Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Better shooting through chemistry.

Grip the gun twenty percent tighter!

I can still hear Todd Jarrett’s voice saying it clearly, not muffled like I heard it on the square range in North Carolina, because I’d neglected to bring my Peltor Tac 6 active hearing protection on the Blackwater trip. (Who knew those AA batteries would still be good three years later?)

I didn’t cover myself in glory at Blackwater. Oh, I was solidly a mid-pack shooter, and nobody had to worry about me suddenly displaying inept gun-handling skills; safety is well and truly ingrained in my reptilian hindbrain. But my shooting wasn’t up to what I knew I could do.

My trigger finger was doing the right thing, and I had a crisp, clear picture of the front sight, and I was sure I wasn’t flinching, but…

Grip the gun twenty percent tighter!

Jeez, Todd, I’m already gripping the thing harder than I ever would in any target discipline like bullseye or silhouette, and I’m still dropping shots at speed here. What do you want me to do? Crush it?

Fast forward to about a week ago. I was re-reading The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, 5th Edition, by Massad Ayoob, because I remembered it being pretty inclusive and non-doctrinaire and a good shooting primer; I thought I remembered it as having a lot of basic practical shooting advice to help my roommate for the upcoming bowling pin match.

In Chapter Four, Ayoob discussed the “crush grip” for combat shooting, and mentioned that gripping the heck out of the gun with the non-trigger fingers of the strong hand prevented them squeezing sympathetically with the trigger finger when shooting at speed. (If they were already squeezing as hard as they could, it was hard for them to tighten any more.) It was like a little light went on over my head; like some weird chemistry; spoken hydrogen and written oxygen combining to make shooting water...

Grip the gun twenty percent tighter!

Last Saturday at the range I put it into practice. Shooting the Pro for the first time in months, I squeezed heck out of the grip with everything but the trigger finger, concentrated on the front sight, and…. BANG! The .45 bullet blew the “-0” right out of the center of the target. w00t! BANG! BANG!BANG! BANGBANGBANG! A big, ragged hole appeared around the first perforation. I was on fire!

I tried my Colt 1903, with the same result. Four different S&W wheelguns, in .22 and .38: No change. Back to the 1911, this time on a bowling pin silhouette and… Huzzah! I was dialed in!

Something I’d heard mixed with something I’d read and became something I knew. And it worked!

I can’t wait to try it on those nefarious bowling pins Saturday morning…

25 comments:

James E. Griffin said...

Now, make sure you drop a line to Messers Ayoob and Jarrett. Instructors and authors live for this stuff.

Xavier said...

yep yep

yep yep yep.

Bgg said...

I am so with you on this. Tomorrow my lunchbreak will be me, a Beretta 92 and 2 boxed of ammo squeezing the crap out of it!

excitedVulcan said...

yes, the crush grip. Mas is right. I could never hit a thing w/ a handgun for years. I read Mas' advice about crushing it, and I got the same result as you. I was so excited that relaxed my grip! lol! Mas says to grip so hard you shake. (Don't forget to practice w/ your weak hand too)

Anonymous said...

So, I just went to Amazon and bought two of his books. 'Cause I can't find any that I already have. [Still have about 20 of 48 boxes of books to open from the move last year.]
OldeForce

wolfwalker said...

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do, and I understand." -- old Chinese proverb

Anonymous said...

Oooooo! I can't wait to get rid of this chest cold so I can go trying crushing a pistol grip with all my might!

global village idiot said...

Tam,

It's not often that something on the web makes me drop what I'm doing and run to try it out.

...So after I cleared my Browning Hi-Power (twice), I took this "crush grip," took aim on the cuckoo clock in the dining room, and click! No jump. No wiggle. Nothing.

It "felt" right!

I can't wait to go to the range next chance I get and try this out. If I didn't have such a deep and abiding admiration for St. John the Wise, I'd have "crush grip!" electropenciled on my Hi-Power.

Thanks! I'm going to give it a try!

gvi

p.s. Verification word is "paooqy." That must be the sound an epiphany makes in the brain.

OrangeNeckInNY said...

Wow. So you're supposed to deathgrip the pistol?? Wow. Total exact opposite of shooting a compound bow. Haha!! I'll have to try that next time I'm back at the pistol range.

OldTexan said...

I was at the range today with my Browning Hi Power and my new Sig P220 .45. I was just a little low and to the left with the Sig nad right on with the Browning.

I think I was holding the Sig too loose, it was hopping up on me a bit; next time I will try the tighter grip and see what happens.

Damn I like to learn stuff from your site.

Mad Saint Jack said...

Sorry to Disagree Tam, But I saw some video clips from Blackwater and IIRC Todd's voice was on a clip saying "she's like the best one here."

Turk Turon said...

He may be mad, but he's right: I heard it, too.

Tam said...

At that one evolution (shooting on the move from left to right) I did okay. But I'd shot on the move before, and a lot of the other guys there hadn't yet.

Earl said...

Thanks for sharing, will have to check it out next range - I will call it the "Ranger Chokehold" since there isn't one in Hand to Hand combat, it must have been for those pistols.

Jay G said...

Tam,

Thanks for the tip. This is something that I've struggled with in my own shooting - I consistently work my way downward when shooting rapid fire strings.

Now, I keep everything in COM, but that's taken a lot of work and training (most of it wrong, no doubt).

I can't wait to get to the range this weekend to test this out.

Thanks!

Oldsmoblogger said...

(light bulb)

Gonna try this Friday. Thanks kindly.

Anonymous said...

There must be some sort of genetic variability with this. When I grip hard I can't hit squat. Many years ago I was told to grip like I was holding a hammer, by one of the Coast Guard Academy pistol instructors who also belonged to my range (Mystic Rod & Gun - what a great name!) and my scores improved dramatically. I had been using a crush grip, and my hands were quite strong at the time. I've found about 1/3 of the shooters I know shoot better with a "loose" grip. So, try both, use what works.

Phil-Z

DirtCrashr said...

YAY! I've tried doing that with the AR but I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do.

Tam said...

"I've found about 1/3 of the shooters I know shoot better with a "loose" grip. So, try both, use what works."

It may be a "horses for courses" thing, too.

The crush grip that works so much better for me on bowling pins, IPSC targets, and steel plates against the clock absolutely ruins my scores in slow-fire target shooting...

Johnny said...

Next thing you know, the Weaver Stance will back in fashion.

Tam said...

The only fashion that counts is the one that's on top when the last shell casing hits the ground. ;)

trebor1415 said...

The interesting thing is that the Ayoob "Stressfire" version of the crush grip is quite different from the "thumbs forward" grip used by TJ. But, it seems that HOW HARD you squeeze the gun is still important for both techniques.

Reading about your Blackwater experience was the first time I've seen a thumbs forward shooter also use that strong of a grip. I'd always believed that the crush grip and thumbs forward were mutually incompatible, based on what I'd read and been told. Interesting to learn differently.

Sebastian said...

I had a similar revelation doing airgun silhouette when I got back. We only had two matches left in the season after that, but I shot AAA scores on both of them, after only shooting AA before.

Grip strength was the difference. I wasn't death gripping it, but holding it about as tight as I could without shaking definitely improved my score.

TBeck said...

Mas teaches the crush grip for accuracy and control. He teaches the "thumbs forward" grip to keep your thumb the hell out of the way of the slide. I've got a dandy little scar where an AMT Backup opened my thumb knuckle to the bone. This was BEFORE I went to LFI. By then I had, shall we say, internalized the lesson.

If you ever have the opportunity to take his LFI classes, don't hesitate!

Ben said...

Just caught the Shooting Gallery piece featuring this shoot. Very cool, even if you're only briefly visible.