Originally Posted by kfrye
What is the proper technique to avoid flinching? I find myself anticipating the shot occassionaly and ruining what would otherwise be a good group. Is this just a mental thing that I should try and shoot through with correct technique, or are equipment modifications in order (lighter trigger pulls)?
Yes it is more mental than anything (albiet a crisp clean 2.5-3# trigger ussually helps a bit). Anticipation comes from thinking about the trigger rather than aiming.
First off a rifle should not cause physical harm to your body. If it does, tame the beast with a better stock, pad, brake, add more weight. Any or all of the above. If it cannot be tamed enough, use a smaller cartridge.
Once you set it up so that repeated firing does not cause bodily harm then you can condition the mind (the mental part of shooting). First before firing, consciencly think to your self that the rifle will not cause you any harm and that there is no need to anticipate the shot. This sets the tone for your focus. Put 100% of your conscience mind into mental and visual focus while on target as you begin to squeeze. It will take some conscince effort at first to get on the trigger but once youre there, regain focus on aiming and only aiming. The shot should be a suprise. Reinforce in your mind after the shot that the shot didnt hurt or intimidate you in any way. Your conscience mind can only perform one task at a time. Focus on aiming and let your subconscience execute the shot. This way you wont anticipate the trigger, recoil or anything else. Info on training the subconscience is in the last paragraph.
For a very stuborn case of trigger panic have a friend go to the range with you and have him load the rifle for every shot while you are not watching him. Have him load some and not load some at other times. He might leave it unloaded several times in a row or he might load every other shot ect....The key here is to not know whether or not the rifle is going to fire. If you think it is loaded and it dry fires and you flinch, you will feel that mistake more than if it fired. You can reinforce in your mind that "next time you will make a better shot." NEVER say things like "why do I always do that" or anything else that reinforces the mistakes you make. Pretty soon you will start to not flinch. The goal here is not to fire a bullet rather the goal is to execute the shot. The bullet will launch. Let the rifle and bullet do its job and you do your job.
You can practice doing your "job" by dry firing a few times at the range just before actuall shooting and by doing the dry fire practice that others have recomended. Personally I prefer to dry fire on occasion with my eyes closed so that I can focus 100% on executing a perfect shot. When you do this you make muscle memory and train your subconscience to control the trigger. When this occurs then when you are shooting, the trigger will just happen by subconscience effort thus allowing you to focus 100% on aiming. By dwelling on the trigger you will always maintain some form of trigger panic. By training and maintaining your subconscience to work the trigger, you will never suffer from trigger panic.