I’m a C-class shooter and shoot regularly. Periodically, I’ll flinch on a shot and have no idea why. While I can’t detect a pattern, it tends to happen more often on the first target of a pair. Do you know of any research on why we flinch, and do you have any suggestions on ways to eliminate it?
There is no mistaking a flinch — that momentary “hiccup” as you are about to pull the trigger of your shotgun. The most commonly held misconception is that a flinch is an anticipation of recoil caused by shooting heavy loads. It has been my experience that this is rarely the cause. Instead, it is caused by a sudden interruption of the acute visual connection between the target and the dominant eye. When this happens, your brain experiences a moment of visual confusion, causing the flinch. The cause of this visual disconnection is most often one of the following:
1) Improper gun fit: For a shooter with a high cheekbone or smaller facial structure, the dominant eye may wind up below the rib of the shotgun when the shotgun is fully mounted and the shot is executed. With this shooter, a higher comb is the solution. Have an adjustable comb installed or use a comb riser product like the Beartooth Comb Riser.
2) Spoiling the line: When the movement of your gun to the break point is such that the muzzle gets between your eye and the target, you inadvertently block your visual connection with the target as you execute the shot. This most often happens on targets that are descending at the break point. It also happens when a shooter is not committed to a break point and “rides the target.”
3) Gun mount: I have often worked with shooters who press their head into the gun at the end of the move, even if their gun fit and movement to the target is perfect. This positions the eye below the rib and blocks the shooter’s visual connection with the target. Your best path to flinchless shooting is to seek the assistance of an experienced instructor who can diagnose and help you resolve your flinch.
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.