Let Recoil Happen

Courtesy of Rob Longenecker, an article titled “Let Recoil Happen.”

The article discusses handgun shooting and flinching. Author Ron Avery’s response? Let recoil happen.

Granted this is simplifying things, but his point is sound. Recoil is going to happen. We cannot stop recoil. As humans we don’t like these loud explosions going off just a few feet in front of our faces, and naturally we flinch, naturally we tense up trying to fight and stop the recoil. You can’t stop the recoil; the best we can do is manage the recoil. This can happen through good technique: e.g. modern isosceles stance, “nose over toes” (putting your weight on the balls of your feet, weight forward, butt sticking out), using equal and firm grip pressure but letting the rest of your body be more or less relaxed, etc.. It’s a good article on helping to manage recoil and stop flinching.

Mr. Avery briefly touches on an interesting topic:

With the trend towards smaller and lighter handguns and more powerful cartridges, I have noted an increase in flinching among students shooting these firearms. Weight is not a bad thing if it is kept in a range that allows for controllability along with ease of carry.

I’ve observed newbies shooting a Kahr (i.e. very small and lightweight handgun) chambered for .40 S&W (i.e. powerful, snappy cartridge) for the first time. Invariably the newbie shooters do not like it. Small guns are harder to control: you can’t get enough grip on them, they have less weight thus less mass to help absorb and manage that recoil. But, people want small guns because they believe that’s the only way to carry concealed, so the first gun they get and try to learn to shoot with is a small gun and inevitably it leads to a lot of frustration because they can’t shoot it well. Frustration then equates to not practicing, and not practicing well… you know what that means.

I made this mistake. I started out with a small gun. It wasn’t too bad, but upon the recommendation of a good teacher I put the gun on the shelf and bought a big full-sized gun. I’m glad I did. It was much easier to shoot a full-sized gun and consequently I learned faster, practiced more. Once I had competence with the larger gun, it wasn’t as difficult to go back to the smaller gun and be successful in shooting it because I had the technique fundamentals down. Hence my opinion that small guns are better for “advanced shooters” and beginners should stick with full-sized guns. Get through the learning curve, get a solid foundation, then move to the small gun. Besides, yes you can conceal full-sized guns.

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