In the debate about shooting techniques in the saloon after all the guns have been locked away, this issue will take up about three rounds of drinks. In the old days, the â€śquail gripâ€?was taught. â€śImagine yourself holding a live quail. Hold it just firmly enough that it canâ€™t fly away, but not firmly enough to hurt it.â€?
We arenâ€™t talking about birdies. Weâ€™re talking about guns. Specifically, we are talking about powerful defensive handguns and hard-kicking Magnums and large calibers used for outdoor sports such as hunting. The harder we hold them, the less they kick and jump. The less they kick and jump, the more efficiently we can shoot them.
Traditional grasp of the .45 autoloader. Thumb rests on manual safety, pad of index finger is in contact with trigger.
Author prefers this grasp: thumb curled down for more gripping strength, trigger finger inserted to distal joint for more leverage.
This writer strongly recommends the â€ścrush grip.â€?How hard do you hold the handgun? As hard as you can. It was once advised to intensify your grip until tremors set in, and then back off until they stopped. In the real world, under stress, thereâ€™s going to be some tremor anyway. Get used to it now. Hold the gun as tightly as you can and let it tremor.
The key is this: keep the sights straight in line. If the sights are in line, and the hand is quivering, the sights will quiver in the center of the target. When the shot breaks, the bullet will strike the center of the target. Once it has been center-punched, the target will neither know nor care that the launcher was quivering before the projectile took flight.
Any marksmanship expert will tell you that consistency of grasp is a key to consistent accuracy. As stress levels change during shooting, which is really a multi-tasking exercise that gives you a lot to think about, the consistency of grasp can change too. If you think about it, there are only two ways to grasp the pistol with uniformity.
One is to hold it with virtually no pressure at all. This will give you poor control of recoil.
The other is to hold it as hard as you can, for each shot and every shot.
The hard hold has some other benefits. If you have accustomed yourself to always hold a pistol with maximum grip strength, you are much less likely to ever have it knocked or snatched from your hand. Moreover, you now have the ultimate cure for a handgunnerâ€™s malady known as â€śmilking.â€?
â€śMilking,â€?taken from the handâ€™s movement when milking a cowâ€™s udder, occurs when the index finger closes on the trigger and the other fingers sympathetically close with it, changing the grasp and pulling the sights off target. Most commonly, this will pull the shot low and to the side of what you were aiming at. It is a function called â€śinterlimb response.â€?When one finger closes, the other fingers want to close with it.
One reason author recommends a very firm grasp. Imagine yourself holding a pistol, and grasp it thus with fingers relaxedâ€?/FONT>
â€?and notice that when you â€śpress the trigger,â€?the other fingers close reflexively. This is called â€śmilking,â€?and is conducive to bad shots. The cureâ€?/FONT>
â€?is to grasp firmly with everything but the trigger finger. Now, when trigger finger is flexedâ€?/FONT>
â€?the other fingers canâ€™t sympathetically close, because theyâ€™re already closed as tight as they can get.
Do this simple exercise. Relax your hand, and pretend to be holding a handgun. Now, move the index finger as if rapidly firing a handgun with a heavy trigger pull. You will see the other fingers reflexively contracting along with it. You have just seen and experienced milking in action.
Now do the same, but this time with all but the index finger closed as tightly as you can hold them. As you run the index finger, youâ€™ll feel the tendons trying to tighten the grasp of the other fingers, but youâ€™ll see that they actually canâ€™t. Thatâ€™s because the tight grip has already hyperflexed the fingers, and they canâ€™t tighten any more. The milking action has now been eliminated.
Thumb position is negotiable. Generations of shooters with the GI 1911 .45 learned to shoot with the thumb high, resting on the manual safety. Many competitive target shooters prefer to point the thumb straight at the target. This straight thumb position seems to align the skeleto-muscular structure of the hand in a way that allows the index finger its straightest rearward movement. With powerful guns, curling the thumb down to add grasping strength and enhance control is a valid technique. A lot of it depends on how the gun fits your hand. The controls may also be a factor. With a conventional double action auto that has a safety catch mounted on the slide (Beretta, S&W, and Ruger to name just a few), I like my thumb to be where it can not only push the lever into the â€śfireâ€?position, but verify that the lever is in fact in the position it should be in.
Trigger finger contact? The old time marksmen liked the very tip of the finger, on the theory that it offered more sensitivity. With a handgun that has a very light trigger pull, there may be some validity to that. Still others use the pad of the finger, which is basically the point at which you find the whorl of the fingerprint.
Personally, Iâ€™ve learned that contacting the trigger at the crease of the distal joint, the spot old time revolver masters called â€śthe power crease,â€?gives me much more leverage and therefore more control. This is particularly true on guns whose trigger pulls may be long and/or heavy: the double action handgun, the Glock, etc. A lot of this will depend on hand size and shape in relation to gun size and shape. There are many variables in the interface between human and machine.
A special thank you to: Massad Ayoob & American Handgunner Magazine "Printed with the permission of American Handgunner Magazine