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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All, I hit mini slump, I started shooting not so long ago, was progressing very good per my standards, with xdm 5.25 my groups at 5 yards are all in 1-2" size range and never out of 3" circle, at 7 yards it is also okay, but no consistency and anything further is allover the place. I cannot move to the next step.
When I dry fire at home, I attach laser to the rail, set target at 10-15 yards, set cellphone to film target, dry fire fe times and then examine video record to see if laser moves when click sound, and it is very steady, laser dot never moves more than few fractions of an inch, so I was expecting the same accuracy at live fire, but as you can see from text above it aint happening.
Last time, while shooting at the range, i tried to drop mag in between shots to see if I flinch, and, WTF! , pistol drops down significantly, and I cannot seem to be able to stop it, even if I do it slowly and trying to control the situation. It kind of does not make sense because if pistol drops so much down, I am not suppose to have such consistency at 5 yards, so either I jerk the trigger with great consistency so all my shots go lower than they suppose to, or I flinch after the click sound, which I know some of the pros do but Imam sure I am far from that level.
I am looking for advise of how to get rid of the flinch effect, so far per my research I need to try using better hearing protection to isolate myself more from the shot sound. I am going to use a combination of ear plugs and ear muffs. Anything else anybody can recommend?
 

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More dry fire always helps. What helped me a lot was if I noticed myself flinch at the range, I would drop mag/unload the gun and dry fire a few times to undo the flinch response and try to reinforce the correct stable fire muscle memory. Then I would go back to shooting. If it happened 20 rounds later I would do it again. Seemed to help me.

the extra hearing protection also is a big help
 

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flinching cant be fixed during dry fire because your brain knows nothing will happen. obviously general accuracy and all the other basics benefit from dry fire.

other than loading random snap caps one thing you may want to try is as you shoot dont drop you gun maintain your focus on the sights and the line to the target.

flinching is natural so breaking it is hard . If you can, try shoot a variety of guns so you are not completely accustom to the break point . Then you brain will stop guessing and focusing more on proper hold , letting the gun go off at random then when you want it to . its the little anticipation point to fight through. I usually bring a 22 and swap that in to counter any flinching.

also be realistic about improvement goals
 

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For myself that reaction is all about the trigger. My xdm .45, admittedly has a crap trigger. Not many rounds thru it. I'm not very good with it and tend to jerk it and anticipate recoil a little.

My xdm 40 on the other hand is smooth as silk. It "surprises" me when it fires and that makes all the difference.

Good Luck.
 

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Some things come to mind...

1. Where are you placing the trigger on your finger? Is it on the first knuckle, or is it on the pad about where your fingernail stops? You might be using too much finger if you are not on the pad. That will cause a round to push left or right, depending if you are a leftie/rightie.

2. Make sure that you have equal pressure with a 2 handed grip. Many shooters over squeeze with their strong hand, and that can cause your shots to stray.

3. Make slow, steady pulls on the trigger. Don't jerk it or snatch it. Let the gun go off naturally. At the same time, don't take forever to pull the trigger as you will anticipate it more.

After the shot goes off, let the trigger reset to the point that you hear/feel it click and then STOP your forward trigger movement. The gun has reset and is ready to fire again so start pulling to the rear just as soon as you hear/feel that reset. Never let your finger come off the trigger at any point in time.

4. Keep your thumbs parallel down the side of the slide.

5. If you are still flinching, load up a magazine to capacity, aim at the target and pull as fast as you can. Feel the rush, hear the noise, know that you are sending lead down range. Get it out of your system, then go back to precision shooting.

6. Invest in a better trigger. Powder River Precision, Springer Precision, etc. all make good aftermarket trigger kits. My XDm has a 5lb. pull with a .25" travel and reset. It is night/day different from the factory trigger.
 

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Have someone take pics of your grip while holding your gun from the top, left and right and post them on here.
 

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usually, to stop flinching, its recommended to load some snap caps into your magazine at the range along with live rounds. that generally will show you that you are flinching. since you already know you're doing it and cant physically control it, im not sure what to tell you. maybe work out more so you can control the recoil better and the shock may not induce a flinch or wear better ear protection in case the sound makes you flinch more than the actual recoil.
 

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Flinching can recur/occur de novo even in experienced shooters. It's something that we're *ALL* always fighting.

There's an explosion (albeit what *should* be a controlled one :lol:) happening between your outstretched hands - like df2dot said, to finch at it is natural. As shooters, we learn to keep our eyes open through the violence of the gunshot and to control our natural reaction to flinch away from the shot as it breaks. It ain't natural.

With dry-fire, again as df2dot mentioned, it's possible to ace the exercise (laser, coin/spent-case over the front sight, whatever have you) yet still have problems live-fire simply because your brain knows that there's a difference.

See if going with a ball-and-dummy drill like what HowardMan mentioned helps you more/better. Use at least 3 magazines for the drill (if not more), and be honest to yourself as you shuffle the mags (if you can't, take an old pillowcase or the like with you to the range - put the mags into the pillowcase after you load them, and give them a gentle toss or two to shuffle them up) so that you honestly lose-track of which mag is which. It goes without saying that you should try to load the magazine stack "randomly." :)

The 5 and the 7 really should not be that different. A lot of shooting is mental, and FWIW, if your dry-fire is that good, you really shouldn't be having that much trouble at the 7. The 25? That might be a different story. :)

Pushing yardage is very much a mental game. Yes, smaller deviations of technique will result in larger deviances as the shots print downrange, but if your technique is solid and your physical endurance up-to-par, then what's actually falling apart is your mental game.

If it's the muzzle blast that's causing you problems, doubling-up on ear-protection can and should help, as can wearing a ballcap will the bill pulled low. Also, if you're indoor, switch to outdoor, or simply go to the range when there's not as many other shooters around (i.e. the guy with the cannon in the next lane) - this can help, too.
 

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I used the snapcap method. I could not believe how far I was dipping low left!!
For me, its getting over the anticipation of the shot. And I've been shooting a revolver for 20 yrs with no issues -- My thought is the XDM trigger is sooo much lighter that I need to spend more time at the range -- not a bad idea huh?? ;-)
 

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Snap cap method and lots of shooting works for me. When I go for long stretches without shooting I sometimes flinch when I start shooting again. Lots of shooting helps me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone for replies, I really appreciate every advise from which I also just learned few things that are influential to the flinching reaction but I had no idea they are. I am going to brush up by at-home dry firing next three days, then on Wednesday I am going to the range with better ear protection (muffs plus plugs) going to take all three mags and load some random snap caps. I will shoot at 7yd only. I will report with pictures.
Quick question: when holding the pistol and shooting live rounds, am I suppose to hold pistol loosely so to speak so once a surprise shot happens pistol bounce back freely and I do not resist it, or I suppose to hold it tight so once surprise shot happens pistol is not bouncing back as fas as if i held it loosely?
 

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Thanks everyone for replies, I really appreciate every advise from which I also just learned few things that are influential to the flinching reaction but I had no idea they are. I am going to brush up by at-home dry firing next three days, then on Wednesday I am going to the range with better ear protection (muffs plus plugs) going to take all three mags and load some random snap caps. I will shoot at 7yd only. I will report with pictures.
One thing I forgot to mention above. :oops:

As with everything else, there's differing schools of thought when it comes to shooting.

There are those who favor and champion dry-fire - just as there are those who do not. Who's right? No-one really knows.

Vogel, for example: he routinely confesses to his students that he dry-fires at least 4x as much as he live-fires, and that he often does so in short-order after a match or other live-fire specifically so that he can "fix the bad habits that [he] picked up, live-fire."

Hackathorn, on the other hand, believes that dry-fire is of-value only to beginning shooters simply because once there's ammo in the gun and it's being discharged, the gun will "behave differently."

The same kind of dueling viewpoints can be seen with every and any other form of training aid/technique, from lasers to airsoft.

Quick question: when holding the pistol and shooting live rounds, am I suppose to hold pistol loosely so to speak so once a surprise shot happens pistol bounce back freely and I do not resist it, or I suppose to hold it tight so once surprise shot happens pistol is not bouncing back as fas as if i held it loosely?
That's a quick question - and a very good question - but it opens up a whole different can of worms.

Currently, the outlook of the "tactical/defensive" community is that, under stress, you'll revert to a near-convulsive (if not outright convulsive) "100/100" (percentage force exerted, right hand/left hand) grip, so that you should train to this biological phenomenon.

Meanwhile, most in the competition world will recommend a noticeably harder side-to-side "squeeze/clamp" with the support hand while the dominant hand relaxes just a bit - offering firm but not excessive support "fore-aft" (from the front strap to the back of the grip), with enough force taken out of the grip so that your trigger finger motion through the full trigger path is smooth and well-modulated. In-essence, with this technique, recoil mitigation is mainly dependent on the support hand.

Similarly, two different outlooks exist on how to manage the recoil impulse. There's one school which says that you should bend your elbows a little and/or otherwise allow your arms to act as "shock absorbers." The other school will tell you to physically lock-out your joints as much as possible (either via tendons/ligaments or bone/muscle alignment) so that you can "physically abut recoil."

There is no true right or wrong: if there were, then we should see EVERY top shooter, regardless of whether if they're a professional gunman or top-tier competitor, using the exact same technique, no? :p In-reality, it's about what techniques fit you the best, and this is why both depth-of-knowledge as well as breadth-of-knowledge are important.

It's just like making your trigger path fit your finger/hand and how it interacts with the physical construct of the gun you're holding in your grip. Yes, that meaty patch at the middle of the distal phalanx of your trigger finger is the ideal when it comes to autopistols, but if your finger/hand build and how it interacts with the gun doesn't fit that ideal, then you've either got to change the hardware of the gun itself (with, say, a longer or shorter-path trigger, as is often seen on various 1911s/2011s, or with grip-reductions or sizing of modular backstraps, such as is-seen on various polymer guns as the Glock, M&P, and our own XDs) or alter your trigger finger placement in order to achieve that "flat finish" that allows you to hit right on the bullseye instead of pulling the shot (REF: Haley/Avery "Triggerstripe Drill" - search this up on the Haley Strategic Blog as well as their YouTube sight).

Just look at this discussion on the DefensiveCarry.com Forums regarding "the grip" -- Proper Grip & Recoil Managment -- there's a lot of fine detail that varies. :cool:

If you haven't already, please consider enrolling with a local training school or instructor. Actually, a private or semi-private lesson with an instructor will likely be best for you at this stage, as your deficiencies are likely to be masked by the typical shorter engagement distances and more rapid-fire pace (and the "combat accuracy"-is-good-to-go criteria) of most "defensive/tactical" training classes, particularly at the beginner/introductory level. You'll need a class setup/goal that's exacting enough to elicit your shortcomings, and you'll need an instructor or AI who is able to watch you closely and make fine adjustments (and that's just not as easily done in a line of 15 or 20 students, versus a one-on-one or 1:4 setting).

While it's far from impossible to teach yourself, it's a path that has a very, very steep learning curve, and typically requires a lot more time at the range (and a heavy volume of ammo). A good instructor can be a drastic shortcut, and in the end may save you quite a bit of money.
 

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usually, to stop flinching, its recommended to load some snap caps into your magazine at the range along with live rounds. that generally will show you that you are flinching. since you already know you're doing it and cant physically control it, im not sure what to tell you. maybe work out more so you can control the recoil better and the shock may not induce a flinch or wear better ear protection in case the sound makes you flinch more than the actual recoil.
This is what i do, and also how i got my 120 lb gf to stop flinching when shooting her slug gun. Works like a charm if you care at all about looking silly in front of people!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So I took a little bit of every advise and went to the range to work on my flinching problem, turns out there are many things that can contribute to flinching but all manageable and hopefully I did not bake this bad habbit into my muscle memory too much yet and with few more sessions I can get rid of it. I guess I was kind of blinded with good results and had no idea I was flinching.
Before anything, let me also mention that I was not shooting my 5.25 today as I wanted, I was too tired to clean it since last shooting session so I took wife's xd-9 subcompact which has much tighter trigger and I am not that comfortable with it, and have not detmined its favourite ammo brand yet, but overall I like it alot too. And, I also took only 200 rounds with me so I can respect each shot more.
At the range:
1. I used better ear protection, specifically: headphones over earplugs.
2. I shot few 10 shot strings trying different grip force to find sweet spot where grip is not too tight nor too weak, what works for me is slightly relaxed right hand with finger on the trigger and most support for the pistol is provided by left hand but not too much, otherwise it will overpower and start pulling pistol down. No thumb over thumb, that does not work for me, I use revolver grip for every pistol I have.
3. I discovered that upon firing a shot my eyes immediately refocus to the target to see where bullet peirces the hole so i made sure I do not do that and maintain my focus on the front sight always.
4. I was shooting 5 shot groups two three or four times and then switching to dry firing to check for flinching, did few dryfires until flinching do away and then back to live fire, then back to dry fire until flinching go away, and so on, and on, and on...
5. When squeezing the trigger I was concentrating inside my head on the fact that I must no flinch.
6. I was switching back and forth betwen life and dry fire and each time flinching was less and less, not completely gone but significantly less.
7. With such amount of concentration I was physically tired at 100 rounds mark, my hands started getting kind of shaky, left palm was tired to the point that it was uncomfortable and somewhat painful to grip the slide to rack it back, I kept going to approx 150 rounds count and then after that I was just sending brass and led down the range, another bad habit I just developed, bringing too many rounds to shoot.
8. Some shots I did while laying my forehands on the bench and sitting on the chair, this way I eliminated shaky hands factor.

All of that above was done with targets set at distance of 6.5 yards, pretty much 99.5% of all shots were never outside of black circle. Two best 5-shot groups that I liked I attached below, I like them because all shots were going very tight if not for two two flyers at top/left, I have no idea why I had those flyers, and what's funny is that they are absolutely identical and both are shots #3

So the conclusion is: Thanks everyone for great advices they are helping me alot and I think I know what to do now, next time I have no choice other than finally take my primary pistol (xdm 5.25) and see how flinching is going with that one, I expect it to be even better than today's experience because I am more familiar with it than any other pistol on my house.
 

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^ Good for you! Keep at it!

Your endurance will build gradually. For the vast majority of shooters, endurance isn't something that you can just "break through the wall" with. When you've reached that physical and/or mental line, just shut her down. A lot of really big names in the training field tell their students to "end positive," and that does make sense.

And again, as I mentioned before, don't get discouraged if the flinch returns. Even if you beat this down this time and do not see its recurrence years from now, that doesn't mean that at that time in the future, you were necessarily doing anything wrong. It can recur even in well-advanced shooters.
 

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I know this sounds strange but it has worked for me every time. Try concentrating on a drum beat instead of shot placement for a couple minutes. It gets you mind off of the recoil. "Shave and a haircut, two bits" for example. pop pop, pop pop pop, pop pop.

You won't find this one ion the books anywhere but as a percussionist, it works for me :)
 

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Tell me again why you didn't take the 5.25 along? A modern firearm can handle a heck of a lot more than you dished out before going into failure mode. My competition XD9 only gets cleaned about every third trip to the range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Tell me again why you didn't take the 5.25 along? A modern firearm can handle a heck of a lot more than you dished out before going into failure mode. My competition XD9 only gets cleaned about every third trip to the range.
Well, I heard it really isn't that necessary to clean them after every range trip, however I just cannot cannot get the thought off my mind that if it is not clean it will affect accuracy, i just have to be 100% sure that if I miss the target, it is me and not the dirty pistol. My first pistol was CZ and its manual advised to clean it after every shooting session, well except when only few rounds fired. Since then I go with that, plus if pistol will jam, I will be paranoid about it regardless the fact if it because it dirty. But, as I shoot more and more lately it is getting quite annoying to clean pistol every time, so I think I am going to start cleaning only the barrel, feed ramp, and locking block with every range visit and clean entire pistol maybe every 600 rounds or so, thank you for mentioning that. I do also have a feeling that like you saying even that is not necessary so maybe in a year or so I will be completely neglecting cleaning procedure. I am still new to firearms, only touched it for a first time this February so I learning everything from scratch, including the fact that firearm does not need to be clean at all times is also something I need to get used to.
Btw, I think flinching is completely gone so far, it took me three workouts to completely get rid of it, consistency is getting back and I moved to the next distance, 7 yards, two best 7yd-5shot groups are in the pictures below.
My 9mm stash has only 150 rounds left, that means only one range trip and then I will take a break for few months :(, will be interesting how much of skills I will look over couple months.
The good news is that I have a ton of .22 ammo and .22 pistol to shoot it, will be happily plinking while not being able to shoot 9.
 

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Good job!!!

Remember that flinching can recur - even in very, very advanced shooters. Don't be discouraged a few months or even a few years from now if all of a sudden you develop a flinch again.

The good news is that you'll already know how to work through it next time! :)

As for cleaning versus accuracy/precision and reliability, more often than not, those two are in-relation to the ammo than is dependent on the cleanliness of the gun.

The condition of the magazine comes into play, too, and since that's easier to diagnose, it's perhaps better to start here. :) Magazines are a big cause of malfunctions of the failure-to-feed (FT[F]eed) type in modern "combat/defensive"-quality autoloading handguns such as the XD-series pistols. Damages to the magazine body - typically the feed lips or even a cracked base-plate that leads to the spring/follower (and thereby fed rounds) sitting incorrectly - is usually the cause, but internal issues such as a weak or broken magazine spring or even a cracked/broken follower can elicit the same.

The biggest thing to remember is that the magazine is an expendable and consumable.

Think of it as the tires or the brakes on your car - you use it and use it and use it, and then it's done and it's time to get new. A quality magazine, just like a good set of tires or brakes, won't be cheap, but it will be durable enough to be used for quite a while, even if you're abusive of them: just with me as an example, with 37K rounds on my range/training 4.5-inch XDm9...let's say that I have 8 magazines I've cycled that many rounds through (in-reality, most of the rounds have been on 6 of those 8 magazines, and the vast majority of that have been on 4 of the 6), that's over 240 cycles of the magazine spring for each of those 8 mags - the springs still feed just fine, and the follower isn't cracked. And for as many times as the magazines have hit rocky surfaces or concrete, their feed lips are still fine, too.

And towards that last consideration - when those mags are ejected, where they end up is where they end up: on the floor. Impact, of-course, has the potential to do damage, and a damaged magazine is the last thing you want to worry about on your defensive weapon. Start separating your magazines based on their intended use: keep a set of mags cherry-picked and reserved for defensive purposes, and another set of "beaters" for training range use/abuse. Mark these mags in a definitive and permanent manner so that you can tell them apart with absolutely no doubt for confusion. You'll see that this also has a secondary benefit at the range, in that you'll instantly be able to tell your magazines from that of other shooters': not quite so apparent when you're just at the range shooting in a stall or lane, but when you're in a class of some three-dozen shooters, with a conga-line drill that involves shooting on the move, this will become very, very handy. ;) In this way, you can also log malfunctions by magazine, and instantly see any recurring pattern which may indicate a magazine failure.

In getting back to the gun, yes, *TOO MUCH* dirt can cause all sorts of problems.

Mud is the bane of autoloaders, and mud in the gun or in the mag - say you ejected a mag into a mud-puddle during a class - should immediately be remedied with a water flush (and if your gun malfunctions when wet with water, it's time to find out why, as it definitely should not - just imagine a defensive shoot in the driving rain) to clear out the mud. Sand/dirt can also cause problems. Here, water can help and it can hurt, as can both not using enough lube. Water may flush away the sand/dirt or cause it to clump. Similarly, although using a "dry" gun can help curb attracting sand/dirt as well as cause it to not build-up as fast, once that sand/dirt does infiltrate and build-up, it can also cause it to grind-in and make problems for the gun. Here, using an excess of lube is akin to flushing the gun with water - yes, the gun will be extremely dirty, but it will continue to run.

Finally, can a dirty barrel and chamber cause problems? Sure - excessive carbon build-up in the chamber area can cause both FT(F)eed at the feed-ramp as well as the potential for the spent case to be stuck in the chamber, with the latter often also related to excessive carbon build-up on the extractor. But in terms of accuracy/precision, at least in terms of a "service grade" defensive handgun, particularly at the distances that most tend to shoot/practice, it's really not a worry. To-wit, most "defensive/tactical" shooting schools/instructors have standards set at the 25 yard line using an NRA B-8 pistol repair center, and these standards are shot in classes with round-counts of 200+, using standard range-fodder, and often after the guns have been run pretty darned hard.

By all means, though, if you like a clean gun, clean them. :)

Similarly, if you like seeing how accurate/precise you are and want to use a clean gun with good ammo, again, do so. :)

But don't get into the thinking that somehow a carbon-fouled gun using range-fodder is tremendously affecting your performance, particularly at any distance up to and including the 25.

At the same time, yes, there's absolutely no reason why as average-Joe/Jane legal concealed-carry citizens that we should be carrying a gun that's been unjustifiably fouled by carbon build-up or dirt/grime: certainly, I also believe in having best-chances in a defensive scenario by pulling out a clean, well-maintained, and well-lubed weapon. :)

With that in-mind, though, remember that a good "defensive" autopistol like the XD-series that has only carbon-fouling (but not exposure to dirt/grime/mud) for even a thousand rounds should continue to function well provided that it has remained well-lubed (with the gun "dry," it should still go at least 500-600 rounds without issue, and if exposed to dirt/sand in such a state, it should still go at least 200-300 rounds).






6 days and ~4K rounds on that kind of surface. :) The XDm got beat to heck those days (with a lot of shooting from positions that had us on the ground) - but I learned a tremendous amount about what I can expect from these very capable weapons.
 
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