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Preview – Recoil Management

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A Former Navy SEAL Explains Why Proper Technique is More Important Than Kit When it Comes to Faster Follow-Up Shots

Certain techniques look strong, but from a recoil management point of view they are —  how should we put this? — less strong. Let’s go back to the basics and examine the human body itself. It’s critical that we utilize techniques that employ as much of the muscular chain as possible.

This is not a new topic. Folks have sought ways to improve recoil management since we all started shooting guns. The truth is that most of the time, we discover an accessory as often as we find a new technique — and they are definitely not the same. I am not a fan of accessories for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that they have a tendency to mask poor technique.

In my line of work, I have the pleasure of working with so many different students, each with a variety of different skills. One thing that ties them all together, aside from their thirst for knowledge, is the training scars that they bring to the class. I had one student a while back who fundamentally had good technique and was meeting all our milestones with his tricked-out rifle. For one evolution, I had him shoot my rifle for a graded drill. It was a form of stress — pulling someone out of their comfort zone. He had no doubt in his mind that the rifle was zeroed, accurate as hell and, while slightly different, still a standard AR platform. He shot the drill and did well. I asked him what he had learned through it all, and his comment was that he had to work incredibly hard on recoil management.


I don’t have accessories or bling on my rifle to compensate for technique, and as a police officer who usually shouldered a duty weapon, he couldn’t either. Give that some thought. You’ve probably heard the saying that it’s not about the arrow, it’s always the Indian.

No Excuses
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts in this world. There is only hard work, determination, and inspiration. That hard work comes in the form of understanding how the body works as it relates to combat shooting. It’s important to recruit as many of the large muscle groups as possible. I see many techniques that are counterintuitive to this principle. They might work for the short duration of stepping up to the line to perform a drill, but will they work when you have been on patrol all night, or had to hump all day to the target, or are just getting over an illness and not at 100 percent?

I like looking to the world of heavyweight lifting, particularly overhead lifts, as a good reminder of how important structural support — specifically skeletal support — is. If the skeleton is not properly aligned, you are simply not going to be able to support heavy loads. If you drop down in weight, you get away with plenty of poor lifting techniques. But the moment you start to get some serious weight on the bar, it’s a whole ’nuther ball game. You either employ solid form and perform well, or use poor form and get hurt.

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