Monday, July 08, 2013

Speaking of recoil control...

Saturday at the range we met up with someone Shootin' Buddy knows from work. She'd mentioned wanting to get some basic handgun familiarity since she was thinking about buying a pistol when they moved into their new home, and Shootin' Buddy isn't one to pass up a chance to do the Lord's Work, so she and her husband met us at Iggle Crick on Saturday morning.

After the initial safety briefing, I worked with her and Shootin' Buddy did likewise with her husband, running through basic safe manipulation and operation on an assortment of revolvers and self-loaders.

Unfortunately for when it came to explaining a good stance, the Best Visual Aid I've Ever Seen had left the range before the couple showed up...

A few lanes to my left when I arrived were three people I took to be a family group: Mom, dad, and adult son. Dad and son were both taller than me and dad was a big, buff dude where son had more of a swimmer's build.

They were taking turns shooting a full-size small frame Glock, either a 9 or .40. Junior would lean slightly into the gun, not in an exaggerated Magpul video crouch but with his weight definitely centered forward of his hips, and was shooting better than the run of the mill public range shooter.

Meanwhile, Senior was in the "Beginner's Lean": standing bolt upright and leaning back a bit at the waist. What would have made him such a valuable teaching aid was that, despite the fact that he was physically much bigger than the younger man, from the side you could plainly see the recoil rock his torso back slightly with each shot.

Basically, from the waist up he was slightly unstable due to his rearward lean; every time the gun went off, the few foot-pounds of recoil the Glock added to the system was enough to throw it out of balance. I wish I had the nerve to ask if I could video, because it was so textbook.


Anonymous said...

Did you start your student Weaver or isosceles stance?

I still remember the chant "Nose over toes!" to get us to have a mild forward lean.


Tam said...

I was teaching iso, but it was still 1977 over at Shootin' Buddy's table. ;)

og said...

I'd love to see someone with a beginner's lean shoot the 500.

So long as I was holding the gun when they went down, anyway.

Anonymous said...

"I was teaching iso, but it was still 1977 over at Shootin' Buddy's table"

This string of fire is for score!

Ok, it was working for him.

Thanks for doing that for her. I know it took time away from your shooting but I could not handle both on a public range.

She said she had shot in the old country but that was likely a bolt action rifle or .22 AK in Young Pioneers or whatever the Romanian equivalent was.

Shootin' Buddy

RevolverRob said...

The "beginner's lean", one of my favorite things to correct. I usually start out with stance (ISO), and then let the shooter fire a few rounds. They all lean away eventually and then what I do is walk up behind them, put my hand on the back and lean the forward casually, hold my hand there and tell them to fire a few rounds. It's worked virtually every time, once they've seen it work, it's even easier to explain.

I also almost always say (to non-squeamish shooters with good humor), "Look, I know the thing is essentially having a controlled explosion in your face, when you squeeze that trigger, but's very controlled, so lean over it and control the recoil yourself."


Andrew said...

"Nose over toes!"

That is a lot easier to say than "shoulders forward of your hips!"

I'm using that.

Scott J said...

Bravo for you and Shootin' Buddy being unselfish enough to set aside your goals for the day to help the new shooters.

I tend to be shy in person so I don't know if I could have gotten past that to invest so much time.

Will said...

Got to watch the folks with bifocal glasses. When they tilt their head back to see the sights, the back wants to develop a reverse curve to make it more comfortable and balanced. That's ok if you are just reading the label on a can of beans/bottle of wine (have to use the appropriate imagery for the targeted student), not so much for things that bump.

Anonymous said...

Did she have any clue she was being instructed by such a great and famous teacher? On second thought, that might have intimidated her into freezing.

Alien said...

Our Hostess made a terrific observation; on Caleb's blog she left a comment mentioning bringing up a pic on her phone from Caleb's place to show her student a good stance.

We often forget (or, at least I do) most of us have a basic photo tool in our pocket. Using a photo to show what's correct, and a quick phone snap to show what the student is doing, can be invaluable as learning tools. I hadn't thought of that until now (thanks, Tam).

I usually have my "basic folder" in my secondary range bag which has extra ear and eye pro, spare stapler, mags 'n' stuff. The folder is printouts of 15 or so Powerpoint slides from my Basic Pistol class that I've found useful whenever a newbie asks for help at the range (the 5 Rules, photos showing correct sight alignment and focus, etc., etc.). I'm adding some pictures of various high-end shooters in good stances.

Speaking of which.....once I had to retrieve a wood yardstick from the classroom and slide it under a student's belt in the center of her back. She kept reverting to what I term in class the GIAFM stance (pronounced Gee-Ah-Fum, which stands for "Get It Away From Me" and is the typical lean-back stance with shoulders back, hips forward, knees locked and all the weight on the heels) so I installed the yardstick and told her when she feels pressure on the back of her neck she's not keeping her nose over her toes.

global village idiot said...

The photo thing is an excellent idea. I've got a range-day coming up on the 20th and will have to figure out how to work it in - no telling how many new shooters will show up.


global village idiot said...

But the thought just occurred to me - is it within the realm of possibility that the people who adopt the GIAFM (so stealing that acronym!) stance adopted it based on these folks?

Comparing apples and camshafts, sure, but there's a precedent...


Yrro said...

@gvi - I don't think it's an intentional adoption so much as working with a common skeletal structure. The GIAFM stance is very *natural* for balancing a heavy hunk of steel out at arm's length in front of you. It is similarly the easiest way to hold a rifle as steadily as possible. Note that it also sucks for recoil control in rifles - it just doesn't matter for that sort of competition.

It was a huge epiphany for me, watching the self trained shooters do well on top shot... how all of the training and stances and methods for shooting a pistol only really matter if you care about multiple shots. For getting a single pretty accurate shot you can be doing darn near anything and as long as you can hold a good sight picture doing it you'll be right on target.

Geodkyt said...

Exactly, Yrro. It's a "balance the heavy thing" issue. Which is fine, until the "heavy thing" becomes the "jumpy thing".

Is She Dangerous said...

Thanks for this, I am a newer shooter and I had been reading on stances on the Gun Nuts site and wondering upon my own, which I didn't think was bad but didn't quite fit under any of the specific ones, you gave a great description, which made me visualize what not to do despite not having the video, thanks. :)

Alien said...

GVI - The "lean back" your link shows is the result of achieving bone-to-bone contact between elbow and hip to more solidly support the rifle, which also requires "blading away" from the target.

In the GIAFM stance the toes are even with each other, about hip-width apart, knees are locked and the back is arched to counterbalance the weight of arms and a gun extended in an isosceles hold.

Men will use GIAFM, but not nearly as much as women; skeletal structures are different (for example, women can't "throw" a ball overhand because of they have slightly different shoulder and arm joints) and women have a different center of gravity.

Try this: heel-and-toe back from a wall the length of 3 of your feet, then move the forward foot back even with the back foot. Put a standard chair in front of you, put your head against the wall and try to pick the chair up. Women can do it every time, only very rarely can a man do it. Different centers of gravity.

GIAFM is using skeletal structure, compression of certain muscles, and center of gravity to counteract the extended arm and gun weight. As Geodkyt pointed out, it works fine for the first shot. After that, though, anything that affects the body above the soles of the feet causes vertical movement of the gun because the knees are locked and all weight is on the heels. Humans depend on their toes for balancing.

In a proper stance women will tire before men because they're now using muscles under tension - rather than under compression - to control their mass and recoil. Nothing a moderate bit of weight training won't fix. I usually suggest gallon milk jugs, some string and a piece of closet rod or large wooden dowel. Water for weight in the jug (1 pint = 1 pound), extend in an isosceles stance with strong side foot toes back lined up with support side ankle, roll it up from floor level forward, roll it down and back up in reverse, and back up forward once. That's 1 rep.

You can do curls with it, tricep exercises with the elbow up and supported by the other hand, two jugs and a board between chairs gives you chest flys, face down you work the trapezius muscles, lunges with a jug in each hand works the legs, glutes and lower back. When the student needs more than the 8 lbs of water the jug will hold, it's time to get some real weights.

Crunches on the floor for abs, and while Captains of Crush hand exercisers are absolutely great, Walmart sells hand exercisers at 3 for $1.50 - they call them tennis balls. Squeeze with finger tips, not with the ball in your palm.

Tam said...


Did you look at the picture at the link?

Alien said...

Tam -

Did you look at the picture at the link?

Yes, I did - thumbs high, iso, nose over toes, upper body mass forward to control recoil, back straight, head mostly up. Someone with more upper body mass might not be as far forward, but it looks fine to me. What are you seeing that I'm not (or vice-versa)?

Scott J said...

I used to turtle quite a bit until I started wearing prescription glasses. Now I have to hold my head up to get in the sweet spot of the lens.

I'm still doing it a bit here back in February but watching a video from May I haven't put on YouTube I'm doing it much less.

Will said...

I'm wondering how well the average sized woman, or smaller, is served by the ISO technique.

I'm about 5'6" @115 lbs, and find that there is a vary narrow window of balance in the pure iso stance, even with my big feet. I'm talking maybe 6" of nose location fore/aft, before it gets very tippy. That's without recoil input. The fix, of course, is to blade the legs/feet, to get a more stable platform, which tends to degrade the turreting advantages of iso.

Then there is the wrist angle(s) the iso technique requires. I can deal with that when shooting wimpy recoiling guns, but it all falls apart when dealing with light weight, higher power guns. Admittedly, my offhand limited wrist mobility has some bearing on this part, but it mostly just keeps me aware of all the angles my wrists and hands need to generate to assume the position. Losing the straight line hand/arm orientation degrades my ability to handle much force.

I can shoot a .50 Deagle with a Weaver stance, but I would be inclined to throw the gun instead, if required to use an iso to shoot it. Same for my .44 Charter, or the Lightweight Officers Mod with Corbon ammo.

Tam said...


My bad, I misread your comment. Disregard. :o


Weaver is entirely dependent on muscle strength (the isometric "push/pull") to control recoil where the iso uses the skeletal structure. It's very arm-strength intensive to do right. Being all out of shape, I can't even shoot a textbook weaver for more than a few rounds at a stretch anymore; I can shoot iso all day.

Will said...

Well, maybe I'm not doing it right. I'll have to find someone to check my form. As far as Weaver, I mostly shoot the "modified" version, which sort of looks like 1/2 an iso.