The F_ _ _ _ _ Word: Flinching

The Cure, Give Me The Cure
The cure is much easier said than done. First of all, you need to raise your hand and admit that you do indeed flinch. You can do this in a dark room or closet if it helps. The admission, much like being an “excessive social drinker” (alcoholic), is your first step. Hi, I’m Joe and I flinch...

Second, break out a small caliber rifle from the gun cabinet and practice dry firing 50-100 rounds a day over the next two weeks. Some of you may even want to use an accurate 22 rimfire. Don’t laugh; I’ve seen shooters flinch when using a rimfire! The destination is all that matters, not how we got there. Note: be sure the crosshairs remain on the target after the trigger breaks. Practice a smooth and almost subconscious trigger squeeze while FOCUSING intently on the target.

Take the rifle to the range and from the bench shoot four, 5 shot groups, focusing intently on the target, just like your dry fire practice. The thought process should go something like this: aim, touch the trigger and say, “I’m in control of when the rifle fires.” Maintain pressure on the trigger and repeat the same “mantra”. Do this several times while in your “natural respiratory pause” prior to shooting.

YOU are indeed who will decide when the rifle will fire. When the brain tries to intervene, stop and start the process over. If the 8 pound rifle is calling your bluff, get up from the bench take a few deep breaths, puff up your chest and have another try. We are looking for “Control over the Rifle.” You are the “ALPHA Male.” You can do this!
We must lock out the thought process that the noise and recoil are going to hurt us. We’ve been conditioned (brainwashed) for years that it’s going to hurt and be very loud when we pull/yank the trigger. This has become a programmed response in our shooting. DO IT QUICK AND GET IT OVER WITH is no longer in our vocabulary.

Our aiming focus should be so intense as to burn a hole in the target; nothing else should intervene. If it does, start over again! We are now subconsciously compressing the trigger while intensely focusing on the target, and before we realize it the gun has fired! Whew!!! We did it, the gun fired as if on its own and the bullet hit the 10 ring. That wasn’t bad was it? Now, do it over again for the remaining 19 shots, being honest with yourself as to when and who decided when the gun fired? Was it you, or did the brain sneak in and take control? Don’t cheat, there is nothing to be gained by cheating.

When you can shoot 20 rounds without a hitch from the bench, it’s time to shoot prone from your pack or bi-pod. Past experience has told us how well the rifle shoots from the bench. Now it is up to us to do the same from the prone position. Use the same focus and aiming intensity as you did from the bench. Nothing changes. Do a few dry runs for practice. Did the crosshairs jump off target when the trigger broke? Hmm?? Was the brain involved? Were you in control of the rifle? Be honest. Progress cannot be made if we are cheating. When we can shoot to the same degree of accuracy prone as from the bench, we have made some serious progress in overcoming our affliction.

We can now move up in caliber, (if we drew the coveted dinosaur tag in South Dakota) but do so gradually, the brain is going to be harder to fool. It remembers the noise and recoil from the Remington Ultra Mag. We may not be able to do two things at once, but the brain does have a memory as to what happened the last time we shot the RUM. That Weatherby eye tattoo will be hard to forget. Dry fire and practice holding the trigger squeeze with a loaded round in the chamber, building control over WHO is going to decide WHEN the gun fires. Fire two to three rounds and go back to shooting your lighter recoiling rifle. DO NOT burn 20 rounds thru the big cannon and ruin the progress we’ve made over the past few weeks. A gradual build-up is required to overcome the increased recoil and cranial intervention.

It will take weeks to overcome a bad flinch, enabling you to shoot to your rifle’s potential. Be patient, be honest, and don’t get in a hurry. Don’t blow your progress by shooting your friend’s new wonder magnum. Watch him and remind him that the recoil appears to be mild (tisk tisk). You’ve spent a lot of money and time training yourself to overcome the flinch; do not let peer pressure set you back. Cowboy up and maintain your discipline!
Precision shooting is a perishable skill. Continue your dry fire practice sessions and range shooting of 20 rounds per outing. Perfect practice is far more important than vast numbers of rounds expended down range. Continued shooting beyond your control count will only result in the BRAIN getting in the way and destroying your progress. Its like being “B slapped” in the face, you may take the first one without blinking, but guaranteed after the 10th, you’ll be anticipating the pain and noise, and both eyes are going to slam shut before being hit. Any takers?

Shooting is a personal sport, and we judge our success based on our peers. It’s nice to be on top and have the best score of the day, staying there takes lots of practice and acknowledging your shortcomings. You may not want to admit to your friends that you flinch, and that’s fine. But when you look in the mirror or go to sleep at night and you know you have a problem, seek the solutions listed above. Your only other option is a frontal lobotomy and we can discuss that in a future article.

Until then, be safe and in control.


Darrell Holland

Darrell Holland is a Custom Riflesmith and designer of Advanced Reticle Technology in Leupold, Schmidt & Bender and NIGHTFORCE rifle scopes. Darrell offers an intense 4 day shooting school that is ideal for long range hunters and tactical enthusiasts.
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