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: Im 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. Its 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 dont react the same way every time. The key is to understand and use the guns 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 theyve learned how to let the gun do most of the work for them so that they dont 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 Ill point to a couple of resources Ive used as additional sources of information for you. Then Ill describe what I learned from them. Im a huge fan of Brian Enoss 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 Plaxcos book Shooting from Within is also an excellent resource. With all the money youll 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 Associations (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. Lets 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 dont 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 hands middle and ring finger. Keeping your trigger finger pointed outward, wrap your support hand fingers around your dominant hands 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 Ive 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 dont 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 bodys 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.