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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Or more accurately, the cure is IN your hand. I got thinking about this the other day, and thought I would mention a few things for the benefit of some of our less experienced shooters. I think we've probably all heard of limp wristing causing feed issues, but I'm of the opinion that 'limp wristing' probably isn't the correct description. I think 'loose holding' would be more accurate.

When a pistol recoils it's pushing against a spring that's normally in the 14-19 pound range, depending on caliber and barrel length. That means it needs 14-19 pounds of opposing force to push against. If you want to see what I'm talking about - try racking the slide with a real loose grip on the pistol. It's going to want to twist in your hand, and the slide isn't going to retract until it has something to push against. The same thing happens under recoil, but it happens so fast that it's hard to catch unless you get a stovepipe or FTF.

So how do you fix it? The answer is very simple - you grip the pistol firmly. Squeeze that sucker! In the army they taught us to grip a 1911 so tight that your hand would start to shake, and then to back off until the shaking stopped. It's almost a white knuckle grip, and that's the thing that locks your wrist. When you grip something real firmly it basically tightens all the tendons and muscles in your hand and forearm. Think of those tendons and muscles like the guide wires on a radio antenna. If the wires are tight the antenna doesn't sway - if they're loose... different story.

In order for a firm grip to work the best, you have to have the geometry right. Basically that means you need to have a straight line from the muzzle all the way back to your elbow, and you need to be applying pressure to the correct part of the pistol. You want the recoil to hit your arm in a straight line to keep it from kicking off to the sides. Keep in mind that the axis of the bore is where the push is going to be coming from, and it's going to cause the pistol to try and twist in your hand down that line. You have to apply the pressure in the place that's best suited to resist that twisting, and that spot is as high up on the back strap as you can get your hand with a semi auto. When I take my purchase on a pistol I make sure I feel tension between my thumb and trigger finger - right in the web of my hand. That's the fulcrum of the lever, and sometimes you have to rotate your grip a little so the force is on the web of your hand - not the top joint in your thumb.

The 'handle' of the lever is on the front of the grip and low. Now a short refresher on physics will tell you that the longer the lever the more leverage you get. What that means as it pertains to controlling recoil is that you want to be applying pressure with your non-firing hand as low on the grip as you can. I use a push/pull grip - which means before I ever pull the trigger I'm applying pressure with the web of my firing hand, and I'm applying opposing pressure low on the grip with my non firing hand. If you don't 'pre-tension' your grip, you'll never get the tension on it when it starts to recoil - it just happens too fast.

The thing that really complicates this is the fact that it's generally easier to tickle a trigger with a loose grip. It tends to feel more natural that way, but it's exactly the thing that you don't want to do. As you develop your grip it will begin to feel natural with a very firm grip, but it's something that you need to concentrate on and practice. Dry firing is an excellent opportunity to improve your grip, so don't dry fire with a loose grip and then expect to do it properly on the firing line. Build the muscle memory with your practice, and before long it all becomes second nature.

But if you forget everything else, just remember this - squeeze like you mean business. That's the most important part of the whole thing.
 

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Very good description/definition of limp wristing and how to correct it. I too hate the word limp wristing because if you mention it to some as a possible problem, they immediately take offense to it.
 

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I use a push/pull grip - which means before I ever pull the trigger I'm applying pressure with the web of my firing hand, and I'm applying opposing pressure low on the grip with my non firing hand. If you don't 'pre-tension' your grip, you'll never get the tension on it when it starts to recoil - it just happens too fast.
To me this is the crux of the matter, especially with these smaller framed pistols. It is about resistance to the recoil. By pushing with your rear hand/arm, you are forced to stabilize and firm your wrist or else it would bend. You can actually relax you grip a little bit if you have a strong wrist which will allow for less pulse bounce and breath fluctuation while maintaining a strong brace against recoil. The lower pull resistance also lessens the muzzle jump and gets you back on target quicker.
 

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Good advice.
 

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Buddy of mine who has carpal tunnel syndrome uses the prescription brace to add "strength" to his wrist.

Only problem with it - - - - - the techniques only works when you're actually using the brace, which might or might not be available during an emergency.
 

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Thanks very much for the detailed description! Intuitively I've been doing a good job with my dominant hand, but to this point I hadn't thought through the dynamics of the other hand forming a brace for recoil control and stability. Your description was cogent, clear, and precise. Exactly what the doctor ordered!
 

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Great post. I would probably add the grip strength proportion is about 60/40. 60% force from the support hand and 40% from the trigger hand. Using more force in the support hand allows for better fine trigger control in the trigger hand.

With the 2 handed grip you must remember not just to get a good grip but in order to get a better wrist lock and control you must preload the outside forearm muscles. Think of it as using the same muscles as you would if you were tightening a right handed screw with your right hand or loosening a right handed screw with your left hand.
This preloading helps to stabilize the wrists, arms and even some upper arm, chest and shoulder muscles.
 
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Also remember that limp wristing occurs with smaller lighter guns, usually constructed of polymer. You're not going to expericance limp wristing with a pt92 but you will with a G2.
 

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Thank you, Professor Dbeardslee, for yet another well-written and informative essay on one of the many aspects of shooting a handgun. :rating10:
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
And, of course, there are lots of devices and exercises to help one improve their grip strength.
You're right on the money with that advice. I used to constantly use hand squeezers. I had them in the office, and at home by the couch and I actually broke a couple of them just from sheer use. Strong hands are very helpful when it comes to shooting - and that ain't all. You'd be surprised the difference hand strength can make in physical altercations.
 
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