How To Fix Flinch Fast

Flinch is one of the more frustrating problems that shooters face…both because of how it affects accuracy and because it can come back over-and-over through the years.

Flinch normally creates a low pie shaped group, although it’s common for people to be dealing with multiple issues at the same time and to see groups that are low and towards the support hand…low-left for right handed shooters and low-right for left handed shooters.

If your flinch disturbs your accuracy and precision, you probably want to address it.

Flinch is an emotionally charged, conditioned response that happens when the brain thinks that recoil and muzzle rise during recoil are bad and need to be controlled or prevented rather than a beneficial event that should be managed and harnessed.

If we break down that last statement, what we want to do is defuse the emotion and anticipation about recoil and then condition the brain to accept that recoil is not a threat.

When I’m working one-on-one with shooters, I use relaxation and distraction techniques that I learned from Matt Seibert to help shooters immediately overcome any emotionally charged associations they have with recoil, but there are a couple of things you can do on your own…

  1. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself before you shoot.
  2. Don’t care about where you hit…just care about keeping the sights aligned as you press the trigger.
  3. Don’t care when you flinch. Be emotionally dead about it.  Be excited when you press the trigger while keeping the sights properly aligned and you see evidence on the target.
  4. Try counting backwards from 10-1 or 20-1 out loud as you’re pressing the trigger. Sometimes, this is too stressful, but other times it can let a shooter be more mechanical about the process and immediately shoot without flinching.
  5. Spend some time shooting a pistol with a lighter/shorter/crisper trigger and then work your way back to the gun that was causing problems.
  6. Go back to basics. Start with dry fire, then a very low recoiling platform that uses CO2 or green gas, then a .22, and work your way back up to your “normal” caliber/load.  When you have 5-10 or 20 shots without flinching, move up.  Any time you flinch, DO NOT CARE ABOUT IT but drop down to a lower recoiling platform.
  7. Avoid the traditional ball-n-dummy drill where you load up a magazine with a majority of live rounds and some dummy rounds. This is a “gotcha!” drill that creates emotionally charged memories every time you screw up.  You want to be emotionally dead when you screw up and emotionally charged when you succeed.  This is a really big deal.  For more on this and a smarter way to do ball-n-dummy drills check out:

If you’ve got more questions on this, let me know.


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