Need help correcting a habit.


PDA






c.latrans
February 14, 2013, 01:45 PM
Hello hand gunners.

I need help correcting a habit, the genesis of which I have not discovered. I consistently shoot hang guns...pretty much all hand guns to the left. If I sand bag up and shoot with either one or two eyes open and pay very close attention to my trigger control and front sight, I can make them go into the center. In other positions, if I take time with every shot and concentrate on front sight/trigger squeeze straight back, I can keep things centered. Beyond that, if my concentration lapses so much as a smidge, my shots bear left, sharply so if I am in a hurry. I literally NEVER miss to the right, and elevation is not a problem...just left, left and left again.

I have had this problem for many years, and believe there is something wrong with my grip or form that is bringing this issue on. I am right handed and strongly right eye dominant. So to you experts, what are the likely causes of this pattern, and what can I try to alleviate it? Thanks for looking.

If you enjoyed reading about "Need help correcting a habit." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Fire_Moose
February 14, 2013, 01:53 PM
Have you tried getting someone to load yer magazine with a couple snap caps mixed in?

Sent from my CZ85 Combat

Steel Talon
February 14, 2013, 01:54 PM
FWIW,with out the benefiet of watching you shoot and at what distance.. My best guess would be your over thinking your shooting. You should try and clear your mind from the variuos thoughts that percculate through about your shooting. And learn to focus on your front sight and let your ability to come.

Start with closer targets, and increase distance as things settle into place.

returningfire
February 14, 2013, 01:54 PM
You might be sticking too much of your trigger finger through the trigger guard and you are pulling it to the left with your finger. try shooting with just the tip of your finger on the trigger. It might straighten it right out.

Samir
February 14, 2013, 02:40 PM
Have you tried getting someone to load yer magazine with a couple snap caps mixed in?

I have a variation on that.. I have 4 mags and sprinkle snap caps in them, then put them in my range bag. I pull them out of the bag and insert them without looking. Works for me.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 02:44 PM
http://www.freeportjuniorclub.org/images/Help-%5BRH%5D%5BHandgun%5D%5B1%5D.GIF

Also, if you have the trigger in the crease of your index finger, you can ALSO pull shots right in to the "thumbing" zone. (If the trigger is in the crease, it's a crap shoot which way it'll go, left or right.)

Trent
February 14, 2013, 02:46 PM
The "Jerking" zone on this target should really read "jerking trigger" or some derivation, and also cover the zone to the left of it "squeezing finger tips" - if you jerk or snatch the trigger hard, your shots will always hit low and left.

c.latrans
February 14, 2013, 02:50 PM
Great info guys, keep em coming! I am going to master this thing once and for all, willing to try about anything.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 02:58 PM
OK the other things you need to know:

#1 Breath control.

Breath normally but before you fire, let a half breath out (or breath a half breath in) and hold it. Don't hold it TOO long or you will get tremors!

THIS RULE IS VOID IN SELF DEFENSE.

#2 Hold control.

Weaver or Isocoles, either stance, you want to BALANCE the pressure between your strong hand and weak hand. Your weak hand should wrap around the grip and the thumbs should lay alongside each other, on autos. On revolvers, some people hold differently.

If you do NOT balance the pressure between your hands properly, and make it neutral, you will be inaccurate.

DO NOT lock either of your arms, keep them slightly bent to absorb recoil. That'll improve your "split time" between shots as you will remain on target better.


#3 Trigger Control


Discussed above some, you want to use the pad of your finger.

You do NOT have to squeeze your hand to move your finger! Your finger will move all on it's own without help.


#4 Sight alignment


Front sight should be equidistant between the rear sight.

Your EYE should ONLY focus on the front sight.

IN SELF DEFENSE YOUR SIGHTS DO NOT HAVE TO ALIGN PERFECTLY AT CLOSE RANGE (< 8 yards) NOR DO YOU EVEN *NEED* TO USE THEM IN POINT SHOOTING (< 5 yards). Would recommend practicing both!


#5 Sight Picture



Your target should be slightly blurry since you are focusing on the front sight ONLY.

You can shoot a 6 o'clock or 12 o'clock hold (depends on the gun).


#6 Followthrough


Breathe.

You should not move the gun to look at your target, that forms a bad habit.

You should remain ready to fire another shot. This is where you build muscle memory to be able to shoot faster, more accurately.

Dr. Sandman
February 14, 2013, 03:24 PM
A few years back, I ordered some Milsurp Pakastani ammo 9mm from the Sportsmans Guide. About half of the ammo worked and some felt like it was +P. The other half was a mix of duds and hangfires. As crummy as the ammo was, I did learn that I was pulling with my hand in order to counteract the anticipated recoil of the gun. This was all subconscious. I am not cured, but better. My point is that some dud or dummy ammo is a good way to evaluate what is going on. PLEASE REMEMBER if you get to the dud or dummy, treat it like a hang fire, because you might have a hangfire in one of the rounds that you think are live!!! I usually point the gun downrange for about 45 seconds or so. Good luck.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 03:28 PM
It takes 5 minutes to teach, and a lifetime to master.

c.latrans
February 14, 2013, 04:37 PM
Very good guys. I just fixed up 3 dummies and will have my wife load mags when the time comes. I am not particularly sensitive to recoil, but I can detect a flinch now and then. Where I am now is that I have a Sig 229 in .40 and have installed a .22 LR conversion. I am able to shoot .22 right at home, as I live in a semi rural area, I have a set up in my shop where I can close doors, turn on a fan above the target that blows out a window and blaze. I am dedicating 50 well executed rounds per day, taking time to execute each shot and analyze it. I have shot quite a bit of target archery at upper levels of the sport, and I am taking the same approach to this problem as I would to curing "target panic" in archery.

One question...how tight should my grip on the pistol be? Obviously enough to control the shot, but should I give it the death grip or just firm enough to handle the gun? Also, I tend to lay my left thumb on top of the right, rather than under. I have rather large hands, and when I lay it under, the side of my thumb rubs against the tip of my trigger finger in the guard when I shoot with just the pad of my index finger. Comments? Thank you guys again, the help is appreciated.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 05:26 PM
If your grip is too tight, you won't be able to hold the gun steady and your hands will tremor. If it's too loose, recoil will be amplified. That's more of a personal feeling than anything. Personally, I don't squeeze it too tight. But I'm not holding it loose, either. (Too vague to convey over text, I know.)

The tightness of my grip naturally adjusts now based on WHAT I'm shooting too. I tend to hold my 45 ACP a bit more firmly than my 9mm and put more focus in to locking my wrists. I'm fairly fast with it, not earth shattering, but .25-.27 seconds split on the 45. I'm .15-.18 on 9mm. A long way off from grand master speed, but not too horrible.

Left thumb over right is generally done by revolver shooters transitioning to semi's. And man, you must have some really big hands or a really small gun for your thumb and trigger finger to touch. :)

So, question of the day. Are you shooting a revolver or an auto loader?

The techniques can be slightly and subtly different.

I'm just learning revolvers, and I'm NOT the go-to guy for that stuff by any stretch. When I shoot revolvers with my "usual" semi-auto hold, it doesn't feel good. I've found that crossing my thumbs up like you are doing, feels more solid. I've even tried wrapping my left thumb back around my right hand, feels real solid, but I shoot like crap. So either way I shoot with thumbs parallel. Semi, right over left, revolver, left over right.

What's IMPORTANT is that YOU feel natural and relaxed.

Everything NOT involved with holding that gun up should be relaxed, and remember, bring it up to your line of sight, don't bring your head down to it. :)

Trent
February 14, 2013, 05:29 PM
(This gets exponentially MORE difficult, by the way, when you try to get faster WITH accuracy.)

ATLDave
February 14, 2013, 05:53 PM
Lots of good advice.

I've also found that I can induce a case of the lefts if I squeeze too hard with my support (non-dominant) hand. Sometimes the pressure of my left fingertips on/between the knuckles of my right hand can just tug things a bit left. Relaxing the left hand about 10-15% does the trick. One of the range officers where I shoot (a former Marine Force Recon guy, IIRC) pointed it out to me and fixed what was becoming a frustrating, but intermitent, problem.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 06:00 PM
ATLDave, good point. I've got another target that shows uneven pressure between support & firing hands, I didn't even realize that one I linked didn't show it. Sorry about that. I grabbed the first Google Image result and slapped it in here, was pressed for time (also working while I'm on here, posting between reboots on these servers I'm upgrading..!).

I should have went down to the basement (since I work from home most days) and grabbed a pic of one of the training targets I use when I teach people! :)

Trent
February 14, 2013, 06:03 PM
Oh wait you're meaning your support hand is squeezing, not pulling back to hard.

I read that wrong the first time.

I don't squeeze at ALL with the support hand fingers other than what's required to balance out and neutralize the forward pressure from the firing hand. In fact, my fingers on my left hand stick out a little, loose.

If you are squeezing with your fingertips that activates a bunch of muscles in the lower part of your hand that should be 100% relaxed.

c.latrans
February 14, 2013, 06:09 PM
Hey Trent (and everyone) Thank You for the effort.

I learned to shoot on revolvers so yes, learned to wrap that left thumb over the top to avoid getting burned from the gap. It feels really weird to try to lay it below my right thumb or even along side, but I have wondered if that is part of my problem. I am shooting autos now for the most part. The old thing about guys with big hands....well....I just have big hands, unfortunately! But the end of my trigger finger does rub against my thumb at about the middle of the thumbnail but on the side. Keeps me from shooting with my trigger finger too deep, I guess, as I shoot with just the pad of my finger. Right now I am shooting a Sig P229 with standard grips, not like I am trying to do this with a Bearcat or something. Steel Talon mentioned earlier that I am likely over thinking things, and that may be the case as it seems that the harder I try the worse it gets. I understand what you are saying about grip, I kind of have a feel for what my old model 66 needs (which, by the way is the only hand gun I own that I can shoot as well as I would like) as opposed to a hi-standard .22. Probably the loose nut behind the grips is mainly responsible for my woes.

Want to go fast, but when I do my shots start showing up out in the 7/8 rings on sil. targets. Maybe should go back to rifles as that is what I do best, but I am going to get in front of this thing if it kills me!:banghead:

Trent
February 14, 2013, 06:18 PM
Heh you aren't overthinking it. There is a LOT going on with handguns, it's considerably harder to master than, than rifles (although, each have their own difficult problems).

But what I would do is focus on ONE thing at a time, starting with front sight, trigger control, relaxed and comfortable hold.

You'll find that you plateau for awhile and then discover that one tiny little subtle difference will take you to the next level.

Double action is especially tough to master because the force required on the trigger amplifies everything else going wrong. If the forces your various muscles are exerting are a smidge off, when that trigger breaks, the muzzle is going SOMEWHERE.

Take an empty shell case and balance it on the front of the gun, practice dry fire. Don't knock it off, don't wobble it. When you're rock solid with that (and you probably will be from the start if you're an experienced shooter), pick a distant target, focus on the front sight, and dry fire on it. When that sight isn't moving AT ALL off the target, keep practicing to build muscle memory. :)

You don't have to spend a fortune to become a good pistol shooter. In fact, back in my 20's I spent a great deal of time shooting common .177 pellets in to a phone book down the long hallway in my house. :)

Trent
February 14, 2013, 06:21 PM
Also, one last thing. If you look at that chart above, MOST of the things that you can do wrong involve using to much of one muscle that's unbalanced by other muscles.

So if nothing else works, relax. :)

BYJO4
February 14, 2013, 07:05 PM
Since elevation is not a problem, I also think it is finger placement on the trigger.

9mmepiphany
February 14, 2013, 07:35 PM
It feels really weird to try to lay it below my right thumb or even along side, but I have wondered if that is part of my problem.
Yes, you are putting uneven pressure on the gun

But the end of my trigger finger does rub against my thumb at about the middle of the thumbnail but on the side. Keeps me from shooting with my trigger finger too deep, I guess, as I shoot with just the pad of my finger. Right now I am shooting a Sig P229 with standard grips, [QUOTE]
You grip should look something like this...this is a SIG 220, so it is a mite larger than your 229

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/9mmepiphany/Gripping%20the%20gun/14-strightLFthumb.jpg

Note that my support hand thumb is above the trigger guard and my strong thumb is resting on the back of it. Neither thumb applies any pressure

[QUOTE=Trent]I don't squeeze at ALL with the support hand fingers other than what's required to balance out and neutralize the forward pressure from the firing hand.
I use a bit different technique, as I don't push with my right arm and I don't pull with my left. I gave that up when I stopped using the Weaver and evolved my shooting to the Isosceles arm geometry. I found that it allowed me to get back on target faster and allowed faster target transitions.

However, this means that you need to envelope the gun in a complete grip. Since you want more dexterity in the shooting hand, to manage the trigger press, I use a grip much like a firm handshake....pulling the gun straight back into the web of your hand. That leaves the support hand to hold the gun by applying as much lateral (side-to-side) pressure as it need to keep it from jumping out of my hands

Trent
February 14, 2013, 08:05 PM
edit for rewrite :)

Trent
February 14, 2013, 08:32 PM
My isosceles grip lines the middle knuckles up under the trigger guard (same as my weaver grip).

http://i.imgur.com/DlUtrbcl.jpg

9mmepiphany takes a VERY complete grip and (basically) lines his first knuckles on his support hand up with the middle knuckles on his left hand. As you can see this is very different.

http://i.imgur.com/9neYi8bl.jpg

I personally don't find the second method comfortable, and I'm not very accurate with that hold (I have serious trigger control issues when I try, my fingers are long-ish). It might be because I shot weaver for 15 years and only started switching to isosceles last year (weaver is still more comfortable for me, but isosceles is much faster).

I had to radically alter the muscles used and pressure from the middle-knuckle hold in weaver to make that same shape of hold work in isosceles. It's not even close to the same feeling.

Everyone is built different and what works for you might not work for someone else. I will say 9mm's hold is by the book correct. He's probably a lot faster than me too. :)

BCRider
February 14, 2013, 08:41 PM
The other thing about gripping too hard is that it makes it harder to separate the movement of your trigger finger from the desired NON movement of the rest of the hand. So you end up pulling the trigger with your whole hand instead of one finger. The grip strength should be the same as you'd use with a good friend during a firm handshake. If in doubt try a little less rather than a little more. If the gun moves within your grip after a few shots then you need to grip a LITTLE harder and try again.

I've got a little something to add that I haven't seen yet among the other great suggestions. Make it a point to pull thru the BANG! and hold the trigger back during the recoil. The goal is to focus on a complete and full trigger travel and short follow thru so you are not focusing on the gun going BANG!.

Oh, and another thing. You don't want to pull the trigger so much as you want to build pressure on the trigger and let it move as and when it wants. And after the recoil you want to ease the pressure in the same manner instead of conciously moving the trigger. During fast fire drills this pressure build and release can be very fast but it's still not ever going to be a sudden snatch of the finger on the trigger which most certainly will jerk the gun around.

Your only mission, even during fast fire drills, is to hold your sight picture and pull that trigger all the way to the rear travel stop and hold it there for a short time. Then using the same discipline release the pressure with the same care. By doing this you will easily feel the trigger/action reset. At that point you can reverse the pressure and build to the next round going off.

Start slow with this new drill and build speed over a couple of sessions. In time you'll learn that you can shoot darn fast with this method. Even to where you learn to feel the reset as the gun is coming down from the recoil impulse and you're ready for the other half of a double tap

12gaugeTim
February 14, 2013, 08:41 PM
179759

Deer_Freak
February 14, 2013, 08:49 PM
What prevents me from putting any effort into the isosceles grip is I shoot a revolver as much as a pistol. I am better to stick with the weaver grip or variations of the weaver grip/stance.

9mmepiphany
February 14, 2013, 08:50 PM
As you can see this is very different.
Our support hand fingers are lining up about the same under the trigger guard...I present the flat face of the finger segment forward.

Just a bit curious why your support hand is so low on the grip frame. It looks like you are pronating your wrist (extending your thumb toward the target) as I do, but you aren't getting a high on the gun as you could...which I would think would interfere with your trigger finger

Here is my grip on a wider gripped M&P9

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/9mmepiphany/Gripping%20the%20gun/grip052.jpg

...and what the right hand looks like by itself. I'm not reaching around as much as you might think

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/9mmepiphany/Gripping%20the%20gun/grip040.jpg

Trent
February 14, 2013, 08:58 PM
OK I got my M&P 9 out so we can compare apples to apples on the same exact geometry:

One handed
http://i.imgur.com/5pg2Hull.jpg

Weaver (or my modified isosceles hold) - middle knuckles line up on both hands
http://i.imgur.com/UjO6Un5l.jpg

Fully enveloped isocsceles
http://i.imgur.com/PEVVUvSl.jpg

Trent
February 14, 2013, 09:07 PM
I see some differences on our shooting hand. Our hands are about the same size but you've got the rear of the gun more towards the center of your palm. I can't do that with my wrist structure - it bends my wrist out pretty sharply. My natural hold puts my wrist straight and the middle knuckles of my shooting hand in line with the front strap.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 09:14 PM
When I hold my gun hand presenting the flat segment of my fingers forward, as you show, my wrist is at a severe angle:

http://i.imgur.com/79dj2DTl.jpg

Edit: that angle gets MORE severe if I assume a full isosceles presenting the flat of my fingers forward - extreme, even)

When I hold it with my middle knuckles at the front of the grip, my wrist is at a straight angle:

http://i.imgur.com/KZBRadVl.jpg

Since I need to keep my wrist as straight as possible to absorb recoil straight back (and without pain, on bigger guns), that leaves the knuckles on my gun hand pointing forward (as shown in the top photo of the 3 pics I posted last.)

When I wrap my support hand around, having the knuckles forward makes it very uncomfortable to fully encompass the firearm as you do. (pic 3 post 30)

So the natural hold (for me) is to line up the inside of my middle knuckles on the support hand with the forward pointing middle knuckles on my gun hand (middle pic post 30)

9mmepiphany
February 14, 2013, 09:16 PM
The other thing about gripping too hard is that it makes it harder to separate the movement of your trigger finger from the desired NON movement of the rest of the hand. So you end up pulling the trigger with your whole hand instead of one finger. The grip strength should be the same as you'd use with a good friend during a firm handshake. If in doubt try a little less rather than a little more. If the gun moves within your grip after a few shots then you need to grip a LITTLE harder and try again.
This is extremely important. Tightening your strong hand when pressing the trigger will cause your shots to strike low (ignore the Correction Chart; it is less than applicable to two handed shooting)

I've got a little something to add that I haven't seen yet among the other great suggestions. Make it a point to pull thru the BANG! and hold the trigger back during the recoil. The goal is to focus on a complete and full trigger travel and short follow thru so you are not focusing on the gun going BANG!.
Being aware of follow through is very important to beginning shooters, it becomes second nature after a while

Start slow with this new drill and build speed over a couple of sessions. In time you'll learn that you can shoot darn fast with this method. Even to where you learn to feel the reset as the gun is coming down from the recoil impulse and you're ready for the other half of a double tap
Maybe more than a couple of sessions ;)

You can start resetting in series to make sure of your follow through, but will will progress to resetting it in parallel with the muzzle flip as you become more skilled

BCRider
February 14, 2013, 09:17 PM
What prevents me from putting any effort into the isosceles grip is I shoot a revolver as much as a pistol. I am better to stick with the weaver grip or variations of the weaver grip/stance.

Nothing says that you can't shoot a revolver with an isoceles body position. But I agree that if you do well with the one style it's best to stick with the one instead of trying to learn two styles.

9mmepiphany
February 14, 2013, 09:31 PM
I see some differences on our shooting hand. Our hands are about the same size but you've got the rear of the gun more towards the center of your palm. I can't do that with my wrist structure - it bends my wrist out pretty sharply. My natural hold puts my wrist straight and the middle knuckles of my shooting hand in line with the front strap.
Ah...that really helped. You do wrap your right hand fingers a lot more around. It almost looks like it is coming out of the "pocket".

Are you lining up the gun under your dominate eye as opposed to the middle of your chest?
You might try dropping your head a bit to the right

I line up the backstrap with the pocket formed in my right hand when the hand is relaxed...with the thumb, including the muscle at the base fully on the left side of the grip.

I see what you mean about your wrist angle. If I had only seen the picture, I'd think your were cross eye dominate.

I had to pick up my M&P to check alignment. I find that I loosen my right hand grip a bit as my left hand comes in and rotates the muzzle slightly to the right. When shooting one handed, I maintain my grip but cant the sights slightly inward to bring it in front of my right eye

murf
February 14, 2013, 09:44 PM
clatrans,

can you post pics (like trent)? worth a thousand words!

murf

Trent
February 14, 2013, 10:01 PM
Ah...that really helped. You do wrap your right hand fingers a lot more around.

I line up the backstrap with the pocket formed in my right hand when the hand is relaxed...with the thumb, including the muscle at the base fully on the left side of the grip.

I see what you mean about your wrist angle. If I had only seen the picture, I'd think your were cross eye dominate.

I had to pick up my M&P to check alignment. I find that I loosen my right hand grip a bit as my left hand comes in and rotates the muzzle slightly to the right. When shooting one handed, I maintain my grip but cant the sights slightly inward to bring it in front of my right eye

What I was talking about earlier in this thread when I said people aren't built the same, and why I got the M&P out once I saw you posted pictures so we could compare apples to apples!

You are an experienced shooter so take what I'm about to say and realize I'm talking to a wider audience than you, and speaking only of what's right for ME. Hopefully someone can find this useful. :)

I really have no choice but to keep my wrist as straight as possible. IF my wrists were more flexible I'd be able to hold like you do, but 20 years as a computer programmer and carpal tunnel have really taken their toll. I can't bend my wrist more than 45 degrees in either direction without feeling extreme pain - the thought of doing it with a recoiling firearm makes my skin crawl.

What this means is my "heel" of my hand sits directly at the back of the bottom of the grip (and not slightly to the left side as yours does).

One upside of this is my wrist bones all align as perfectly straight as they can, and recoil transfers directly up my arm to my elbows; the wrist joint absorbs nothing. I keep my elbows slightly bent so they can act as a shock absorber. I experience virtually NO muzzle flip with this hold even on 45's.

The downside is with my frigging long fingers, and having the index finger on my strong side further forward than yours by a good half-inch due to the way I hold strong side, trigger control took a long time to master. (Trigger control on your hold is MUCH easier to manage, and 15 years ago, I could shoot in that position..)

When I bring my other hand up to support, this hold doesn't change.

If I hold my hand out and point at something with my index finger in direct line with my arm and wrist, I can slip the gun in without rearranging my hand, it is my natural hold.

If I hold strong side only and point the gun at a target with my index finger straight out, and have someone remove the firearm, I'm pointing straight at the target with my index finger, and my index finger is in direct line with my arm.

I do not have to shift my grip shooting strong side only or supported.

Everyone's geometry is different and every firearm has different geometry that you have to adapt to. Sooner or later we reach a point where the gun feels like an extension of your hand. Then you pick up a different gun and it feels dead "wrong" (or at least very odd). There are guns I have a terrible time with - the Springfield XD comes to mind. I took it to the range once, and sold it. It doesn't fit ME.

But it might fit someone else like a glove. :)

Anyway that's enough for one post.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 10:15 PM
Are you lining up the gun under your dominate eye as opposed to the middle of your chest?
You might try dropping your head a bit to the right


You ninja edited while I was typing my novel. :)

To answer your question;

When I draw, I meet the firearm at my centerline with my support hand (in retention hold), and press straight out, both arms equal. I do not move or otherwise cock my head, I bring the gun in to my line of sight with my head straight up.

When I used to shoot weaver I'd meet the gun by the time it got to my forward hip and press out but this proved slower and less accurate on point shooting. Since I've switched to isosceles one of the main advantages is from the point in time your hands meet at centerline, all the way until your arms are fully extended, any rounds you fire will be hitting center mass out to about 10 yards, even without having use of the sights. That makes reaction / point shooting MUCH faster and MUCH more accurate. Also, by swiveling at the torso, you have a better and EQUAL field of fire - weaver is off-hand restricted when rotating, which has serious disadvantages in a self defense scenario. (YOU know this, because you switched for the same reason(s), I'm just repeating it to give people a background.)

But I absolutely do NOT move my head to meet the gun, the firearm comes up to my line of sight. In self defense it's vital to keep your head up so your peripheral vision can capture as much as possible. Tilt it, and suddenly you LOSE that, as your peripheral vision is no longer tracking at ground level.

(I'm right eye dominant/right handed.)

We're starting to get pretty deep down the rabbit hole, 9mm... this is no longer a "basic shooting" thread. :)

c.latrans
February 14, 2013, 10:30 PM
LOLOL! Thank you guys, and I mean it! I can tell from your pics that I have a much stiffer form, and you guys are getting your grips much deeper into the web of your hands than I am able. First, I shoot from a modified Weaver stance which I find most comfortable. I take the bulk of the abuse in the meaty area of my lower thumb. For me to wrap the butt into my hand the way you do, I think I would hit the trigger with my first knuckle. Also, given the fact that we are gripping different pistols, the end of my right thumb extends beyond the curve of the trigger while in single action configuration, and to break my wrist as far to the right as Trent does in the top photo, I think I would literally have to "break" my wrist. For the heck of it, I am building my grip up with vetrap tonight, and intend to spend tomorrows practice time trying to find a way to make my left thumb comfortable below the right and to apply a bit more pressure with my left hand. That might be enough for one day.

I have been shooting one thing or another for over 40 years, and consider myself a fair hand with both rifle and shotgun. I have never been able to master the art of the hand gun, though. No time like the present, especially with such obviously capable people to talk me through it. Forgive my stupid questions to come, they are likely to be plentiful! Night all.

Trent
February 14, 2013, 10:38 PM
Glad we could help c.latrans!

You come on a board like this, where there's a plethora of competitive and (very serious) recreational shooters hanging around, you're going to get more advice than you bargained for, and some of it will undoubtedly conflict, or have slight variations.

Just consider it "getting all of the options". What works for one person, will not work for another.

What's important, is the basics, which we ALL agree on. Once you master the basics, just as with any martial art, you MUST "fit" it to your body to truly advance and make it your own. This takes time, and repetition, and you'll gradually evolve from those basics in to what works for you (sometimes without even knowing or being aware of it happening!!!).

But for now focus on those basics. :)

Later, the gun will feel like an extension of your body and shoot where you point it, even if you tape over the sights. :)

9mmepiphany
February 14, 2013, 11:11 PM
Thank you for sharing your experience, it was truly enlightening. I have a much better understanding of your very reasonable adaptions. I have experience working with folks with the same issues. My motto is to work with your body, not against it. There are time I wish my wrist were less flexible...it would keep me from trying to cheat around cover.

Even with my grip, I'm still backing my finger out of the trigger guard (my finger starts flaring outward at the first joint) to press straight back (I have the Apex Tactical FSS)

You're right, we might be getting a bit deep. What I'd like folks just starting out to know is that shooting is a learning progression...correct technique isn't a static goal

Trent
February 14, 2013, 11:32 PM
Totally agreed, it's an ever evolving skill. Just like any other skill involving fine motor control or hand eye coordination (riding a motorcycle, shooting a bow, playing a musical instrument) only practice and good instruction can take you to the next level.

If you keep going shooting and you always shoot the same, no matter how much you practice... that's called a plateau. And you'll likely STAY there for a long time without some outside intervention.

So if you are in that spot, consider training. Or at the very least do some competitive shooting, if only because you'll learn so much, so fast. I still remember my first day shooting competition, I learned more in 10 hours about the fine art of putting lead on target, than I had in the preceding 10 years.

And after over 15 years of shooting handguns, I still learn things or refine things EVERY time I go to the range. I'm getting to the point now that when I pull the trigger, if something isn't quite right (I did something wrong), little alarm bells go off in my head. I don't even need to look at the target. I *know* I missed, and generally, where that round landed.

One other thing.

If you practice bad habits, your body will REMEMBER those bad habits. They become ingrained in your very technique. And they become NASTY buggers to shake.

Consider this scenario:

Say your trigger finger don't move straight back, you're pushing left on the break. And you're applying light pressure with your strong side thumb, which pushes you right. They USUALLY equal each other out, you're shooting dead center. You decide to work on trigger control and fix your trigger pull, only to start shooting right. If you do not simultaneously realize you are also thumbing, you'll think you're doing the trigger pull wrong and revert to the incorrect trigger pull.

Later you realize you're applying subtle pressure with your thumb, and relax it. Now you're shooting left. And have no idea why. If you don't soon thereafter realize you've been pulling the trigger wrong, you will assume you need to hold the gun tighter and go back to thumbing.

But because the thumbing and incorrect trigger pull aren't always exactly in balance, your group sizes are larger than they could be.

Have an epiphany, fix BOTH, and suddenly your group sizes shrink in half, and stay there.

Then you realize you are heeling and pulling down with your offhand (incorrect balance in grip), and fix that, and your group sizes shrink smaller...

And the process continues.

You have about a hundred little bundles of muscle all working against you AND you have to also worry about lining up your sights on a target, breathing, and so on.

It's tough to get right. I would argue, impossible to truly master.

But we all keep trying.

:)

ATLDave
February 15, 2013, 10:41 AM
What a great thread. I've really enjoyed reading the exchange between Trent and 9mmepiphany. In many ways, it echoes the discussions that serious golfers will have, with subtle grip changes requiring different mechanics, levels of effort by one muscle group or another, etc.

luvit
February 15, 2013, 10:31 PM
i like these target pictures, i just re-attached one.. i'm training my teen daughters this week and they are starting-off really well.
i want to try this target on them in the near future and wonder how large you would scale the black area (7-10) and how far you would you recommend my amateur daughters stand away.
2" snub revolver s&w 36 -- most often, i have really tight groups at 28ft, when plinking... so would i have to stand further from this target than my daughters?
i know what size/distance i'd choose, but want to know your opinion for my amateur daughters.
.

9mmepiphany
February 15, 2013, 11:10 PM
I really don't recommend using that target at all, unless you are teaching your daughters to shoot one-handed as that target was designed/calibrated for. Adding the other hand changes almost all the dynamics that that target is based on.

However, if you are determined to use it, I seem to remember that the black area (out to the 7 ring) is about 6" and it was designed to be shot at 25 yards (or meters)

If you are able to hold tight (~1") groups at 9 yards with your M-36, that is quite good. It is really hard to teach folks to shoot revolvers with a J-frame due to the size of it's grip, it's action parts and the coil spring powered action...but it that is all you have that will fit their hands, you'll have limited options. A mid-sized frame revolver would be a better route to go

Trent
February 15, 2013, 11:38 PM
I'll offer another opinion, just for variety. :)

The parts of that target that are still valid for two handed shooting are jerking the trigger (you'll shoot low/left), applying thumb pressure with your strong hand (you'll break right), too much trigger can go either way, left or right (if it's in the crease), too little trigger will push left (always). Flinching is a crap shoot on which way it goes.

Incorrect balance between strong and support hands will cause lots of problems, not all predictable. Generally speaking an incorrect hold will cause a lot of wobble in your sight picture and alignment, while a balanced, relaxed natural hold will reduce wobble.

Where it starts to get tricky, the larger the recoil impulse, the more firm you have to be with your grip to control recoil, but as you tighten your grip you REALLY have to concentrate on keeping the parts that are supposed to be relaxed, relaxed, such as the thumb, and keeping neutral pressure where it should be.

Generally I see inexperienced shooters throw wide patterns out, from nervousness, incorrect hold, recoil anticipation, flinching, etc. If shots are hitting everywhere, a target like I, you, and others have linked to will just confuse the living hell out of someone. They'll think they're doing EVERYTHING wrong. That'll destroy their confidence and that will hurt their shooting capabilities more than anything else you could say or do. Might even make them not come back.

Those targets are best for the EXPERIENCED shooter who is shooting small groups but throws an occasional flyer and can't find out why, *OR* a person putting a good tight group together with a handgun that is known to be dead on, but off center.

My FiveSeven is my benchmark, I *know* it is dead on. It also shoots wickedly tight groups. If I hand that firearm to someone and they put together a 10 shot group low left, or to the right, I can zero in on their problem in short order. If they put together a centered 10" group with it at 10 yards, then I know we need to back up and work on the fundamentals of how to hold it, breathe properly, relax what needs to be relaxed, and so on. (I can shoot 6" groups at 50 yards with that particular firearm all day long, if someone shoots it 10" at 10 yards, that's ... really bad.). If they are recoil sensitive I break out the Ruger Mk3 target, it is also very accurate.

It is MUCH more difficult to teach someone to shoot well, than people would realize, because the signs are oh-so-very-subtle, and you cannot FEEL what they are FEELING. You can observe and try to interpret, but it's really difficult to SEE if someone is tightening their thumb when they shouldn't, or pushing left with their trigger finger as they pull it back.

The best student is one that listens, and spends time self-analyzing what they are doing. I try to explain to people "I can show you the fundamentals and get you started, but I can't climb inside your head and do it for you."

The absolute best tool for learning trigger and hold control is dry fire exercises, as the person can SEE the sights move when the trigger breaks.

What you can't prepare for is how it will recoil.

I bought a new 44 mag and took it out tonight for the first time. I dry fired it a hundred or so times last night, thought "yeah, I got this."

Then, I damn near broke my support index finger on the back of the trigger guard the first shot I fired. My hold that I practiced when dry firing was nice and stable, perfect sight alignment, sights didn't budge the slightest when I'd pull the trigger. But the hold I practiced was 100% incorrect for a firearm that recoils like that one. :)

So I'm practicing a different hold tonight (the one I discovered today that does NOT damage ME), and I'm working on getting that sight to not move tonight.

Click. Cock. Click. Cock. Click. Cock. Click. Etc.

luvit
February 15, 2013, 11:42 PM
9mm,
thanks for the tip that this is for single hand shooting. they will eventually get to that point, but it won't be too soon.
i'm only training them with the style of weapon they will potentially CCW, but that's around 4 years away.. then they can decide what pistol to shoot and (re)master.

edit:
"The best student is one that listens, and spends time self-analyzing what they are doing"
yeah.. in the USAF, guys in my team were screamed at to shoot correctly until they listened. i won't be doing that, but my girls will be safe & excellent plinkers.
SD training will be done by a professional.
.

Trent
February 15, 2013, 11:55 PM
What a great thread. I've really enjoyed reading the exchange between Trent and 9mmepiphany. In many ways, it echoes the discussions that serious golfers will have, with subtle grip changes requiring different mechanics, levels of effort by one muscle group or another, etc.

Heh that's a funny analogy.

Just remember, I'm a rifleman, a casual pistol competitor (I do hold a couple of local range records but I can't hold a candle to shooters on the state or national level). I guess you could say I'm turning semi-pro with handguns and becoming a certified instructor later this year.

9mmepiphany, from what I've gathered on this board, is already pro. :)

There's different levels of expertise, so when you read something I write that's contradicting what he says, understand that A) I might be wrong, or B) I might be doing things slightly differently because I'm built differently.

Either way, put an emphasis on his remarks over mine.

I'm throwing my .02 in because (right now) this very topic is front and center for me with the season about to start hot & heavy, I have 60 competitive handgun shoots marked on my calendar this year and 4 training courses.

So I'm bound and determined to up my game this year, and getting callouses on my trigger finger. :)

GLOOB
February 16, 2013, 01:40 PM
Do more dryfiring. When the trigger breaks, the sights shouldn't move. Grip as firmly as you can while keeping the sights steady while dryfiring. With the proper fit and grip angle, you can grip tighter without adverse affects. When everything fits, shooting straight requires much less effort. There's less to go wrong. If you find the perfect gun and grip, it's almost impossible to mess up the trigger pull.

You have large hands. Try some guns with a larger grip and longer trigger reach.

The biggest killers to handgun shootability, for me, are too short a trigger reach and too flat a grip angle. Ideally, the trigger is on the pad of your trigger finger. Think about it. That's almost at the very tip of the finger. Most guns will be too short a reach for you, because they have to at least be reachable by the majority of people. These two things have been the most common reasons for me to sell a handgun. I haven't found a way to consistently compensate for those issues. Trying to keep the sights still while dryfiring tells the tale almost as well as shots on target.

beag_nut
February 16, 2013, 02:26 PM
Despite all that has gone before, there is a one-word answer: flinching.

If you enjoyed reading about "Need help correcting a habit." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!