Why do I have trouble shooting, and what can I do about it?


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jpruitt
June 29, 2011, 03:56 PM
I usually shoot 9mm or .38 sp when I go to the range. I start off with a nice steady aim, but 20-30 shots in, my hands are usually shaking so badly from the vibration/recoil that I can't hold it very steady and I can barely hit anywhere near the center of the target.

I'm a fairly young guy (mid 30s), in good shape, I know how to hold a gun and stand properly, what's my problem? Do I need a heavier gun? Stronger wrists? Should I drop to a .380? All of the above?

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chhodge69
June 29, 2011, 04:02 PM
Try some dry-fire practice

grant1265
June 29, 2011, 04:03 PM
It is most likely that your wrists are getting tired. Do wrist curls with a 10-15 lb dumbbell every day and if this does not clear up the problem go get a checkup, there may be a problem with your wrists or arms. Also check in to recoil reducing grips.

RaceM
June 29, 2011, 04:05 PM
Are you sure it's your "hands" shaking? Might be your arm and shoulder muscles quivering from fatigue, not recoil. Neither 9 mil or 38 should produce enough recoil to be a problem unless you are particularly susceptible.

Do some practice with an unloaded weapon. Go from holster, or down & ready position, to sights aligned on target. If after a few of those you get the shakes then you need some upper body workout.

amflyer
June 29, 2011, 04:05 PM
You say from the recoil/vibration..does this happen when you shoot a .22?

Muscle fatigue can cause shaking. Death grip on the gun may be an issue. If you truly are responding to the bang/flip of the pistol and it is not a muscular issue, perhaps try wearing both plugs and muffs...a lot of the perceived "recoil" of a pistol is really the muzzle blast. Concentrate on a good, firm grip, but don't choke the weapon with an overtight grip.

jpruitt
June 29, 2011, 04:10 PM
RaceM, I think you may be on to something, it might actually be my arms, not just my hands.

Am I gripping too hard? I tried loosening my grip last time I noticed it happening. It didn't help, but my hands/arms were already tired at that point.

KodiakBeer
June 29, 2011, 04:11 PM
Buy a .22.

jpruitt
June 29, 2011, 04:14 PM
Buy a .22.

I own a couple already. Are you suggesting I carry a .22 for self-defense?

TX1911fan
June 29, 2011, 04:17 PM
You just need to rest a little while shooting. You probably won't ever need to fire 30 rounds in a row, so you should be fine.

M-Cameron
June 29, 2011, 04:31 PM
I own a couple already. Are you suggesting I carry a .22 for self-defense?

i think he is suggesting you shoot it more often..

shooting a .22 can often reveal a lot about technique that can be hard to see with a centerfire.

Strykervet
June 29, 2011, 04:36 PM
You need to work on your fundamentals. Find someone that has lots of experience to help you. Once you get those down, you should be fine. You shouldn't be shaking after that few rounds, my wife is way out of shape when it comes to strenghth, and she can fire 9mm and .357 mag all day long. You are doing something wrong, maybe a few things, but without being there I can't tell what. My guess is that you are breathing wrong in addition to flexing your muscles. You need to relax, a firm grip on the weapon means just that: a firm grip. Holding on for dear life isn't necessary. You are told to hold your breath when firing, forget that. Don't do that. Breathe normally, just try to fire on the exhale. You can slow down for accuracy shots, just remember to start breathing again. I'd see a lot of guys make this mistake and not hit anything because they were shaking from oxygen depletion! BTW, in a fight, you will most likely be near-hyperventilating, so don't worry so much about it.

Next time you are at the range, go find a nice jovial looking old timer and ask him about his pistol and then ask him about some pointers. Do this with a few guys, becuase we all know where opinions come from or whatever. Perhaps reading a book about fundamentals of targets shooting would be helpful. Whatever you are doing has a fix, and I'll bet there are a few things going on that should be rectified.

Searcher4851
June 29, 2011, 04:39 PM
The idea of shooting a .22 handgun is that the weight difference shouldn't be that great, but the recoil is considerably less. If the same problem with shaking occurs again, you can be pretty sure it's not the beating from the recoil that's causing the shaking. It would more likely indicate a weakness or lack of endurance in the muscles you use while shooting. Those can be trained without much trouble. A handgun doesn't seem very heavy, but it can cause muscle fatigue surprisingly quickly.

kingpin008
June 29, 2011, 04:40 PM
Without observing you shoot, it's kinda hard to tell. I've known folks who perceive themselves to have a "proper" grip/stance, but in reality, they were doing things like locking their arms, death gripping the pistol, using a teacup grip, etc.

In general though, try making sure that your arms have some flex in them, don't grip the pistol like you're trying to choke it to death, make sure your knees are slightly bent and that you're leaning forward a tad. If you're doing all that already and still having trouble, then I'd definitely chock it up to fatigue and recommend toning with some light weight training.

Ex-MA Hole
June 29, 2011, 04:43 PM
Another vote for a .22 for the reasons listed above.

Also, take a lesson or two.

moonpie
June 29, 2011, 05:12 PM
one other thing , break up your routine with some one hand and weak hand drills

azmjs
June 29, 2011, 05:17 PM
Benzodiazepine anti-convulsives :D

KodiakBeer
June 29, 2011, 05:26 PM
I own a couple already. Are you suggesting I carry a .22 for self-defense?

Not at all! I'm suggesting you should shoot a lot more, with the .22. What you are describing above is called "recoil fatigue". You wouldn't think that the recoil of a 9mm or .38 would make you flinch, but all too often it does. That shake and flinch have become ingrained in muscle memory.

The cure is to shoot lots of .22 (300 - 400 rounds), then pick up your centerfire again and shoot 10 or 20 rounds, then pick up the .22 again. Repeat. Even when you've re-established your good shooting continue to use the .22 as a warm-up gun from now on.

Whether you shoot well or poorly, it's all due to muscle memory - ingrained habit. Shooting a .22 is the easy way to establish good habits because you have no excessive noise or recoil to throw you off.

CoRoMo
June 29, 2011, 05:29 PM
I remember when a member by screen-name 19-3Ben posted about the same issue. I did a search and found a few threads on the topic so you might want to read through them. I'd even suggest that you PM the members, if they are still currently active here, who drafted these threads.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=274585
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=495784
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=131189
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=535849

19&41
June 29, 2011, 07:33 PM
I've had the same problem from time to time. I try to have a small meal or snack about an hour before going and no caffeine that morning. What also helps me is to start with my .45 before firing my 9mm or .38 . It does make a difference.

JohnBiltz
June 29, 2011, 11:51 PM
I suggest dry firing. If its just fatigue then you need to develop those muscles and shooting even once a week will not do that. You don't run once a week or lift once a week. You need to do it several times a week. Dry firing is how you do that. I'd also think about maybe a grip exerciser or rubber squeeze ball. It might be you hand strength.

orionengnr
June 30, 2011, 12:06 AM
I own a couple already. Are you suggesting I carry a .22 for self-defense?
i think he is suggesting you shoot it more often..

Shooting a .22 can often reveal a lot about technique that can be hard to see with a centerfire.
Bingo. Shooting a .22 builds fundamentals. I try to hit the range one night a week, and I start with 100 rounds of .22. Then I follow up with 50 rounds of centerfire.

My last 10 shots are almost invariably better than my first 10.

RaceM
June 30, 2011, 12:42 AM
@jpruitt

As others have pointed out, and I forgot to include in my original post, is that yes, grip has a lot to do with it. Strangling the gun can hasten arm and wrist fatigue, leading to the shakes. Grab the gun like you're shaking hands, a firm grip, but not a bone crusher. The practice I described not only will build up your shooting muscles, it gives those same muscles a rest between draws. Holding your arms up is tougher than you might think. Just stand & put your arms out at shoulder level, then hold them there. See how long it takes before you start to quiver. You might be surprised.

1stmarine
June 30, 2011, 12:46 AM
This could be you are holding the gun too tight. Try a firm but relaxed posture.
Visualize a stock from the pistol to your shoulder. Don't worry about results
at first and more about form, just like shadow boxing.
I would go for a few training sessions with a good professional. That might be
the best gift you ever get. More important than the pistol or anything else.
Then train defensive shooting IDPA or others every week.
Again do not worry about results just keep up with the routine.
The results come when you do not think much about them. it is all
building that conditioning and muscle memory.
Cheers.
E.

Doxiedad
June 30, 2011, 01:17 AM
I've had that problem when I hit the gym then go to the range later in the day. I always write it off as fatigue since my fat ass doesn't go to the gym enough

jpruitt
June 30, 2011, 09:17 AM
Wow, so much in this thread resonates with me. I had more coffee than usual the last time I went, I had been to the gym the night before, I probably was gripping tighter than I should, plus I don't get to the range very often at all. Sounds like I've got a lot of stuff I can work on for next time.

doc.lonestar
June 30, 2011, 11:10 AM
If I may - there should be someone who works at the range that can help you out - IF you ask

Could be a couple of different things:

I like to start simple and go up from there - so make sure you are getting some fuel in your system before you go and make sure you drink plenty of h2o. low blood sugar could cause this.

try to pay attention to your breathing as well. if you are not getting enough O2 into your system you will also have issues. my oldest had an issue of not breathing correctly when he was on the line. he would get so excited or nervous depending on who was watching and his breath would turn shallow and quicken. Once he got his breathing down he was good to go. He had to learn his natural pause in breath before squeezing.

finally - take a look at your grip - it is hard to describe but once you get it you got it. Firm yet loose - I like to think of it as a balancing act -

for example and this is best I can do without showing: more pressure here and less pressure here, fingers will apply pressure to counter act muzzle flip etc. So my hands are not strangling the grip - they are holding firm yet loose

KodiakBeer
June 30, 2011, 01:39 PM
as others have pointed out, and I forgot to include in my original post, is that yes, grip has a lot to do with it. Strangling the gun can hasten arm and wrist fatigue, leading to the shakes. Grab the gun like you're shaking hands, a firm grip, but not a bone crusher.

Great advice!

gunnutitis
June 30, 2011, 04:13 PM
Maybe just work through it. Blast and recoil certainly upset my nervous system. But I enjoy shooting and reloading and generally blast away with several hundred 38's and 45's. By the end of the range time I'm tired but actually shooting pretty well.

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