There are plenty of reasons that shooters miss their intended bullseye. But by far, trigger flinching is the primary reason that marksmen miss. This can be the case with any weapons platform, be it pistol, carbine or long rifle, jerking the trigger in anticipation is the culprit most of the time. While it can be frustrating for shooters, there are ways you can remedy this bad habit. And it’s not anything too fancy or expensive that is needed. Just some good ol’ fashioned practice and a couple time-tested shooting drills. While this should go without saying, please practice proper firearms safety when practicing. Here’s what you need to know.
A dummy round, also sometimes referred to as a “drill” round, is not a live round. It has no primer or propellant. It is, essentially, a piece of plastic. It is used primarily to check weapon function. Dummy rounds are called “drill” rounds because they are great for using in practice drills like the ones mentioned below. The best part about dummy rounds is that they are probably one of the cheapest training tools you can get. A pack of 5 in your chosen caliber goes for about 20 bucks. To perform the practice drills detailed below, you will need at least 5 dummy rounds.
This drill is primarily about identifying the flinch habit in a shooter. To perform this drill, you will need two people… one to shoot and one to load. The loader is essentially the facilitator, as the purpose of this drill is to ensure that the shooter can focus solely on shooting. Standing behind the shooter and making sure that the shooter is facing away from him, the facilitator informs the shooter that there will be a dummy round in the magazine at some point. It is important that the loader emphasize the “at some point,” and withholds when the dummy round will be issued. Using a single live bullet, the loader loads a magazine and hands it to the shooter. The loader then instructs the shooter to shoot. This process is repeated at least twice. Then, the loader loads the dummy round. As the shooter shoots the dummy round, it will be apparent to both the shooter and the loader if the shooter has a flinching problem.
This drill is a variation on the aforementioned “don’t tell” drill above. Using all 5 dummy rounds, and remaining in the same physical formation, the loader alternates live rounds and dummy rounds. It is important to inform the shooter that every other round will be a dummy round. The loader then observes the shooter as the shooter goes weapons-free, firing a live round, then shooting with the dummy round. The purpose of this drill is to self-inform the shooter of his flinch habit, allowing the shooter more information in order to self-correct.
Note: The shooter will need to “tap-and-rack” the dummy rounds out of the pistol each time, as the rounds will not trigger the blowback action of the gun and thereby eject the casing. This means the shooter must physically cycle the slide to eject the dummy round from the gun’s chamber.
Stagger at Random
This is a finishing drill, designed to be run after the two aforementioned drills. The loader and the shooter remain in the same physical formation. The loader loads the magazine with all of the dummy rounds, as well as with live rounds. It is important to stagger the live and dummy rounds at random. The loader does not tell the shooter in what order the rounds have been staggered. The magazine is then handed back to the shooter, who is permitted to go weapons-free. The goal of this final drill is to have the shooter show no visible flinch between the live rounds and the dummy rounds. However, if the shooter is not yet cured of the flinch habit, this will be identified.