TRAIN

USE A HIGH, THUMBSFORWARD GRIP TO RE­DUCE RE­COIL.

Gun World - - Contents -

As I men­tioned in my pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle, when train­ing the fun­da­men­tals, many will fo­cus first on stance. There is no doubt that shoot­ing stance, or “plat­form” (as I pre­fer), is a part of shoot­ing fun­da­men­tals—but it is not the most im­por­tant part of man­ag­ing re­coil. In ac­tion shoot­ing, my stance varies from be­ing on one foot to be­ing spread out, SWAT style, with both feet planted hard on the ground. I can­not de­pend on my feet be­ing in the right “stance” to con­trol my gun. The real trick to man­ag­ing re­coil is from the waist up—more specif­i­cally, from the grip back. In my years as a trainer, and in the many more years of my hus­band’s ex­pe­ri­ence in law en­force­ment and as a trainer, I’ve learned that re­coil man­age­ment starts at the grip.

Although this ap­plies to all firearms plat­forms, I want to sim­plify by fo­cus­ing on the hand­gun. The mod­ern grip is called the “high, thumbs-for­ward grip.” (Note the comma be­tween “high” and “thumbs.” It’s an im­por­tant de­tail.)

HAND PLACE­MENT

“High, thumbs for­ward” means your grip is high on the gun: “high,” mean­ing in re­la­tion to the axis of re­coil—as high as you can get to the seam be­tween the slide and the frame. “Thumbs for­ward” means your thumbs are pointed for­ward, as if there were flash­light beams shoot­ing out the ends of them and you were us­ing them to il­lu­mi­nate the tar­get.

To form this grip, you have to un­der­stand the spe­cific hand place­ments, hand pres­sures and over­all grip ten­sion.

Let’s be­gin with your strong, or dom­i­nant, hand. The grip should be as high in the back­stop as pos­si­ble; so high that the web of your hand starts to bunch up un­der the beaver­tail area. With your hand that high, your mid­dle fin­ger should also be high and tight against the lower trig­ger guard. When your hand is this high on the gun, you’ll find that your trig­ger fin­ger sits nat­u­rally high on the frame—ac­tu­ally above the trig­ger area. It ul­ti­mately helps you ad­here to the rule of hav­ing your trig­ger fin­ger “straight and off the trig­ger” when not fir­ing. The grip pres­sure with your dom­i­nant hand is best de­scribed as a front-to-rear pres­sure. Think of us­ing the low­est, largest pads of your mid­dle and ring fin­ger to pull the grip straight back into the big, meaty sec­tion of your palm. Now, an­gle your strong thumb up­ward to cre­ate space for your other hand to move in.

It’s im­por­tant to re­al­ize that the strong-hand thumb does noth­ing but hurt your over­all grip when it starts grip­ping the gun. Try this: Keep your trig­ger fin­ger pointed for­ward while try­ing to make a beer can crush­ing grip. Take you thumb out of that crush, and the trig­ger fin­ger is able to act in­de­pen­dently.

WEAK-SIDE HAND

Your weak, or non-dom­i­nant, hand fills in the hole left by your strong hand. The goal is more “meat” on the gun, so get your palm into that hole. The fingers wrap up the mid­dle, ring and pinky fingers of the strong hand while lock­ing onto their knuck­les.

With your weak hand, the grip pres­sure is side to side. It’s as if you are try­ing to crush a stress ball, ex­cept with your thumb point­ing for­ward. This thumb can be used as meat on the gun to in­crease fric­tion. I press it along the frame next to the take­down lever; it pro­vides me with a tac­tile sen­sa­tion. Other shoot­ers ac­tu­ally curl it down on top of their in­dex fin­ger. Your strong-hand thumb can now rest on the weak hand’s thumb knuckle, pointed for­ward, but off to the side—not tight along the slide.

GRIP TEN­SION

We have talked hand place­ment and hand pres­sures, but what is a good over­all grip ten­sion? Some peo­ple will sug­gest squeez­ing the gun un­til you start to shake and then back­ing off un­til the shak­ing stops. This is not ac­tu­ally a bad way to say it. For years, I learned 40 per­cent ten­sion with my strong hand and 60 per­cent ten­sion with my weak hand. I know—it seems odd that the weak hand does more work. The trick is to com­bine mus­cu­lar and skele­tal align­ment so that ac­tual grip strength isn’t the most im­por­tant part of it all.

With thumbs pointed for­ward, the wrists be­come “set,” or “locked,” caus­ing re­coil to pass from the hands through the wrists to the el­bows. Your el­bows should have a slight uplift and flex to them, be­cause this is re­coil’s first exit. The re­main­ing re­coil trav­els to your shoul­ders and might travel a short way to your waist, but it pretty much ends there. Re­coil is man­aged first through mus­cu­lar and skele­tal align­ment with your hands and wrists. It’s ab­sorbed by the el­bows and bled off into the shoul­ders.

Com­bine this with a solid plat­form and hav­ing weight for­ward—or, as we say, “nose over your toes”—and you’ve got re­coil licked! GW

THE TRICK IS TO COM­BINE MUS­CU­LAR AND SKELE­TAL ALIGN­MENT SO

THAT AC­TUAL GRIP STRENGTH ISN’T THE MOST IM­POR­TANT PART OF IT ALL.

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Chris Cerino com­pet­ing at the Mid­way NRA Bianchi Cup

I

“Thumbs for­ward” means your thumbs are pointed for­ward as if there were flash­light beams shoot­ing out the ends of them and you were us­ing them to il­lu­mi­nate the tar­get. With thumbs pointed for­ward, the wrists

be­come “set,” or “locked,” caus­ing re­coil to pass from the hands through the wrists to the

el­bows.

Your strong-hand thumb can now rest on the weak hand’s thumb knuckle, pointed for­ward but off to the side—not tight along

the slide.

An­gle your strong thumb up­ward to cre­ate space for your other hand to move in. Keep in mind that the

strong-hand thumb does noth­ing but hurt your over­all grip when it starts grip­ping the gun.

Your weak, or non­dom­i­nant, hand fills in the hole left by your

strong hand.

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