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How do I train myself to not flinch?

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by BillyDa59, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. BillyDa59

    BillyDa59 King County, WA Member

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    So I was reading through another post on the forums discussing flinch with high power rifles and this reminded me that I have a pretty bad flinch when it comes to shooting some of my favorite guns.

    Its worst when I shoot the Mosin Nagant. I'm sure plenty of you all know this same story. After the first shot, I begin to wince as I steadily apply more pressure on the trigger. Sometimes, I can't even convince my fingers to budge. Its so unfortunate that the learning mechanism of association kicks in when shooting. It conditions the mind to realize that pulling the trigger is going to result in a vicious beating. There's got to be someway to break this association.

    What should I do to train myself to not flinch? This is probably the worst part of my marksmanship technique. Although I guess a Mosin would be a good gun to learn on, given its 200 lbs trigger.
     
  2. teflon97239

    teflon97239 Portland, OR Well-Known Member

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    I've noticed new (and experienced) pistol shooters yanking the pistol down on shot #7, with a 6-shooter, anticipating recoil.

    A good way to overcome that with a revolver is to mix up a random load of magnums with standard velocity and spent rounds. Practice squeezing slowly and become accustomed to holding the sights on target no matter what happens (or doesn't) when the hammer falls.

    Is there some way you could get an accomplice to surprise you in some similar way with your rifle? Experiencing a flinch reaction for no reason helps the mind process that as an un-needed quirk - and eliminate it. You have to go one shot at a time if you do it with a semi, but the surprise is worth it.

    Bring a pal and try it with your rifles. The leap in accuracy is very fulfilling and helps build consistent trigger habits.
     
  3. longcolt

    longcolt Zephyrhills, FL Active Member

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    What I always to is go back to the fundamentals. I grab my 22 rifle and put enough rounds through it until I cure the problem and feel comfortable shooting with little recoil. Then I will work my way back up to the stronger recoiling rifles. I find that a heavy trigger pull may contribute to a flinching issue since you may tend to focus too much on the trigger and when is it going to release. If you have a lighter trigger pull you will not know when the gun is going to fire if you just start your squeeze and let it happen.

    Same drill for me with the handguns. I will drop back to a smaller caliber that I can control without flinching and then move back up the caliber chain when I feel I am ready.

    Its good not to have too many cups of coffee before heading to the range also. I have used light reloads as a way to handle the stress of long term shooting sessions with my 45 acp, 45 long colt and other larger handgun calibers.

    Its a common problem and I am sure all of us have faced it several times over the years.
     
  4. longcolt

    longcolt Zephyrhills, FL Active Member

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    An ex marine buddy of mine always says to just put brass in your rifle and practice dry firing until you are comfortable. You can then alternate live rounds with prefired rounds to see if you are still doing the flinch jump.
     
  5. Redcap

    Redcap Lewis County, WA Well-Known Member

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    Shoot more.
     
  6. Kaltbluter

    Kaltbluter Eugene Member 2015 Volunteer

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    ^^Never a bad idea.
     
  7. Key-Hay

    Key-Hay North Carolina Active Member

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    Had a buddy who was shooting his S&W 629 44 Mag on one of our target shoots in the woods. His first shot was right on target. Shot 2 was at the bottom of the paper. 3 thru 6 hit the ground below the target.

    I took 4 targets and set them about 5 feet apart from each other and numbered them. I told him to reload and point the revolver between 2 and 3. I then told him I would yell out a number and he would shoot it. His next 6 rounds hit in the target circle and no flinching!

    He asked why he wasn't flinching anymore and I told him I wasn't giving him time to think about it. The hardest distance to deal with in shooting is the that distance between your ears.

    Acquire and Fire!!!
     
  8. spitball

    spitball Steilacoom Member

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    As long as the gun isn't a rimfire cartridge Dry fire, dry fire, dry fire! I used to shoot on one of the WA. National Guards Hi Power Rifle Team back in the 80's. Our coach Dennis S. used to short load our weapons (M1 Garands) with 2, 4 or maybe 7 rounds and stand behind us with a cleaning rod. Bang..bang..bang...click! if the muzzle of your rifle moved he would hit you with the cleaning rod :) He also preached that you have "one gun". I carried a Lew Horton, snub .44 mag revolver but shot 1911's on the Combat Pistol Team. He ordered me to stop shooting the .44 and in a very short time my scores improved because I stopped "healing" the .45 like it was a fire breathing N Frame. The other thing is never "pop off rounds" I was a CATM Instructor for several years and one thing I learned was that men spend there entire life shooting their fingers, cap guns, bb guns and video game controllers. When they finally pick up a real gun they have already trained their brain and muscles to shoot poorly and flinch. This is why it is generally much easier to train females to shoot well since they don't have to unlearn bad habits. Black powder also teaches/forces you to shoot well because for one thing you only have one shot and the other is you occasionally have to wait a second or two for the powder to ignite. You have to hold still until you see the smoke, otherwise it will spit on you when you look down the barrel to see why it didn't go off :) This is also why they were called "flinCH locks". One more thing and I'll stop pontificating....flinching is also a symptom of magnum fever. If you know your weapon is going to kick you in the face, apply the scope to your skull like a cookie cutter and then suck out your eye like an oyster on the half shell (I used to have a .458 Win Mag) you might want to get a .22 adapter or start reloading lighter rounds.

    "Happiness is a warm, belt fed weapon"
     
  9. hermannr

    hermannr Okanogan Highlands Well-Known Member

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    How do you train yourself not to flinch? Shoot a lot of .22. Concentrate on watching for the muzzle flash. If you see the muzzle flash, you are not flinching, if you don't that flash, you are flinching..

    OK, now, next thing is really good shooting muffs..if you still flinch, add ear plugs. So now you are shooting with earplugs and muffs, then add a really nice recoil pad to the stock, make sure the pull is exactly right for you, and teach yourself to hold the weapon in tight to your shoulder. When your Mosin fells like shooting that .22 you corrected your flinch with, you will not have a problem any more.

    The noise is a really big factor some people don't even think about. first, Suppress that noise as much as you can, and see how much that helps. Next thing is the stock and recoil pad.

    example: M14s are good rifles that I do not like to shoot, and never have really shot well. Ya, shooting expert with the M14 in the Army is not shooting really well, OK? You can miss quite a few targets and still shoot expert. I'm not sure if it was that metal butt plate, or the noise, and flash, from the flash suppressor, or all of the above...but I have never liked the M14. Back then we did not use ear plug when we shot (in the Army anyway). They wanted you to hear the commands.

    Anyway, I personally have a beautiful Rem 700 in .264 Win Mag that I notice no flinch with (and my shooting with it shows I am not flinching)...difference (for me) Earplugs AND muffs, a really nice recoil pad, and a pull that fits me perfectly.

    That is the way I see it.
     
  10. spitball

    spitball Steilacoom Member

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    Good point Herrmanr, now that you mention it I just bought a Hi Standard R101, .22 revolver. I swear it is the loudest gun I ever fired besides the Ma Deuce ;) I shoot low with it but my son and best friend shoot dead on and don't want me to touch the sights. I am going to try your "plugs and muffs" idea.

    "Nothing spells CROWD CONTROL like a mark 19"
     
  11. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    This target helped solve some issues that I had when shooting a pistol.
    Hope it helps.
     
  12. 10 Spot Terminator

    10 Spot Terminator Central Oregon Member

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    Sounds like we need to start with the Nagant. Trigger pull is a big part of flinch and if the trigger is poor the flinch gets "real good" ! Improving the trigger on a Mosin costs between 5 to 10 bucks and can be done easily in about a half hour including polishing the trigger, using a simple shim to shorten the trigger pull and replacing the trigger return spring . Just google up You Tube Mosin trigger job and you will see how easy it is. As for the actual jerk ( flinch ) you can practice dry firing your rifle while balancing a dime on the barrel while shooting. This is sniper training 101 . Best done with a friend to spot for you while doing this as you wont start out keeping the dime on the barrel. Keep your eye open and on the target while firing . Call out the point where you saw the sights in relation to the target when your brain registered the click. Concentrate on keeping the sights on the target when the hammer falls . This is called follow through. Any decent Archer can tell you about this as well as a good pistolero . No different with a rifle , just a different weapon. How you hold the rifle and brace it insofar as your rest matters as well. Try to get your rest up well off of the deck so you are setting upright as much as possible so the rifle is in good position on your shoulder and your face is comfortable on the buttstock. make sure your forearm is rested well back from the end simulating where your hand would be and if at all possible if this is to be a hunting rifle hold the forearm where you would normaly if standing upright in the field. If you have the dry fire tecnique down you are ready to shoot. Concentrate on the sight being on target when you hear the click. Let the noise come as a surprise. There is a recoil pad for the Mosin as well for about $14.00 available on e-bay you may try as well. You control the weapon, the weapon does not control you, just tell yourself this over and over again. Pretty soon will actually believe it .
     
    Bigfoot and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Misterbill

    Misterbill Yakima County, Washington New Member

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    I wish I had some helpful info for ya. For a pistol shooter I could, For a rifleman, I have no help at all because I simply haven't run into it.

    Flinch is the least common of errors I see among rifle shooters. CHECK GOOGLE, BECAUSE i HAVE NO DOUBT THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE WHO HAS DETAILED YOUR SPECIFIC PROBLEM AND SOLVED IT. -Probably with a video.
     
  14. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Clack Co. OR Well-Known Member

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    Like any other bad habit it's a learned response and you have to learn a different one which takes repetition.

    Put a Limbsaver recoil pad on the Mosin. I have one on a 300 mag that weighs under 7lbs loaded. IT DOESN'T KICK. I can shoot magazine after magazine and get ZERO pain and no soreness later.
     
  15. oknow

    oknow amboy wa. Well-Known Member

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    like mentioned by Bigfoot get a limb saver or learn to hand load and lighten the charge if not that then use a 20 lb sandbag in front of your shoulder flinch cured if it's caused by the kick
     
  16. jonn5335

    jonn5335 Longview Active Member

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    And then shoot some more. You need to squeeze the trigger and hold your dominate eye as wide open as possible and know that your rifle is going to kick and make some noise
     
    Redcap and (deleted member) like this.
  17. Trailboss

    Trailboss Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Lock yourself and four hungry timber wolves in a box car. You're allowed a rubber chicken to swing about as your only form of defense. After two days and if you survive, your nerves will be so shot, you'll never flinch again. In fact, you won't care about anything, you'll just sit and stare. :winkkiss:
     
  18. oknow

    oknow amboy wa. Well-Known Member

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    not to be contrary with a lot of people on the board but how many times do you have to get hit with a 10 lb. sledge hammer before you don't mind getting hit by a 10 lb. sledge hammer or after a short while do you run if you see a 10 lb. sledge hammer coming your way
     
  19. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    This hits the nail on the head. Especially the closing statement of empathy. The sledgehammer analogy offered later is also spot-on.

    As a shooter for 53 of my 57 years, I am comfortable and confident enough in my masculinity and skin to admit that I did become (and still am) a chronic flincher. Once learned (at least in any case I am aware of, including my own), it cannot be shaken. It CAN be mitigated. It can be mitigated and managed enough to become even a respectable competitor.

    The return to fundamentals, and fundamentally recoilless firearms is the key. Rimfires are the beginning of salvation. Only then graduate to a centerfire .22: this gives you the noise and a hint of recoil with no pain. Work up from there. The worst you can do is pick up the sledgehammer prematurely.

    For those of us who can remember the original Star Trek, reciting this mantra (from Mr. Spock) has been helpful to me not only in the fight against flinch, but the fight against any extreme discomfort, including that caused by disease, emotion, or injury:

    "Pain...is a thing of the mind. The mind....can be...controlled. Therefore, pain...can be...controlled." (Pauses included to reflect how Mr. Spock recited it when faced with excruciating pain.)

    I will add here a recognition of thankfulness toward the period we are now in: Dads (and Uncles and Grandpas) who are cultivating the new generation to the shooting sports have absolutely no excuse to raise a generation of chronic flinchers such as myself. My affliction I am certain is entirely the result of my first deer rifle: a Winchester M94 30-30, steel curved buttplate, and the very-often 170g cartridges my father picked up at pawn shops and second-hand stores. My second deer rifle shares the responsibility: a .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen, with very often 220g cartridges obtained from the same sources. Recoil pad? Hmpf. Maybe a rolled up GI wool glove under a tshirt: but only on the range the weekend before season. I remember my eyes welling up in tears, and yet my love of shooting and love for my father compelled me to pull the trigger once more (pre-Mister Spock's guidance).

    Today's mentors have a wealth of good economical non-recoiling centerfire rifles with which to raise a generation of shooters who NEVER flinch.
     
  20. Silver Hand

    Silver Hand Southern Oregon Coast Well-Known Member

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    I have never had this problem with a long gun and I shoot several that blur my vision when they go off.
    What I did notice wile firing big bore pistol was I flinched and I did not want to, so why - what was the reason.
    For myself it was trigger pull the .44 mag had a trigger that would not give, so I was compensating by pulling it. Already off target and making it worse by knowing exactly when the action was complete.
    I got over it by leaving a chamber MT and not knowing which it was.
    Doing a trigger job made me forget about it once and for all.
    Silver Hand