FLINCHING - How Do You Deal with IT?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Jeff W., Jan 31, 2010.

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  1. Jeff W.

    Jeff W. Active Member

    Dec 19, 2007
    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.
  2. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    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!
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2010
  3. baldhunter

    baldhunter Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2008
    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.
  4. RockyMtnMT

    RockyMtnMT Official LRH Sponsor

    Mar 25, 2007
    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

  5. Russ M

    Russ M Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
    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.
  6. sniperjwt

    sniperjwt Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2009
    +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.
  7. roaddog1m

    roaddog1m Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2009
    +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
  8. Dr. Vette

    Dr. Vette Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2009
    +3 on dry fire. I've been practicing this more and more. It's still hard not to flinch at times but I'm definitely improving.

    In addition I've taken up shooting a .22 bolt action rifle just to work on shot control. I don't really care what the groups are doing (ie. the rifle's accuracy) but I have learned a lot about my breathing, grip, trigger squeeze, etc. It also really showed me how much a good - or bad - trigger can affect your accuracy.
  9. 3fingervic

    3fingervic Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2009
    Do any of you guys use Snap Caps for your dry firing?
  10. MachV

    MachV Well-Known Member

    May 31, 2001
    In the old days my red-neck way to deal with flinching was to fire a couple of rounds through the sawed off H&R with 3" slugs or fire the 50BMG a couple of times, if your a real hero do it with the without the brake.....Nuthin kicks after that!!!! Seriously it works.
    These days my shoulder is WAY too soft to even joke about it so I've adopted a couple of sainer ways to deal with flinching. Ear plugs and muffs help a lot with a rifle with a brake! That and getting a brake that doesnt slap you in the face helps. Useing the lightest bullet that will get the job done is also a good idea.....My little 708 shoots the 162 grain Amax very well but the 120 grain Noslers get the job done on deer and goats with a whole lot less recoil!
    Shooting a lot of smaller rounds helps with form. Shooting prairie dogs all summer is a great way to lead up to the fall hunting season with the bigger rounds. I find that the less I shoot the bigger rounds the better, once I have the load dialed and double check the range card against actual field conditions it gets put away till needed. The barrels last longer and its cheaper to practice with the smaller rounds.
  11. FEENIX

    FEENIX Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    Yes, I do.
  12. Moman

    Moman Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    A few things that have helped:

    A few years ago I bought a halfway decent pellet gun. This gives me plenty of trigger time in the backyard. Most halfway decent pellet guns have not to good of a trigger. If you can shoot those, you can shoot anything.

    Dry firing. When I first set up on a bench or prone in the field, I dry fire a little to make sure everythings where I want it. If your rest is as solid as you think it is, you will see a slight movement through the scope when the hammer falls.

    I sometimes use one of the pact recoil pads. This helps with the big boomers or a real light gun.
  13. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2008
    Most of you have probably already read that I use slip on recoil pads for my magnum rifles and they reduce the felt recoil considerably. But with a 300 RUM, it still gives a pretty good jolt. However there is no sharp or prolonged pain. When I used to fire my 7mm RM without a slip-on, I was usually good to about 20 rounds and then the pain did cause some anticiaption and flinching.

    Dry firing is great, but if you get to a certain pain threshold, flinching is going to be very hard to control. If you have enough ability to concentrate and by concentrate I mean mentally disaccosiating breaking the trigger with recoil. My opinion is you just have to not think about the recoil and sound and it's consequences.

    If you think you have a flinch a good way to see it and help deal with it is use dummy rounds. Have a friend load your rifle and occasionally slip in a dummy. It can be a real eye opener.

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  14. Boss Hoss

    Boss Hoss Well-Known Member

    Nov 10, 2005
    It has taken a while but flinching is no longer an issue with me esp in the field lol. During competition with the guy on the right shooting a 338 Lapua and the guy on the left shooting a 300 win mag it can be a challenge but if you like to win and I do then you work through it.

    Agree that on the bench with someone feeding the rounds and the empty is in the chamber it will separate the men from the boys..