Shooting a gun is not a natural human action. Even experienced shooters will often flinch trying a new gun or caliber. Recoil anticipation is the number one shooting error!
To add insult to injury, if you flinch and hit a bad first shot, your follow up shots will often be as bad, or worse as you do not have full control over your gun! For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton was right!
We are proponents of new shooters using larger and heavier hand guns to learn HOW to shoot. We are not saying it should be their carry gun, but larger guns are great to learn the mechanics on and gain confidence. We see far too many women shooters in our classes toting little micro pistols. Hubby isn’t even in class with her while their better half is getting punished by the latest cute little gun that he decided was appropriate! Ouch!
Recoil management is easier to learn on a larger gun. It helps soak up recoil with its mass. It later translates to a smaller one easily.
Grip has the largest impact on controlling recoil. We teach and utilize the thumbs forward grip. New shooters are easier to teach. Re-teaching older shooters and getting them to change their thumb-over-thumb or teacup grips is more difficult. We never “force” students to change but strongly encourage them to try “our” way for the duration of class. We have some good shooting students with funky grips. They are safe and perform well. No sense in force feeding them something that will not necessarily allow them to perform better. However, we do move them from their bladed stance to a square one.
The points of contact created by the thumbs-forward grip give most shooters better control of their sidearm. The heels of your palms should be in contact with the gun and with each other, the thumb of your non-dominant hand is pointing forward, resting against the frame below the other thumb. The result is skin covering just about 100% of the grip. No gaps. Think of driving your gun towards the target aggressively. Your thumbs-forward grip along with your locked wrists and elbows (elbows locked is optional) control recoil and allow follow-up shots more quickly. Many prefer to keep their elbows slightly bent which allows multiple shots more quickly. It also soaks some recoil up.
Your grip comes with a square-to-target stance, with your nose over your toes and knees bent. This is an athletic stance that allows easy movement in any direction. It also gives you less exposure to one single bullet from a bad guy taking out both lungs and your heart! Think of its as a fighter’s stance. Keep both of your eyes open and keep your pistol centered on your body. You are in a fight, fortunately you have a gun! A good fighting stance allows the shooter to drive the gun on target after each shot and to transition between multiple targets.
Your grip should be very firm. More firm than a brisk handshake. Keep relatively equal pressure with both hands and keep those thumbs forward. Your thumbs play a large role in mitigating recoil. This will cam your wrists forward as well, effectively locking them.
A right handed shooter’s left thumb ideally provides lateral pressure to the frame reducing the natural tendency for a righty to push the gun left when shooting rapidly.
Another element that is often overlooked is trigger control and reset. Keep your finger in constant contact with the trigger after firing the first shot. Release the trigger just far enough to feel and hear a click. Repeat as needed. Running your trigger in this fashion allows for faster shots and reduces the likelihood of jerking the trigger or other bad things to occur. Prepping and reseting the trigger is also a means of follow through. Driving your gun toward the target and having constant contact with your finger on the trigger is a main element of follow through. However, when transitioning between multiple targets we emphasis that your finger MUST come off the trigger and index high. Competition shooters game this to shave seconds off their time. In the real world you cannot have your finger on the trigger while possibly crossing an innocent bystander. In our higher level classes we also emphasize that the muzzle must also clear bystanders in conjunction with trigger finger index.
You can control recoil on any gun or caliber with proper grip, stance, trigger control, and follow through. Dry firing is great for many aspects of defensive shooting. To tame recoil though, you must get out and shoot! Join us in 2018 for a wide array of training courses!
Jim Benoit's thoughts on guns, gear, & training
CAJUN ARMS & TUSCARORA TACTICAL TRAINING
WEST CHESTER, THOMPSONTOWN, PA