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  • Writer's pictureAllen Austin

Why you're Shooting Low and how to fix it

I love to watch people shoot for the first time, to see their reaction to a small explosion going off in their hands. I especially enjoy watching someone who is timid go from being fearful of the gun to shooting with confidence. For many first-time shooters, their first shot is often the best shot of their first session. This perplexes a lot of folks until I remind them of the perfectly natural reaction to explosions...flinching. They were not anticipating the explosion and the following recoil until it happened on that first shot. Now every shot that follows, they push the muzzle of the gun down in anticipation of the recoil. It can be ever so slight and still make a big difference downrange. Even people who have been shooting for years can subconsciously anticipate the recoil and hit the target an inch or more below the bullseye.

So, if this is you and you find yourself consistently shooting low, and assuming your sights are aligned properly, you're probably anticipating the recoil and flinching, also known as anticipatory recoil, is a natural response to the loud noise and recoil generated by firing a handgun. When you anticipate the shot, your body instinctively tenses up, causing your muscles to contract prematurely. This involuntary movement can cause the muzzle to dip or jerk, leading to missed shots and decreased accuracy.

Here are some suggestions to fix it:

  1. Relaxation Techniques:

  • Focus on relaxing your body before and during each shot. Tension in your muscles increases the likelihood of flinching. Take deep breaths and consciously release any tension in your shoulders, arms, and hands.

  • Practice visualization techniques to stay present in the moment. Visualize a smooth, controlled shot without anticipating the recoil.

  1. Dry-Fire Practice:

  • Dry-fire practice involves simulating shooting without live ammunition. This allows you to focus on your technique without the distraction of recoil or noise.

  • Start by practicing your grip, stance, and trigger control without ammunition. Pay close attention to any signs of flinching or tensing up.

  • Gradually introduce live-fire practice once you feel more comfortable with your technique. Start with low-recoil ammunition and gradually work your way up to heavier loads.

  1. Progressive Training:

  • Begin with smaller caliber handguns or firearms with less recoil. This allows you to build confidence and technique without being overwhelmed by the recoil.

  • As you become more proficient, gradually transition to larger caliber handguns. Focus on maintaining proper technique and relaxation even as the recoil increases.

  1. 1-10 Drill:

  • Try pressing the trigger straight back while counting from 1-10. Try to break the shot on ten. As you become proficient at this, change from 1-10 to 1-5, 1-3, etc. This can be done with live rounds or dry-fire practice at home

  1. Seek Professional Instruction:

  • Consider taking a firearms training course or working with a certified instructor. A knowledgeable instructor can provide personalized feedback and guidance to help you overcome flinching.

A note on Dry-fire training - For safety reasons, it's best to unload your gun and leave all your ammo in a separate room from the one in which you will be practicing. So unload, perform a safety check, go to a separate room, perform a safety check again, and then begin dry-fire practice.

Overcoming flinching is a common challenge for handgun shooters. remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate progress along the way. With dedication and practice, you'll master the art of shooting without flinching.

Stay safe and train often.





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