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Monday, February 14, 2011

Female Shooters

OK, ladies, listen up! [That should endear me to my female readers ;-)]

Don't take this as some sexist, misogynist post.  Everything that follows is a generality based upon what I've witnessed in my handgun classes and one-on-one training.

When it comes to most things - but especially guns - I throw Political Correctness out the window.  I won't tip-toe around a subject to make someone feel good about themselves.

You're physically weaker than men.  Pound for pound, guys have more muscle mass.  Because of this, when firing a gun, the technique you apply to your shooting skills is more important than it is with men.

If some big old burly guy wants to stand straight up, have weak wrists, bent elbows and a crappy stance, he can "muscle" the gun to keep it from flying out of his hands.  Usually, that's not the case with most women.

Take a look at this video.  I use this in my introductory class as just about the perfect example of how NOT to shoot a gun (WARNING - inappropriate language on a T-shirt at the start of the video) -

Now, a 50 caliber gun in the hands of anyone will produce a massive recoil.  But the negative effects will be more pronounced if you have smaller muscles AND improper technique.  Not a good combination.

Read the following, then go back and view the video again -

1.  Grip.  Absolutely horrible.  WAY over-grip with her strong hand (look at the striation of the tendons in her forearm) and virtually no grip with her support hand (watch how her left hand is just left "floating" after the gun fires).  You want to have a symetrical grip where the gun is almost cradled by the two hands with equal grip pressure from both sides.

2.  Elbows - The idea is to transfer the force of the firearm recoil into your large shoulder mass, NOT your weaker elbows.  Keep those arms bolt-straight.

3.  Stance - You want to use your upper body as a spring of sorts - to absorb the recoil.  You want to lean into your shots.  This will result in the most accurate shots, and allow you to quickly regain your aim for subsequent shots.  I tell my students that you want most of your weight on the front of your feet - you should feel like you're gripping the concrete with your toes.  You don't want to be pin-wheeling forward - just weight forward.

And bend your knees, for goodness sakes!  EVERYONE wants to stand up like a statue.  Bend your knees to help relax your body and accentuate the "spring" idea.  It also makes it easier to move.  As in, when someone is shooting back, you don't want to be a stationary target.  Practice like it's for real...

4.  Face the target - whenever possible, directly face your target.  She's using some sort of a modified Weaver stance.  Hips wide open.  Use an Isosceles stance whenever possible.

If the situation requires a Weaver Stance, be sure your firing arm is bolt-straight.  Again, that's to transfer as much of the recoil into your shoulder as possible.  And DON'T pull back with your support hand!  This causes nothing but muscle tremors which screw up your aim.  Support with your support hand!

Here's what all of that should look like -


I had a one-on-one student this weekend.  She is a member of one of our Armed Services, and wants to advance her career.  She was having a problem with one portion of her firearms qualifying.  In particular,  getting lead on paper with her weak-side, one-handed shooting.  She was literally unable to hit the target.  Not just the 12" paste-on "Shoot-N-See" target, but the entire 2' x 3' target!

We started with the basics as detailed above.  One big difference when you are shooting one-handed is you want your support hand either up on your chest, or in your pocket.  You DON'T want it flailing around, messing up your aim.  Keep it still.

You also need to SLIGHTLY over-grip with your shooting hand.  The key - and where the practice comes in - is to keep your trigger finger "butter smooth" and not working in concert with the lower three fingers that are on the grip.  When you squeeze the trigger, you DON'T want to ALSO squeeze those grip fingers, as it tends to bring your shots down-and-left when shooting with your right hand (and down-and-right when shooting with your left hand).

The result with this student?  Weak-side, one-handed with a .40 cal pistol:  Five shots in 10 seconds inside a 12 inch target at 7 yards.  You go girl!

Accept The Challenge

I prefer female students.  As a whole, they are much more willing to take instruction, and apply it to their practice routine.  Guys seem to listen with one ear, then go back to their old ways.  Oh well.

Apply what you learn - you paid good money for the instruction.

I picked up a great tip from one of my first female students (who passed her POST academy with flying colors!).  This lady was VERY small.  She weighed maybe 110 pounds soaking wet.

She regularly does finger strength exercises.  She's got one of these devices.  The important part is getting something that exercises each finger individually - not the whole hand at once.  With the whole-hand devices, your strong fingers can "cheat" for the rest of the hand.

This will help with so many parts of using a handgun.  Stronger grip when needed, the ability to load a full magazine without using a speed loader, and the ability to quickly lock open the slide on a semi-auto.

Now, Get Thee To The Range!

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Copyright 2011 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


suek said...

Completely off topic heads up:

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, I saw a couple of posts on this. Right now, I'm not horribly concerned, as it seems like it's mostly about fresh veggies.

I get more concerned when grain crops are affected, as that impacts meat prices as well ('cause that's what they feed hogs and steer).

Anonymous said...

That second video worried me more. What was the problem? Dirty gun? Cheap ammo? If I were a LEO and that was my gun I would be looking for another one.

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, I'm going to make a guess here: In my Practical Defensive Pistol class, I have a specific drill for clearing jams while shooting a string. I load the student's magazine, and intersperse "snap caps" - inert cartridges. When they get to one, they have to clear the jam before proceeding.

This looks similar to me. While I've never had a "clear the jam" scenario in an IDPA competition, it would not surprise me if one were offered.

Watch the video and look at the color of the ejected "bad" cartridges. They look really red, just like the snap caps I use.

Or of course, it could be a dirty gun or crappy ammo!

Anonymous said...

The second video looks like orange training rounds that are inserted into the magazine to give the shooter practice clearing a jam or a misfire.

suek said...

>>('cause that's what they feed hogs and steer).>>

And chickens. Which means egg production will be affected. And chicken in the meat counter prices...

Hard to beat the value of chicken -

We have the usual big name grocery stores in our area, but we also have a Mexican chain. Their prices are consistently way below the majors. I don't know how they do it - this week, they're advertising chicken legs at .59 per pound. Maybe Mexicans aren't especially fond of the legs? The price of wings - which have recently become popular for Buffalo wings - is out of sight. They used to be "soup" meat - now they cost more than breast meat. Strictly a matter of food fads... To be honest, I'm really leery of shopping at the Mexican store...though I know that they are required to be inspected. At least theoretically. Their branch closest to me smelled of three day old fish when you walked in the door. _Not_ appetizing.

suek said...

Here's another heads up...

Chief Instructor said...

The "sniff test" is how I judge Japanese restaurants. If I smell fish, no sushi - I'll have the teryaki or tempura, thank you. Good idea for a meat market as well...

US Treasury sell off: Yeah, funny how the MSM hasn't picked up that story. Supposedly on Geithner's speed dial, but no mention that he sold over $100 billion of US bonds.

Eh, no biggee, right?

suek said...

Well...on the sniff test... They have a chain of about 6-8 stores, and I have only been to the one, which closed down after maybe 3-5 years. Maybe it was due to poor management on a local basis, and then poor control from the central ownership. Since I haven't been to their other stores, I can't really say. But obviously, it hasn't inclined me to even _try_ the other stores - even if they were closer than they are!

One of my Mom's expressions - probably one from New England: "House guests and fish - both stink after three days". And she was right.

She was right about a lot of things - I wish I had had the chance to get to know her better as an adult, but we never lived close enough after I married to form an adult relationship, and of course, chatting on the phone was simply too expensive. Times sure have changed! I have lots of questions now that I would have liked to be able to ask, but such was not to be. Such is life.