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FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

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Unread 01-31-2010, 11:40 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
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FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

It is my opinion that every shooter deals with flinching at one point or another in their shooting career. I believe it follows the old maxum - There are those who flinch and those that will flinch; no exceptions.

I believe accepting and dealing with the flinches is what seperates the better shooter from the mediocre. I think the two main contributors to flinching are sound and recoil.

I believe that longer barrels help to move the sound away from the shooter and; therefore, helps reduce flinching. That is why I'm not a fan of muzzel brakes. I think they can damage hearing (regardless of protection) and that the extra/louder sound contributes to flinching. In my competative shooting, I've experienced the difference in sound between a 22" barrel versus a 24". Even though my Light Varmint benchrest rifle cannot exceed 10.5 lbs, I prefer a longer smaller contour barrel to a short heavy contour. I sincerely believe that moving the sound an extra inch away from my ears makes a difference.

Recoil. I subscribe to the notion that shooting the lightest bullet needed to perform the job helps avoid flinching. We all need to practice our shooting to become proficient and accurate. Regardless of our physical size, I believe repetative shooting of cannons will increase the likelyhood of flinching compared to a lighter caliber. I know you can add a muzzle brake that will substantially reduce the recoil of the big bores; however, you then dramatically increase the sound and that can cause flinching.

These are my thoughts based upon my experience in competitve shooting and hunting situations. What are your thoughts on flinching and how do you deal with this problem when it creeps into your shooting?

I'm open to all thoughts and suggestions; however, I will never be convinced certain shooters/hunters never flinch - it is just as much a part of shooting as the yips are in golf. If you don't think you ever flinch, have a friend stand behind you during a practice session and let you know when you are flinching. It will be a very enlightening experience. If you acknowledge flinching and work to minimize it, your shooting will improve.

Just my 2-cents.
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Unread 01-31-2010, 11:58 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
Posts: 3,830
Re: FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

While I have flinched in the past, it is not something I have dealt with for some number of years. I think alot of it has to do with the fact that I also shoot alot of competetive archery. I use a trigger that I cant control. The trigger fires when it is darn good and ready forcing me to focus on the shot. It is not possible to yank or punch the trigger. Since there is no anticipation of the shot, there is no flinch. If you use a trigger that you control then your thoughts begin to focus on the trigger and NOT the shot. When you focus on the shot and NOT the trigger, there is no flinch and if there is, it happens long after the bullet or arrow is on the way. I apply the same principals to rifles. Even though I have total control of the trigger, I focus soley on the shot by focusing on the target and visualizing mentaly the bullet striking the center of the target. When I am not shooting I menatly visualize shooting where I am totally focused on the target, the rifle fires and recoils as planned with no reaction from me whatsoever. The fact that I shoot alot and alot of archery, when I am behind the rifle I dont ever even remember squeezing the trigger. I consciencely touch and feel the trigger and begin focusing on the target. I focus so hard with a bow or a rifle that if my own mother walked infront of me I'd kill her. Once this focus takes place, I dont even know the rifle went off until long after the bullet left the muzzle nor do I have any conscience memory of squeezing. the shot just happens.

To periodically test myself to make sure I have not developed a flinch and have not realized it, I will set up next to the biggest boomer on the range. When I am all focused on my target and his big gun goes BOOOOM, I find out real quick how I am doing. When I had not had those opprotunities, I would every so often load a dummy round. I would forget all about it and chamber it like any other round. Click and no boom. Again, I find out real quick how I am doing. Shooting alot also helps but NOT with big rifles. I shoot alot with my 308 which is very soft on the concusion and the shoulder. I have never developed a flinch with my 308's. My 338 Edge is a light rifle and kicks rather hard. The bottom line here is I dont shoot alot of rounds with it in any one day. It also has a muzzle break and to allieviate the problem with the big blast and concusion, the ports are angled forward. Dry firing with a spent case a few times before the session helps as well.

Hope that helps!
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (how bad your last shot was, how big the group is going to be, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.

Last edited by Michael Eichele; 02-01-2010 at 12:05 AM.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 08:36 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 446
Re: FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

Flinching is all in your head.You just got to tell yourself"It's not going to hurt me".If your rifle does,do something about it.New recoil pad,break or whatever.Practicing this and shooting a lot helps your mind to believe it.I've been shooting a lot the past couple of years with several different rifles,really trying to shoot small groups working up new loads for them and in doing this you cannot flinch or you will blow your group.Most of these rifles have a Limbsaver recoil pad on them and even the 300 Win Mag will not hurt me.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 10:10 AM
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Location: Montana
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Re: FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

The "flinch" is a result of shot anticipation. If you consciously "pull" the trigger then you will flinch on the pull. This in the archery world is called "punching" the rigger. If the trigger is truly squeezed until it goes off then the projectile is launched unconsciously. It is not physically possible to flinch at the sound, and effect the shot. If the shooter is flinching at the shot, due to the shot, not anticipation, then projectile is gone before the physical flinch takes place. To shoot well it has to be done subconsciously. There is a time delay between what we see, and pulling the trigger. Trying to pull the trigger at the same moment that the cross hair is centered is not possible.

Just my .02

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Unread 02-01-2010, 02:01 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
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Posts: 109
Re: FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

dry fire, dry fire, dry fire then for good measure dry fire a couple of more times
what i like to do while at home is set up so i can see a tree or something through my scope (first i triple check i am unloaded and that i don't even have any live rounds any were near me)also i pick a spot my nabors will not be able to see me and while dry firing i will be watching were the shot releases trying to have it break right on a twig or something really small(the smaller the better as then it is easier to see if you were off). that way i have been able to identify and eliminate several flinches that have developed. at the range i will bring my 22lr and when i throw a shot i will take a break and shoot a couple of mags through that then go bake to my big gun, also i will you guessed it dry fire.
there is always something to learn
Russ M
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Unread 02-01-2010, 02:47 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Central PA
Posts: 825
Re: FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

+1 to the dry fire dry fire dry fire i also do this and in the same manner as him i will lay down in my basement and have the door open and practice fireing on things outside. Plus i always use hearing protection and sometimes use earplugs and earmuffs because the noise can cause a flinch. I however do not use hearing protection when hunting because i cant remember ever shooting at a animal and saying afterwords that the shot was loud. Normally i dont even hear it.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 03:22 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Timber Lake, South Dakota
Posts: 306
Re: FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

+2 Dry fire!!! I'm a firm believer that if you expect to shoot competition whether it be USPSA multi-gun or High power or whatever, you need to dry fire more than you live fire.
I was training a new deputy once (he was a Glock shooter) and he couldn't get his 25yd groups inside of a fifteen in circle. Sometimes he was off paper! I could actually see the flinch as he anticipated the recoil. I decided to play a game with him. (I'm somewhat of a bully) I loaded his pistol and gave it back to him. I advised him that there was a dummy round in there. (there wasn't yet) and if he flinched I was going to punch him in the upper thigh. I loaded five rounds for him and he put all five in a four inch circle.
Flinching is something you do consciously and it can be controlled.

After showing him the difference, I explained what happened to him. I started adding at least one dummy load and not telling him how many rounds total were in the gun. His groups shrunk nicely and in no time he was shooting four inch groups off hand with his Glock consistently.
Once we mastered the 25yd line, we moved the target back to more reasonable and practical fighting distance.
You have to have the basics down before you can expect to go any farther. Anyone I know who shoots serious competition (not once a month at the local range) dry fires a lot.

Good luck
Indian Country Lawman
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