Marksmanship Question-Handgun

Anyone got a suggestion for the best way to eliminate the tendency to anticipate recoil?

Cap guns, and lots of range time.

This should be moved to IMHO.

Here’s what works for me:

  1. The bullet is moving away from you. So there’s nothing to worry about.

  2. Expect recoil. If there’s no recoil, then something is wrong.

  3. Don’t fight it - just “roll with it.”

#3 is important. I’ve seen many handgun shooters trying their damndest to keep the muzzle from rising during recoil; they have an overly firm grip, and sometimes try to use their arm muscles to keep it down. Don’t do this! On a handgun, the muzzle is supposed to rise. So just roll with it.

Expecting recoil is probably the problem. Are you jerking the gun slightly in anticipation of the recoil? Breathe out pull the trigger slowly and be surprised by the recoil every time, this will keep you on target better. Or just pump out a few thousand rounds until it doesn’t bother you anymore.

Or get a smaller handgun.

Get some snap caps and practice dry firing and trigger/breathing technique. In my experience as an instructor, most flinching isn’t due to the intensity of the muzzle blast but the uncertainty in when the sear will release. Once a student builds up sufficient psychomotor ability to operate the trigger smoothly and consistently, flinching tends to go away regardless of muzzle blast.


This is my biggest problem. I’m working on it and I’m getting better.


While pulling the trigger push forward with your strong hand while pushing back with your weak hand. This produces maximum grip control and control over recoil.

But don’t push/pull too hard or your hands with shake, messing up the sight picture.

Double up on your hearing protection: use foamies and earmuffs. The reduction in BANG! leaves you dealing with only the firearm’s torque in your hand. It helps to have one less giant sensory input.

Crafter_Man’s #3 is on target.

A combination of squeezing, not pulling the trigger, and working on being surprised went a long way toward not anticipating recoil.

That, and putting a couple of 1000 round cases of Russian ammo through my 9mm didn’t hurt either! :smiley:

And Crafterman’s #3
By the time you feel the recoil the bullet is way out of the barrel so don’t get to caught up in trying to overcome the recoil. The pressure/counter pressure as in the Weaver or Chapman stance is more in getting back on target for follow up shots.
If you are using a double action handgun a few thousand reps of dry fireing just can’t hurt.

Dry fire practice. Do this 5-10 minutes a night. Keep it simple, and focus on the basics.

After a week or two of this, go to the range. Preferably with a buddy. Have them load your mags with a random mix of live ammo and snap caps (it’s called a ‘cap and ball’ drill). You won’t know what’s coming, and so won’t know what to expect. You can do it yourself if you have multiple mags, but it’s best with someone else. If you’re flinching, it will clearly show when you hit a snap cap. Dry fire for a minute or two to get relaxed, then give it another go.

If you start getting flustered, take a break. Even go home and try again another day, but continue with dry fire practice in the meantime.

What Stranger said, but also, is the grip comfortable for you at all? Or are you suffering some pain with every shot? I had a mouse gun that was a PITA to shoot until I put a Hogue Handall JR on the grip. The spongy rubber soaked up enough of the recoil to where I wasn’t going “Ow!, OW!” with every shot. Cleaning up the mold flashing on a Glock with a Dremel helped my comfort there too.

But the snap cap thing I found really helpful. That, and if it’s the pain of recoil that’s the problem, working on fundamentals with a .22 LR—especially if your pistol has a conversion kit for that caliber—can do wonders with focusing on trigger control, breathing, and front sight focus, without worrying about the boom.

This, so much this. And as mentioned, use good ear protection.

When you were a kid, did your Dad give you an oversized gun and then laugh when you missed the target and/or fell over because of the recoil? This is a common problem and I really hates the idiots who did it.

And let me add this addendum to my earlier remark. Dry Fire practice is not sitting down in front of the TV and shooting characters on screen. Go to a quiet room and do your drills facing a blank wall, and concentrate on your grip and trigger control.

Well, not quite. The muzzle is rising as the bullet accelerates down the barrel. At the instant the bullet exits the muzzle, the muzzle has already risen quite a bit.

A thought experiment:

Mount a heavy vice to a sturdy & heavy table, and then securely mount a handgun to the vice. Put paper target 20 feet in front of the gun. Carefully adjust the vice and gun so the sights are aligned with the center of the target. This arrangement will allow you to fire the gun with no muzzle rise whatsoever.

Now fire the gun. Where will the bullet hit?

Most people think the bullet will hit the center of the target. But this is not true. The bullet’s point of impact will be low.

Handgun sights are designed with this in mind.

When you line up the sights with the target (just before you fire), the barrel is pointing too low. When you fire, the entire handgun rotates upwards, and the bullet hits the center of the target.

So as I mentioned above, the muzzle of a handgun is supposed to rise during the firing sequence. If you try to fight it, the point of impact will be too low.

Gonna have to dispute that. Watching several slow-mo videos on YouTube shows this not to be the case.

Here’s a nice one.

And another.

Patch your links show slow motion but no wear near as slow as the History Channel’s Top Shot.
I had those episodes recorded on my DVR and then walked through many different handguns frame by frame and that is where i witnessed what i posted that the bullet is long gone from the barrel before there is any movement of the action and of the gun.
In fact there was no noticeable movement of either until the gas cloud expanded out to approx 6 inches in diameter.

If I build my pistol with the barrel below my hand, will the barrel rise? What if it is directly in line with my arm center line?

Learn not to flinch, get a weapon that fits your hand, chose a caliber that you think you will be shooting the most then get your grip as consistent as possible, also your sight picture.

Stop smoking & drinking to remove a lot of the shakes, do a bit of upper body strengthening, use good ear protection, do every thing as consistently as possible.

Shoot often with the same weapon, cartridge, and do it for a thousand or three rounds and if by then, if you still need to be inside the barn to hit it, go check out archery.

What ever the weapon does upon firing, as long as it is consistent & you are consistent, you will shoot real good. IMO

I’m by no means a good shot. I have a friend who is a very good shot. What we’ve done in the past is go to the range with a revolver and load half the rounds. So you’d fire one or two and then there would be an empty chamber.

Here is a lengthy THR thread on the subject.