On Wrists and Recoil
Ahab has a piece on grip and recoil management. This has been one of the things I’ve been focusing on heavily in my practice. I can tell you without question it makes a huge difference. You go around enough and you find various suggestions on just how tightly to grip, and you should certainly try them all. I have, and I’ve found that nothing gives me greater recoil management and faster follow-up shots than griping hard.
I wanted to add a few things on wrists and grip.
- Whenever you grab your gun, always grip it hard. The biggest place to work on this is during dry-fire practice. We might slack on the grip because in dry-fire there is no recoil to manage. But by always gripping hard every time you grip your gun you 1. build up the grip strength, 2. get your body in the habit of “grip gun, grip hard” so that it’s just natural to grip hard. If you get in the habit of gripping weak, you may grip weak when you least want to.
- Make sure you engage all of your fingers, especially your pinky. How do we hold something delicate, like a champagne flute? with pinky extended. How do we hold something we need to keep a hold of, like swinging a hammer? with our full hand and all our fingers. Try it right now. Ball your fingers in a fist and clench. Now really concentrate on adding your pinky into that clench and you’ll likely find yourself gripping just a bit harder.
- On that notion, an interesting concept from my empty-hand martial arts study is the notion of “ki finger” (or maybe also called “ki grip” or “ki finger grip”). Watch the video embedded in that post. How that looks like your strong/shooting hand, eh? Believe it or not, you can actually exercise a great deal of your grip strength from your last 3 fingers and can almost ignore your index finger freeing it to do other things, such as work a trigger. The upshot here, when you’re thinking about your grip, experiment with focusing your grip on just your last 3 fingers (middle, ring, pinky) and grip hard with just them. It may or may not work for you, but it’s worth experimenting with.
- Always work to improve your grip. This doesn’t mean just when you grip the gun but any time you grip anything. This may not be gripping something hard, but at least ensuring a good grip. For instance, if you carry your groceries in sacks with handles, don’t let the handles droop to the end of your fingertrips — have a fully closed grip. If your grip is starting to fail, of course don’t sacrifice your groceries, but try to hold onto things as long as you can. Your muscles will work long after your brain says to stop, so hang on a bit longer to increase the muscle strength and endurance. If you want, throw in some wrist curls with the groceries too.
- Use it or lose it. If you want to develop the wrist strength, you must continually do so. To perhaps work on it today then not again for weeks isn’t going to develop anything except a poor work ethic. If you work on it for a while then give it up, you will likely lose some of the developed strength and endurance because now your muscles lack that increased workload. Our bodies like to maintain a state of “only what it needs” (efficency), so if it doesn’t need phonebook tearing wrist strength it won’t maintain that on its own. You must work to maintain it.
- As for specific exercises, there are many things you can do. Google is your friend.