It’s not a bad idea to take any fundamental and break it down into the objectives of that particular fundamental. What are we trying to achieve with this particular “fundamental”.
FIRST OBJECTIVE OF GRIP:
The muzzle points where the shooter is looking when establishing their grip.
The first objective deals with point shooting/index shooting/natural point of aim. Basically, the feel of the gun in the hand aligns the pistol. Some instructors believe that you absolutely have to have perfect sight picture before breaking a shot. Either way, when the grip (and grip establishment) aligns a pistol right where the shooter is looking, the sights are already (or at least substantially) aligned. In short, consistent grip will point the muzzle right where a shooter is looking. Now this objective has a little bit more to do with the grip establishment block taught further below, but we want to make sure that all of the mechanics of grip meet this first objective of consistently bringing a muzzle right on target even before we pull back our focus to the sights.
SECOND OBJECTIVE OF GRIP:
The muzzle returns to a same location after each shot.
This fundamental has to do with recoil management. A proper grip will return the muzzle down to a consistent location shot after shot after shot. A consistent repositioning of the muzzle to the same location does not require any post ignition muscular contraction. In other words, we do not want the shooter to flinch. The shooter has no particular timing to return the muzzle down to the same location. With proper muscular contractions and a solid base behind the gun (described further below) the muzzle will naturally return down to a consistent location after each shot.
Therefore, when a gun goes off (even for example if someone else pulls the trigger for you and it’s a surprise shot), the isometric muscular contractions around the gun with a C-clamp and chest squeeze (described further herein) will return that muzzle down right to the same location.
MUZZLE FLIP: …WHO CARES
Now, the muzzle will flip and some guns flip higher than others. For example, a SIG P226, P229 may flip higher because it has a higher bore axis; the bore is positioned higher with respect to the shooter’s wrist. But nonetheless, the objective is to simply return the muzzle to a consistent location, not necessarily mitigate muzzle rise. Generally speaking, excessive muzzle rise shows a weak grip without a locked in upper base behind the pistol, but excessive muzzle rise is just an indicator of a problem. Muzzle flip is not necessarily the problem itself.
There are further common deficiencies with a grip such as support hand slippage, where the support hand will slip and move forward after each shot, thus applying different forces upon the gun after each shot. Support hand slippage does not allow a consistent base to return the muzzle down to that consistent location.
Therefore, the hands should remain consistently upon the pistol as described further herein. The path of the muzzle will generally take the characteristic pattern where the muzzle rises after a shot then dips down below the target and then rise gain a little bit above the target and then settle back down right on target (as described about three minutes into the video). This heartbeat like osculation is about optimal. If there’s excessive up and down action of the muzzle, the grip might be a bit weak.
Now that we’ve covered trigger mechanics and a little bit of sight alignment, but remember if you’ve cheated and looked ahead there’s a sight alignment too. We want to touch it in a bit more in conjunction with natural point of aim, but now is an opportune time to go on grip. Before I dive into grip let’s talk about why are we talking about grip. Why not stance or platform? Why not sight alignment? Well grip to me is foundational. In fact, Britt Lentz and myself, we did some arm wrestling here. What should be first? Should it be trigger control or grip? I wanted grip but it’s a little bit of a toss up but I do think it makes more sense to hit those trigger control drills as we just did as that seems to work a little bit better and then really tie into grip but this is an important one. We do have this grip course I have put together originally for instructors and users and it’s just things I’ve pulled together for best practices for grip. So you can check that out at grip.nextleveltraining.com. I’m going to repeat a lot of that here, a little more focus right now on best practices for instructing teaching grip in a larger student environment. So let’s tie into this.
Now when we talk about grip we start with the end in mind. That means let’s start with that perfect grip and then we’re going to backtrack from that perfect grip and go into the second derivative topic of grip which is grip establishment which is really more important part of how you get to that end grip. So we’re going to start grip with an objective-based approach. Two main objectives on grip and this could be debatable but I feel pretty firmly about this stake in the ground. I like to think of these objectives as Shot 1 and then all the shot next, all those follow-up shots. First objective is the grip and the grip establishment should align the pistol basically where you’re looking at. Wherever you’re looking at, the way you establish that grip should bring the pistol aligned with where you want to shoot naturally. I’m talking upstream from sight alignment event. This makes sight alignment a lot easier because you’re so consistent in how you establish that grip that it is just aligned with your line of sight which is where you’re looking at, the threat, the target. So that first is for Shot 1, just lining up that first shot. A second objective of grip is all those shot next; that after that boom goes off that the muzzle naturally comes back to its location just based on your very minimal muscular contractions upon the pistol which we’ll talk about in a second. So when the gun goes off and let’s say someone else even pulls the trigger so to speak with a live fire pistol. I don’t suggest that but that you should just with your muscular contraction, boom. It returns down to the same location. Generally speaking there’s a characteristic systolic pump-like, like heartbeat, boom. That should be kind of the theme of it. It flies off, comes down, comes up and settles down. That’s about an optimal grip where we’ll turn that muzzle down to that consistent location and by the way what I just showed is about 5, 6, 7 hundredths of a second. It happens very quickly. It does not require any post-ignition push, any post-ignition muscular contraction to achieve that. Your natural isostatic, Charles Atlas-like contractions, if any of you, you old timers know what that means, will do its job in returning that muzzle to a consistent location. I just have to stress these objectives and hope we’re not too verbose in explaining this because when you have that objective-based approach your mechanics, I don’t want to say they’re loosey-goosey and flexible but your way of instructing and modifying and checking grips are always driving through those first two objectives. Now we’ll be talking about some deficiency analysis and how to establish your grip in a few follow-along blocks here but let’s first tie into the way to establish a very good grip.
Q: How do we know a bad grip? What are the common deficiencies in grip? How do we teach the grip?
A: All these questions answered in the blocks below.
Stress the two objectives to students so they clearly understand that the mechanics are all driving towards good solid first shot placement and returning the muzzle down to a consistent location. It’s not a bad idea to introduce point shooting/index shooting where you can hit a target without the sights and also the importance of recoil management.
Video of Sample Class Related to This Block
The sample video below is to help you see how this instruction is actually taught. Now this is not the only way to instruct, but it is shown to give you an example.