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  • Rowan

How to fix your grip, improve your recoil control, and stop missing your first shots low & left

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

I see it all the time, a student who I know has good recoil control shoots those first few rounds and they nail the first shot on target but the second goes significantly low and usually to the left. After shots 2 and maybe 3 hit low, the rounds move back on target. Has this ever happened to you? What's going on?

Shots low and left

Here's a shooter who is over-gripping and compensating on every shot

For a new shooter, it is often because the recoil of the first shot surprises them and they compensate by over-gripping the gun with their right hand. This causes the middle, ring, and pinky finger to torque the gun low and to the left (for a right-hander). You can see how this works by holding an empty gun in your strong hand and squeezing those fingers. You will see the barrel move down and to the left.

With new shooters, this can usually be fixed simply with practice and more exposure to that recoil until it no longer causes that reflex.

What I want to talk about is why I see this in students who I know do lots of dryfire practice, have shot plenty of live rounds, and otherwise have solid recoil control. Why would that initial recoil be a surprise after all those repetitions?

If this happens to you and you happen to dryfire a lot (which you should!) I have an answer for you. Often when we practice dryfire we are working at isolating some particular skill, whether that be drawing from a holster, acquiring our red dot or sights, reloading, or doing target transitions. What we are not working on is recoil...because there isn't any. Because we know this, it is very common to not focus on our grip. You don't need to grip a gun tightly to pull off a slick draw, reload, or transition from target to target. I am guilty of this one too and have to constantly remind myself mentally to not just have my support hand along for the ride.

If you are doing proper dryfire and maintaining a strong shooting grip, the kind of grip you would need if you were actually shooting live rounds, you will find your hands get tired pretty quickly. If you can dryfire for 30mins straight and your hands and forearms aren't pumped and weren't gripping hard enough.

Grip strength

Just like when lifting weights you can simply hold on enough you don't drop it or you can squeeze it as hard as you can. Imagine doing that through your whole workout!

The reason that more experienced shooters are still exhibiting those low-left flyers on the second shot is that they are used to practicing with a weak grip. As soon as that first round goes off they subconsciously realize "Oh yeah, there's recoil now, I've got to squeeze" and often send that second round low before correcting and getting back in the zone. The more repetitions performed in dryfire with a relaxed grip the more that becomes ingrained. Our brain and our muscles now have to cope with two completely different grips, our dry-fire grip, and our live-fire grip. Switching between the two is where we get misses.

For your next dryfire session try gripping that gun with the same force as if you were shooting a string of 6 shots as fast as you can. Keep up that intensity throughout your session and see how long it takes before you get fatigued. This tip should help you with your second-round flyers and improve your overall recoil control as your grip strengthens and improves.

Try it out and let me know in the chat box how it went!

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