Here’s the thing about recoil...you can't stop it...this is long, get some coffee...

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Thread: Here’s the thing about recoil...you can't stop it...this is long, get some coffee...

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    Here’s the thing about recoil...you can't stop it...this is long, get some coffee...

    First, although I've trained many people to shoot, I don't train people for pay, I don't have a shooting school, and I'm not part of one in any way, nor do I work for one. But I have been to a bunch of schools and have made contact with a bunch of 'interesting' people and instructors and here's some things I've learned about shooting.

    Some of this applies to point shooting and sighted fire equally. But, it is based a bit more on sighted fire. Although I have been to a point shooting school, I just don't have the experience to address point shooting. So if you point shoot, use what applies as you see fit.

    The following is not a revelation I’ve had but comes from people like Brian Enos, Todd Jarrett, and others, plus my instructor at Blackwater that knows and shoots with the likes of Rob Letham, et al, and occasionally beats one of them. And, I’m glad to say that for at least once in my life, I had enough sense to listen and try what they say. For quick background, for over 7 years I have shot exclusively from a consistent Weaver stance. But I was willing to give the ‘I’ stance taught at Blackwater and by the ‘top guns’ of IDPA and IPSC, etc. an honest try. The following is what I have found as a result. These principles apply to both a Weaver and the ‘I’, but for pure shooting, tactical considerations aside, I believe the ‘I’ has an edge. For tactical and LEO work, I believe the Weaver has the edge.

    All guns recoil, some more and some less of course, but how we handle recoil can have a dramatic impact on shooting proficiency, especially as rates of fire increase. If we’re shooting one shot at a time with no hurry to shoot a second shot, then recoil is totally irrelevant. But if we want to shoot fast and accurately, then recoil has to be dealt with effectively.

    Recoil for all SD handguns can be considered as two part, muzzle lift and rearward thrust. Guns with higher bore-to-grip dimensions tend to lift the muzzle a bit more and push back a bit less. To me, these guns seem to have a bit softer, rolling recoil. A gun with a low muzzle, like a Glock and S&W M&P, tend to have more rearward thrust and a bit less muzzle lift. I've heard a lot of people say that Glocks have a bit harsher recoil than other comparable guns (Yes, I realize there is no gun comparable to a Glock.). I've noticed that myself, but it is a subtle difference to me, but I shoot a lot and pay little attention to recoil unless it's some kind of 'Bud buster' S&W .500 (i.e. Bud the moderator – you should see the pics he posted) which I absolutely will not shoot because I don’t want my head modified by a steel barrel. Bud handles the .500 nicely BTW.

    There are two aspects of recoil - actual and perceived. Actual is what the gun really does - we can't stop that. It may not bother you in the least, that has to do with perception, but it's still there and you have to deal with it. Actual recoil moves the gun from alignment; the more it moves it the more time it takes to realign so our rate of fire slows and it may degrade accuracy.

    Perceived recoil is what we think the gun did, i.e. what we felt. Some are more sensitive to recoil than others. The nature of the recoil and the sharpness of the recoil pulse affects what we feel. But, regardless of what we feel, actual recoil happens and it moves the gun whether we 'feel' it or not and it does effect our shooting profficiency.

    While no doubt recoil is moderated by weight of the gun, I have come to believe that perceived recoil has much to do with the sharpness of the recoil impulse the shooter feels. Guns with low bores, to me, seem to generate a more intense rearward recoil pulse than guns with higher bores that roll a bit more. Nonetheless, how we handle recoil will directly impact our maximum rate of fire.

    The principles for handling recoil in high performance shooting are threefold: a firm shooting position TUNED TO YOUR BODY, following the front sight all the way through recoil, and perhaps the most difficult to master, seeing what you have to see. And again, these are things I’ve learned from top shooters.

    Firm shooting position – TUNED TO YOUR BODY

    First the ‘tuned’ part. Clint Smith, Thunder Ranch, likes to say, “We’re all alike, but we’re all different.”. So we need to start with a basic position and find our natural position. What we’re shooting for (no pun intended, well maybe just a little) is a position that includes the grip, arms, shoulders, hips, legs, and feet that is our body’s natural preference for a particular task. The reason that this is important is because it directly impacts our body’s response to recoil and hence recoil recovery. Without getting into the specifics of grip, arms, etc. what the goal is, is to find that position for you such that when the gun recoils, you recover to the same position the gun was in just before the shot broke. You should not have to force the gun back in alignment. For example, suppose I happen to be slightly misaligned, i.e. not natural for me, and I fire. The gun will want to come to my body’s natural position rather than where the gun was originally aligned for the shot, because I was out of my ‘natural’ position, so I have to consciously direct the gun back into alignment. That takes a bit more time, so my rate of fire will be slower.

    Yesterday when I shot, I consciously observed how I recovered from recoil. When everything was tuned, I could see the gun coming right back on target with little conscious effort. When you get ‘in tune’ with the gun, you’ll both know it and see it. If you’ve shot a lot without paying attention to stance, etc. and you get tuned in, you’ll likely realize that your gun is back on target, but you’re not pulling the trigger. You’re waiting because you’re not use to the gun coming back on target so quickly.

    OK, the firm part. Again, yesterday, I was focusing on technique to see if I was drifting any. I normally shoot five rounds and then load a mag with five more and shoot them. I find this helps me avoid getting sloppy. I work on the principle that every shot I shoot properly helps me improve and every shot I shoot improperly is not only a waste of a bullet and time, but it has an ‘unlearning’ effect. But yesterday I knew I was going to shoot 200 rounds so to save time, I loaded 10 rounds at a time. I was shooting a B-27 at about 30 feet and trying to hit no worse than the 10 ring at a fire rate of about 1 shot per second. But, I noticed that my groups were not as tight as I usually shoot.

    I checked my stance/position, and it was good. BTW, a good way to see if you’re in that natural position is to sight in on the target, close your eyes, move your arms upward a bit as if you were in a recoil cycle, bring the gun back down and open your eyes. The gun should be centered on the target left to right; up and down will vary a bit, but if you’re following your sight all the way through recoil, the vertical will be taken care of – more on that later. So my problem wasn’t being out of position. So I shot slowly and watched the sight through recoil. That’s how I saw what was going on – the gun was recoiling way too high. I firmed up my grip and tensed my arms. The result was immediate and dramatic. The gun seemed to have little movement at all. It did of course move, but movement had been minimized and my groups were better and my rate of fire went up significantly.

    The firmness is individual, too much and you’ll tremor and/or fatigue; too little and you’ll have excess recoil and reduced shooting performance.

    Follow the front sight through recoil
    When I first learned about this, my first thought was, I won’t be able to do that – recoil is simply too fast to keep up with the sight. But I was wrong. If you’re in tune and have a firm grip and tense arms, you can readily follow the sight through recoil. I see my sight so well that even at higher firing rates, I know if a shot went left, right, high, or low. When I examine the target, it almost always confirms what I saw.

    This took some discipline and practice for me, but now I do it without thinking – perfect practice makes perfect.

    See what you have to see – the hard one
    I learned this from a book by Brian Enos. I practiced it and it works. This is really only hard in the sense that it requires thinking and decisions ‘on-the-fly’. In a nutshell it means don’t spend more time seeing than you need to but spend enough time to see what you need to, to make the shot. I told you this one was hard. Some examples perhaps: I’m at three yards doing draw and fires. First a side note about draw and fires. This assumes you’re drawing to an extended position. The goal in a draw and fire is to fire as soon as you acquire extension. Actually you can fire at any point along the way to full extension you just won’t have as good of a sight picture, but even that illustrates “see what you have to see to make the shot”. With my eyes glued to the ‘threat’, I draw – as soon as my gun comes into peripheral view, I start picking up the front sight. I’m still focused on the threat – that’s important because he may do something that requires me to make an adjustment. Just as I reach extension, my focus goes to the front sight, and my shot breaks. I am now following my sight through recoil, but am not focused on it; I am again focused on the threat – I need to know how the threat is responding. When my sight comes back onto target and IF I need to shoot again, my eye focuses on the front sight just as the shot breaks and I’m back on the threat. Takes some practice? You bet! Being a good shot takes practice. I’ve said it over and over, anybody can hit something one time, but shooting it repeatedly, rapidly, and accurately takes practice.

    Now say I’m drawing and firing at an IDPA size dinger 75 yards away. I have to see more than I did up close, or perhaps more precisely I have to see things better. I do the same that I do up close, but I take more time to align the sights. Again, I see what I need to see to make the shot.

    And one thing you don't want to try to see: A buddy that had been shooting for quite a while was having some trouble and asked me for help. I noticed that every time he shot, he'd drop the gun a bit and look at the target to see where he hit. That's a very, very bad thing to do for many reasons. Trust your sights; if you were in a gunfight, it's highly unlikely you could tell where your shots hit. Trust your sights, you can look at the target later.

    So, maybe all that’s good for pure shooting, but what about for SD? It works for that too, but it provides a base, not a total or universal solution. We may have to shoot around a corner, under a car, over a fence (although shooting ‘over’ is not real good; shooting around is better – when you shoot over something you expose a whole lot of your head which could result in a hole in your head.). But the principles are still sound. The body can ‘turret’ and ‘bend’ and shape itself in many ways and we may have to in a gunfight. So if we can’t/shouldn’t shoot from our preferred stance then shoot from what we can, and use the firm grip and tense arms, and follow the front sight through recoil to minimize recoil, maximize accuracy, and to maximize the rate of fire from whatever position we find ourselves in.

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    Distinguished Member Array dimmak's Avatar
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    Good post....

    I'd say the condensed version would read something like this:

    1. Get some pointed training from top-notch instructors.

    2. Train.

    3. Train.
    "Ray Nagin is a colossal disappointment" - NRA/ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox.


    "...be water, my friend."

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    Member Array Gary Brommeland's Avatar
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    Great stuff!!!

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    Nice post Tangle.

    Brownie
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Quick Kill Rifle and Pistol Instructor

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    Good stuf Tangle, but your headline should say get a cup of coffee and some snacks.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Ahhhh, SIXTO, just popin' in during a donut break are we? Just kiddin'.

    Hmmm, a snack...

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    Thumbs up Good Angle Tangle

    Nice Informative Thread Post.
    Especially many of our newer shooters will get some great help from it.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    Ahhhh, SIXTO, just popin' in during a donut break are we? Just kiddin'.

    Hmmm, a snack...
    Ahh cant I get a little love around here? I know I can be a PIA, but jeese!

    I am thinking up an addition to this post, I just need time for it to bounce around in my head. I have some good techniques to demonstrate this to new shooters, and break them from the flinch.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    We love ya man!

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    Thumbs up Good Angle Tangle

    Nice Informative Thread Post.
    Especially many of our newer shooters will get some great help from it.

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    QK,

    You double posted.

    You double posted.

    "Good Angle Tangle" - clever QK!

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