Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I'm a pretty good shot... and hand, finger, and grip strength have a lot to do with it.

While most of the firearms we have are "stock", we still have quite a few with modifications... including various "trigger jobs" on rifles, shotguns, and handguns. A friend recently told me he was ordering a "Ghost Trigger" for his Glock because the gun's stock trigger pull was messing up his "groups". Now... I have a couple of Ghost products and they do a pretty good job on different guns, but a "trigger job" is what a lot of folks turn to rather than work on fixing themselves first. A "trigger job" won't fix a poor application of the shooting fundamentals or... make up for a lack of hand, finger, and grip strength.

Ruger SR9... my usual EDC... demonstration for students... draw and fire...
controlled pairs... flash-sight picture... at five yards...
.22LR single shot in bullseye was demo from ten-yards with Ruger Mark II Government Target Model...

Don't get me wrong, there are mechanical modifications and accessories that can truly improve a shooter's performance... but only if the fundamentals and decent hand and grip strength are already in place. I've shot some S&W M&Ps and Glocks that were amazing guns after folks like Bowie Tactical Concepts and Boresight Solutions had worked their magic, but for the most part beyond sights... our Every Day Carry guns around here are bone stock... and I shoot them pretty well because of two reasons... in my humble opinion... I have a pretty good grasp and application of the fundamentals... AND... I have developed and maintain pretty good grip and trigger-finger strength.

Ruger SR9... demonstration for students... trigger-control focus... ten-shots... at five-yards...

Most folks these days don't do a lot of manual labor, especially manual labor that works fine motor skills to where they build up strength in their hands and fingers, especially with regard to their grip. There are even some regular "gym rats" I know that haven't been purposeful about building hand and grip strength on the same level as their biceps and triceps. Now I've had students that have limitations due to injuries, arthritis, and other problems, but that's not the majority of folks. Also, I'm not picture of overall fitness... I do exercise... but I'm also a fat guy who could stand to lose a few or eighty pounds... but I have still developed very good hand, finger, and grip strength.

So, let's identify some of the advantages to great hand, finger, and grip strength:
  • Easier manipulation of the firearm's action and controls.
  • More consistent trigger press and management regardless of trigger weight.
  • Stronger grip for two-handed and one-handed shooting.
  • Better recoil control for controlled pairs or follow-up shots.
  • Better retention of the firearm if someone tries to take it from you.
  • Less fatigue when doing a lot of shooting.
Glock 17 Gen4... three shots draw and fire... then ten shots...
trigger-control focus... all at three yards...

So the next question is... how do we improve our hand, finger, and grip strength? Most people I know, even those who work-out at a gym, are not necessarily purposeful about building hand and grip strength. Regular shooting and dry-firing is great for developing your fine motor skills as they relate to shooting, but it doesn't necessarily build the strength in the hand, grip, or trigger finger any more than a weight-lifter doing curls with a five-pound dumbbell every day. 

S&W M&P9... eleven shots... seven yards...

You need to be purposeful about building hand, finger, and grip strength and fortunately... you can do a lot by incorporating it into your everyday activities. I do a lot of my grip exercises while driving to work. So if you want to build hand, finger, and grip strength... here are some exercises to try:

  • Grip Exercisers - Equipment: grip exerciser or ball... I still use the GripMaster daily.
  • Arm-Hang and Towel-Arm Hang - Equipment: chin-up/pull-up bar, towels.
  • Wrist Curls and Hammer Curls - Equipment: dumbbells, kettlebells.
  • Pinch Curls - Equipment: Weight plates, heavy books,
  • Farmer's Walk - Equipment: Dumbbells, buckets with water/weight in them.
  • Hand Stretch - Equipment: Stretching bands or heavy/larger rubberbands
Here are some links that explain the some of the above exercises and other exercises you can do at the gym or at home:
I'm not saying a trigger-job or stippling your grips on your gun won't help, but I think you'll find that as you develop your strength... you'll see your shooting improve... and that's why I believe... I'm a pretty good shot... and hand, finger, and grip strength have a lot to do with it.

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