Sep 10, 2015

The “F” Word, Part Two.

Previously, I tried my best to define one of the most dreaded maladies in shooting, the “FLINCH.” My narrative and observations are based on my experience, both personal and observed. I am not a scientist, nor any type of doctor, medical or psychological. I defined what I believe to be the three major types of flinch, they are: recoil induced, visual issues and competition based.

Many believe that ALL flinches are recoil induced. I don’t. But many flinches are recoil based.

If you suspect your flinch is from recoil anticipation or cumulative recoil effect, there is a process to work through. First, step away from shooting for a short time and let your brain and subconscious clear. In the interim get some light 1 oz. loads or even some 7/8’s oz. loads (I’m assuming use of a 12 gauge). Get to your range or shooting area, put up a static target on a safe background and shoot these light loads repetitively at the target. (It’s a great time to point of impact and pattern test your gun!) Do this repetitively over several shooting sessions. The idea here is to reboot your brain and convince your subconscious that these are light recoiling and pleasant to shoot loads. Then start shooting at clays with these lighter loads and with any luck, most of your problems will be behind you.

The visually induced flinch is tricky. First, check yourself for eye dominance issues.  Make sure your vision is good and/or corrected properly. This will help solve MANY visual flinches. Most visual flinches occur when the target is hard to pick out of the background or REAL fast. In these cases, actively try NOT to look hard at the target, try to track movement, or the “blur.” This goes against the grain, but when the target is hard to see, the harder you look, the more subconscious conflict you develop and that’s where the flinch comes from. Trust your sight picture and your move, keep your head down and just shoot the “blur.” It works. The reality is that you’re not going to see every target perfectly.

Last, the “competition flinch.” There are many “home remedies” for this flinch and some work. Pulling the trigger with a different part of your trigger finger, or use your middle finger, or change the trigger position, or squeeze the gun hard right before you call pull, or change your move to the target and shoot faster, or simply quit shooting for a while and then work back into it. In my experience, these all work, for a while, but then the flinch is back. If you have a serious competition flinch, I’m going to save you the years I spent trying to solve it and tell you to go to a “release trigger,” now. While I firmly believe the release trigger is the definitive solution to this problem, there are issues related to using one.

That, however, requires a more in depth discussion in my next column.