Guns. Lifting weight. Lead. Iron. Both heavy metals. Both topics for me, but rarely do I mix them.
Ed, this post is for you.
After last Saturday’s class, Ed and I (we carpooled) stopped at the Bastrop Buc-Ee’s for gas and some food. Ed asked me about ways to improve his grip.
Not really going to work for Ed. But truly, that’s what has helped me so much in my grip. When you’re holding 365# in the air, you better have a good grip. Other things have helped too, like hammer curls, and just ensuring I grip/squeeze when I’m lifting and don’t just let my fingertips barely hold on.
What it comes down to is: if you want to get good at something, you have to do that something. If you want to get good at boxing, you have to get in the ring and box. Certainly tho, you can do boxing-like things to help your boxing. For example, jog/run medium distances to bring up your endurance so you can go 12 rounds, but sprints won’t contribute a whole lot to your ring performance. So if you want to get better at gripping, you have to grip things.
That said, grip isn’t a simple thing. There’s crushing, there’s pinching, and there’s holding (supporting). There are fingers, there’s your thumb, there’s forearm muscles that work in various directions. There’s really a lot in here, but to keep the discussion focused, I’m going to look at gripping a handgun and possible ways to improve your grip on your gun to help with recoil management.
No, I’m not an expert here, nor is this any sort of training program. I’m just thinking aloud based on my knowledge and experience.
When you’re gripping a gun, you’re doing so because you need to shoot it. When you shoot it, there will be recoil. You cannot stop recoil, only manage it. There are numerous ways to help manage that recoil, and I’m going to focus on one: your grip.
I’ve read many ways about how to grip the gun. There’s the Weaver Stance with it’s push-pull dynamics. Brian Enos talks about squeezing the grip itself but with neutral “directional forces” (if you will) so the gun isn’t being pushed or pulled in any direction. Tom Givens said something to the effect of the strong/trigger hand gives a “front-to-back” squeeze and the weak/support hand gives a “left-to-right” squeeze, thus together it’s a strong “box” of inward pressure. Massad Ayoob refers to the “crush grip” where you squeeze so hard until you start shaking then back off just to the point where you stop shaking. When we teach out at KR Training, Karl Rehn came up with a nice analogy of “Homer choking Bart“.
While everyone has a different way of approaching it, it really boils down to you need to grip and grip hard.
Trouble is, when you grip hard, you can’t grip for long. Muscles will get tired, and when they get tired, your grip is going to loosen. Given this, what it tells me is two things need to be focused on for improving grip for shooting handguns: 1. strength, 2. endurance.
Note, I’m setting aside other grip issues and problems. For example, if your hands get sweaty, that’s going to make it harder to grip things. You’ll have to find some other way to manage that, but one way? Grip even harder. Point being, there are other problems one can have with their grip, like sweaty hands or gun fit issues, and those are outside the scope of this writing.
Ed mentioned to me he was working on it by taking a ball and squeezing it. I think that’s a good approach, but after a while it won’t be enough. The problem? After a while, it’s no challenge to you. You can squeeze it to death, you can hold it until you stop from boredom before exhaustion. Continuing to squeeze that ball won’t allow you to progress. Ed knew I had previously mentioned the Captains of Crush grippers, but honestly? They feel like more of an assistance exercise than a primary. That is, if you want to get good at gripping a handgun, you need to grip a handgun or what most closely resembles that (since “working out” with a gun has other safety and social issues).
The CoC grippers are very good at developing crush strength. But I’ve found it’s within a particular range of motion. It’s a… clamp for lack of a better term. Using these grippers doesn’t involve my whole hand, my whole forearm, my fingertips, my pinky — because the pinky is so heavily involved in recoil management. So, I look at grippers as more “assistance work” than main work. Nevertheless, I see much benefit in using equipment like this. First, if you can close a CoC #1 or #2 gripper? you’ve got a decently strong grip. If you can close a #3? I think you’ll be find holding on to a handgun. If you can work these, you’re still going to have a very strong crush grip, which is important. Second, these CoC grippers offer progression. Frankly, this is key.
The problem with Ed’s ball is that once he’s mastered it, what do you do next? I’m sure you can find “stronger” balls to work with, but what sort of progression is there? can you measure it? can you be certain of it? With a set like the CoC’s, you can know precisely where you are, what you’re doing, and where to go next. If the “S” is easy, move to “T”, when the “T” is easy, move to “1″ and so on. You can know what you’re doing, and you can certainly progress. Because if you want to get stronger, you have to keep working with greater resistance.
But don’t think with the grippers that you have to work on crushing the #3. How about getting the “S” model and holding it closed for 30 seconds? That’s the second part: endurance. When you shoot, you don’t draw and shoot 1, you’ll be shooting more. Take a class and how much are you shooting? If you’re shooting an IPSC or IDPA match, how long does the stage last? No, you don’t need to hold on for 5 minutes, but 10 seconds isn’t uncommon, maybe up to 20. In fact, you might consider it broken apart. Maybe you shoot for 5 seconds, run to the next position, shoot for another 5 seconds, run to the next, another 5, and so on. Maybe you could crush the gripper all the way closed, hold for 5, release for 2-3 seconds, crush and hold for 5, etc.. That is, work to replicate the conditions you’ll be shooting under. If that gets easy, move up to the next gripper.
There are also these things called the IronMind EGG. There’s lots of similar products. But here the point remains that there’s different models for different levels of resistance, and it provides more of an overall crush feel in your hands — fingertips are going to get involved. Crush it — Homer choking Bart — and hold for 20 seconds. Do this over and over. Build up the crush strength, build up the endurance. I think products like these can provide a more “handgun-grip-like” setup and thus could work better as a “primary exercise”. There are also foam grippers on the market that are more rectangular in shape, perhaps with finger grooves. That’s very similar in size and shape to a double-stack striker-fired handgun’s grip — grip it like the gun.
(Note: I’m not a shill for IronMind or CoC… just like their CoC grippers; never held their EGG product).
I will say tho, I think the biggest part of improving your grip while shooting is the mental aspect.
You just have to make the mental effort to focus on your grip.
When you are working with grippers or crush balls, you have to grip hard… then grip harder…. and harder. You are going to get tired. Muscles are going to want to relax. You must tell yourself to grip harder. You must make your muscles grip harder. It’s a mental thing. We will lose our grip without even thinking about it, so if instead you can train yourself to progressively grip harder, the hopeful end result is a maintenance of a steady grip, not a slowly loosening one. This will require you to be mentally engaged in the grip work, not just mindless crushing.
Next time you go to the range? Don’t work on drills, don’t work on your accuracy, or your speed. Work on your grip. Pick some drills like a Bill Drill. Don’t worry about the target or your speed or whatever so much (of course, do be safe, do ensure all rounds impact the backstop, etc.), just focus on your grip and crushing the hell out of the gun the whole time. Experiment with different grip strengths: maybe you crush the unholy hell out of it, maybe you back off 10%. What if you crush like hell with your support hand but have just a “good grip” with your strong/trigger hand. Does how hard you grip with your trigger-hand affect the movement of your trigger finger? Make a whole range session out of playing with your grip and focusing solely upon that topic.
When you dry fire? Do not forget to have Homer choke Bart. It’s very easy to slack on your grip when you dry fire because you know there’s no recoil. I catch myself doing this all the time. You have to make the mental effort to remind yourself to grip hard when dry firing.
After you learn a few things at the range, reassess the grip workout you do. Maybe you found “this much grip” worked, so crush the ball with that much force and hold it. Maybe you need a stronger ball or gripper. It’s going to be an iterative process.
Finally, don’t expect grip improvements overnight. Actually, you may well improve some after the “focus on your grip” range session, because now you’ve thought about it, became aware of it, and will be more cognizant of your grip when shooting. On the same token, don’t be surprised if you regress! I found as my grip strength improved, I wasn’t necessarily aware of it. That is, in my mind I was still gripping the same as I always had, but on an absolute scale I was gripping harder. Ever watch what happens to your front sight when you change how much you crush grip the gun? the sight moves. I had to readjust some other things to bring things back in line. Don’t use the changes as an excuse to back off on your grip: it’s just a way to help you find other weak points to make stronger.
And yes, you have to make a routine of this. Work on it every day. Doesn’t have to be much, maybe 10 minutes a day. Make it a constant thing. Keep a log of your work so you can see your progress.
It also don’t have to be true “exercising” of your grip. When you hold onto something, anything during your day, don’t just weakly hold it or let it roll to the end of your fingertips. Grip it. Hold it. Own it. When you feel your grip loosening, tighten up. When you feel your muscles getting tired, hang on for another 15 seconds. Again, change your mental approach to grip.
The better we can manage recoil, the better we can shoot. You don’t need awesome grip strength to defend yourself, but the more you can grip, the better you’ll be able to rack the slide, shoot longer and faster strings, and manage through classes and practice. It’s more useful to be strong than weak, so hopefully the above has given you a few ideas about how you can make your grip stronger. It won’t happen overnight, but persistence will pay off.
For those having a hissy-fit over Obama’s use of a Marine-held umbrella yesterday, I have one question.
Why is it a problem for the Commander-in-Chief to tell (order?) a Marine to hold an umbrella over his and the Turkish Prime Minister’s head? Because it breaks Marine protocol regarding umbrellas?
Then why was this Marine’s breaking of same protocol lauded, when he broke protocol on his own volition to hold an umbrella over a man to shade him?
Both are instances of breaking the very same protocol, are they not?
Maybe they aren’t. I wasn’t in the Marines, so there may be something I’m missing here.
Look, I don’t like nor respect Obama. Yeah, I think the way he handled the umbrella thing was kinda stupid, because it’s that typical attempt for Obama to try to be cool, but just comes off awkward and unfunny and arrogant. But whatever. Someone didn’t plan for the rain, someone didn’t have a tent already set up, and like any good host you take care of your guest so it makes sense to offer the Turkish Prime Minister an umbrella. And yes, the Marine had to use his right hand because otherwise it would have been more awkward and wrong to place the Marine in the middle of the picture between the two Heads of State.
Why is this even an issue? Don’t we have more important things to call Obama on? Fast & Furious? Benghazi? Spying on the Associated Press? IRS screenings? You get mad with the press or the politicians distract from real issues. Isn’t that what you’re doing by making something out of an umbrella?
Can we stop with the double-standards?
Can we focus on things that actually matter, please?
Huzzah… deload week is done.
Wendler 5/3/1 program, cycle 19, week 4
- Work Set – Press (working max: ??#)
- 2x5x45 (warmup)
- Assistance – Press
- 5 x 10 x 80
- 100 rep work – Lat Pulldowns, Front plate raise, Rope Triceps Pressdowns, Hammer Curls
All I can say is, deload week is done. Next cycle is going to be interesting because yeah… sticking with the same weights, need to get rep PR’s… else, a reset is in the cards.
Sleep more. Eat more. Lift more.
Wife is “white”, at least visually.
I am “not-white”, at least visually.
There are those who look upon Wife differently because she chose to marry a “not-white”. Some look down on her because she married “outside her race”. Some look up to her because she married “outside her race”. Regardless of which way they look at her, they look at her differently because of her choice… or rather, their perception of her choice, because they see her skin color/ethnicity/race vs. mine, see our colors don’t quite match, and thus different regard.
Either way, it’s discriminatory behavior.
It’s curious I don’t receive the same regard. I mean, I did the same thing: married someone “outside my race”. I’ve had people publicly praise Wife for her action, and when I point out I did the same thing, I watch their brain lock up and reboot because they never considered the reciprocal. Is it because I’m male? Is it because she’s “white”? Is it because racial issues (supposedly) only flow in one direction?
That’s more discriminatory behavior.
Even more curious is when people look at me, they only see the half of me that’s Asian. They don’t see that white girl married a white boy, they see white girl married “something else”. Note you can only consider me “something else” if you look at me. My name is rather “white”. My voice is rather “white”. My attitudes tend to be rather “white”. For most people, the only indication I’m “not-white” is the slight squint in my eyes, the slightly darker skin tone, and some other physical features. And somehow in the eyes of some, it’s those few features that wind up defining me — not my mind, my heart, but my squinty eyes. It’s those features that, to some, define at least part of the relationship between Wife and myself.
Why do some people only see part of me? Why did they choose to see that part, and not the other part? Or that they choose to only see part of me, and not all of me?
Again, discriminatory behavior.
I grant, ultimately this is human behavior. We’re all guilty of it. I’ve come to accept it, and in fact sometimes I like that I look different be it due to ethnic background, my long hair, or my choice of clothing — especially because my looks don’t jive with who I am versus the stereotypes and preconceived notions some people have about folks that look like I do. It offers me a chance to see how a person really is. Do they look inward at the person? Do they stop at the shell? Are they blind to race and color? Or do they view the world and everything in it through a constant filter of racism, injecting race into every matter and issue and problem in the world?
If you want people to stop caring about race, you need to stop caring about race — period. The first step is to admit your own prejudices and faults, because you probably aren’t as progressive as you think you are.
There’s a funny story here….
Wendler 5/3/1 program, cycle 19, week 4
- Work Set – Deadlift (working max: 385#)
- Assistance – Hyperextensions
- 3 x 12 x BW
- Assistance – Side Bends
- 2 x 25 x 40
- Foam Rolling
It’s deload week. Didn’t do much.
Funny story tho.
Household laundry is behind. I went looking for workout clothing… found no clean, had to dig something out of the dirty clothes hamper, which wound up being damp due to being under wet towels. *sigh* Also, found no socks, so I wore dress socks.
I was annoyed, but tried to not get too mad about it.
As I walked to the gym in my damp clothing… the sky suddenly opened up. Rain came pouring down. My clothing became a lot more damp!
Someone’s trying to remind me to keep perspective on things.
And the long dress socks were alright. Covered my shins a lot more; good for deadlifting.
This past Basic Pistol 1 @ KR Training was different, for me at least.
It was my first time as lead instructor. I’ve been an assistant instructor at KR Training for a number of years, and I’m happy in that capacity. But now I get to step up and do a little more. While the past some whiles I’ve done segments of the BP1 class, this was doing the whole thing and well… it didn’t go as smoothly as I wanted it. Others thought I did fine, and I know my critique is just me looking at myself and what I can do improve my own presentation and flow. Always looking for things I can do better.
That said, the class itself went really well.
First, the weather was perfect. It always seems the case: weather reports for rain, there’s rain Thursday or Friday, people get nervous… but then, it always clears up and is gorgeous. Rare is the Saturday class actually rained out, and often is the weather agreeable. This was a great day to be outside and on the range.
I always like reporting on demographics. This class was over two-thirds female. Had a couple mother-daughter. Had people from all walks of life, social background, ethnicity/race. I’m sorry, but the stereotype of “old white redneck guy” just isn’t the case.
This group of students was very engaged, asking a lot of questions going beyond the BP1 material. I hope to see everyone back for future classes!
I think the only bummer of the day was the fire ants. With all the recent rain, they were driven out of the dirt — mounds everywhere. Just had to tread carefully, and thankfully not too many mounds on the range.
Thank you all for coming out and entrusting us with your first steps on this journey.
Pause squats will be interesting.
Wendler 5/3/1 program, cycle 19, week 4
- Work Set – Squat (working max: 305#)
- 2x5x45 (warmup)
- 1x5x185 (paused)
- Work Set – Bench Press (working max: 240#)
- 2x5x45 (warmup)
- Assistance – DB Rows
- 2 x 25 x 45
- Assistance – Pulldown Abs (standing)
- 3 x 15 x 60
- 100 rep work – JM Presses, Face Pulls
It’s deload week, so nothing much to say. Just get in, do a little work, get blood flowing, don’t put anything too hard, and go home.
I did want to try out pause squats tho, since I’ll be adding them in next cycle. My question has been: how much to do? What’s the right weight? What’s right number of sets/reps? People have been down this road, so why not learn from their wisdom and experience, right?
(“Tiny David” asked):
Quick Question. How would you incorporate pause squatting into a 5-3-1 template?
I’ll run “boring but big” for a few more cycles so I was thinking-
Pause squats (light, but not sure reps and sets?)
Or Do some pause squats on my deadlift day?
I wouldn’t do pause squats for 10. Ever. 5 at the most. They really zap you and you have to hold your breathe in the bottom.
If you’re already doing the BBB template, I wouldn’t add more squatting to that. I’d run 531 and do pause squats after with what you used on your first set.
So on the 5 week use 65%x 5
On the 3 week use 70% x 5
On the 531 week use 75% x 3
that’s how I would do it.
So there we go. I saw a lot of Cube Method folks would do a similar thing, but maybe 3 sets of 10. One thing Paul’s reply doesn’t make clear is the number of sets, but from a subsequent comment he made, I get the feeling that 5 sets is where to go. But I could be wrong. My approach will be to strive for at least 3 sets, ideally go for 5, but if I have to work up to 5 then I do because I’d rather do 3 strong sets than 5 half-assed ones, y’know?
Thus today after my last normal set, I left the 185 on the bar and did 1 pause set of 5. My pause? Seems that’s another variable people will manipulate, but if the main point of pause squats is to lose momentum and the stretch reflex out of the hole, then I figured well… go down until I settle in, lose momentum, stay for a “still” moment, then come back up. So that was what? 2-3 seconds? That’s fine. I’m not going to count, just ensure I have come full stop, wait a sec, then back up. And I can tell with the 185 that this is going to be fun.
So long as you deny our humanity, so long as you malign our dignity, intelligence and wisdom, so long as you seek to shade us under a cloud of evil that we do not partake in or support, so long as you tell us that because we own guns we are terrible people, you will prove yourselves absolutely right in that we won’t come to the table to talk with you.
This. So very much, this.
Read the full article. It’s long, but well-written. (h/t Jon Thomas)
They want to have a “national conversation on guns”, but there’s no conversation. It’s just a lecture, a scolding. Who wants to listen to that? When someone dresses you down, how much do you listen to them? How much do you want to cooperate with them? If they call you names, tell you you’re evil, put words in your mouth… do you really want to listen to what they have to say? Are you going to be receptive to anything they propose? It has nothing to do with guns; that’s just a human reaction.
Here’s a PDF from Dale Carnegie. Just about every rule gets violated in this “conversation”, and so we’re losing friends and alienating people.
To be fair, it’s not just the anti-gun folk that are like this. I see pro-gun folk that are this way as well. I cannot stand looking at my Twitter feed because I see so much … well… asshole-ish behavior going on. Conversations in less than 140 characters is not a conversation. I see name-calling, baiting, and just general rudeness. I mean, there’s assholes in every crowd, alas they tend to be the ones creating the most jibber-jabber, thus they create the perception. This sort of behavior won’t win anyone over to our cause. There’s no attempt to educate, just more violations of Dale’s rules. Really, what Mr. Snell’s article concludes cuts both ways: that so long as pro-gun folks treat anti-gun folk in a bad way (denying humanity, maligning their dignity, intelligence and wisdom, etc.), well… they won’t come talk to us either.
We can even step back from guns. Look at abortion, LGBT equality, environment (e.g. global warming), food (GMO, etc.), race, religion (including a-religion), whatever. Ever notice how divisive things are today? How the media no longer maintains a facade of neutrality but now blatantly takes and panders to “sides”? How politicians hammer on “the other side” for being in the way of progress, instead of they themselves trying to progress? How there’s so much spitting of venom and hate? There’s so much talk of tolerance, but little is given, especially to those that don’t agree with me. It doesn’t matter the topic. So long as we deny humanity, malign dignity, shade “the other side” under a cloud of evil… we’ll never come to the table and break bread together.
If united we stand and divided we fall… then it looks like we’ve fallen, and at this rate, we’re not going to get back up. Because while our humanity is crumpled on the ground crying for help, you’d rather Instagram ‘dat shit’ and walk away laughing at the ‘dumb bitch’. We need people to put their smartphones away, give our collective humanity a humble look in the eyes, and offer it a helping hand.