GSSF Tip #7-35

Discussion in 'GSSF' started by BCarver, May 18, 2003.

  1. BCarver

    BCarver CLM Millennium Member

    Messages:
    824
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 1999
    Location:
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Tip #7-35 Hosted by Millard Ellingsworth (editor of sportshooter.com)

    Question:
    I just started shooting GSSF last Sept. and have been watching the masters who have been shooting all for many years. They all appear to recover faster from shot to shot. What type of hold and stance works best for faster recovery?

    Response to Question:
    I’m glad you mentioned both hold and stance in your question because the place to start this discussion is an understanding the “shooting platform”, which involves everything you do to support the gun. While your hold or grip is important, proper positioning of your arms, elbows, shoulders and upper body all contribute to a consistent reaction of the gun to firing which is the key to having it return to the proper place for a quick next shot.

    It’s hard to accept at first, but the less you try to do, the better things will go. “Old school” thought around the Weaver stance and grip had you in a tense “bladed” stance with your dominant arm locked out at the elbow and your non-dominant arm bent downward and pulling backward. The idea was to resist the recoil and muscle the gun into not moving at all (or at least to resist it as much as possible).

    The problem with any tense or “muscle-bound” approach is that without ever firing a shot, you can get very tired just maintaining it. As soon as your muscles start to fatigue, any chance you had at consistency is gone -- tired body parts don’t react the same way every time. The key is to understand and use the gun’s recoil energy, not to fight against it.

    A fast follow-up shot is completely about consistency. The top shooters get fast second shots mostly because they eliminate shot setup time. Their gun recoils just like yours does, but because of how they manage (as opposed to resist) the recoil energy, it tracks right back down on target ready for another shot. Yes, they have to aim for the second shot, but instead of finding the front sight and moving it back to the middle of the target, they just need to fine-tune the location while they are starting their trigger press. And they can do it over and over again all day long because they’ve learned how to let the gun do most of the work for them so that they don’t get tired. The approach many top shooters use is some variant of the modern isosceles.


    Sometimes it's even harder to tell where an idea really came from. This image is from the Airborne & Special Operations Museum archives showing pistol training for WWII. Sure looks like these guys are using many elements of the "modern" isosceles.
    Before I describe this more, it is important to give credit where it is due. I learned this from others who wrote about it and probably learned it from others still. It is frequently difficult in this field to really give credit to the progenitor of an idea or approach, so I’ll point to a couple of resources I’ve used as additional sources of information for you. Then I’ll describe what I learned from them.

    I’m a huge fan of Brian Enos’s book Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals. It blends real instruction with valuable exercises as well as some of the psychology of performance that is useful for any sport. You can buy his book, read additional material of his and interact with him at his web site, www.brianenos.com. J. Michael Plaxco’s book Shooting from Within is also an excellent resource. With all the money you’ll spend on match fees and ammo, consider buying them both and spending the time to understand them. Ron Avery is a regular columnist for the United States Practical Shooting Association’s (USPSA) Front Sight magazine and a strong proponent of the modern isosceles platform. In this article at his web site he discusses his experiences learning and using the modern isosceles platform. His web site is at www.practialshootingacad.com.

    Enough preamble. The elements of the modern isosceles platform (quoted from the Avery article mentioned above) are:

    1. Muscles and tendons of both forearms, the elbow joints, wrists and hands are set in a medium to firm static contraction, depending on amount of recoil. The rest of the body is more or less relaxed, based on individual preference.

    2. Both arms are braced behind the handgun with the elbows at natural extension. This allows two pivot points at both shoulders. Shoulders are relaxed and down.

    3. Gun is centered close to midline of body.

    4. Recoil is absorbed passively by the body through both arms. The axis of recoil is roughly through the centerline of the body. The upper body is generally more squared to the target, though the spacing of the feet is a matter of shooter preference. Stability is achieved by shifting the center of gravity forward and keeping the hands close to the same height as the shoulders in order to keep the arms from pivoting up in recoil.

    5. The shooting grip places the heel of the support hand very close to boreline which decreases the leverage the gun has in recoil .as well as putting the tendons of the support hand and wrist in a straight line, resulting in a biomechanically stronger grip. Both wrists are set.

    The major difference between the Weaver and the Modern Isosceles is the active use of isometric (push/pull) tension in the former to control recoil vs. a static contraction of the hands, arms and wrists, passively absorbing recoil with the body.”

    Without some more descriptive text and a picture or two, that might be hard to get your head around, regardless of how accurate it is. Let’s walk through it in order.

    What you need to do is hold the gun firmly so that it operates properly and stays still while you are pressing the trigger. You can pretty much accomplish that with the muscles from your elbows forward. Tension in any other part of your body just tires you out and contributes to unrepeatable reaction to recoil. The proper grip creates some tension between the hands, wrists and forearms which provides the gun a stable location. Everything else is loose, allowing the recoil energy to dissipate rapidly.

    I frequently see the question “what do I do with my thumbs?” My advice is to keep them out of the way so they don’t get hurt. An important part of the grip is to cant the supporting wrist forward. Try this: Hold both arms straight out, pointing your thumbs at something directly in front of you, fingertips touching. Rotate your support wrist forward so that its fingertips naturally move down “one and half” fingers, aligning your support index finger with the groove between your dominant hand’s middle and ring finger. Keeping your trigger finger pointed outward, wrap your support hand fingers around your dominant hand’s finger. Notice how the gap that used to form between the heels of your hands (when the meaty portion of the pads were opposing each other), closes up naturally.

    Now do this with an unloaded gun a notice how much more of your left hand is pressed up against the grip and how your support hand grip helps keep your dominant hand pressed up under the trigger guard for as high a grip as possible. More skin on the gun means more control with less effort. With your hands positioned properly, you need only apply enough pressure to keep the gun in place. Also, notice that there is nothing for your thumbs to do. Allow them to chill out and point naturally in the direction of the target.

    The best description I’ve heard of how to grip the gun is that your dominant hand mostly grips front-to-back and your support hand mostly grips side-do-side. Because you want to have your trigger finger hand relatively loose (a tense hand means a less than smooth trigger press), most of your grip strength comes from your support hand. A 60%/40% split is the conventional wisdom. The point is to make sure that your trigger finger is free of hand-induced tension.

    The equal sides of the isosceles triangle formed by your arms place the gun in the middle with both arms providing equal support and paths for the recoil energy. This places the gun at the midline of your body. Holding the gun with a natural extension of your arms means it is also near eye level, so don’t droop your head (it will just make your neck sore).

    When the gun recoils after a shot, the path for it to follow is defined by your grip and stance. With a grip that is holding the gun at the centerline of your body, the gun will push back on each arm the same. Movement of the slide and the body’s inability to absorb all of the energy directly will cause the muzzle to flip up some. But the centered position it started from is the natural place for it to return to. The little bit of twist energy from the rifling will be counteracted by the tension in your grip (allowing the gun to return to a position where the sights are easy to find). Your elbows, upper arms, and shoulders will eat most of the recoil energy and your hands will drop back to where they started. The gun will be on target, ready to go again.

    Now, the other part of a quick follow-up shot is sight awareness and visual ability. It has been said that “shooting is seeing”, an aspect that Enos certainly discusses and that may be covered in a future installment of GSSF Tips from the Pros.

    To view demonstrative pictures of Millards response, click on the following URL:http://www.sportshooter.com/GSSF/tips/gssf_pro_tips7.htm

    This topic and response was posted by Bobby Carver for Millard Ellingsworth.
     
  2. 40blaster

    40blaster

    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2001
    Location:
    jacksonville florida
    While ROing I have noticed quite a few top shooters, in GSSF, get a death grip on their Glock, forcing the gun into the strong hand first then stangeling that grip with their weak hand. This, coupled with very light loads, keeps the sights on the target very much like a compensated gun. I know this contridicts common teachings.
     

  3. sportshooter

    sportshooter .com or .info Millennium Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 1999
    Location:
    SoCal
    What you can't really tell is what they are doing with the rest of their body. I take a firm grip, but I don't tense my arms and shoulders. I work the gun into a high spot in my dominant hand and then cant my supporting wrist forward and get as much skin as I can on the grip and make sure that the heels of my hands really press in together as my support hand envelopes the fingers of my dominant hand. The firm grip is to make sure that the gun doesn't move around in my hands (and to make sure that the wimp load cycles the gun).

    The hard part to get across in the early stages is keeping everything "behind the elbows" loose. [Note: Some well-known shooter I can't remember right now deserves credit for that.] What seems to work is to get folks to loosen everything up, and then reapply tension appropriately.

    Millard
    http://www.howtoshoot.org
     
  4. 40blaster

    40blaster

    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2001
    Location:
    jacksonville florida
    That's it, and then relax. That has proven to be the hardest thing for me. I don't know, a strangelhold on the gun and a three point stance(left leg, right leg and the table) it seems there are a lot of things GSSF'ers are doing that are found no where else in shooting.
     
  5. Fireglock

    Fireglock Which is worse?

    Messages:
    2,952
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2000
    Location:
    Pinellas County, FL
    Yep, but using the table is a no-no. ;f
     
  6. sportshooter

    sportshooter .com or .info Millennium Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 1999
    Location:
    SoCal
    I think you simply find that folks take whatever advantage is offered up by the rules (and then some, with some folks). I work a similar grip for the Steel Challenge rimfire matches because they also start from a low-ready like position. GSSF is a different style of sport and provides a different set of opportunities.

    Millard