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Posted by on in Guns

Flinching with a gunWhy is it we can't always shoot as evenly as this picture?  Sooner or later, someone will watch you shooting and say those  fatal words, "You're flinching!"  Or you feel yourself tense up when shooting and see the shots go low.  "I'm flinching" you think.  "Don't flinch," you tell yourslf, as you see your shots going lower and lower on the target.  "Dont' flinch!" echoes in your mind with each shot, and you curse afterward, "I flinched!"

 What is a flinch, anyway?  It is your body's reaction to an anticipated shock.  The shock can be the loud noise of a gun firing.  The shock can be the gun's recoil.  The shock can be pain you experience when you shoot.  Whatever has caused the shock in the past (that past can be in your current shooting ssession, or long, long ago) your body knows it is coming again, and tries to protect you by clenching many muscles involuntarily.  This usually results in your hands moving the barrel of your gun downwards and the shots go low.  It happens to handgun shooters and long gun shooters.

 As a teacher, I've seen it happen to many students.  The number one cause, in my experience, is sound, so the first thing I will suggest is maximizing hearing protection with both foam in-the-ear plugs and high quality, well-fitted muffs. 

 There are two ways recoil can be the cause of flinching.  One is what you might expect, the upward motion of the fired gun.  The other is any backward motion; if recoil has ever made anyone feel they might be pushed over backward, that's very unpleasant; the cure might be careful attention to a shooting stance that never threatenes one's balance.  Mindfulness of trigger control will slow the trigger pull and help to avoid a slapped trigger that pulls shots low.

 If a flinch is caused by the pain of shooting, the pain must be cured, by a different grip or stance, a modification to the gun, a different kind of ammunition, or even a different gun.  Shooting should not hurt. 

 There are many other things you can do to help cure a flinch.  Ten of them, including the Ayoob Wedge technique, are here in the article It's a Cinch Not to Flinch.  Take a look and see what might help you, or a shooter you know who has this problem.


Picture: Shutterstock/Ficus777

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Posted by on in Guns

gunquestionmarkWhat do you think?  Do you believe that, in Massachusetts, where a firearms safety class is required for anyone applying for a firearms license, that that class should include firing a real gun on a real range, or is classroom-only training sufficient?

You don't have to be a shooter or a gun owner to have an opinion on this topic.  Think about this.  Someone in your family decides to obtain a firearm for personal protection.  They find a half-day course that covers gun safety, laws, the parts of various types of guns and ammunition.  They see and handle some guns here, but don't fire them.  They do fire a training aid that looks like a gun, but "fires" a laser, like a laser pointer.  How confident are you that they are now prepared and qualified to protect themsleves and anyone else who might need protection?

What if they took, instead, a full day class that included not just safety and legal issues but also some actual firing of actual guns on a real range.  Wouldn't they be better off?  Wouldn't you have more confidence in their abilites?

It is a no-brainer to me that licensing someone who has never actually fired a gun to carry one concealed in public is as dangerous as giving someone a driver's license when they have learned driving laws and used a driving simulation game, but have never been on a real road in a real car.

If you are a shooter and do have a license, what kind of training did you get first?  Was it sufficient, or did you seek more training at some point? Does it make you feel safer in public to know that there are people carrying guns without ever having shot one?

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Posted by on in Guns


Cats are smart, tactically aware animals.  Most cats love high places - the top of a bookshelf, the top of a door, a railing over a high balcony, the top of the highest cat furniture you have.  They have evolved to prefer heights, because from there they can more easily scan the ground for anything that might be edible prey, and they are more protected from things (wolves, foxes, and so on) that might want to eat them.

 I had a cat who would usually sleep in my bed with or without me, and would typically curl up with her head toward the door.  Was this another tactical position, tuned by generations, so that the cat's ears, eyes and nose remained pointed in the direction from which danger could come, while keeping her back to the side or corner from which no surprises would appear?  I always thought so, and marveled at her innate ability to use her surroundings for her safety.

 But if you have ever had an indoor/outdoor cat, one that comes and goes a lot, you may have seen another behavior that is quite common among such cats: the doorway sit, or the doorway stand.  Cats are famous for pausing a long time on the threshold before deigning to actually move into the outdoors.

 Tactically aware people are taught never to do this.  Hesitating in a doorway, as in the small end of a funnel, while you are clearing a house or building where an intruder might be puts you in grave danger of being shot by someone on the other side of the door who can see you before you can see them.  Hence the term "fatal funnel" for that position, and the admonition not to pause there but to move briskly though the doorway.

 So, why is this a situation where feline situational awareness good for the cat, but bad for us?  It all has to do with the nature of the danger that might await us.  A cat who goes too quickly into the outdoors is in danger while in the open, not just from predators on the ground but from some big birds that could attack a small cat.  By waiting in the doorway, a cat can be alert for any movement that signals danger, and can quickly spring back into the safety of the house.  For us humans, however, the biggest danger for us that might be on the other side of that doorway is a gun, and a bullet is going to come at us much faster than a fox will come at a cat.  There will not be time for us to perceive the danger and retreat from it.

 Different species, different dangers, different answers to the tactical question of "How do I get safely from inside to outside, or from room to room?"

 What does your cat do that would be good or bad for you, tactically or for situation awareness?

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