I'm a flincher


Jesse H
May 12, 2003, 04:08 PM
I've come to the sad realization that I will never be a great, or even good shooter. I am a quivery/flinchy person. There are times where if I go to the range often and dry fire often I can notice improvement...but sometimes I just can't get around to going twice a week, or every week like I'd like to.

I double up hearing protection, dry fire at home, dry fire at the range when I notice the flinches...and it helps. It always comes back if I take a haitus for longer than 2 weeks.

Anybody else like me?

If you enjoyed reading about "I'm a flincher" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
May 12, 2003, 04:21 PM
A few things that may help are:

1) Assume your shooting position with your firearm and hold it for as long as you can. 5 minutes is good. Take a rest for a few minutes and repeat for a total of 3 times. A strong shooting position will help you lose the shakes and fight the flinches.

2) Only load and fire a few rounds at a time, three to five is good. Concentrate carefully with each pull of the trigger. It's easier to maintain discipline over a few rounds than over 15 or more from a full magazine.

3) Don't spend too long aiming at your target. Your eye will get fatigued and you'll lose your point of aim. Your muscles will start to tire as well and you'll get "chatter," or a constantly moving point of aim.

4) If you're used to a sedentary life find some sport or physical activity to get involved with, or just start working out regularly. Every seedy martial arts instructor, tape or book claims that they have the most deadly combat system in the world, and it requires no physical strength. It's all bunk. There is no form of physical combat or martial discipline, to include "gun fu," that doesn't require physical fitness.

May 12, 2003, 04:21 PM
First piece of brilliant advice......STOP IT!

Second piece of brilliant advice.....QUIT BEING SO NEGATIVE!

Seriously, think positive. Get professional help. No not a psychologist, a gun professional. Dry fire, dry fire, dry fire. Put a quarter on the barrel (or piece of spent brass...whatever) and dry fire somemore. Shoot a ton with smaller cal ammo. Shoot with larger cal ammo (in other words find the right platform for you)
Shoot more often than every two weeks if that is the point your training is lapsing.

my $.02

Steve Smith
May 12, 2003, 04:26 PM
Spend lots of time at the range at busy times, even if you're not shooting much. Get used to the sound.

May 12, 2003, 04:30 PM
What are you shooting? (firearm type, caliber, etc.) Make sure that your grip/position are such that you're not getting beaten up excessively by the gun. I've found that concentrating on the target works for me - I can get focused enough that I almost don't notice the gun kick and noise.

That and practice a lot. At the range, not just dry-fire.

May 12, 2003, 04:31 PM
--What are you shooting? If its hand artillery, quit.
--Seek professional gun training.
--Use a small calibre handgun. I suggest a .22 LR while you're learning the fundamentals from the professional gun trainer mentioned above. A .22 isn't sexy but it is effective. While learning is not the time to be squirting testosterone.
--Concentrate on the front sight. I've found the greater my concentration on the front sight the better I shoot regardless of the caliber I use.
--Embark on a measured, improvement program in conjunction with your professional gun trainer mentioned above.

May 12, 2003, 05:03 PM
I use my .22's for perfecting my stance, vision, trigger squeeze, etc. The problem with dry firing is that you really can't tell if you are simply re-doing bad habits. It helps to make holes in paper or make soda cans dance.

rock jock
May 12, 2003, 05:08 PM
Everyone fliches at some point, even the world's best shooters, and even with .22's. Just shoot more and it will eventually become a minor annoyance and not a major problem.

May 12, 2003, 05:47 PM
I haven't tried it but it makes sense that a laser dot would help feedback if you're being steady enough when the action breaks during dryfire. Any laser users out there have an opinion?

You also said you're double muffed. Are you using the best earplugs and muffs available?

May 12, 2003, 05:55 PM
Yeah, I tend to flinch a lot too. What helps me is really, really concentrating on two things:

1) Being surprised when the trigger breaks and the gun goes off. Instead of thinking about the gun firing, I think about steadily increasing the pressure on the trigger. I try not to anticipate when the gun will fire, but only concentrate on pressing the trigger smoothly until it does.

2) Follow through. After the shot goes off, without relaxing my trigger finger, I realign my sights on target and hold them there for a full two seconds. This feels really ridiculous, but helps get rid of my flinch like nothing else does.

Of course, dry fire is an essential too. But if you are already doing a lot of dry firing, either or both the above might help you.


The essence of good marksmanship is self-control, and self-control is the essence of good citizenship. It is too easy to say that a good shot is automatically a good man, but it would be equally incorrect to ignore the connection. -- Jeff Cooper

Standing Wolf
May 12, 2003, 06:12 PM
Only dead shooters never flinch.

As far as I've been able to tell in thirty-odd years' worth of shooting, the battle against flinching is lifelong.

May 12, 2003, 07:44 PM
Pax is on the money. Align the gun to the target and then disconnect the target input to the brain. It may move a little, you don't care at that point. Put 100% of your focus on the trigger. Try to pull it as slowly as possible and learn the "stage" of the trigger (how far it goes just before it fires). Ignore the firing and just focus on the trigger control.

May 12, 2003, 09:17 PM

#1.. an AIRSOFT! Buy it in the model you have.

#2.. a .22LR if you don't have one! You have a 1911 right? try a conversion kit..

#3.. go outdoors.. Shooting outdoors has reduced my flinching quite a bit.

Chris Rhines
May 12, 2003, 10:09 PM
First - Relax! You will not shoot well all tensed up. Hard concept to learn, but vital. Relax.

Second - What Pax said about follow-through. This is critical. After breaking a shot, hold the trigger to the rear. Don't release it - this way lies the dreaded flinch. Keep holding the trigger to the rear until the gun settles back on the target, reacquire the front sight, then slowly let the trigger forward until it resets.

You'll surprise yourself with how much more consistent you'll get, just by focusing on perfect follow-through.

- Chris

May 12, 2003, 11:39 PM
I too have a bit of a flinch.

I used to think it was because of the sound, so I put in ear plugs under my muffs, but this weekend the ear plugs were bothering my ear so I removed them and my shooting improved.

I also used to think I was somewhat recoil sensitive. I shoot mostly .40S&W and even when shooting smaller caliber guns (even .22) I noticed my shooting didn't improve much.

Well I figured out what the real problem is, its PRIDE!

I realised that my flinch is not from fear of noise or recoil (I'm discovering that two of the biggest reasons I like shooting is the big BANG and the shove of the gun). My flinch is from fear of not hitting the dead center of the 10 ring ... and more to the point that the other shooters at the range will see me miss.

I figured this out because when I got to the range there where about a dozen other people shooting ... but eventualy they all left. Once they all left I started ripping the he-double hockey sticks out of the 10 ring!

I'm wondering if my problem isn't more common. I'm wondering if a lot of the "cures" for flinching are either not doing anything or making the problem worse because its making some of us even more self conscious.

In most things I guess I'm too much of a perfectionist. Jesus ... I just gotta relax (and not just shooting either :( )

Jesse H
May 12, 2003, 11:48 PM
Let's see. I flinch with centerfire...although more so with 9mm than with 45. I don't flinch at all with .22. I always shoot outdoors and have a good set of Peltor 10's.

On a good day, when I've been shooting more often, I manage to get touching/overlapping holes at 7 yards...which for me is pretty decent. This past weekend I shot pretty poorly. First couple shots were always where I wanted them to go...but each shot afterward ends up going to poop. When I'm dry firing at home, I can pull that trigger and the dime will sit still on the front sight. The only reason it hops off is because of the hammer falling down wiggling it a little...but it usually doesn't.

I shoot mainly .22 and 9. I try to start off with 50-100 rounds of .22, then burn through all the 9 I bring, then do some more with the .22.

I consider myself very sensitive when it comes to the trigger. I am definately anticipating when the trigger breaks and the gun recoils. Sometimes when I can trick myself into relaxing and getting my mind off the trigger I shoot better.

Sounds like I just need to loosen up, and just shoot.

May 13, 2003, 12:03 AM
I wrote this for another thread but seems applicable here as well.


I used to remove the firing pin from my Mark II for dry-fire practice. Then I didn't have to worry about it.

Now, I'm of the opinion that dry firing doesn't do much for you. I think it's much better to learn to focus intensely on sight alignment and to squeeze the trigger dilibrately.

The main problem, as I've observed in myself and a couple others, is that you get the sights aligned, and then treat the process of squeezing the trigger as a single act that, once set in motion, completes itself. This is the wrong way to view it. You should first focus on sight alignment, then make a concerted effort to maintain sight alignment as the trigger is being pulled. You don't have to squeeze the trigger slowly, but every micron of movement should be completely under your control.

One thing that I do is to feel for the trigger stop. That is, when I start squeezing the trigger, I'm not looking for the release of the hammer, but for the point in which the trigger stops moving. To me, *that* is then the shot is completed. This allows me to squeeze through the release point.

Another exercise I found interesting was to shoot at nothing. Go to the range, but don't put out a target, just shoot the gun. People never do that. But when there's no target to worry about, you can focus your efforts on other issues. You can practice focusing on the front sight and squeezing through the release.

People want to see the results of their efforts. The problem is that you rarely get positive results on the first mag. So a target that looks as bad as your previous targets is discouraging.

There a couple experts out there that also agree...pulling a trigger without a BANG is not useful because it's unrealistic. It may fix a flinch momentarily, but the underlying problems are still there. You simply have to get away from making the BANG the focal point of activity. Think of BANG as part of the shot, not the end of the shot. Maintaining sight alignment through the trigger motion is the main activity, and it doesn't end till the trigger stops moving.

Hope this help!

May 13, 2003, 05:25 AM
I cured my brother of it the same way I cured myself of it.

Put a single round in a 44mag. Spin the cyclinder. Aim and fire. Odds are it's going to be a dry fire. A few flinches on those will shame you into holding steady.


It only takes a couple of real shots to teach you that being unprepared and suprised by even heavy recoil is nothing to concern yourself about.

15 - 20 minutes worth of work should give you all the confidence you need to stop flinching... And it's a cost effective method at that.

May 13, 2003, 06:06 AM
Quote: "Anybody else like me?"

Nope, no one likes you...:neener:

May 13, 2003, 07:07 AM
My tips are simple:

- Hold on tight. I mean, follow thru for every shot. Don't anticipate...
- Agree with Steve. Get used to the sound!
- Quit reading those kB! stories. Your gun is fine, trust it! ;)

May 13, 2003, 08:47 AM
u.s. army marksman unit "advanced pistol guide" its online somewhere, free. maybe someone else here knows the link and would post it for you. best i've ever read on shooting a pistol. covers all the bases.

good luck


May 13, 2003, 10:01 AM
Google that "US Army Marksmanship Unit" (www.google.com) the guide is available in about a million places.
There are a 'few' good sources listed here too....
I just won't live long enough to read all this stuff!:eek:

Ol' Badger
May 13, 2003, 11:13 AM
We don't care about your sexuality here. Just how you shoot!:evil:

May 13, 2003, 12:10 PM
Anyone else here shoot better with an air pistol than their powder-burner? At 10 meters I'm much better with my little single-pump pnuematic .177 (Beeman P3). I suspect the trigger helps. That little air pistol has a sweeter trigger than my 1911 (less pull force, less motion, more "glass breaking" feel). And of course theres virtually zero recoil and very little noise (gee, I'm also pushing 2.4 ft-lbs total energy).

Steve Smith
May 13, 2003, 12:39 PM
The reason I said what I did is that I have noticed it about myself. If I haven't been on a line for a month, when I get there I'll bling when a round is fired...but after a day of being around it, it doesn't bother me anymore and I shoot better.

May 13, 2003, 12:54 PM
Jesse, are you holding your breath to the point you're turning blue? Sometimes if I'm trying to be too accurate, I do, and my shooting goes to heck.

Maybe try to get a private one-on-one even if it means tightening the ammo budget for a month?

May 13, 2003, 01:40 PM
i'm still fairly new to the world of shooting and gun ownership. that said, i know flinching well! i really was blessed to to find tfl and glock talk early on and get some good guidance on curing flinching.

for me, a key point was also acknowledging that i had a deep-rooted unrational fear that i would be hurt by the bullet firing. (darn public education....) i had to consciously remind myself that my guns are well maintained/engineered and should not blow up on me. also to consciously remind myself that i'm protected from the noise and the recoil is managable.

you may not have this problem, but then also, there may be readers who do.

anyways, after doing this little mental exercise, riding the recoil and boom was much more enjoyable and my flinching was reduced much.

of course that was until i got my wonderful ruger srh in .454 casull...i'm still trying to cure my anticipatory flinch on that, but it sure is fun trying! :D

May 13, 2003, 05:45 PM
.22's are not always the answer.

I shoot a Para Ordnance p14.45 better than any other gun I have ever tried. Including .22s. Finding the right platform is important.

You also may be thinking to much. Line up sights, squeeze trigger, find next target. Like Nike says "Just Do It."

May 13, 2003, 08:05 PM
Fact is EVERYONE flinches. Just some control it. Practice...

Country Boy
May 14, 2003, 01:29 PM
I shudder to think of all the powder I burned trying to get rid of my handgunning flinch. Dryfiring helps. For handguns, put a dime on your front sight, dryfire, and try not to move the dime. Practice doen't always make perfect, but perfect practice does make better. Or something like that...

May 15, 2003, 07:08 PM
My wife flinched pretty bad with a .357 so we went to .38 same thing. I finally loaded 1-3 shots in her six shooter about 5 or six times. Now she shoots better than me. Get a buddy to do this for you. Look for the flinch not the target, see where it moves on the empty chambers. Don't always aim for the X-ring just aim for the 9-ring hit that consistently then pull your shot in.

I found "Advanced Master Handgunning" by Charles Stephens at Borders Books. Best $14 investment i ever made.


Good luck

May 15, 2003, 08:13 PM
What caliber are you shooting? Step down to a .22, and then move back up slowly.

May 15, 2003, 08:20 PM
a slow steady increase in pressure on the trigger until the weapon surprises you by going off,

as someone else here has said, everyone flinches, the good shots flinch AFTER the round goes off


because they were 'surprised' by the weapon firing, not anticipating it.

hope this helps...


May 15, 2003, 09:06 PM
Lots of good advice. Suprise break, follow through, dime on sight, one rnd spin the cylinder...

Jeff Cooper says to ignore recoil. I agree. Its all in the head. Fear, yes lets be realistic, is of the mind and the mind can be controlled and trained.

Each shot is an entity unto its own. The only shot in the world that counts at all, is the one you are about to make. Previous shots are irrevelant, future or follow up shots will never happen. Make this one shot. Can you force yourself to ignore it for one and only one shot? Your eye controls your trigger finger. Sight picture perfection increases pressure. Its like taking a picture. Follow through. Hold that sight picture and trigger after the shot. There is no bang, there is no bullseye, only the sight picture. Do not think while shooting or you are not paying attention. Clear your mind of all concious thought. There is only a picture to be taken, you can think about it later. If you can do this for even one shot you have proven it can be done and then you simply do it again.

Nopthing more shameful or embarassing than the muzzle dipping on an empty chamber. Just do it. Tiger them sights to stay put for ONE SHOT.

If you enjoyed reading about "I'm a flincher" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!