tHE PERFECT PISTOL SHOT
Let's return to a familiar topic before everyone gets their Christmas guns. No single marksmanship fault impacts as many shooters as improper grip. In my book, The Perfect Pistol Shot (Amazon) I discuss the elements of a good grip, and in this blog, on several occasions, we have discussed the need for a light grip. But let's take another look at grip solely from the standpoint of pressure. How much pressure is really needed? To begin, we have to know the reasons for applying pressure to a handgun, or any object for that matter. The purpose is allow the firearm to be held in the hand and adjusted for the purpose of sighting and operation. We don't want to drop the handgun, right? But we don't want to drop cell phones, babies, or pencils either. Do we hold an 8 pound babe as if he weighs 100 pounds? If we do, we'll rightly go to prison for murdering a child. Our cell phones are held lightly because if we squeeze them tightly they will shake and make it difficult to use the key pad. In other words, we only use enough pressure to hold the object in place. Someone will scream about recoil at this point but recoil management has very little to do with the hands. Recoil is the direct rearward force from the explosion of the round. It is the shooter's body that manages recoil not the hands. Bad posture exaggerates recoil but that has nothing to do with the hands. How much pressure does a 40 oz. handgun need to hold it in place? About 40 oz. Any pressure applied to an object beyond what is necessary to hold that object will be dispersed through movement. Energy is movement. Extra energy, that is energy not absorbed by the task of holding weight, will be shed in the form of extraneous movement. This applies to every human being and physical object in the universe. If a man grips an aircraft carrier and squeezes with all his might the ship will not move but the man will shake violently. If the man over-grip a handgun, the gun will shake. People outweigh guns and therefore the majority of extraneous energy is dispersed by the lighter firearm. I have instructed more shooters than I can count and I have never seen over-grip improve a single shooter, but I have seen hundreds of shooters improve accuracy by lightening their grip. There's no argument here. The less you impose yourself on your handgun the less movement and negative influence you will experience.
So how much pressure should you use when gripping your handgun? Only enough to keep the weapon in place between shots and not one ounce more.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Many new shooters complain of sight-wobble while aiming; they can't keep their sights still. That's good, actually, because the only people who don't have to contend with sight wobble are people who are dead. If you have a working circulatory system, respiration, muscle and nerves, your sights are going to move during aiming. So how do fire that perfect pistol shot? (Aside from purchasing a copy of my delightful and educational book The Perfect Pistol Shot.) We minimize and control:
Minimize by using a light grip. Any pressure beyond what is necessary to hold the weapon in the hand during shooting is excessive pressure. Excess pressure becomes movement. This is true in every human action using muscle. If you squeeze your cell phone very hard your cell phone will tremble. If you push against a building with all your strength the building won't move but your whole body will shake. Any pressure beyond what is necessary to hold the handgun will be dispersed through barrel movement because you outweigh the handgun. Think about it. Squeezing the grips doesn't control recoil, body positioning controls recoil. Shoulders past hips. We've discussed recoil many times in this blog and in the book. Don't think over-grip does anything good.
Control sight wobble by allowing the front sight to move in a very slight figure 8 pattern. My personal preference is a vertical 8 for handguns and a horizontal 8 for rifles but it doesn't matter. The main point is to have the intersection of the figure 8 at the exact point of where you want the front sight to be during firing. The goal is the smallest figure 8 possible. Training will reduce wobble and your figure 8.
Physical fitness improves blood flow, heart rate, and muscle control. The better shape you're in the less wobble you will have to contend with. Old guys needs to walk and work their arms to keep themselves shooting fit.
Wobble is natural and does not indicate shooter problems beyond the need for fundamental marksmanship skills.
A couple night ago, Fox News Channel's Megan Kelly (cute as a bug) told her audience that at least one of the San Bernardino murderers engaged in "dry-fire." Kelly explained that experts said dry-fire was shooting a gun without bullets in order to "train the mind to kill." Dry-fire is indeed the practice of pressing the trigger on an empty weapon while sighting on a target. This practice is wide spread and well established within competitive and traditional military shooting. Olympic shooters and local target enthusiasts engage in dry-fire because it allows the shooter to more easily spot flaws because there is no disruptive discharge and recoil. Wherever the front sight is when the firearm goes "click" is where the shot would have gone. I do not expect any news organization to have an army of fact checkers nearby with expertise in all areas but this error is one that could have been caught with a 30 second internet search. We must remember Bill O' Reilly thinks fully automatic rifles are on sale at gun shows for instant purchase (despite being corrected on-air) and MSNBC commentators want police to "shoot to wound," like Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. Yee-Ha! When it comes to guns, everybody is comfortable giving an opinion because it is a an area of interest that has been on the periphery of American consciousness since our founding and too many "experts" within the field are camouflage pants wearing, kill-or-be-killed, gun nuts. So say what you want, wing it. If your brother-in-law took a criminal justice class at the local community college, he's probably a firearms expert.
Winter is coming. Every firearm needs maintenance including proper cleaning, a light coat of oil on exposed machined surfaces, and a good wipe down with a silicon rag or glove. Just because you're not shooting doesn't mean you have no maintenance responsibility. Firearms are uniquely inanimate objects that require husbandry. Don't let moisture eat your guns, and don't expose them unnecessarily to severe temperatures. You wouldn't store Granny's antique dinning room table in a deep freeze, don't do it to your Model 70 either.
The book is coming. I'm finally very pleased with completeness of the text. The book covers about a three week defensive training course. You can read more about it on the www.practicsusa.com web site.
I'd like to thank readers for the continued success of The Perfect Pistol Shot. Its been out for a full 4 years and it still sells well enough. There's a lot of shooting books available and I'm mindful that there's always some risk in buying a book. Thanks, I appreciate the readership.
Albert League is a former Marine Corps and law enforcement firearm instructor who consults on a variety of security topics. He is the founder of the Practics firearms defense system and author of the Practics book series.(www.practicsusa.com)