The dreaded flinch.
Every new shooter must work to overcome their flinch. You must train your subconscious brain not to react to the boom and flash that accompany each trigger pull. Even experienced shooters can find a flinch creeping into their practice, negatively affecting accuracy, as it causes the nose of the gun to dip down during the shot.
Luckily, a flinch is fairly easy to train out of your system, provided you’re aware of it. Here are some simple drills to help. You’ll need a friend who also knows how to handle firearms safely to assist you with these.
As always, follow the NRA safety rules for all gun handling.
• 8.5x11-inch pieces of paper with a 1x1-inch square box printed or drawn on them
• Snap-cap/dummy rounds
Balance a Case
Smoothing out your trigger pull will help eliminate the flinch.
Tip: Throughout this drill, keep a firm grip on your gun with both hands.
1. Set up for dry-practice. Verify that your firearm is unloaded and all ammunition is out of the practice area.
2. Place the 1x1 target 3 yards from your position.
3. Assume your normal shooting stance.
4. Bring your pistol up and align your sights so that you have a good sight picture and alignment on the square. Have your friend balance a spent casing on the end of the muzzle. (No part of their body should be forward of the muzzle at any point.)
5. Make sure your front sight is clearly in focus. Think about your fundamentals: sight picture, sight alignment and trigger discipline.
6. Slowly and evenly press the trigger (don’t yank) until you hear the “click” of the firing pin release.
7. If the casing falls off, repeat the exercise until you’re able to complete the trigger press without disturbing the case. (This may be very easy with some triggers and harder with others, like double-action only revolvers.)
8. Repeat for 10 minutes, 2-3 times a week. (You can subtract the casing once it seems unneeded, and this just becomes normal dry practice focused on your trigger press.)
Take your time with this drill—you’re not in a race! By going excruciatingly slow, you can keep your sights steady on the square and concentrate on smoothing out your trigger press.
Once you’ve become comfortable with the previous drill, take that perfect trigger pull to the range. This drill will allow you to be sure you’re not flinching between shots (and will also help you practice clearing a round if you use snap caps).
Important: Be sure the range safety officer is aware of and approves this drill before proceeding. Observe all safety rules throughout.
1. Set up at 3 yards from your shooting position.
2. Dry-practice first, just like you did at home, to help activate muscle memory.
3. Step back and have your friend prep your gun. They should load five rounds, some of which will be live rounds and some of which will be snap-cap/dummy rounds. Both the number and the order of how many of each of these there are should be unknown to you. The idea is that when you pull the trigger, you will not know whether the gun will fire or just “click.”
4. When the gun is prepped, step up to the line. Get a comfortable stance, align your sights on the square and focus on your front sight.
5. Keeping a firm grip and your focus on the front sight, very slowly press your trigger all the way to the rear. The gun may fire or you may simply hear the click of the hammer or striker fall. Follow through with your fundamentals in either case. The critical thing during this process is to keep your focus on the front sight—when the gun does not fire, does your front sight dip? If so, you are developing a flinch again and need to return your focus to the fundamentals of shooting. Nothing should move during the shot except the trigger finger.
6. Continue shooting (clearing snap caps and returning to a safe ready position if necessary between shots) until all five rounds are discharged.
7. Repeat 10 times.
While engaging in this exercise, don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t result in perfect groups. You’re retraining your mind, and your groups will improve as you improve your focus on the fundamentals. You’ll find that your accuracy will improve the more you practice this drill because your gun won’t dip down, but rather will stay on target. Before you know it, all your hits will be within the square.