of your gun since that is your target weight you would be supporting...Good luck:)

Falconeer
January 28, 2006, 11:16 AM
Thanks very much for all the good ideas!

thorazine
January 28, 2006, 08:04 PM
I was gonna suggest the opposite. Lay off the caffeine, no soda or coffe at any time during or near the range session! :D

Heh never!

palerider1
January 28, 2006, 09:03 PM
Greets folks!

Does anyone have any suggestions for exercises to help pistol accuracy, shooting, etc? I currently do 50 push ups in the morning, and 50 push ups and 50 sit ups in the evening, four days a week.

I'm wondering if there is anything I could be doing for hand strength (help get rid of the 'shakes' :p), and what would it be?


my dad used to shoot competition and he would take a empty milk container(half gallon) fill it up with water and hold it straight out like he was holding his handgun. that excersizes the muscles that you would normally use when shooting your pistol.

hope this helps,

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