Grip Pressure and Fitting Your Gun to Your Hands - Part 1
What we think is happening is often not what is actually happening. When buying a handgun, most competitors choose one based on how the gun feels in their hands, with little thought about if the gun actually fits their hands? Before diving into gun fit though, I think it’s important to explain the grip pressure I use.
Some marksmanship issues can be caused by using too much tension in your firing hand. Frequently, a shooter will tighten their firing hand grip so much that they are unable to press the trigger using only their trigger finger independently from the rest of their hand. The extra movement caused by firing the gun with your entire firing hand will influence where the bullets go to some degree. It also impacts your ability to pull the trigger as fast as you can.
Knowing you will likely get the best accuracy and trigger speed with a relaxed firing hand makes sense, but how will you accomplish that with your handgun recoiling and jumping around inside your hands? This is where the support hand comes into play. With my support hand, I grip the handgun absolutely as hard as I can, without causing a lot of pain or discomfort. I usually feel the sensation of the fingertips of my firing hand being smashed into the grip from the pressure of my support hand. If I maintain a very tight grip with my support hand, the gun will behave differently while recoiling.
Here’s an easy drill that illustrates how vital the support hand is for controlling recoil.
With a completely unloaded gun, find your grip and relax tension in both hands to the point you are holding the gun firmly, so you don’t drop it, but not using all the muscles you have in either hand. While maintaining that very relaxed grip pressure, press your trigger as fast as you can in a cadence of roughly a half second for each pull. If you are using a single-action or striker-fired gun, you can apply pressure into the trigger after it goes dead. Apply more and more support hand pressure without adding any pressure in your firing hand while you continue to press the trigger. You will notice how much less the sights move as support hand pressure is added. You can accomplish the same thing with live ammo on the range, while observing how the gun recoils.
Combining the previous knowledge, the grip I use is holding the gun with my firing hand with little pressure and crushing the gun as hard as I can with my support hand. This grip allows several things. It allows the trigger to be pulled very fast without trigger freeze or unintentional pauses and it makes it easier to fire a handgun accurately during rapid fire while the support hand keeps the gun under control in recoil. The way I think of it is, hold the gun with my firing hand and crush the gun with my support hand.
Unfortunately, being able to use a different grip pressure in each hand is not as easy as it sounds. It does take practice to program yourself to hold the gun the way you want to, if you want to make a change to your technique. A drill I recommend is to draw the gun to sight picture and then check the tension in your hands after each rep. You can also work on dryfire drills with the very last step. Before holstering, check the tension you have in your hands and remind yourself to keep the tension you want.
In the next blog post, I will explain how important grip pressure is for the process I use to fit a gun to my hands.