The Neutral Grip
“Remain in the neutrality of being.” -Mooji
A neutral grip is essential for consistent, accurate, high-speed shooting.
NEUTRAL GRIP TEST
Aim at the target, close your eyes and fire the shot. Open your eyes to see if the front sight is perfectly aligned in the rear notch.
Repeat the above drill, but fire two shots after closing your eyes. Then repeat the drill, but fire six shots before opening your eyes.
If the sights were perfectly aligned at the end of all the previous tests, then you can stop reading.
The strong (gripping) hand squeezes from front to rear, only. With your weak hand, squeeze from left to right. The grip is neutral: Neither hand pushes or pulls against each other.
Squeeze, or grip with equal pressure in both hands. Although each hand squeezes in different directions, learn to remember the feeling of both hands together as one feeling.
Place the strong hand on the grip as high as possible. The base of your thumb and forefinger should push up hard against the grip safety. The second finger is firm against the bottom of the trigger guard.
The base of the weak-hand thumb is high on the grip, camming the wrist forward so the thumb points at the target. Press down with the strong-hand thumb, so it points at the target as it disengages the safety.
Push or pull with either hand, and after each shot, the front sight will not return, or “track,” back to the rear sight consistently. Especially under match pressure.
Grip like you’d swing a hammer: as firm as you possible without being tense. Too loose and the sights will bounce all over; too tense and the sights will misalign as the recoil batters your body.
What to do with the weak-hand thumb is a heated topic. From years of experimenting, I do not touch or press the weak-hand thumb on the frame. For me, not touching the thumb insured consistent sight tracking in both practice and competition.
Some advocate a “40/60” grip pressure: The weak hand squeezes 20% harder then the strong hand. But that never worked for me. If that works for you, then by all means, do it. Remembering the feeling of both hands as one feeling did the trick for me, in both practice and competition.
This memory is from my first Bianchi Cup, in 1981. I was shooting the Moving Target Event at the 15 yard line. The sights were bouncing all over the place and not following the target. From somewhere a soft voice said: “For the next string of fire, grip with half the pressure you have been using.” Guess what happened? The sights tracked and followed the target perfectly. I repeated the “50% pressure feeling” for the rest of the course and aced it.
I left that stage elated. I can still remember the range officer’s belly laugh after I told him that I was coming back next year to win the match. (The next year I finished second.)
I knew I had discovered a secret. My grip pressure in competition was, because it was a national championship and I was all jacked up, nothing like it was in practice.
In Practical Shooting, Beyond Fundamentals, I often say to “relax.” Which was a direct result of the above experience. The feeling of “relaxing,” from an overly tense death-grip in the match to my practice grip pressure, profoundly altered my approach to competition shooting.
I now know the word “relax” caused a lot of confusion. My grip in a match is anything but relaxed. It is as hard as I can grip without awakening the death of tension.
If the sights do not track consistently in competition like they do in practice, try this experiment. Just before you shoot your next stage in a match, tell yourself to grip with, for example, 80% pressure. If tracking improved, but still wasn’t as consistent as it is in practice, for the next stage, try 70%. Keep experimenting with different percentages until you find your “back off number.”
I was working with a new shooter, watching him re-grip (loosen then tighten his fingers) after every shot. Instead of telling him what he was doing wrong, I told him, after his next string of fire, to tell me whether he gripped harder with his right or left hand. He did not re-grip from that moment on.
Without knowing that he had a problem, what the problem was, or even trying to fix the problem, the problem fixed itself. Simply by placing attention where it is most needed. Which is, of course, the best way to do everything.
Each Monday, I’ll post a new topic in one of two categories. One will be on shooting, and the other will be on living, or: “how I learned to live from what I learned by competing.”
Thanks for coming in.