Curing The Pre-Ignition Push – Part 3
In Part 2 of the series we covered the trigger pull and how to make it lighter so you can shoot faster without excess firing hand tension. Now we’re going to move on and talk about the recoil, or specifically your FEAR of recoil. Well, it’s probably not actual fear, it’s more like just your gut reaction to it as a force and your natural tendency to want to fight against it.
The first thing to understand about recoil is unless you’re shooting a Desert Eagle, it’s not likely that the recoil of your pistol is much of a force at all. Sure it makes a loud bang and you feel the gun snap back and up and then return back down, but how much actual force is in the recoil? The answer is not much. If you doubt that, fire a few weak-hand-only shots and see if the gun flies out of your hand. Spoiler alert: It won’t! So what we want to do through some training here is to make our perception of recoil a valuable and expected part of the process of firing a shot, rather than unpleasant after-effect of it. The thing to internalize about recoil is that it’s really not that much force, certainly not enough force that you need to make a major effort to fight against it. What we want you to think of recoil as is the process of the sights leaving the target and then coming back on to the target. We’re going to use a drill we call the Reverse Recoil Drill to accomplish this.
The purpose of the Reverse Recoil Drill is to get you to see what the sights do while the gun recoils and focus on the sights intently during the process. It can be a dot also, but we’re just going to use the term “sights” to refer to both iron sights or a dot. And we want to actually accentuate the recoil of the gun rather than fight against it. So to start on the drill, we’re going to fire some shots strong-hand only. Hopefully this will not be your first time ever shooting strong-hand only, but if it is, don’t panic, this is much easier than you assume. Setup for the drill is very simple, you don’t even need a target, just a berm or backstop to fire shots into.
This is really a MENTAL drill, so it will take some concentration on your part. What we want you to do is get the gun up, look at the sights, and fire a shot with your focus specifically on seeing what the sights do when the shot is fired. We want you to intentionally make the muzzle of the gun rise much more than the natural recoil forces would take it. So we want you to massively over-exaggerate the recoil effect of the gun rising, at least double the amount of movement that the normal recoil would produce. And let the gun come back down more slowly as well, really feel like you’re in control of what it’s doing.
What we’re trying to accomplish here is to have you actually trying to HELP the recoil happen rather than fighting against it happening. That’s why we call it Reverse Recoil. And we want you focused on the movement of the sights during the process, watching them rise and then come back down again before firing the next shot. We’re making it easier for you to track the sights by making the recoil flip up and down a lot slower than it normally is.
On a side note, one thing that we see frequently is a shooter closing their eyes during recoil, or blinking very heavily, and having a hard time tracking the sights. This is something you need to overcome, you have to force your eyes to stay open during recoil. Some common tips to help with this are to focus on the muscles surrounding your eyes holding your eyes open, or raise your eyebrows and keep them raised, anything that gets your eyes to stay open. Practice this during your shooting, and sometimes it even helps to stand next to a friend shooting and make sure you’re not blinking heavily every time a shot is fired.
So back to the Reverse Recoil Drill, after we’ve done a few strings firing the drill strong-hand only, we’ll switch to a normal 2-handed grip and do the same thing.
Again, what we’re doing is HELPING the recoil be even bigger than it naturally is, which is the opposite of fighting against it. You should feel like YOU are in control of the recoil, the firing of the shot starts the recoil process, but YOU are controlling it from there. Stay focused on the sights and make sure you can see them rise as the gun fires and most importantly see them as the gun comes back down.
Keep firing this drill and slowly start to reduce the amount of extra lift you are providing to the recoil. Eventually what we’re trying to get to is not giving any extra lift to the recoil, just letting it happen at its natural pace and tracking the sights with our eyes while it happens.
Kind of like in the Fake Trigger Pull video in Part 2 of this series, many shooters will have an Ah Ha! Moment around this point in the Reverse Recoil Drill. All of a sudden the recoil is not an undesirable force that happens after the shot and we wish it would just go away, it’s actually an integral part of firing the shot, we know it’s going to happen, and we track the sights as it happens. There’s no need to fight against it, just let it happen, no big deal.
The final step in the process is to really nail down the focus of the drill by mixing it in to a more complex scenario. Now we want to shoot the drill in a multi-shot string, not with isolated shots. We’ll do it with a 3-shot string, only exaggerating the recoil on the 3rd shot. So again, it’s 3 fast shots and an exaggerated recoil rise on the 3rd shot.
What we want to focus on is if and how the 3rd shot feels any different from the first 2. Are you watching the sights track on all 3 shots? Do you feel yourself pushing into the gun on the first 2 shots? If everything is going according to plan, you should really have a good sense at this point of what the gun is doing and what your firing had is doing and you should feel in control of the whole process, not at the mercy of some process you don’t control.
Give the Reverse Recoil Drill a try at the range and see if it works for you to put the final nail in the coffin of your pre-ignition push. This is a drill you can return to any time, even in the middle of a training session if you feel yourself returning to you old ways of pushing into the gun, just stop and fire the reverse recoil slowly at first, really see the sights clearly, speed it up gradually, and eventually you should be back to firing full speed shots with only natural recoil, with no pushing into the gun.
That about wraps up our adventures in curing the pre-ignition push, we hope you found some valuable tips in the 3-part series and that you’re on your way to be free of the curse! We started with getting rid of excess firing hand tension, then we lightened up your trigger pull, and finally we broke you of your fear of recoil. You may find you need to revisit one or more of these drills again over time to really get it nailed down, but you should have tools now to perceive what you’re doing and have some clue about how to fix it.
Best of luck in your shooting adventures, see you at the range!