Curing flinch ain’t about trigger control!

One of the most-universally accepted beliefs in shooting and shooting instruction is that flinch is caused by poor trigger control.  And this universal “truth” has puzzled me for years now as I struggle to keep my flinch under control.  I mean, my trigger pull is smooth and straight to the back strap of the gun.  Indeed, it’s impossible to pull the trigger in any way that doesn’t have your trigger finger moving straight back to the rear of the gun.  And while a smooth trigger pull – fast as well as slow — does have to be learned, it usually doesn’t take a serious shooter very long.

But flinch persists.  And if your trigger pull is smooth and straight back, and you still flinch, then the flinch clearly isn’t about trigger control.  Your trigger finger is doing everything exactly right.

What’s happening is that your wrist is breaking downward.  Flinch is about wrist control!  You have to lock your wrist and keep it locked as the gun fires…without breaking or changing the hand/arm angle.


Look at the photo above (that’s not my arm, BTW — I wish!).  You have to tense the muscles on the top of your arm to prevent your wrist from breaking down, and you have to lock the muscles on the bottom to keep your wrist stable and in place.  I had it half right a few posts below (fortunately Mike Seeklander hasn’t sued me yet!) when I talked about applying pressure between the pinky and the heel of the hand.  That will lock up the muscles on the bottom of the arm.  But you also have to think about, train at, and develop an unconscious kinesthetic recognition of the muscles on the top of the arm locking up, too.  (I’m pretty sure that these muscles all have Latin names, but despite being a former alter boy I don’t  know them.  Plus there’s a bunch of them and they all have, like, different Latin names!)

So the next time some instructor tells you that flinch is all about poor trigger control, you’ll know that they’re unthinkingly repeating something that they were told, without ever actually evaluating, or even thinking much, about it.

Which frankly is pretty poor form from professionals.  But hell, I did it for years too.


4 thoughts on “Curing flinch ain’t about trigger control!

  1. It’s always been my understanding that flinch is anticipating recoil, muzzle blast and muzzle flash when the gun fires. A traditional way to detect flinch is to load a gun with an undisclosed combination of live and dummy rounds. If the shooter reacts to the dummy rounds, he is flinching.

    Muzzle blast is particularly insidious. Unless you are shooting outdoors in the open, surrounding structures reflect the muzzle blast into your face. Human beings are extremely sensitive to stuff coming at their eyes and react strongly to it.

    Having suffered from flinch myself, I would offer the following suggestions. Dry fire until your trigger control is solid. Shoot .22 or weak center fire loads to minimize recoil. Use ear plugs underneath ear muffs for maximum sound attenuation. While you should wear eye protection anyway, you want it here to ward off reflected muzzle blast. A bandana wrapped around your face will help even more. If you can, shoot outdoors in the open so that muzzle blast radiates away. When you no longer flinch under these conditions, gradually work up to full power loads. Don’t hesitate to back down to lower power if your flinch returns.


  2. […] I’ve found that I just can’t make the firm-not-crush thing work for me at the modest level that I get out these days.  Thus, I was pleased as punch to discover this video of Mike Seeklander explaining his version of the proper grip, and sure enough it’s a crush grip.  Mike, of course, was a cop and SWAT guy as well as now being a top competitive shooter.  Also, he refers to Rob Leatham as another top shooter who advocates a crush grip.  Mike’s approach dovetails with my earlier (this year) discovery of the mechanics of why the crush grip helps me (see this earlier post). […]


  3. Here is the thing. The pure definition of “trigger control” is pressing the trigger straight and smooth to the rear without moving the gun and causing misalignment of the sights.
    So, flinching does fall under that definition, even though it may not be your trigger finger causing the misalignment.


  4. That’s true – can’t argue. But what a lot of people hear when you say “press the trigger straight to the rear without moving the gun and causing misalignment of the sights” is “press the trigger straight to the rear so that you don’t move the gun and cause misalignment of the sights”. Most instructors fail to disambiguate the two – in fact they probably don’t even realize that the student is hearing something different from what they have said. Hell, they probably even believe that simply pulling the trigger straight back is all that one actually needs to do.


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